Coach: Doc Rivers
2007-08 Record: 62-20
Pythagorean Record for 07-08: 61-21
Offensive Rating: 110.5 (5th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 102.3(2nd)
Possessions per 48: 90.4 (18th)
|Offensive||52.8 (2nd)||.150 (29th)||.279 (7th)||.251 (7th)|
|Defensive||47.0 (3rd)||.140 (9th)||.756 (3rd)||.253 (23rd)|
Roster (Red indicates new acquisition, Blue indicates rookie) Click to Enlarge
I’m not sure adding Rasheed Wallace is going to help this team all that much. For all his talent, he’s never been a great offensive player, and in recent years has basically turned exclusively a jump shooter. 89% of his shot attempts last year were jumpers, which is pretty ridiculous for a power forward. His defense is still good, though age is taking a bit of a toll on that, but he’s not a particularly good rebounder. All in all, he’ll offer a bit of a different look, but I’m not sure he’s much of an improvement over Leon Powe as a backup big man.
I always forget just how consistently excellent Paul Pierce has been over the last few years. He’s not a mega-star on the order of LeBron or Chris Paul, but he’s one of the most well rounded forwards in the league, maybe of all time. He can score from anywhere on the court, rebounds, distributes and in recent years has really become a standout defensive player. The good news for Celtics fans is that his game isn’t overly dependent on explosive athleticism, so he’s likely to stay at this level for at least a few more years, barring injury (and you best hope he doesn’t get injured, ‘cause his backups are Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels. Ugh).
On the other hand, I think we’ll see a significant decline from Ray Allen this year. Yes, he’ll still be a great spot-up shooter, but more and more, that’s becoming all that he is. He looked visibly exhausted during the Orlando series, and as good as he was last season, at thirty-four I can’t see it holding up, and I think we’re going to see a marked decline from him.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how the Celtics paid $2.5 mil a year to Glen Davis and let Leon Powe go to the Cavs for the veteran’s minimum. I know Powe will be injured for part of the season, and Davis played well in the playoffs, but Powe is just a much better player. Davis is riding the strength of a few well timed mid-range jumpers in the playoffs, but he was decidedly below average during the regular season.
I’m worried about a lot of things with the Celtics this season, but the Rajon Rondo situation isn’t one of them. Stuff was said over the summer, feelings were hurt, but it’s not going to affect his play. Rondo is young, but he’s got enough vets around him to keep him level, and he’s got so much potential to grow into. He needs to improve his jumpshot, and he still turns the ball over too much, but everything else is there for him to be an elite player. He’s an elite defender, an elite rebounder (for his position), he’s a very good finisher around the rim, and his court vision made a big jump last year. A consistent jumper is the only thing holding him back from being a perennial all-star at this point, and just how much he improves could very well determine the outcome of Boston’s season.
X-Factor: Kevin Garnett’s Knee – Nothing is as important for the Celtics this season as the health of KG. If he’s fully healthy, they can contend. If he’s not, they can’t. It’s that easy. The margin for error in Boston is much smaller than it was two years ago when they won the title, and anything less than Garnett at 100%, anchoring that defense, isn’t going to be enough. That’s why Doc Rivers saying KG hadn’t gotten back to playing full-court basketball a few weeks ago makes me wary. They can live without him for the beginning of the season, but he has to be healthy by the end. When he’s healthy, he’s the most versatile defender in the league, runs a great pick and roll with Rondo, is a mismatch for basically everyone, and lifts the whole team to a different level. When he’s not healthy, Boston is simply “pretty good”.
Honestly, I don’t get the idea that Boston is the favorite in the East, and I’ve seen a lot of people voice that opinion. Yes, Rondo is much better than he was a couple years ago, and KG will be back, but that view overlooks a lot of things that have changed since this team won the title. The bench is weaker, the Big Three are older, KG is coming off an injury, and the competition is much stronger. Is this team still a title contender? Absolutely, but there’s also a lot of questions with this roster. On the plus side, I don’t think there’s a more intense team in the league than Boston. They play all-out, and they aren’t scared of making the occasional mistake if it means that they’re putting pressure on their opponents. They turned the ball over a ton, and gave up a lot of free throws to their opponents, but that aggressiveness allowed them to dominate basically every other facet of the game. There’s something to be said for playing with constant intensity, and that’s a lot of what KG brings to this team. We’ll just have to see if the Celtics’ old legs can hold up to that.
3rd in the East – The Big Three
BallerBlogger contributing writer ‘xphoenix87′ is a college student who dreams of one day writing about sports for a living. Since that’s not gonna happen, he’ll do this instead.