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Celtics’ Goals: A 2007-2008 Perspective

 

Training Camp is a fun time. Every team has a sense of optimism and excitement about the upcoming season. Even Michael Beasley feels that his T’Wolves are a legitimate title contender. And more power to him. The Timberwolves could really use some positive thinking after doing nothing this offseason to make their team markedly better.

The Celtics, on the other hand, did do some things during the offseason; some big things. With rebounding being a giant concern, the Celtics upgraded their frontcourt by replacing Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams with Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal, respectively.

Last season, Rasheed Wallace looked up and down the Celtics’ roster and saw a 72 win team. Again, positive thinking is always a good thing but that comment proved to be borderline insanity. At the very same time Wallace was making his bold and ultimately inaccurate predictions, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge were describing Wallace as needing to “play himself into shape“. As evident from his Game 7 Finals performance, Rasheed never really did play himself into shape and severely hurt his back trying to leave everything he had of his 15 year career on the floor that night.

Coupled with Wallace’s physique was Glen Davis’ broken thumb and the questionable decision-making that caused the mishap. These story lines plagued the beginning of last season and threatened to derail the Celtics title hopes really before they began.

This year, the cast of characters are different and so are the story lines. After proving to the world that the main components of this Celtics team had enough left in the tank to come within six minutes and four points of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the story lines are predictably upbeat.

Paul Pierce went so far as to say this was the most talented team for which he had ever played:

“I just feel,” Pierce said, “like this is one of our most talented teams from top to bottom, more talented a team that I’ve been on since I’ve been a Celtic.” (Worcester Telegram)

This is not all that unfathomable. Two years ago, the Big Three Era was ushered into Boston with similar fanfare. No one knew what to expect from this newly constructed triumvirate of basketball fortitude. Three years and two Finals appearances later, there may be an even bigger, more confident air about the start of this season than in 2007.

If this is the most talented team Pierce has played for as a Celtic, then that means this team is just as/ if not more equipped to win the title this year than the one who did in 2008. While the Celtics are still without a replacement for one of their key cogs of the 2007-2008 team (James Posey), the Celtics have upgraded their roster in nearly every aspect when compared with the 2007 team.

The Celtics have upgraded the point guard position from a young Rajon Rondo, a limited Eddie House, and an ineffective Sam Cassell, to a more experienced Rondo, a more versatile Nate Robinson, and a solid rotation player in Delonte West.

Their rookies are better with the stud-in-waiting Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody being a vast improvement on the never-used Gabe Pruitt and the still-young Glen Davis. The end of the bench is better where former flashes Von Wafer and Delonte West replace the injured Scot Pollard, Tony Allen, and fan-favorite Brian Scalabine.

The Celtics’ frontcourt is also much improved, swapping a solid P.J. Brown and Leon Powe, with former superstars Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal.

On paper, it looks like Pierce is right, but will this team live up to the 2007-2008 team’s accomplishments? Or will they go the route of last years team, tank the regular season, and put it all together for the playoffs?

The 2007-2008 team did two very impressive things in the NBA world. They won the NBA Championship and they won 66 games.

Given the relevancy of the latter accomplishment, Doc Rivers is hopeful that this team does not take the regular season for granted:

“I do not want to repeat what we went through last year,” Rivers said after the opening day of training camp at Salve Regina University. “What you can say to them is that if we had won more games and taken care of business at home, then Game 7 would have been in Boston and that would have made a huge difference.

“But that is on us. What we did last season was out of necessity. It wasn’t planned. But when we had all the injuries, we had to make a tough call. Guys were in rehab. We were resting guys in the middle of the season. We were dropping games to teams you know you can beat. That is difficult for a coach to sit there and take. I am really, really hoping we don’t have to do any of that this year. Because it’s no fun. It’s no fun at all.”


“You go through a lull this year like we did last year and you’ll end up being a seventh seed,” Rivers said. “There simply are too many good teams. Everyone has to play.” (ESPNBoston)

Ray Allen echoes this sentiment while also recognizing the need to take the season one game at a time:

“The focus now is playing a great regular season,” Ray Allen said. “It has to be. What we went through last year, it was a classic example of saying, ‘What we are about to do is going to be the hardest thing we’ve done in our lives.’ Regardless of the process, or the road we took, we got to where we wanted to be.” (ESPNBoston)

On paper this team is better than the one who took to floor in 2007, but paper does not account for injuries, something of which an older team should always be weary. Whether the Celtics can stay healthy and focused remains to be seen. That being said, the hope and the expectations are both high- and right where they need to be.

  • BlahblahblahMarquisDaniels

    57-17

  • Zain

    The only goal is a championship. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. October 26th can’t come soon enough!

  • Rangatiratanga

    63-19 and LMAO at Beasley.He must still be smoking that IRIE regularly.

  • Rangatiratanga

    We WERE a home game 7 away from that 18th banner.Either that or a healthy Perk.

  • PJ

    I would love for us to get no. 18 this year while having the best regular season record but the biggest difference between 2008 and 2011 is that are Big 3 are older and are not a lock to stay healthy and/or as productive as they were 3 years ago. We simply don’t know how much they have left in the tank.

