The Boston Celtics have just taken the elevator from the basement to the fifth floor in an eight-story building. They could reach the eighth floor before the season starts, but it will be based on the ability of Danny Ainge to find the right cheap pieces to mold around Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
I applaud the acquisition of Garnett despite having to give up everyone except the cleaning crew. The Celtics needed to make something happen to acquire Garnett and they obviously did it when they sent the fifth pick to Seattle for Allen. Garnett wants to win and I believe the Celtics will indeed win with this trio. Critics will wonder how they will mesh and I say it will be a smooth transition because of the unselfish play and leadership of Garnett.
These are three different scorers. Allen is a catch-and-shoot player who does not need to dominate the ball in order to score. Garnett will be the focal point of the offense because of his ability to pass and keep players involved and he will also get a ton of chances on the offensive glass. Pierce will be the go-to guy because he can score in a plethora of ways and get to the foul line better than any player in the league not named Kobe Bryant. The biggest challenge for Doc Rivers is to find two role players that can effectively play with these three and still produce without many touches and few accolades.
The Celtics are on the fifth floor because Cleveland, Detroit and Miami are still the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. But they have effectively leaped over Chicago, New Jersey, Toronto, Washington, Orlando and the improved Knicks.
I am sure Celtic fans will take just that position as a preview and not the question mark that would have been laid on them even with the addition of Allen. Teams with deep benches and good point guard play can go deep in the playoffs and the Celtics will have to improve in that area if they want to overtake the top three teams in the conference.
Kevin McHale obviously has not lost his loyalty for his former team. Although the Suns and the Lakers were in the running with the Celtics for Garnett’s services, it was pretty obvious that McHale was enamored with sending him to the Eastern Conference and preferably to his former team and teammate Danny Ainge. Because of this loyalty, the Celtics are now back on the map and the Lakers will have to deal with the ire of the best player in the game, Kobe Bryant, for not doing everything possible to get Garnett, who already had a home in Los Angeles.