ESPN Insider David Thorpe is one of the first national basketball writers to realize the Celtics are locked and loaded for 2012-13.
His most recent column – Are the Celtics sneaky good?
Most of the talk this offseason has centered on the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat. Even the Philadelphia 76ers have drawn some interest with the addition of Andrew Bynum. Big trades and free-agent acquisitions will do that.
However, the Boston Celtics did neither (save for re-signing Kevin Garnett) and very quietly have had a tremendous offseason. With some good fortune this season, they could be just the team to break Miami’s stranglehold on the Eastern Conference crown.
Boston won the Atlantic Division last season and appears to be deeper and more talented this season. The Celtics should be able to pull off the magical combination of limiting their top players’ minutes without sacrificing much in terms of wins. Of course, having well-rested starters does not mean postseason wins are guaranteed, as the Spurs can attest. But last spring it was routine to see Garnett playing great for a long stretch, then huffing and puffing and resting with his hands on his shorts whenever he could.
In the end, a more energized Big Three for Boston is likely to make the Celtics a very tough beat in seven games. And if they can defeat Miami, no matter who among the Big Three turns out to be the biggest player of the series, the Celtics will have to thank Ainge and his sharp offseason moves for being the catalyst.
For those without Insider access, I can tell you that Thorpe cites the additions of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee (“dynamic on-ball defender”), Jeff Green (“strong chance to have career season”) and Jared Sullinger (“can help immediately as a rebounder”). I know – it’s stuff we’ve been talking about all summer.
His assertion that Fab Melo might score significant minutes (“his size and defensive disposition should be at a high enough level to earn minutes”) is a bit of a stretch to us, but maybe Thorpe knows something we don’t.
What separates Thorpe from most of his colleagues is the age factor. He just doesn’t see KG or Paul Pierce – aided by reduced minutes – falling flat next season.
Some national media members (Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, etc) are like cats and toddlers – they’re easily distracted by shiny objects. Come mid-season, when the Celtics are thriving and dominating, we’ll be inundated with the I-can’t-believe-Boston-is-doing-it-again commentary.