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Boston Celtics Preview - CelticsBlog

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bos.gifBoston Celtics -
Last Years Record: 24-58
Key Losses: Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Delonte West, Gerald Green
Key Additions: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, James Posey

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

Well, let’s see here.  They signed free agent James Posey!  He’s just the kind of defensive stopper this team has needed for a long, long time.  Oh, and they landed Eddie House and Scot Pollard too.  House can shoot from everywhere and Pollard describes his role thusly "I run around and push people."  Good times.  They also drafted guard Gabe Pruitt and Glen "Big Baby" Davis in the second round.  Davis is an early favorite for the All Interview team.

Danny signed a couple of young players that could help down the line sometime in Brandon Wallace and Jackie Manuel.  The team also recently invited Dahntay Jones and FIBA sensation Esteban Batista to training camp to fight for a roster spot.

That’s a pretty busy offseason right there.  Still, I feel like I’m forgetting one or two things.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?

Oh yeah, that’s right.  The team also brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play with Paul Pierce.  I suppose having three of the best players in the game should help the team improve a bit on the 24 wins from a year ago.

Of course Garnett is going to be a great offensive weapon, but in my mind his biggest impact will be on the defensive end.  He’s one of the best defenders in the game because his energy and length and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions.  Filling out the starting five are Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins.  Both are young players with considerable defensive skills.  Add on top of that James Posey off the bench and defensive guru Tom Thibodeau on the sidelines as an assistant coach, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a really good to great defense.  All it will take is some buy in by Pierce and Allen (both of whom seem to be eager to prove they can play defense too).

Ray Allen may be a little overshadowed by the arrival of Kevin Garnett, but opponents know better than to forget about him.  He’s one of the best shooters in the game, but he does a lot more than that too.  He can also get to the rim, play pick and roll, and is an excellent passer.  He also happens to be one of the classiest guys in the league and will provide some great veteran leadership for the younger players.

And don’t forget the guy who’s been here all along.  Paul Pierce is one of the game’s best at creating shots for himself and getting to the line.  When healthy he’s carried this team on his back for years, but now he’s got the best team he’s ever had around him.  This is still his team, but now he’s got some big time co-stars to work with.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

This team has two major question marks that could threaten this team’s near term goals.  They are coaching and depth.

Does anyone remember the fact that Doc Rivers once won Coach of the Year?  Seems like ancient history around here.  Since joining the Celtics, their record has gotten progressively worse every year.  Many wondered if he would be fired last year as the team stumbled to the worst record in the East.  Instead, he got a (short) contract extension and a huge mulligan, do-over.  In the past he’s blamed injuries and youth on his team’s record.  This year he’ll have no excuses.  He’s got a chance to be good.  This team plays to his strengths (people skills) and hides his weaknesses (game management).

Still, if the team isn’t humming on all cylinders by Christmas, expect Tom Thibodeau to get a promotion.  If he makes it to the postseason but comes up short in the playoffs, expect a line of coaching candidates to be lined up around the corner for this opportunity.

The team did what it could with limited resources to add players around the three stars.  James Posey was a huge get.  However, everyone else is tied to "if" statements.  If Tony Allen’s knee heals… If Eddie House can play backup point… If Scot Pollard’s back is better… If the rookies and second year guys can step it up…

4. What are the goals for this team?

Championship.  Nothing less will do.  If not this year, then absolutely in the next 3 or 4.  Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen are all in their 30’s and each has to make this thing work now.  They are already spending plenty of time together to get to know one another better.  You can sense that they know their time is limited so they are doing everything they can to make the most of it.

To his credit, Ainge has built the most of the rest of the team with one year deals and rookies.  That will allow him the flexibility to keep the players that work out and add players to replace ones that don’t next offseason.  There isn’t a lot he can do with trades, but you can bet he’ll never stop making calls to keep adding a piece here or there that will help the team win games.

The sky is the limit for these guys and they know it.

5. What are the most overrated story lines coming into this year?

Everything depends on Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins.  Ainge basically laughed this one off on media day.  He used himself as an example.  Did people think he was the key to the 1986 Championship?  Nope.  He did his job and didn’t get in the way of the original Big Three.  Rondo and Perk know their roles and will do just fine.

Rajon Rondo can’t shoot.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  So what?!  For one thing, if he’s on the court with Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, I don’t really want him shooting.  I want him driving to the hoop, looking for open men, and playing defense.  All things he excels at.  I’m not worried about Rondo’s shooting.

Who plays backup point guard?  OK, so I’m the one that ran this story into the ground.  I’m still not fully comfortable about it, but I’m over it.  Somebody will be able to get the ball over half court when Rondo is on the bench.  After that, it is all about getting the ball to one of the three stars and letting them take care of running the offense.  It will work itself out.  It will.  I just have to breathe deep and keep telling myself this.

Predicted Record: 50-32

I’m predicting 50 wins for this team because I believe they'll either have trouble meshing early on or hit a rough patch somewhere in the middle of the season.  That will be where the true character of this team shines through.  On the other hand, if they hit on all cylinders and stay in good health they could get up to 55 or even 60 wins.

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