Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010-2011 Boston Celtics

I was quick to make fun of the Celtics standing pat and adding Jermaine the Drain in the early going of the offseason, but I've come around. I like the roster now. Who cares if they're older than the local 40-and-up church league squad that play every Thursday night from 7:15 to 8:10 on a running clock. They also probably have the most All-Star appearances of any random team ever. They have talent out the wazoo, regardless of if any of that talent will need offseason wazoo surgery.

2010-2011 Boston Celtics

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo/Delonte West/Avery Bradley
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen/Nate Robinson/Von Wafer
Small Forward: Paul Pierce/Marquis Daniels
Power Forward: Kevin Garnett/Jermaine O'Neal/Glen Davis
Center: Kendrick Perkins/Shaquille O'Neal

If healthy (if healthy (if healthy (if healthy (IF HEALTHY)))), the Celts have one of the all-time front courts in league history. Between the returning trio of KG, Perkins, and Big Baby plus the additions of the O'Neal brothers-from-other-mothers, there should never be a lay-up that isn't blocked or a rebound that isn't gobbled up. If one of those two things occurs on any of these guys' collective watches, they should be swapped out for their bench mates immediately. Jermaine and Kevin have spent the last decade pairing up against each other in the East vs. West starting line-up with Shaq buddying up with whichever one was in his ever-changing conference at the time. These guys are all capable of putting up monster production on any given night, impacting the game at a dominant level from the paint, and yet they still have the biggest safety net of any frontline in the league even if any of them don't show up. It might even be better that Perk is gonna miss a good chunk of the early going because that gives the O'Neals more minutes to feel out how they're going to fit in with the rest of this former championship collective.

Their guard rotation ain't that shabby either. Though they gave up on longtime Celtic Tony Allen and grandpa Michael Finley, they brought back former Boston draftee Delonte West, drafted potential lead guard stud Avery Bradley, and took a chance on streaky gunner Von Wafer. Delonte is probably the only one of the three who's gonna get quality clock this season, but he naturally gets to slide back in with Pierce, Rondo (his '07 back-up), and Allen (the guy he was traded for). I do think this is the year, though, where Paul Pierce has to relinquish top-dog status to Rondo. Rajon is the future (as well as the current) of this team and everyone needs to be on the same page recognizing that. The tempo, the offensive attack, and the initial line of defense will all be dictated by him. I know that there's a lot of people in the camp that loaded teams don't necessarily need to pinpoint one guy as the man, but I'm not one of those people. Pierce, Allen, Garnett, and Shaq all need to know that this is Rondo's team. That's all.

Bringing it back to the biggest of the big men, I think Shaq can have a solid impact on this team. And I mean way more than he did on the Cavs. When paired with Garnett at his best, you have the ultimate defensive combo of the monstrous anchor and the active help-side shot blocker. Plus they're two of the premier low post passers of their generation. There's no reason they can't emulate a Divac-Webber type intent in their passing game; it's one of the few basketball skills that age shouldn't deter at all. This should help Ray Ray coming off screen, Rondo off back cuts, and even Pierce in iso situations simply because of the threat of it. Shaq's much more suited for a deliberate slow down offense like Doc Rivers implements than he was in the let-LeBron-create-everything offense of Cleveland. On both sides of the floor I expect Shaq to have an impact. You don't have to have that much faith in the legs of the oldest guy in the game today, but I just know that he knows how to play the game. So he'll fit in. Trust me.

At the very worst, this Celtics team looks to be a whole lot more consistent. There were stretches last season where they legitimately looked terrible. They had some downright shameful home losses that set them up for their little-to-no expectations in the playoffs. That's pretty much the only way you can have a championship starting line-up and still have people who are innately surprised when they made it out of the second round. Health will be the annoying redundant keyword all season, but I have them increasing their win total by 7 games (still 9 less than their winning '08 season) and actually beating the Miami Heat to return to their third championship series in the last four years. But guess who they lose to? Deja vu ...

Regular Season: 57-25
Playoffs: Eliminated in NBA Finals

... and do the John Wall.

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so what did ya think about whatever the heck i wrote?