Blazersedge 2008-09 Season Preview: The Boston Celtics

We’re going to honor the champs by giving them their own slot in the preview this weekend.

 

BOSTON CELTICS

Record:  66-16, 1st Atlantic Division, 1st in Eastern Conference, NBA Champions

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

2nd in opponent scoring (90.3 ppg)

4th in field goal % 

1st in opponent field goal %

5th in three-point % 

5th in steals

1st in ppg differential (+10.3 ppg)

4th in opponent turnovers

 

Others:

11th in the league in scoring (100.5 ppg)

9th in free throw attempts per game

8th in free throw percentage

9th in assists

25th in blocks

25th (tie) in turnovers

Low-Average offensive rebounding team

Good defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  Patrick O’Bryant, J.R. Giddens (R)

Significant Subtractions:  James Posey

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Doc Rivers

 

Key Players

PG: Rajon Rondo, Gabe Pruitt

SG: Ray Allen, Eddie House, Tony Allen

SF:  Paul Pierce, Bill Walker

PF:  Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, Brian Scalabrine

C:  Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Patrick O’Bryant

 

Comments

 

Looking at the Celtics’ manhandling of the L*kers in the NBA Finals it’s easy to say, “Of course they were destined to win it all.”  This is revisionist history.  It’s easy to forget Boston’s early-round struggles with the Atlanta Hawks.  It’s easy to forget that before the Finals series much of the country was asking whether the L*kers would win in five or six games.  Boston shut them up, and that was no accident.  The key to any title win is talent.  But heart, determination, passion, and sacrifice separate the talented teams from one another.  Boston showed all of those qualities last year.  Their victory wasn’t a foregone conclusion.  They had to mesh three star players.  They coaxed extra production out of their role players.  As a team they made each other look very, very good…maybe as good as they could look.  And therein lies the issue.  Was last year the norm for Boston or the pinnacle?  If winning one title is a monumental effort--physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally--winning two in a row is darn near superhuman.  It’s hard to re-create that passion, desire, and unity even when the talent is the same.

 

The Celtics lost one player over the summer.  James Posey was a veteran defender who could score enough to keep defenses honest.  He was one of those high-achieving role players every title team needs.  They didn’t replace him.  But the heart of the team is obviously the Garnett, Pierce, Allen triangle.  Having won 66 last season they can afford to drop a couple because of the esoteric ramifications of a missing sixth man.  Heck, they could probably drop a dozen more and still be the scariest team in the East matchup-wise come playoff time.  This is going to be the challenge for the rest of the conference…not so much figuring out how to capture the #1 seed, but figuring out how to win four of seven no matter what Boston’s seed is.  Some will point to the decline of Ray Allen as a ray of hope, but Allen doesn’t have to be First Team All-NBA to help this squad.  As long as he can hit a three and score 18 his job is done.  His decreased production was partially due to decreased minutes, which should lengthen his career rather than heralding the end of it.  Besides, Boston won primarily on the strength of its defense.  That was never Allen’s forte anyway.  Posey’s departure could affect the defensive end somewhat but it’s hard to imagine the whole team falling apart.  Short of injury or locker-room brawls it’s hard to imagine this team doing much of anything besides winning.  They were so dominant last season (that +10 point differential means they averaged a double digit win per night, about 3 points more than their next nearest competitor) they’d have to fall off of a cliff to be considered out of it.

 

So what do we have?  A veteran team, maybe not quite as hungry, maybe not quite as apt defensively, but still packed with power and having shown no signs of falling apart yet.  Someday soon the league will be able to dance over the Celtics’ grave, but it won’t be this year.  They probably won’t win 65+ again but if they’re not in the Finals, they’ll be close.

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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