    Sure we have more recognizable names on our roster this year than in 2008 but we don’t know what the O’Neals will bring to the table and our younger recruits like West and Wafer are not exactly know for their temperance.

  • Sweeney

    The season hasn’t even started and I am already tired of BBD. Can someone just tell this Dude that he will not be a starter with the C’s. Sure go ahead after this year and take the cash to start somewhere else, but you will not be as effective. Play your part of the bench mob, have success, and enjoy all that you can. Though stop whining, or you may just get what you want with the NETS.

  • Perry

    There isn’t much to take away from one scrimmage, but there is insight to be gained from the past two days.

    1- All summer long I have maintained that the organization was keenly aware it would not be able replicate last years template. The players understand sleep walking through the regular season is a recipe for disaster. We cannot expect them to win 3 straight playoff series on the road. The regular season has new importance since the east is loaded. Managing minutes will be critical, but Doc has the necessary depth to mix and match to find those winning combinations.

    2- It’s been very quiet on the Von Wafer front. This kid might have made an immediate impact, or at least be given verbal praise in the press, but that was before Delonte showed up. Clearly he is number three on the SG depth chart and is vulnerable if Gaffney steps up. I would not rule out a McCants sighting in training camp either.

    3- Shaq’s attitude has really impressed me and I expect the harmonious vibes to continue throughout the season. This dude is totally secure in who he is and what effect his legacy will have on the game. It’s pretty refreshing to hear an athlete profess he was ready to play for free — given the narcissistic culture we live in.

    4- BBD made the loudest noise so far, and as stupid as he may have sounded his words were innocuous at best. Surely he knows his role is to be a firebrand off the bench. From my perspective he’s letting off a little steam about being taken out of his role by Sheed. Now he’ll called upon to pick and pop again. He won’t have to endure as many under the rim shots being swatted away either. Davis is underrated as a cutter, and he’ll benefit greatly from Shaq facilitating from the low post. It’s a contract year and we should see a mature, but playful baby.

  • s8anicfalcon

    @BlahblahblahMarquisDaniels Check your math bro. NBA season consists of 82 regular season games, Unless, of course, you’re expecting the C’s to either sweep 2-0 or be swept 0-2 in their opening round playoff series. That obviously makes sense too…

  • http://CelticsHub.com Brendan Jackson

    @ Perry

    To point #2: Alex Kennedy tweeted these earlier:

    “Source confirms that Von Wafer will sign in China if cut by the Boston Celtics. With that said, the team has been very impressed with him.”

    and

    “Von Wafer tweaked his ankle as training camp opened in Boston but he has been impressing all of the right people both on and off the court.”

    http://twitter.com/alexkennedynba

    To point #4: “innocuous at best” is exactly right. Look for a post later today saying just that.

  • thetruthhurts

    65-17

    (for the second seed in the east, but better than fakers in the west… expect the eastern conf. champs to be more epic than finals aka whoever wins the east wins it all)

  • NHBluesMan

    i’m even more excited for this year than the 08 run, and really (as it’s been said before) health is the key factor.

    If everyone is healthy come play-off time, i don’t see any team that can stop us. Abbot wrote an interesting article on the Heat’s bench and made some great points (everyone is saying the Heat will just run the whole game, but outside of the Nazgul, they don’t have anyone who can continually run an up tempo game) The Lakers don’t even scare me, since Kobe is no-where near the player he used to be (still has the drive, but has lost alittle mojo) and Shaq and Jermaine can just get Bynum and Gasol into foul trouble

    BUT, all of this comes with the stipulation that we NEED to be healthy come playoff time! Doc can handle the personalities, Shaq seems to have accepted the idea of being a role player, and i’m not worried about Delonte, since he’s now in a healthy team system with his big brother figure (Shaq) to help keep him in check.

    This year is gonna be great!

    GET GREEN!! GO C’s!!!!

  • Perry

    @Brendan

    … thanks for the chatter on Wafer. Kennedy’s tweets are very reliable. I anxiously await next week to see him play. Danny would have an interesting move to ponder if he bombs out since Delonte will miss the first ten games, and we can only speculate about AB. Baring the ankle Wafer should be given a legit opportunity to make the roster.

  • Kevin

    Jermaine O’Neal is not an upgrade over Leon. Leon did the dirty work that the veterans didn’t. Jermaine just brings a big name not a big heart.

  • CRizik

    We have the personnel to win a championship, I know that, and if everybody’s healthy, we will do it. Forget about Miami, Orlando and the Lakers, a healthy Celtics team will hang the 18th banner on the rafter. I just hope that Perk’s injury will not be the first of many more to come, because let’s face it: This is an old-injury prone team.

  • K.C.

    64-18

  • TryAndKeepUp
  • Jeff

    Cruise to a nice cushy 62-20 while still being rested.

    LA will get the injury bug this year and be around 59 wins while being swept by the REAL champs. Home court for the C’s in the Finals and C’s take it in 5…with a vengeance!

    C’s will have won two of the three matchups, two title’s in the span of two for LA, Kobe dies with 5 rings and Shaq gets 5 and 6 next year laughing the whole way. Phil retires, and River’s comes back one more year to give another B-Slapping to the league before riding off into the HOF with the Big Three and Shamrock.

    Life is good…

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