BOSTON -- The Celtics season got off to a fine start, so Julian Edlow and Jared Weiss of CLNS Radio broke down the action. In part one, they analyze Rondo's season debut and discuss the emotions surround KG and the return of Gino Time. In part two, they tackle Marcus Smart's NBA debut, Kelly Olynyk's improved skill set, and open up the Twitter Bag for your questions
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Jared Weiss' Celtics Season Preview
The Celtics season boils down to a few main objectives. They aren’t likely to be making the playoffs, so developing crucial tenets to a winning ball club will get the majority of focus. So let’s take a look at three key areas.
Spread the Shooting Deeper
Jared Sullinger missed a lot of threes last season. A lot of them. To the point that people you haven’t talked to in five years Facebook message you to complain about it.
Fads come and go in the league, but the stretch four continues to be a necessary element to any good team. It used to be that power forwards were effective if they could shoot from 15 feet. But now you need to step behind the arc if you are going to be worthy of starting on a title contender. Unless you are LaMarcus Aldridge or Tim Duncan, you’re going to need to shoot from downtown.
With an essentially lost season, Brad Stevens was given – or gave himself – permission to give Sully an eternal green light. The results were atrocious, but each occasional make was adored as a building block to a better future. Cut to the 2014 preseason and suddenly Sully is the best deep shooter on the roster. It’s funny how repetition often works, no matter how arduous the road there may be.
Kelly Olynyk came into the league with a work in progress three point shot, while Brandon Bass has been one of the most consistent bigs from 18 feet around. But both continued to extend their range and now even Bass is hitting corner threes.
Stretching the floor is not a novel concept, but the way it is done now is a relatively unique and more effective form. Rather than pulling bigs out toward the elbows, they are being forced to the weak side baseline.
While a defender is higher up on he elbow, they still are able to rotate into both lanes while being able to have a chance to defend their area. But when you are defending the corner, you are essentially out of reach from the other half of the floor.
Become the Spurs
So much was made of Brad Stevens’ admiration of Gregg Popovich last year. So it is no surprise that he returned for his second campaign with a revamped playbook and system that made every preseason game look like a respectable attempt at reenacting last year’s finals. But it’s more than just pushing the shooter deeper into the corners.
Last year, the Celtics couldn’t dribble the ball. It was just that simple. For all the issues they had, just having someone that could dribble into traffic and keep their head up would have swung several wins their way.
Jordan Crawford served in that role, albeit briefly and to an erratic effect. But adding Smart and Turner to the rotation opens up so many more lineup combinations and system implementations. The team is better built for sustained competition, rather than short runs sustained by high defensive pressure or hot shooting.
Although the opponent’s lineup was mostly laughable in the preseason, most of Stevens’ rotations showed the ability to operate comfortably in a motion-heavy system that had plenty of short passes, misdirections and flaring shooters. The weak side baseline will be the warmest zone on a mostly blue shot chart, but installing these components this year will allow for immediate contention when Danny Ainge brings the latent level up next year.
The constant ebb and flow of the "Will Rondo be Traded or Whatever" saga has established on conclusion: Rondo should be traded for an amazing package this season. Since that is as wishful as thinking can get, the objective is to optimize his value to the team.
Rondo will face a risky choice this offseason of whether he wants to sign a one-year deal and then cash in on a big contract in 2016 during the summer of TV money. Whatever he wants to do, the better he plays, the better it is for the Celtics. So they need to continue on their current path.
Build a solid offense around a great distributor. When he eventually leaves, whether it be this summer or a decade from now, they will be able to figure out a solution. But the more Rondo develops this year into a leader and dominant force, the better it is for the Celtics whether he stays or not.