I thought KG didn’t want to play center…
Out: Ray Allen (MIA)…last year’s rookies Greg Stiemsma (MIN), E’Twuan Moore & JaJuan Johnson (HOU)…Mickael Pietrus, Jermaine O’neal (PHO), Keyon Dooling (retired).
PG Rajon Rondo Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee Jason Terry, Dionte Christmas
SF Paul Pierce Jeff Green, Kris Joseph (r)
PF Brandon Bass Jared Sullinger (r), Chris Wilcox
C Kevin Garnett Darko Milicic, Fab Mel0 (r), Jason Collins
Offseason Recap: Boston wanted to re-tool their roster with athleticism around the aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (whom they also re-signed). They did a very good job of this. It’s Rajon Rondo’s team now and he’s tired of waiting for the old guys to catch up to him down the court. Though they won’t admit it, losing Ray Allen was good as it allowed them the $ to improve multiple positions. SG Courtney Lee is a very good pick-up from Houston. It cost them both of last year’s rookies, Moore & Johnson, but they turned around and drafted two more good ones in Sullinger & Melo. The C’s also brought back former OKC lottery pick Jeff Green who missed last season following heart surgery. As for adding Jason Terry…I guess somebody had to sign him. Just when I thought Danny Ainge wasn’t going to add a starting caliber center, he beat the buzzer in late September adding Darko Milicic at the veterans minimum. I doubt Darko will start though, which means Garnett has more heavy lifting to do. At least team captain Paul Pierce is happy with the team’s offseason: “We’ve added all the ingredients you need to build a championship team.”
Strengths: Last season the team allowed the 2nd fewest ppg on defense, and I don’t see why this can’t continue (assuming Terry doesn’t play long stretches). Boston is still deadly coming down the stretch of big games. Rondo, Pierce, and Garnett are the new ‘Big Three’ and are scary in a halfcourt game. Now they just need the other, younger guys to help them get to those 4th quarters. The team is much better in the backcourt with Courtney Lee at the SG and Avery Bradley coming off the bench at his natural PG position. As long as Doc doesn’t play the JET too long (did I say that already?), this group is nice.
Weaknesses: This team was last in rebounding last season, and I don’t see that changing much…not unless Sullinger or Melo have an inner Rodman that nobody knows about. Kevin Garnett, who started at center last season, has said publicly that he doesn’t want start at C anymore. Danny Ainge obviously didn’t get the memo as he didn’t add starting center this offseason (are we counting Darko?). So, I guess it’s the same lineup again in Beantown with KG & Bass on the frontline. While the team did get younger and more versatile, 2 of their 3 best players are still very old. Garnett, I’m not so much concerned about…he came on strong last season. But you have to think that Pierce is due for an injury-plagued season after years of throwing his body around inside drawing fouls. Jeff Green could see huge minutes if Paul is banged up. The scoring must pick-up as well for Boston in 2012-13 and right off the bat…they were 26th last season in ppg.
Prediction: Now that Andrew Bynum has joined the 76ers I have a hard time believing that the Celtics will come back and win the division from Philly again this year…let alone stave off a possible banner year from either the Nets or Knicks (we’ve heard this one before). If Boston wins the division it will have to be from the outset, something I think is unlikely. The team will hold training camp in Europe, something they did back in 2007. Doc Rivers is hoping he can re-create that same magic with this group (got ubuntu?). Every season coach says he just wants to be healthy and playing well going into the playoffs…without regard to seeding. That will again be the case this season.
Remember when the Celtics were set at C with Kendrick Perkins? But then they decided against his price tag of over $8M/yr. Boston traded Perf for Jeff Green, who ended up getting an even bigger contract from Boston this summer ($36M over 4 yrs) than Perk got in OKC. In 2012-13, the Boston Celtics will likely again be one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Unless rookie Fab Melo is an immediate stud that will allow KG to play the PF spot, this team will again struggle on the boards. They’ll also have a hard time matching up with the likes of Indiana (Roy Hibbert), Philadelphia (Andrew Bynum), Chicago (Joakim Noah), and somewhat Brooklyn (Brook Lopez is hardly a rebounder, himself). Milicic will likely get more minutes against these teams, but can any team bank on Darko in big games? Oh, and as a parting shot: adding Jason Terry only makes the Celtic defense worse, while his best days are behind him offensively. Lastly, expect to see Jeff Green a lot this season in Paul Pierce’s spot due injuries.
I see the Celtics, with a banged up Paul Pierce, making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs and bowing out gracefully.