Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pyrrhic Celtics

Last night in the Association saw the hometown Celtics improve their record to 34-7 with a one-point win over the... Timberwolves? And here's the lead from the AP:

The players at the end of the Boston bench kept looking over their shoulders to the tunnel to see if Kevin Garnett was coming back out of the locker room.

They didn't need to worry.

"I wasn't going to do anything that would to jeopardize my future," Garnett said after his last-second steal helped the Boston Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 87-86 on Friday night. "But my philosophy has always been that if I can play, if I can run, if I can move, if I can blink, if I can wake up in the morning, I'm going to play."
It was just an abdominal strain, and not really any issue for Garnett to recover from. But take a look at the minutes that the Celtics starters logged -- Pierce 42:15, Allen 40:25. For the 7-35 Wolves?

The next best record in the East? Detroit, at 31-13. And yet, here are the Celtics and Doc Rivers, at the halfway mark of the season, still managing minutes as if they had a shot at the all-time win mark, or as if they were scrambling for the 8th seed. For the year, Pierce and Allen are 18th and 19th in the entire NBA in minutes per game.

There are only three teams that put two of their players on the floor more than the Celtics. They are the Wiz (Butler and Jamison), who are down Arenas and trying to stay afloat, the Warriors (Davis and Jackson), an intriguing also-ran in the West who need home court to do anything in the playoffs, and the Magic (Howard and Lewis), who at least are burning with young gas.

Neither of those duos have the miles of Pierce and Allen, and of course, none of them are on teams with the kind of margin of error that the Celtics' fast start have given them.

You have to go to the 52nd and 57th ranked players by minutes per game, which would be Rip Hamilton and Tony Parker, to find a Piston or Spur. And in other news, the Celtics are 5-4 in their last 9 games, and, um, beat the T-Wolves by a freaking point. At home. Next stop: totally shocking injuries!

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