Ten thoughts on the maddening, meandering, but not-yet-hopeless Celtics, who at least aren't the Lakers ...
1. The Celtics miss Ray Allen's shooting, particularly his ability to bail them out of small deficits late in games when his teammates suddenly remembered they had one of the best shooters in league history on their side. But they don't miss him as much as they miss Jason Terry, if that makes sense. The player Terry was two years ago -- and for many years beyond that -- was capable of giving the Celtics everything Allen did on the offensive end. But he's been a detriment on both ends of the court, and I don't know about you, but I'm kicking myself for not being more skeptical of this move. He's a small, 35-year-old shooting guard who showed serious signs of regression last year -- it was foolish to believe it was an aberration rather than signs of decline. For as much as he's struggled this year, his performance isn't much worse than it was a season ago -- he's shooting percentage is down just .008. I'm afraid this is who he is.
2. My appreciation and defense of Rajon Rondo is approaching my long-standing Manny Ramirez zealotry -- his court vision and decision-making amid chaos is breathtaking and actually underrated. His gift for running the game is more evident from the cheap seats at the Garden, where you can see the entire court and the play developing from above, than it is from the couch. That caveat out of the way ... I'm with those of you who are sick of watching him pass up layups to kick the ball out to the perimeter. This team, with it's inefficient half-court offense, needs easy points, not style points.
3. If you don't love what Jared Sullinger brings to this team, you're either not one for appreciating the nuances of basketball or a University of Michigan grad. Imagine what he'll be capable of once the refs stop whistling him for a foul every time one of his arms twitch. The last Celtics rookie I can recall getting this much unjust grief from the officials was Rick Fox 20-plus years ago.
4. I generally like Brandon Bass better than Glen Davis as a player, and he actually is the outside shooter Big Baby thinks he is, but the two have more in common than we realized last year. You get the sense Bass overvalues his ability and importance on offense, and when he's not getting shots, it negatively affects the rest of his game. Which was a Big Baby trademark, of course, and one of the reasons he was dealt for Bass.
5. I'm not abandoning the Courtney Lee bandwagon. Among the new guys and potential scapegoats, he's the one who plays hardest, and his defense is stellar, though certainly not Bradlian. (Avery, not Bill.) As a colleague noted the other day, his best role is as the eighth man on a championship-caliber team, not as a starter.
6. If you missed it, here's a wonderful pierce written by John Karalis for "The Classical" on Paul Pierce's genius for basketball geometry. I'm actually a little worried about Pierce right now -- he's in better shape than he was a year ago and yet is having a tougher time maneuvering around defenders, which doesn't bode well -- but this story is a dead-on, beautifully written appreciation of Pierce's aesthetically old-school game.
7. JJ Redick, Celtic? Sure, sign me up, presuming Danny Ainge can make something reasonable work. At 28, he's still a brilliant shooter and is one of the most efficient scorers in the league, and he's clearly worked extremely hard to improve from a defensive liability who essentially had a "Torch Me" sign taped to his jersey to a tireless, hard-nosed effort guy. And to think I thought he'd have the career of Conner Henry.
8. This one has nothing to do with the Celtics, but it blew my mind when I saw it on Twitter yesterday. (Thought it was via ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, but I can't find the source.) Ricky Rubio is shooting 24.6 percent this season in 14 games. I know he's shaking off the rust and tentativeness after knee surgery, but he should be able to hit more than a quarter of his shots even if he had a leg crafted from the finest mahogany. Of course, he's still capable of this ...
9. And while we're at it, once of my favorite passes of all-time. That thing broke like a Bruce Hurst curveball:
10. As for today's Completely Random Basketball Card:
Because sometimes it really is random.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.