Oh my, how things have changed.
The Celtics were the second-worst team in the NBA last season. They lost 18 straight games from Jan. 7 to Feb. 11 and finished with the second highest loss total in franchise history. And then the silver lining turned to copper when the C's landed at No. 5 in the Draft Lottery.
But Danny Ainge used that pick to acquire Ray Allen from the Sonics on Draft Night, and then he pulled off the deal of the year, acquiring Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves for five players and two picks. In just one month, Ainge completely reshaped his roster, which now features the most talented big three in the league.
But how far can Allen, Garnett and Paul Pierce carry the Celtics? Can they get production from youngsters Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins? And how well are big three going to gel in the in the first place?
Before we anoint the Celtics as the new best team in the East, there are a few questions that need to be answered.
The questions start at point guard. Rajon Rondo is one of the quickest players in the league with the ball, but he has holes (specifically, his jumper) in his game and he's light on experience. Teams will leave him open in order to double-team his All-Star teammates and that jumper (or lack thereof) could determine the result of a few games this season.
Ray Allen's jumper could do the same, which is a good thing for the Celtics. He's the best shooter in the game and he's one heck of a third option for a team to have. How and where he gets the ball will be interesting to see.
Off the bench, the Celtics will have Eddie House, who can punish double-teaming defenses much more than Rondo, and Tony Allen, maybe their best perimeter defender. But there's no true point guard in the second unit.
The questions continue with the frontcourt. Pierce and Garnett are the best combination of forwards in the league, but in his four years in the NBA, Kendrick Perkins hasn't played more than 22 minutes per game. And with not much else up front, he'll be asked to play a much larger role.
Second-year man Leon Powe, Rookie Glen Davis and vet Scot Pollard (who played a total of 109 minutes for the Cavs last year) are the primary bigs off the bench, so if KG gets in foul trouble (or worse, injured), opposing frontcourts could feast on the C's. But James Posey gives them a solid vet to back up Pierce and Allen on the wings.
-- John Schuhmann
It's not too late to secure great tickets for the upcoming season. Select games still have available seats so purchase yours NOW!
It's tough to put a second-year player who was picked at No. 21 in the draft on the spot, but a spotlight will be on Rajon Rondo this season. Folks were calling for the Celtics to bring in a more experienced point guard, but they stuck with Rondo, who may not fully feel the pressure until the playoffs come around.
||Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have all led their team in scoring in each of the last six seasons.
Ninth season, Third with Boston
Four times, 8-14 (.364)
Doc Rivers probably belongs in the "On the Spot" area above more than Rondo. No other coach in the league is under more pressure to produce wins than Rivers. He's a players' coach who has fought through two straight losing seasons with an undermanned roster. Now, it's on him to bring the big three together and take the Celtics back to the top of the East.
-- John Schuhmann
KNOW YOUR CELTICS
Scot Pollard's father, along with Jazz owner Larry Miller and Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, was among the inaugural class of inductees voted into the State of Utah Hall of Fame in 1999.
Boston had to do the deal. I think it was a great deal for Boston, but I don't think a lot of their opponents are too upset that they let go of Al Jefferson, because he was near 23 and 12 every night at the end of last season and when they threw it down to Al, a lot of teams had to double.
KG likes the ball at the high-post area. He's a great passer and he can put the ball on the floor with one dribble and get to the rim.
Rondo's awful quick, but can he make open shots? And you don't have to double Kendrick Perkins. If you make Perkins take 15 shots a night and limit the shots of the big three, then you're doing something right.
It will be interesting to see how they use Ray. Obviously, he'll get a lot of spot-up shots and we'll see whether he plays off of double-teams or if they run zipper stuff and isos for him. You know KG will get the ball on the high-post and you know they'll get the ball to Paul on the duck-ins, post-ups and isos. The interesting thing will be to see how they integrate Ray into the offense.
KG, for short periods of time, can guard all five positions basically. He's also a very vocal defensive player. He knows where he's supposed to be and he gives a lot of guys problems because of his length.
-- Eastern Conference Scout