Our friend Jeff Clark over at CelticsBlog has organized a pretty cool feature with blogs on NBA teams all around the web joined together to provide mini previews on each of their squads. The Celtics team previews start today, so Celtics Hub answered some questions about this year’s team and will be comparing and contrasting our answers with other Celtics blogs later today. Celtics Hub will also have a more in-depth preview on the team later this month. For now, let’s get to the questions:
Team Name: Boston Celtics
Last Year’s Record: 62-20
Key Losses: Leon Powe
Key Additions: Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace, the loss of Mikki Moore
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
Danny Ainge really made a concerted effort this offseason to provide the revamp the C’s bench with considerable talent and depth. Last season, the C’s were exposed for lacking in these departments with the combination of the injury bug hitting the team hard along with the failed experiments of Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore.
This offseason, the team went after some big names to cover these deficiencies with great success. It starts in the frontcourt with the addition of big man Rasheed Wallace who will help spread the floor offensively as well as provide stellar defense down low.
Shelden Williams was also brought in, and while he won’t add much offensively, he will provide an interior presence with his great rebounding and shot blocking abilities. The acquisition of Wallace combined with the re-signing of Glen Davis gives the team personnel up front as deep and talented as anyone in the league.
The signing of Marquis Daniels was also another crucial move in this team’s offseason. Daniels took a major pay cut to come to Boston, following the allure of winning much like Wallace did. Daniels provides much needed depth at the SG/SF spot which will allow the team to reduce the minutes of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Daniels also provides the versatility to play the point, giving the 2nd unit an extra weapon with dribble drive skills that will mesh well with a bench full of capable shooters (Eddie House, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace)
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Overall talent and depth, without question. Paul Pierce has stated in recent interviews that he thinks this team is more talented than the C’s championship squad from a couple years back and on paper, I would have to agree with him on that.
As composed, the C’s will have eight players that are capable of starting for the majority of NBA teams in the league. With the starting lineup back in form, we all know what this unit is capable of, steamrolling out to a 27-2 record last year, routinely putting games out of reach before the 4th quarter.
Last year, the bench had trouble maintaining these leads but the new and improved 2nd unit should match up well with any other benches in the league, and some starting units too for that matter. Expect a lot of nights with only 25-30 minutes needed from the starters, with a C’s bench now that could hold its weight.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Right now, it would have to be the age/injury concerns surrounding the senior members of the starting lineup and Rasheed Wallace. KG appears to be on his way back to full health but with four crucial members of the team on the wrong side of 30, one can’t help but be concerned about whether everyone’s body will be able to hold up for the entire campaign.
I also am somewhat concerned to see how the team’s backup point situation will play out, as if Marquis Daniels has to fill that void primarily, someone else will have to step up to backup Paul Pierce. Bill Walker is a likely candidate but his recent knee injury could be a step back in that department. Doc will have to do some mixing and matching in all probability to consistently fill that void but the team has enough strengths elsewhere to cover up a deficiency here.
4. What are the goals for this team?
This team will not be satisfied unless it brings home another championship. Right now, there look to be five viable contenders out there for an NBA Championship. Considering the C’s took one of these teams (Magic) to seven games last season at far less than full strength, anything less than a NBA Finals return trip with this revamped squad would be a letdown. The time is now for this aging team full of stars and the focus will be immense to bring the title back to Beantown.
5. The Celtics are down 1 with the ball, with 9 seconds left. What is the play call?
Paul Pierce isolating his defender at the top of the key and making a move for a midrange jumper is the default play for this sequence. Luckily the C’s have discovered a secondary option for Paul’s isolation in the form of Ray Allen, one of the best pure shooters in the game. Therefore the play call now would still begin with Pierce isolating. The Truth occupies the defense with a move to the hoop, then dishes to Ray Allen who pops free in the corner after a back screen. Ray drills the open 3 and the C’s go home with another win.
Predicted Record: 65-17*
*Brian’s prediction, not a consensus of Celtics Hub. I know I don’t speak for Zach on this and will probably be fighting with him throughout the preseason on it, since he has a far more modest and rational expectation for a regular season record for teams this year.