Celtics

Celtics' ideal playoff roster still not together

191544.jpg

Celtics' ideal playoff roster still not together

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Figuring out the Boston Celtics playoff rotation is pretty easy for coach Doc Rivers.

Getting them on the floor in the same game?

Now that's another story.

The return -- and then loss -- of Shaquille O'Neal, who missed the previous 27 games because of a right Achilles injury, highlights the challenges Rivers faces in preparing the Celtics for what they hope will be a long playoff run.

O'Neal came off the bench in Boston's 101-90 win over Detroit on Sunday. He played six minutes before suffering a right calf strain that the team says will sideline him indefinitely.

Whenever he returns, and when he gets back into playing shape, he is expected to regain his starting job at some point between now and the playoffs.

In addition to O'Neal, the Celtics' starting five will include Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Coming off the bench, Rivers will go with Delonte West, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O'Neal for sure.

As much as Rivers understands the need to get those guys as many reps with one another, he also knows that developing some type of flow is just as important.

"What we have to do is get everybody on the same page, rhythm-wise," Rivers said. "As far as rotation and the bench, I know it. It's set. But we just have to get it together."

And it's that latter point that, maybe more than anything else, will challenge the C's in these final six games prior to the playoffs.

"That's the biggest dilemma here," said Kevin Garnett. "We are dealing with the health issue here and I think sometimes it's messing with the inconsistency of what we're doing. Obviously the team out there and the guys out there on the court have to be accountable with what we are doing. At the same time, teaching guys new schemes, our schemes, and on top of that trying to understand the rotation and who is healthy. We are multi-tasking here."

Among those tasks, is to continue racking up victories leading into the playoffs.

"Every game is important; we're trying to win out, trying to get ready for the playoffs," said Paul Pierce. "But the most important thing . . . is us getting healthy right now. I'm feeling pretty good, some of the other guys are feeling pretty good, some guys are banged up, so that's important right now, as this next week goes by these guys staying healthy."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

stream-celtics-magic.jpg

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the Magic at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

MORE CELTICS:

A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE