Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Have we seen the last of these Celtics as a title contender?
Steve Aschburner: Much will depend on your definition of contender, but let’s not get bogged down in details. Yes, we have seen the last of these Celtics as a serious title threat. The East isn’t any tougher but the Celtics still look stuck. They’re aging and not sufficiently backfilling with the guys (Jeff Green, Courtney Lee) who were supposed to assume bigger roles. Avery Bradley‘s return will help in a couple of ways — defensively, Kevin Garnett will have a soulmate out there and Lee should relax with a bit less pressure. But c’mon, his name’s Bradley, not Bird. It won’t be enough.
Fran Blinebury: I’m not ready yet to sweep the Celtics over the cliff just yet, though I’ll admit they’re hanging on by their finger tips. I still believe in K.G., Pierce and Rondo, but Doc Rivers has just been throwing everything against the wall with the rest of them, trying to get some consistency.
Jeff Caplan: Sorry folks, this is the end. I said it weeks ago in this space that Boston is no longer a threat. The loss of Ray Allen was a blow in more ways than one and although I’m a Jason Terry fan, I don’t think he can just step in and make everyone forget about Allen. Jeff Green has been disappointing and, well, it’s just not working.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Unfortunately, yes. I say unfortunately because the foundation of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo will always have a special place in NBA history as an ultra-competitive roster that led with a ferocious will. But while the Celtics, with Allen off the current team but forever part of the title memories, can still be good, I don’t see them still being championship good.
John Schuhmann: That 3-2 lead that they held in the Eastern Conference finals just six months ago still occupies a small piece of real estate in the back of my mind, but I’m believing in the Celtics less and less as the weeks go by. They haven’t won more than two straight games in over a month and they’re 3-8 on the road. Their defense has shown some improvement, and the return of Avery Bradley should eventually get them back to being top-five team on that end. But their offense might be worse than it was last season, which says a lot. Only the Wizards have been worse offensively over the last three weeks. I still think they could get things together and get back to the conference finals, but I don’t see any way they can win another championship.
Sekou Smith: I hate to say it, but I believe so. They just don’t look like they have the energy for one last run. I take Doc Rivers at his word when he says he’s coaching a “.500 team and we play like that.” I expected more. I thought with the way they finished last season that the Celtics, and not the Spurs, would be the seasoned bunch that showed up this season looking like they spent the offseason bathing in the Fountain of Youth. They’ve only shown flashes of that ability. I saw them live on opening night in Miami and walked away feeling good about my preseason prediction that they would remain the biggest threat to the Heat this season. Not anymore.