Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Every year, Jeff Clark at Celtics Blog organizes team previews by bloggers from every team. It's a fun way to get through the September doldrums. So here's my crack at the Celtics preview. We'll be linking to everyone's previews when Jeff does all the organizing.
Team Name: Boston Celtics
Last Year’s Record: 50-32
Key Losses: BRIAN SCALABRINE!!
Key Additions: Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Von Wafer. Delonte West
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
Oh, you know… your run of the mill addition of one of the best centers of all time and a former multiple All-Star.
I know all the fuss has been made about Miami’s additions, and deservedly so. But the fact is Boston has had a fantastic offseason that not only fills holes in their roster, it does so in a way that jives with their long-term vision of building around Rajon Rondo. Paul Pierce is the only other current player on the Celtics roster under contract in the 2012/13 season.
So the additions of the O’Neal twins, Von Wafer and Delonte West are not only significant to the this year’s team because they fill much needed roles. They are significant in that they are all low-cost, low-risk, low-duration contracts that are not only easily jettisoned should they not pan out… they are easily jettisoned for younger players when the time comes to get younger and more athletic.
Praise Danny for doing what he needed to do for this year’s team to make a run. But also praise him for not handcuffing himself when it comes to building for the future.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Depth and Experience. Doc can practically make NHL-like line changes with this group. You need an advanced math degree to figure out all the possible different combinations Doc can use. And while that has not necessarily always been a good problem for Doc to have… it’s a great one when your average age is “Methuselah.”
Minutes can be doled out judiciously. Guys can be given extended time off in the regular season without completely jeopardizing wins and losses because there are experienced, quality players behind them. Doc can ride hot hands and if he needs to and if that equals big minutes one game, he can limit them the next game or give the player a day off (I’m looking at you, KG).
This current Celtics roster has nearly 900 playoff games worth of experience. There’s very little these guys haven’t seen or been through. So no matter who is on the court… and no matter what the situation that finds them on the court… they’ve been there before. You can trust most of these guys to get the job done.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The whole “Methuselah” thing.
Yeah, they’re old. Which means at some point, we’re all going to be figuring out how to deal with an injured player. And yes, we’re lucky enough to have the depth to deal with it, but we’re already dealing with an injured center in Kendrick Perkins. And O’Neals 1 and 2 are at higher risk of going down than the average center.
And yes, KG is another year off his knee surgery… so we’re guessing (hoping? praying?) that he’ll be stronger this year than last. But he’s also another year closer to the sunset… which just makes it so hard to trust his joints.
And of course our biggest fear should be at the small forward spot. Paul Pierce has been durable… but durability only lasts so long. And when your backup, sadly, is made of paper mache’, there’s a little big of a concern that we’ll have some patchwork filling-in to do at the 3. Considering the number of really good 3’s out there… that’s not an appetizing proposition.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Can I copy and paste last year’s answer? Championship or bust.
Look… you don’t load a roster up with old stars with their tanks licking “E” if you’ll be happy with an OK playoff seed and maybe a series win or two. This team is built to combat the strengths of our biggest playoff obstacles. They have depth to counter the mega-front-loaded Miami Heat… they’ve got a bunch of big guys to run at Dwight Howard (and the guards to stick to their shooters), and that same size will battle with LA’s trees.
This team is built as best as it can be to make anothe run… maaaaaaybe 2… at a title.
5. Are we going to suffer through another blown-off regular season?
Maybe… but probably not.
Yeah, I just asked myself a question that I can’t even answer. But we all saw what happened last year. Call it flipping a switch. Call it whatever you want. The regular season Celtics looked bored, disinterested and old. The playoff Celtics looked intense and, dare I say, spry.
Doc admitted that he had to limit minutes to make sure that these guys were ready for the playoffs. If you don’t think that’s going to happen again, you’re nuts.
If you just rolled your eyes at and said “here we go again…” you’re not paying attention to what I said earlier about the depth.
The fact is, the C’s have enough depth to counteract that the “limited minutes” thing. Of course, that’s not to say we’re looking at a 65 win team here. We’re probably looking at a 55 win team here. Which is enough to pull the team out of the 4th seed. And 5 more wins than last season…. even with the limiting of minutes… is pretty good. When you think about it… having a second unit that can win games that you lost last year is great. And when you have that added to a playoff team that actually gives a crap, it’s a pretty potent deal.
Predicted record: 55-27
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Erden Watch: Finals | WEEI: Celtics countdown: No. 7, Perk's surgery and Sheed's departure | Herald: Golden again: US captures world championship | ESPN: 'Toine shimmying to Charlotte, but for how long