Doc Rivers: Coach of the Year – A lot of talk has been given to Greg Popovich of the Spurs as COY. And he has done a masterful job of both resting his players for the playoffs, fending off a major Manu injury and getting his team the #1 seed in the West. He also has been able to keep a team relevant that was all but written off after last years first round surprise loss to Memphis.
And all those things are extremely impressive considering it all happened in a condensed season. But when you look at what Doc Rivers has done in that same shortened season you should be more surprised.
The first hurdle that Doc had to handle out of the gates was his expected 6th man, Jeff Green, having heart surgery and missing the season. Next he had to deal with two out of shape All-Stars in Pierce and KG, who spent their off-season yelling at NBA owners, coming into training camp doing their best impression of Big Baby. Pierce couldn’t even run down the court at the end of games (after missing the first 3 games with a heel injury), and was forced into a Rookie like training regimen to get into shape.
After that Doc had to deal with injuries to Rondo (first his wrist, then his back), Ray (ankle), Pietrus (concussion and most recently knee) and Jermaine O’Neal (wrist and lack of heart). Add onto this the fact that the Celtics had a second freak heart problem with Chris Wilcox that ended his year, and I would say no other coach has had more of an injury problem this year than Doc.
But besides all these problems he has been able to spur his team to one of the best second half records in the league, while also playing one of the toughest schedules in that same period. He has also helped develop the games of rookie Stiemsma and second year player Bradley into legitimate rotation players with his tough love and tutelage. And lastly he has handled the constant media speculation that any member of his team could be traded at any moment to any team effectively launching a rebuild mode.
The Celtics are now considered legitimate playoff contenders, when up until early February most pundits pegged them for rebuilding mode. And all this is thanks to Doc, who has has readied his team for a deep playoff, and hopefully Championship push.
Rajon Rondo: All-NBA Second Team - Rajon certainly has missed his fair share of games this year from injuries. But when he has played he has played like an MVP. He has run away with the assists title, averaging 11.6 a game, and is currently in a 22 game double-digit assist streak. He was able to do this while dealing with more lineup changes and injuries than most other leading PG’s in the league. He has also dealt with the constant distraction of trade speculation that stayed with him and the team all the way up to the trade deadline.
Add to this his shut-down defense and increased shooting (still needs work) and Rondo is having the best year of his career. The only reason I am not putting him as 1st team is that he has missed too many games, and Chris Paul has played out of his mind the second half of the season.
Greg Stiemsma: Rookie of the Year – Ok I admit that I am being a complete homer with this pick, and there is no chance that the Boston Steamer will win this award. But looking at how much Stiemsma has meant to this team, combined with his situation before the season, made him my pick for ROY. Forget about Jermey Lin in NY, Stiemsma truly came out of nowhere (like middle of Turkey nowhere). He never averaged more than 12 minutes in college and looked to have as much chance of cracking the NBA as Shaq does of being asked back to TNT next season.
He has been our most consistent big off the bench this season and is one of the leaders in the league in blocks (4 per 36 minutes) and steals (1.7 per 36). These gaudy numbers might not jump out at you considering how low his points and rebound numbers are, but fans need to know how much the Celtics needed a big that would come in and disrupt the other team on defense. He has also improved his jump shot and is now a legitimate threat to hit that 16 footer from the baseline. Add to this his reported foot injury that had him in a boot and unable to practice for a long stretch of this season and his performance is that much more impressive. Overall Stiemsma has been invaluable for the C’s for the way he has come out of nowhere to help the team out.
Avery Bradley: Defensive First Team – Bradley, before the season started, was battling Moore for bench minutes. Since then he has made himself into potentially the 3rd/4th best player on the team. He was highly touted coming out of high school, and was seen as a high potential pick out of the late first round in the NBA Draft. But he had injury woes and an awful shooting start to his season that made many pundits question his legitimacy in the league. But, with Doc’s encouragement, he has made strives on the offensive end that have improved his shooting and cutting. And his biggest impact has been his defensive play. He is by far the best young defensive guard to come into the league in the last 2 years, and he only looks to be improving. His ability to shut down the elites of the league like Dwayne Wade, Derron Williams and Tony Parker, has caught the attention of the national media and made him a good choice to win this award. The best part of this for the Celtics is that Rajon Rondo is right up there in defensive ability, making the back-court combo very scary for any opponent they face in the playoffs.
Paul Pierce: All-NBA 3rd Team – This is another award that might be out of reach for Pierce. But looking at his second half numbers makes Pierce a legitimate threat for the award. He has averaged more points and assists than he has in the past 3 years, and he has done this while basically being an invalid for the start of the season. He won Player of the Month from the NBA for the month of March and has basically been the same dominant player in April. He has shut down LeBron and Granger in key wins for the Celtics, and has been a strong voice in the locker room as captain. He is definitely a big reason for the Celtics second half turnaround.
Kevin Garnett: NBA Most Improved Player – KG has been consistently great for the Celtics over the last 2 months and has improved his blocks, assists and points numbers over the previous 2 years dramatically. He has also brought back that tenacious defense that made him a superstar in Minnesota. He has shut down some of the best big’s in the league, and has been a big reason for the Celtics having the best defensive numbers in the league. He also has looked rejuvenated and younger than in seasons past, where he looked over the hill. Not sure what has caused this turnaround for KG, but I and the Celtics will certainly take it.
Obviously I’m somewhat biased, but I think those are the awards the C’s should win. The Celtics might not win all of them, but they are at least in the running. The best thing about that list is that they probably weren’t going to win any of them last year, so overall the Celtics seem to be in a better place then they were last season.
- Celtics Show Heart – Lose to Knicks in Game 6 88-80
- Shipping up to Boston! Celts force a Game 6 after a masterful dismantling of the Knicks – Final score 92-86
- Celtics show Heart – Beat Knicks in must win Game 4 by a score of 90-97
- Gotham takes game 1 as the Knicks outlast Celtics 78-85
- Return of the Ticket – KG helps lift Celtics over Wizards 96-107
- Design work done by Canyon Boulevard Designs LLC.
TagsAinge Atlanta Hawks Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Brandon Bass Bucks Celtics Celtics-Heat playoffs Celtics Hawks playoffs Chicago Bulls Courtney Lee Danny Ainge defense Doc Doc Rivers free agency Game 2 Game 6 Greg Stiemsma injury Jared Sullinger Jason Terry Jeff Green Jermaine Oneal Kevin Garnett KG loss Miami Heat Mickael Pietrus NBA Nets Paul Pierce Pierce playoffs Rajon Rondo Ray Allen refs Rondo shooting Sixers-Celtics playoffs Stiemsma trade trade deadline triple-double win