The Boston Celtics just completed one of the stranger seasons in recent NBA history. A veteran team expected to be one of the favorites for the NBA crown, the Celtics slacked off for much of the 2009-10 season, finishing with just 50 wins and suffering several embarrassing home losses to non-playoff teams. Then, in the playoffs, they completely flipped the switch, knocking out Eastern Conference favorites Cleveland and Orlando relatively easily before nearly defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
The core of the team is a year older, so a decline could be in order. But if you ask Celtics bloggers, the team should actually be even better this season.
Why? SB Nation's Celtics Blog feels that the team had a much better offseason than anyone thinks.
Imagine if you were the GM of the New Jersey Nets or some other team with gobs of cap room and only a few players (say a young point guard and center) locked in. Say you went out and signed Paul Pierce, Ray Allen,Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels and you got them all for relatively short years and fairly cap friendly deals. You're doing cartwheels right? Fantastic, A+ summer haul.
Well, that's just the guys that the Celtics re-signed. Toss in Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Delonte West, and Von Wafer and you are talking about an exceptional offseason. Especially when you consider the only realistic alternative would have been to detonate the whole thing by letting Ray Allen walk and shopping Kevin Garnett around to anyone who would take him. Rebuilding can wait. I'll take another shot or two at banner 18.
Red's Army agrees, wondering, in typical Boston sports fashion, why the Celtics' offseason hasn't received more positive press.
I know all the fuss has been made about Miami's additions, and deservedly so. But the fact is Boston has had a fantastic offseason that not only fills holes in their roster, it does so in a way that jives with their long-term vision of building around Rajon Rondo. Paul Pierce is the only other current player on the Celtics roster under contract in the 2012/13 season.
So the additions of the O'Neal twins, Von Wafer and Delonte West are not only significant to the this year's team because they fill much needed roles. They are significant in that they are all low-cost, low-risk, low-duration contracts that are not only easily jettisoned should they not pan out... they are easily jettisoned for younger players when the time comes to get younger and more athletic.
Danny Ainge certainly did a good job, but it should be noted that these are basically your Celtics for the next two seasons. That's fine, but I'm not sure I'd say they maintained their cap flexibility.
One of those new players is the Big Leprechaun himself, Shaquille O'Neal. Celtics 24/7 writes that we shouldn't sleep on him.
Alot of people question the Shaq signing, or just plain out minimize it. With Boston's already solid defense Shaq will just be the icing on the cake. Like Perk, Shaq moves like a stalled tugboat. The range of KG in the post will close Shaq more into the paint and significantly zero in on his basket responsibility. Cleveland never had the personnel to utilize Shaq's interior presence. Mark my words, he will dominate the hell out of ground zero this season.
I'll mark those words, because I'm skeptical. But regardless, Shaq does help the Cs in one area: depth. The Celtics, on paper, have a pretty solid group of reserves, including Jermaine O'Neal (once Kendrick Perkins comes back), Shaq, Glen Davis, Delonte West, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels and rookie Avery Bradley in reserve. That's something Gino's Jungle and Celtics Hub both pointed out.
On paper it looks as though the biggest strength on this team is going to be their depth. We said the same thing last year, but I would even go as far as to say the depth this year trumps that of last year's. If you go down every NBA lineup from 1-12 you will find it very difficult to find a team that matches this team's depth.
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.
Meanwhile, Celtics Life writes that the team's biggest strength is their starting five. Collectively, Celtics fans clearly think their team has no weaknesses.
That is, except age. Pretty much every preview alluded to it, but I'll choose to highlight this quote from Celtics Town's preview.
The biggest weakness is age and health concerns. I'm sure you've heard it all: Kendrick Perkins will be out until February while recovering from a torn ACL; Kevin Garnett has played more than 1,100 games in his career, and his knee did not look right for much of last season; Shaquille O'Neal has also played more than 1,100 games and is rapidly deteriorating as a player; Jermaine O'Neal has played for 14 seasons, more than 800 games, and has battled knee problems for the past few seasons; Paul Pierce and Ray Allen aren't over the hill yet, but they're standing at the peak, looking down at the valley. Every team has to deal with the injury bug, but the aged Celtics may be running low on bug spray
That pun was a nice touch, but it's nothing compared to the preview by SB Nation Boston, which took quotes from Shaq himself and applied them to the key themes of the team this season. Just go click on the whole thing, because blockquoting wouldn't do it justice.
Your record predictions from the Celtics bloggers:
- Celtics Blog: 55-27
- SB Nation Boston: None yet
- Red's Army: 55-27
- Celtics Life: 60-22
- Celtics 24/7: None listed, so I'll say 82-0
- Gino's Jungle: 52-30
- Celtics Hub: 55-27
- Celtics Town: 54-28