BOSTON (CBS) – The Celtics are in the home stretch of the regular season with 19 games left to go, and they’re starting to hit their stride with Rajon Rondo playing his best basketball of the year in recent games.
That’s good or bad depending which side of the fence you stand with the whole “tanking” issue.
With so many bad teams in the NBA, the Boston Celtics will have a tough time cracking the bottom five of the draft lottery sweepstakes – and it’s only going to get worse as the final game nears.
“I told you the tanking that would come down the stretch of the final quarter of the season would basically surpass any other tank jobs we’ve seen in the league in years. It would set a record for futility, and it would be so pathetic that the Celtics would take themselves out of the high lottery just by winning a couple games here and there – and so they have,” said Mike Felger on Monday afternoon.
The Celtics are 3-3 since BirthdayGate became public, and in those games a motivated Rajon Rondo has averaged 16 points and 11 assists per game, including Sunday’s 18-assist night.
Tony Massarotti joked that he and Felger shouldn’t have made such a big deal about Rondo skipping the team flight to celebrate his birthday, because now he’s playing like a man on a mission.
Whatever the reason for improved play, one thing is for sure: the Celtics could find themselves on the outside looking in and miss out on what scouts are calling the best draft in a decade.
“The worst place to be is where the Celtics are right now: outside of the high lottery but not in the playoffs. If you’re in the middle of the pack there’s no reason to be there. Try and get to the bottom. Danny Ainge agrees, by the way. The Celtics agree – the green teamers just have a hard time coming to grips with it. Danny is going to have to step in here and make sure they don’t win too many games. I guarantee you they’re gonna do something.”
Felger went on to cite the ’96-’97 season and the way M.L. Carr handled it.
Even though the Celtics tanked and didn’t land Tim Duncan, they still ended up with Chauncey Billups – a player who (after being traded away during his rookie season) went on to win the 2004 NBA Finals MVP when his Detroit Pistons beat the Lakers in five games.
“The way M.L. Carr approached it was absolutely, 100% the right way to do it,” said Felger.
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