The Rasheed Wallace effect is hopefully a thing of the past.

Although the Celtics should have been going at an 11-0 clip, we'll have to settle for the 9-2 start, and continue to build on that.

The real K.Garnett is alive and well, and appears to be back to his 2008 form, while P.Pierce has been the player that we know and love [ injury free, that is ] while R.Allen continues to defy Father Time. The Big Three of 2008 are once again healthy, and that is going to be one of the main keys to banner no. 18.

R.Rondo has come of age during the past few seasons, and can be considered one of the few really elite point guards in the game today, [ if not ' the elite ' ] which he would be without any hesitation, if he would develop a consistent jump shot [ which has shown improvement ] and a propensity to actually sink some free throws. [ Rondo, take note- Shaq's free throw shooting is putting yours to shame, and that's saying a lot ].

While our ' beast ' Perk, at center is out healing, having a first round guaranteed hall of famer, Shaq., replace him, even for limited minutes has proven to be a stroke of genius on Ainge's part. ' Big Baby ' has come of age, and has been a force off the bench, for the most part, while S.Erden, the hitherto unknown Turk, has shown potential to help fill in the minutes, and looks to have a future with the club, albeit as an excellent sub.

J. O'Neal is still a question mark- health wise, but if his condition improves, we'll have sufficient strength and length at center and power forward to handle anyone.

Our second unit, now that D. West is back, should be able to hold their own with many teams first units, and will be given the opportunity to prove it. [ Welcome home, Delonte - this is where you belong ].

As long as the rash of injuries that have already occurred remain relatively minor ones during the rest of the season, then we'll be well on the way to having home court advantage during the playoffs [ and you know what? It does matter, no matter what some people may say ].

The complacency that became a disease last year during the regular season appears to be a thing of the past, as this team is out to show the rest of the NBA that we're the team to beat, and not the team to beat on, particularly at home.

' Sheed ', thanks for the playoff memories last year, but please, stay retired.



Lionel Gaffen/ Fotomix.


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