Last night the Celtics reached .500 for the fist time this season at 9-9 with a win over the Pacers. In two previous tries against Indiana the C's got rocked. Paul Pierce came up with one of his best games in a couple years going for 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. So is this just a blip on the radar or can this team really compete?
It has been my belief that this team, while not championship caliber the way they are currently constructed, can still compete in the East. I think they have as good a shot at any in the division. New Jersey and Toronto are terrible and I just don't believe in the Knicks. Philadelphia is a bright young team and probably poses the biggest threat to Boston, but they've yet to go through injuries to key players, which it seems like every other team in the league has had to deal with to this point. (side note: Tony Battie really plays for this team. I'm blown away that he isn't in his mid 50's.)
A division lead would be good for 3rd place and home court advantage in the first round. IF the young bench players like Stiemsma, the Purdue boys and Avery Bradley can continue to mature and contribute solid minutes I think this team will be able to get to that point in the playoffs and win a series. They will need Rondo and one of the other star players to put forth a superstar like performance if they are going to beat Miami or Chicago in the second round though. What we saw from Pierce last night is what they will need night in and night out when May comes along and the jury's out on whether or not that's possible.
I'd also like to commend KG on playing all 18 games up to this point in the season. There have been 25 games missed due to injury on this team, including 5 from Rondo, 3 from Pierce and even 4 from Ray Allen. Garnett and Brandon Bass are the only players to appear in all of the games to this point. If they can stay healthy with the anti-reliable Jermaine O'Neal starting to break down they will keep the Celtics in it.