[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter a day filled with speculation on whether the Celtics would move any key players, during a week where the NBA rumor mill was mired with alleged offers for Pierce, Garnett, or Rondo, the players that took the court on Wednesday seemingly forgot to put everything out of their mind and play basketball. At first the rumor that Pierce may be traded to the Nets before the deadline passes seemed to motivate the 10-time All-Star, as he kept Boston in it with 23 first half points. Despite the sharp play of Pierce, the Lakers (26-29) led 54-45 at halftime and were shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Then the Lakers opened the second half with a backbreaking 11-2 run. Both of these teams have had their struggles this season, and age has certainly been a factor, but in the third quarter of this contest the Celtics (28-26) looked absolutely gassed. Their defensive rotations were late, they could not protect the basket from Antawn Jamison of all people, and they routinely turned the ball over on the other end. If this is the brand of basketball that Boston is capable of playing the rest of the season, then it seems like a good idea to make a move at the trade deadline with the future in mind.
Still it’s best not to overreact to a couple of losses. Success in the NBA is known to come in spurts, and the Celtics have been especially mercurial over the past couple of months. They won six straight at the start of January before dropping six in a row, and then proceeded to win eight of nine after Rajon Rondo went down for the year with an ACL injury. Yet one thing has remained consistent, these C’s are much better at home. Only three of the wins during either streak came away from the TD Garden. In fact, after dropping their second consecutive game on this trip out west, Boston is now 3-7 on the road in 2013.
So what does this mean for the Celtics playoff implications? Since it seems unlikely that they will be able to steal one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference, Boston will have to win a few road games in order to advance past the first few rounds. And while they’ve struggled as visitors during the regular season, the adrenaline created in the playoffs could provide the spark that this team needs. Because when they are motivated, as they were each and every night after Rondo went down, the C’s have shown that they can compete with anyone in the league. Whether Danny Ainge and the rest of the front office believes that to be true, we’ll find out by 3 p.m. this Thursday.