Shocker: Red's Army predicts the Celtics will win Banner 18 this year. We've heard all the knocks – the Big 3 are aged, tired and worst of all – satisfied. Posey is gone and so is P.J. Brown. That criticism is legit. But the main reason why I believe the Celtics could/should repeat: what the C's gained in playoff experience outweighs the improvements made by their challengers.
There are two serious contenders in the Eastern conf.: Cleveland and Detroit. After losing to the C's in the ECF, Pistons GM Joe Dumars was pretty emphatic about re-tooling the roster. The off-season is over and the only change to Detroit is a new coach – Michael Curry. Sorry Motown, he's not the answer.
As for the Cavs, LBJ finally has a point guard (Mo Williams) to ease his burden. The Cavs are good, but I still prefer an experienced 3-headed monster over a cyclops (does that analogy make sense?). Maybe next year LeBron can give the city a championship as his going away gift.
Jumping out West, the Lakers have Andrew Bynum returning and the Hornets have James Posey. The Spurs will hopefully have a healthy Manu Ginobli. And there's the remote chance Ron Artest has a positive influence on Tracy McChoke and the Rockets. But the Celtics will only have to face one of those teams.
We're still miles ahead of LA defensively (a concept very few "experts" get – even after last year), and more experienced than NO and Houston. That leaves SA as the only team I truly fear out west.
Let's get back to the Celtics. Here's how I see the rotation shaking out…
Rondo, Ray, Pierce, KG and Perkins are the starters. Powe (have you noticed how polished his offensive game has become?) and Tony are the first two men off the bench. Eddie House and Patrick O'Bryant are next (I really like POB's game and I'm hoping he and Perk push one another). By my count, that's a nine man rotation. Glen Davis makes ten….but could get more time if POB disappoints. Even if Doc's secondary goal (winning the game being first) is to limit the Big 3s minutes, I don't see a lot of room for Bill Walker or Gabe Pruitt despite their mildly impressive pre-seasons. If TA is erratic, I can already hear the calls for Rivers to give Walker a shot.
In a nutshell, the Celtics cruise to 60 wins in the regular season, have a much easier go in the conference playoffs and then square off against the Spurs in one helluva NBA Finals. Sounds like an enjoyable season to me. For those craving a more detailed season preview with records of each team and round by round playoff predictions – log onto www.kissmycelticsass.com.
"They lost a couple guys, P.J. and Posey, that fit in their rotation. They'll be a team that has to be watched. I don't know if they'll start off the same way they started last [season]. But they're certainly a good team and they'll be around there."
Hey Phil, the Sixers and Raptors are teams that have "to be watched." The Celtics should be feared, especially by soft teams like your Lakers.
Today's Links: Globe – Giddens Ready for D-League | Blazers Bad-mouthing Miles | LA Times- Lakers/Celtics Finals Would Rock | NY Times – Celtics Stand Out | Charley Rosen – Potential Threats to Celtics/Lakers