The Boston Celtics have been here before. They have heard the talk about it being their last shot at a title from the media and even their coach, Doc Rivers for at least three seasons now.
“I’ve heard that every year that I’ve been here,” said Ray Allen. “I don’t look at it any different. I count each day. I feel like I’m on borrowed time right now.”
As de ja vu as it may seem this time it is for real. Well sort of.
Next season the contracts of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will both be expired giving the Celtics cap room in the area of $20 million. Surely the Celtics will be players in the 2012 free agency market. But that is next year.
This year Boston’s focus is staying healthy and getting into the playoffs whatever way they can. Thinking is to be a champion you have to beat the best regardless so seeding isn’t of paramount importance, although home court would be nice.
The Big Four remain the core of the team and in a condensed season the bench is going to have to eat up minutes to give the regular starters ample rest. Celtics GM, Danny Ainge, aware of that fact made attempts to solidify the bench with multiple trades and acquisitions. Some successful, others not so much. Ainge took a shot at landing Chris Paul, David West, and even Reggie Evans to name a few. The Celtics were spurned as some of those players chose more desirable or, eh hem more lucrative situations.
Brandon Bass and Keyon Dooling were both added via trade. Bass is considered an upgrade over Glen Davis while Dooling provides a calming veteran presence at the point while Rondo has to rest. (Avery Bradley just isn’t ready).
Chris Wilcox was added via the new mini mid level exemption and Marquis Daniels was brought back at the veteran’s minimum. Wilcox has the ability to score down low and rebound when motivated. Hopefully wearing green will keep him engaged all season long. Daniels is a familiar face and favorite of both the players and coaching staff. He will be pressed into action early and often.
In a surprising last minute transaction, Mickael Pietrus signed for the veteran’s minimum after being waived by the Phoenix Suns. There are some concerns about his knee, but if healthy Pietrus becomes the swingman needed to replace Jeff Green who is out for the year with an aortic aneurism. For Pietrus his shot selection must improve but defensively he should be able to pick up the Celtics philosophy.
The University of Purdue rookies JaJuan Johnson and E’twaun Moore have been better than advertised. Johnson is now under the tutelage of Garnett which is not a task easily handled. While Moore once considered an afterthought could see rotational minutes after an impressive camp and pre-season.
While the rookies will provide a nice youth movement of sorts it is the old guard that must carry the team forward. Already Paul Pierce is day to day with a bruised heel that will most likely keep him out of the season opener. Sasha Pavlovic has shockingly won the starting job over Daniels to start the season, hopefully Pierce will not be out too long.
To be successful the team needs to avoid the long stretches of offensive ineptitude and lackluster rebounding. The bench will be more consistent in those areas but turnovers will still be abound.
Due to the nature of the season, the age of the players, and the mere fact Boston needs to get younger the new additions will see a lot of minutes. Boston will remain competitive this season but as stated seeding is secondary to health.
Realistically the best case scenario is the Celtics finish second in the Atlantic Division with a fourth seed in the conference. Once they are in the playoffs there is no telling where their last stand will take them.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com