Boston Celtics - Green Bandwagon
Last Years Record: 24-58
Losses: Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Michael Olowokandi, Theo Ratliff, Wally Szczerbiak, Sebastian Telfair, Delonte West
Additions: Ray Allen, Esteban Batista, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Eddie House, Dahntay Jones, Jackie Manual, Scot Pollard, James Posey, Gabe Pruitt, Brandon Wallace.
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
It started on draft night when Danny Ainge traded the 5th pick (Jeff Green), Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a future second rounder for Ray Allen and the 35th pick (Glen Davis). Don't get me wrong I am a big Ray Allen fan. But I did not think this made the C's realistic players in the East and worried that Donny Marshall's UConn reference would rise significantly from an already obnoxious level. Furthermore, Allen was on the wrong side of 30, had some ankle issues and was not exactly a lock down defender. And then this happened. That's right, Kevin Garnett. The deal changed everything. At the very least the C's were relevant once again and instant playoff contenders. Following the trade Eddie House, Scot Pollard and James Posey joined the squad.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Early schedule - Don't get me wrong the Pistons have owned the Celtics of late, the Toronto Raptors are quietly better than everyone realizes, Kobe Bryant mocks the C's defensive efforts, the Cleveland LeBrons are always tough and the Knicks are better. But Boston does not play an elite Western Conference team, depending upon your opinion of the Warriors (November 21), until December 29th (Utah Jazz). Given the plethora of Celtics themed blogs and the fan base's distrust of Doc Rivers, it will be important for the Celtics to make some noise early.
Scoring - This just in - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce can score.
Veteran star power - For all the talk about the point guard position, depth, coaching and everything else this Celtics team will go as far as its newly formed triumvirate will take it. End of story.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Defense - Adding KG immediately makes Boston better defensively. The hope is that Tom Thibodeau can get everyone to follow the Big Ticket's lead and turn the Celtics into a respectable defensive team.
Size - Outside of Kevin Garnett the Celtics big men are either undersized (Leon Powe, Glen Davis, Brian Scalabrine), injury prone (Scot Pollard) or unproven (Kendrick Perkins and Esteban Batista if he earns a contract). And I for one don't want Garnett banging with centers on a nightly basis.
Health - While Ray Allen, Garnett and Pierce appear to be healthy heading into the season, they all missed time last year with injuries. However, the Celtics have to hope that Ray Allen keeps his legs, Pierce either stops taking a pounding on a nightly basis or can deal with it and Garnett doesn't start to slow down in his 13th season in the Association. Personally I worry about KG the most. Age wise he is fine. But no one really knows how the grueling NBA schedule will affect the guys who came out of high school and played a lot of minutes from such a young age. And yet I am even more skeptical about Tony Allen's knee. I've read the positive reports but want to see for my own eyes if he can be the athletic terror he was at points last season.
Point Guard - I'm of the opinion that Rajon Rondo will be a lot better than people think. At the same time point guards, much like NFL quarterbacks, seem to get better with age and experience. And there is no denying that the Celtics lack the savvy veteran presence at the position. Come to think of it they don't have a real back up. Eddie House is not a point guard. Neither is Ray Allen. And Tommy Heinshon once said Tony Allen should always shoot or pass after his third dribble. And he was right.
Coaching - It is now or never for Doc Rivers. He has the players and the experience. The time for excuses is over. Can he get it done?
4. What are the goals for this team?
It feels incredibly odd to say this but Celtics fans would be disappointed if Boston did not make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. I imagine many fans will settle for nothing less than a Finals appearance. Regardless the Celtics have to be a major player in the East. Expectations and not to mention ticket sales are incredibly high right now. On top of that Boston fans can be described as irrational, passionate and pessimistic. That's a far cry from understanding, patient and reasonable. Can this team meet the expectations?
5. How will the Celtics replace Delonte West?
No I'm not asking who will be jerked around between shooting guard and point guard while trying to fight the injury prone tag. Rather, I want to know who will be this team's comedic goldmine. Right now Glen Davis (interviewer's dream) and Scot Pollard ("Hey kids, do drugs") are the leaders in the clubhouse. But both are a far cry from Delonte West. Consider the following list of his finest moments, which I created when he was dealt to Seattle:
- It doesn't get much better than Delonte West Uncut. He talks about Jesus' love of the beach, debuts some poetry, and drops some Bugs Bunny wisdom. And ultimately he escapes the dreaded Mass Pike by heading to Seattle.
- "I'm a player Greg." West's response is funny in and of itself. However, the fact that Mike Gorman started laughing as he introduced the clip combined with the seriousness of Wally Szczerbiak's response only adds to the greatness.
- Paul Pierce and West sat down together on the FSN set once. The result? Swamp thing, Denzel...Washington, and little Rudy's bail money. Needless to say it is a much watch clip.
- West taught us that domestic violence can be laughed at and glossed over at the same time in the now legendary wire hanger commercial.
- The Valentine's Day Interview. It ages like fine wine. That's right wine. None of that Cristal. That stuff tastes like urination.
Predicted Record: 49-33
That's a huge turn around from last season and a rare display of rational thought from me. I fought the urge to predict a 50+ win season. Call it the Doc Rivers effect.