Our friend, Jeff Clark over at Celtics Blog gets some blogger community together and organizes a great preview for the every team in the league, where 5 questions are answered. The fun kicks off today as CelticsHub’s own Brendan Jackson tackles a few questions regarding this team and we will be taking a look around the rest of the league in the weeks to come.
Team Name: Boston Celtics
Last Year’s Record: 50-32
Key Losses: Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen
Key Additions: Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Delonte West, Von Wafer
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
When Kendrick Perkins went down with a gruesome knee injury in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a collective uncertainty started to grow among Celtics fans. Not only would the Celtics starting center miss much of the 2010-2011 season, but their back-up center had decided to retire. The frontcourt looked thin and the Celtics title hopes looked grim. Then Danny Ainge seemed to pull off the impossible. With only the mid-level exception and the veteran minimum to work with, Ainge secured two former All Stars in Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal to bolster their frontcourt and to protect the psyche of the team’s fans.
The Celtics peppered the rest of the roster with some familiar faces and some potential steals. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Nate, Robinson, and Marquis Daniels all returned for at least one more title run and Delonte West, Von Wafer, Luke Harangody, and Avery Bradley joined via free agency and the Draft.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The Celtics biggest strength is their depth- or should I say potential depth. As currently constructed, any predicted success or strength of this Celtics team will be accompanied by the caveat “if healthy.” The majority of the Celtics stars as well as the team’s key offseason additions are on the wrong side of 30 with extensive injury histories. That said, this team is built for June and if the Celtics can boast a healthy lineup for the playoffs it’s hard to see any team outside of California or Florida beating them.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
While age and health will always be the Celtics’ greatest concern, this perceived weakness pales in comparison to the Celtics’ depth at the wing position. The Celtics lost their primary backup small forward and defensive specialist when Tony Allen signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. Surprisingly, Danny Ainge did not replace him but instead opted to give two roster spots to backup shooting guards (Von Wafer and Delonte West) and one to a center (Semih Erden) who probably will not see any court time this season. Unless someone is cut or a deal is struck, the Celtics seem ready to go into this season with Marquis Daniels as their backup small forward and defensive stopper. A prospect sure to draw mixed reviews.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Nothing has changed from last year, which means anything less than a championship is a failed season. The Celtics came within a four point swing of hoisting the franchise’s 18th banner and you would be hardpressed to find a satisfied member of this Celtics team. A championship becomes all the more important as the proverbial window closes even further on this team. Some players (Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West) also took significant paycuts to join this team and prevent history from repeating itself.
5. Will Kevin Garnett regain any of the athleticism he exhibited prior to his knee injury?
This has to be in the hearts and minds of Celtics fans as they look towards the 2011-2012 campaign. One of the biggest differences in Garnett’s play last year as oppose to his first year in Boston was his ability to accept alley-oops from Rajon Rondo and finish at a near perfect percentage. Post knee injury, fans have seen Ganett go from throwing down anything within three feet of the rim to tentative finger rolls and attempted putbacks. If Garnett can regain any of the athleticism that made him a superstar in this league, the Celtics will be a VERY dangerous team this season.