It’s hard to believe, but the Boston Celtics – the No. 1 seed in the East – must win in Chicago on Friday to avoid a 3-0 hole in their first-round playoff series with the Bulls.
Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo had subpar regular seasons – at least by their standards – but have come alive in the postseason. They, along with Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez, have been a tough matchup for Boston.
“When the playoffs come around, these guys realize (there are) 16 games you need to win,” former NBA general manager and current NBA-TV analyst Billy King said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Both of them (Wade and Rondo) won championships. They are focused. They know they got off days, they can rest – so they give it every game. And I look at Boston – it’s a young team. It doesn’t really have a lot of playoff experience, and they don’t have a guy that’s won. This is what it’s going to take. I think Boston is built a lot for regular-season basketball, but playoff basketball, you need those veteran guys. If you have veteran guys that have played playoff basketball, they can help guide the rest of them through it. That’s what Boston doesn’t have. If they had one of those veteran guys that could help guide those guys through it, it would help. I know they have Al Horford. I’m talking a more vocal leader than Al.”
In hindsight, one must wonder if Boston should have dealt some of its picks at the deadline for a Jimmy Butler or Paul George. King, though, thinks that Danny Ainge and the Celtics played it just right.
“They’ve been patient all along, and I think they’re still on that same path,” King said. “I don’t think they expected themselves to be looking at the No. 1 seed this year. You’re going to get a good pick. I just would have been patient there.”
Carmelo Anthony was reportedly an option for Boston, but King doesn’t think that would have been a good fit for either side.
“They were designed for Isaiah (Thomas) to do all the scoring,” King said. “Now you bring someone else in, how does Isaiah play sharing the scoring load, and how does the other guy come in sharing the scoring load? I tried it in Philadelphia with Allen (Iverson) and Glenn Robinson. It’s a tough balance to do. I’m not sure if I would do that, especially on the fly midseason because you don’t have enough practice time to make it work.”
But how patient can Boston be with all those banners hanging? The fans expect titles, no?
“I think Boston, they’re so young still,” King said. “They got a young team. They went through a dreadful period for a long time before they got back to where they were really good. When you have all those banners hanging, you can be patient.”