Tony Allen appears to be back to his pre-injury form after an aggressive preseason.
What follows is a player-by-player breakdown of the Celtics roster and the outlook for each player based on last year and this preseason. With the 2008-09 campaign tipping off tonight, we go in-depth on each guy to get you ready for the season.
Ray Allen - Last season, Allen came to camp despite doctors telling him to sit out and let his double-ankle surgery heal. This summer, he comes in healthy and shooting the ball like the guy who made a case for himself as NBA Finals MVP. Ray is rested and ready for another big year as the Celtics aim to repeat.
Tony Allen - With the departure of James Posey, TA is the obvious choice to see a large uptick in playing time. While he's not the long-distance shooter that Posey is, he's back to his aggressive, basket-attacking ways and has finally eschewed the bulky knee brace. It could be a breakout year for a guy who looks poised to become the Celtics new sixth man.
Sam Cassell - Sam I Am did not play in the preseason, and speculation circled that he'd be hanging up the jersey and joining the Celtics' coaching staff. Doc Rivers has said Cassell will be on the roster this season, and Sam continues to bend the ear of the younger players on the roster. He's a veteran presence who now has three rings worth of experience upon which to lean.
Glen Davis - Big Baby had his moments last season (like that game in Detroit) but struggled to find consistency, so his minutes wavered throughout the year. Davis is still learning the NBA game, still fouls too much and can disappear at times, but he's got a nice midrange jumper, can rebound with the best of them for his size and isn't afraid to careen into a courtside table if need be. Look for continued growth this season as he remains a key cog on the Celtics bench.
Kevin Garnett - It doesn't matter where or when KG is playing, whether it's Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles or a meaningless preseason game in Providence, RI, the Big Ticket gives you your money's worth. His legendary intensity continues to rub off on his mates, and the Defensive Player of the Year will once again anchor a unit that was the league's best defense in 2007-08. Now, if we only knew what he says to the basket support before tip-off...
J.R. Giddens - An emotional young player who has plenty of raw talent, Giddens will likely find himself on the outside looking in at the rotation this year, but when you're a rookie on a World Championship team, it's to be expected. Recent history suggests he may spend some time in the D-League, because game time and practice reps will be hard to come by. In the meantime, he can't help but soak up some greatness from his teammates; he's surrounded by vets who all play the game the right way.
Eddie was a House of fire in the preseason, connecting on almost half of his threeballs.
Eddie House - This electric scorer was absolutely on fire in the preseason, and if it's possible for him to be any more confident than he already is, shooting 49% from three-point land in the preseason can't hurt. After being exposed somewhat in the postseason, House will be tested by defenses when he brings the ball up the court, but he showed marked improvement in the preseason. And if teams continue to leave him open on a pick-and-roll, he'll continue to light them up.
Patrick O'Bryant - He never got much of an opportunity with Golden State, but the Celtics like his length and rebounding abilities. How much PT he'll see is anyone's guess, but he gives the C's some much-needed depth at the center position. He also has a better-than-advertised post-up game.
Kendrick Perkins - Perk is a guy who knows his role, and that role is simple. Keep people out of the paint, and intimidate those who trespass against him. He says the shoulder is healed up after offseason surgery, and appears to be playing as if that is indeed the case. His chemistry with KG really developed over the course of last season, and he continues to improve every year. And for a guy who's about to turn 24 in November, he certainly provides a more mature presence on and off the court.
Paul Pierce - The NBA Finals MVP is finally vindicated after 10 years of ups and downs in Boston. He certainly enjoyed a summer full of accolades, but wasn't content to rest on any laurels. The Captain's message to his crew was simple this summer: To be among the Celtics greats, this team has to win multiple banners. It's a tall order (the last Celtics team to repeat was 40 years ago) but it's not impossible. Just ask KG: Anything is possible.
Leon Powe - He's a guy who's had to work his entire life to get where he is today, so if you think Leon Powe will be content with a coming out party in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, you're mistaken. Powe was a 20-10 guy in college, and knows he can do more than the gameplan allows, and perhaps the staff will let him show more of his stuff this season. Look for Powe to post up when he has the chance as he'll likely be among the first few guys to come off the bench this year.
Gabe Pruitt - With Rondo hurting his ankle late in preseason, Pruitt got a chance to really show his progress. His near-triple double against the Nets showed a little bit of everything, and he certainly appears capable of running the team. But Pruitt will have to make the most of his opportunities; his minutes will be scarce with Rajon Rondo ahead of him for the foreseeable future.
Rajon Rondo - Rondo's always been a confident kid since his college days, and he proved in the playoffs that he can run a team of All-Stars. So will he be booking a flight to Phoenix in mid-February? It's too early to tell, but Rondo has been telling reporters that his goal is to be the best point guard in the league. For a tough-as-nails kid who's already quarterbacked a World Championship team, it seems like a reasonable goal.
Brian Scalabrine - He's a fan favorite and a tireless worker who admits that he gets in trouble when he tries to do too much. Still, Scal is a guy whose value goes beyond the box score. His defense is above average, especially in the post, and until you've seen him work out against his teammates at practice you really can't appreciate what he brings to the locker room.
Bill Walker - A pleasant surprise in the preseason, Walker made headlines by attacking the hoop relentlessly in the team's Newport training camp, and showed early on that he wouldn't be intimidated by playing against his All-World teammates. He'll have to earn any playing time he gets on this team, but he appears willing to work for it. Oh yeah, he can also dunk a little bit too...