Every year, Jeff at Celtics Blog gets everyone in the blog world together to do a quickie preview of their respective teams. Today, we Celtics bloggers are kicking it off by taking a look at our squad. Later today, I'll have links to the rest of the C's previews today so we can compare and contrast. When camp is over, Chuck and I will take a more in-depth look at the upcoming season.
Team Name: Boston Celtics
Last Year's Record: 62-20
Key Losses: Leon Powe
Key Additions: Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace
What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The Celtics took a weakness from last year, their bench, and made it one of their strengths. They targeted Rasheed Wallace immediately to finally go into a season with a legit big man rather than trying to add length right before the playoffs. They got Marquis Daniels to get back some of what they lost in James Posey. And they brought back a versatile player in Glen Davis, who finished last year with more skills than he had when he started.
But maybe the most underrated move, which really wasn't a "move" per se, made during the offseason was retaining Tom Thibodeau. Everyone thought for sure he was going to get a head coaching job. I had written him off. But him coming back is a huge deal for the C's. Shelden Williams told me that camp has started out very defense-heavy… and Thibs is really intense out there. Having that type of teacher around will help the new guys fit in a lot faster.
What are the team's biggest strengths?
Depth. You can have Wallace, Daniels, Davis and Eddie House out there at the same time and have a second unit that can more than hold its own. I've been harping on the "limit the Big 3's minutes" thing since they became the "Big 3"… but this is finally the bench that can make it happen comfortably. All 4 of those guys mentioned could easily play 20-25 minutes a game. Not only that… that 4-man team is so versatile, it can play with ANY one of our starters. You could put them out there with Perk and give one look… or you can put them out there with Rondo and give an entirely different look.
What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Age. It's really the only weakness. You can say a lack of back-up point, but I think we can get by as is. But age is a bastard. Every bump and bruise takes a little longer to heal. The knees stay sore a little longer. Like a car, you can only put so many miles on the engine.
Luckily, we've got a group of guys who take fitness very seriously. These guys are all in great shape. So it's not like we're cringing watching them out there. But you can't just run these guys into the ground. If we get into a situation where Pierce, KG or Ray Allen have to play huge minutes during the season again… we're looking at guys running out of gas come playoff time… and running up their own risk of injury.
What are the goals for this team?
Banner 18 or bust. What more can I say? It will be hard to say anything other than going to a parade in June equals a successful season.
Ok, we get that we need a healthy KG. So who's the OTHER most important player on the team?
Rajon Rondo. We saw during the playoffs that Rondo can lead this team to victories. He's the leader on the floor. And in two days of camp, we've already heard a lot about how much better he looks. He's worked on his jumper and he's taking it with confidence in scrimmages. He's worked on his body and he's come back with more muscle. He's worked on his defense and he's learning not to gamble as much.
Sometimes we forget that Rondo is a really young guy. He's not even 24 yet. He's REALLY good right now… and he's still years away from his prime. He's still getting better… but he's plenty good enough to be the second most important player on this team. And with the addition of Rasheed Wallace to absorb any lost KG minutes… you could argue that Rondo is THE most important guy.
I only hope he gets the message to wear tighter shoes. I'm sick of those things falling off his feet during games.
Predicted record: 64-18. I've spent the last two years arguing that reduced Big 3 minutes will mean some early, inconsequential losses. But even if those minutes ARE finally reduced… the bench is good enough to hold or extend leads. Hell, they're good enough to take back leads and win games. So I'm betting they don't even get to 20 losses.