The Boston Celtics have certainly not had the season they were expecting. They’re barely in the playoff picture, and only are because the Knicks are playing themselves out of contention. The age of the Celtics has shown itself to the point that it’s borderline sad watching them attempt to keep up. Their sole bright spot is Rajon Rondo, whose tenacity on the defensive end just hasn’t seemed enough to make up for the team’s horrifying lack of scoring. But this is an interesting NBA season. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that injuries are more prevalent than ever. Countless superstars can be seen on the sidelines, wearing absurd suits looking like Huggy Bear. In a weird way, this joke of a year benefits the Celtics. Sure, older teams struggle with back-to-back games, it isn’t easy to keep up with the tempo of youthful eastern conference teams like the Bulls and Heat. But if you want to understand what the Celtics are doing, just look at their 1969 season.
Bill Russell’s unimaginable run as a winner was coming to an end. He was old and tired. He was a player/coach that had given his all for his 10 championships. In an almost completely strategic gamble, he rested for much of the season. His old legs got some wind back in them, and the Celtics faced the rival Lakers in the finals, and the Celtics won! Doc Rivers is taking a page from the legend himself. The Celtics starters have been in a rotation of rest because of injury for almost the entire season. On the surface, it looks like an aging team with players that can’t play, which is slightly true. But if you think a heal spur would keep Paul Pierce out of a playoff game, you haven’t seen the Inglewood native pounding his chest furiously after a game winning shot. Pierce has also been hot for fantasy owners as of late. The laughable structure of the NBA playoffs allows half the teams to enter the postseason. If the Celtics can manage to hold on to the last playoff spot in the east, they’ll be forced to play the Heat or Bulls. Both are inevitable opponents anyway, and both are lying to themselves if they say they aren’t a little afraid of the Celtics come playoff time. Nobody wants to face a former champion. I can’t say I believe the Celtics have a chance at winning a championship, but I do believe that there is a possibility they’re one of the few smart teams, resting their stars and keeping their Betty White-aged roster ready. One thing is for certain; if Ray Allen gets hot, all bets are off.