The probable Celtic sweep against the Hawks in the first round won’t remind anyone of the classic battles between Bird and Dominique.
After passing their recent West Coast Exam with flying colors, and following their Texas Triangle performance with thorough dominance of the Chris Pauls at home, the Celtics have officially gone on winter break.
The remainder of the schedule pits Boston against the likes of the Heat, Knicks, and other dregs of the Eastern Conference. Their only game against a team over .500 comes against the Washington Wizards on April 9th, a team that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men. The Conference title and home court throughout the playoffs should be sewn up within about 10 days.
The match-up with the Heat tonight is a microchosm of the rest of the season. The Heat are currently sitting Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion, and anyone else worthy of a roster spot on a team worthy of your attention. The lone bright spot is former UMass stud Stephane Lasme, who has a chance to make the league as a defensive stalwart, despite his subpar height and offensive game. That’s one player who might have a shot at playing for a decent team in the future for more than a 10-day contract.
So, as much as Doc has denied it, the C’s will certainly be scaling things back until their likely first-round match-up with Atlanta–which should be a four-game affair. The key will be limiting the starters to 30 minutes a night and giving Ray Allen and Paul Pierce a game or two off should they need it–The Truth has been the only Celtic to play in every game this season, so it’s his turn to take a couple days off. Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Leon Powe, and Eddie House will need to up their minutes to get back in a groove for the second season, and the P.J. Brown and Xenu situations will need to be sorted out. Whether or not the two late-season pick-ups should play much of a role in the post-season is still up for debate, and Doc must use his last 10 games to find the answers, not destroy inferior opponents at the cost of extra rest for his ageing superstars.