First Look at the 2010-2011 Boston Celtics

The baseball playoffs aren’t the same to me without having my dog in the fight.  The Patriots rank fourth on my New England sports team list and I don’t really care that they traded Randy Moss.  Personally I think they are a better team without him, but that is another argument for another time.  With all this being said, I have not been more excited about a season than I am with the Boston Celtics upcoming campaign.  To be honest I am questioning whether I am more excited about opening night against Miami than I was about Game 7 against the Lakers in the NBA Finals last June.  The Celtics have the best all around roster in basketball and you must be dead if you aren’t excited about that.  If the talent alone doesn’t get you going, check out Nate Robinson’s twitter page.  The antics of the Celtics preseason from Nate taking pictures of everyone sleeping on the bus, to Nate putting salt in Shaq’s water, to Nate dunking on Shaq, and finally Nate running suicides in Shaq’s size 23 shoes have been hilarious.

The future is now in Boston.  Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers made no bones about recognizing the team’s age and deciding to go for it in 2010-2011.  They could have decided to let Ray Allen and Paul Pierce go and explored some options in free agency to get younger and rebuild.  They went out and signed Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq.  They resigned Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels and brought back Delonte West. There is no tomorrow in Celtic Nation.  This season is all about bringing home Banner 18 and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Here is a look at the Celtics:

The Front Line

After getting pounded on the glass in last year’s NBA Finals by the Lakers, Danny Ainge vowed that wouldn’t happen again.  After the summer, the Celtics boast the biggest and best front court in the NBA.  Jermaine O’ Neal is expected to start alongside a healthy Kevin Garnett.  Off the bench, Rivers can call upon Shaq, Big Baby Davis, Turkish project Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody.  It will really take an effort for the Celtics to get out rebounded this year.

Everyone is marveling at how great KG looks.  It is widely known that it take a year or a year and a half to fully recover from a knee injury (unless you are named Wes Welker).  Needless to say this is exciting news in Boston.  Jermaine O’Neal has always been a solid NBA player and theres no reason to expect him to do anything less.  Even more beneficial to the Celtics, he is a big man that can hit free throws as he is a 70% free throw shooter.  Big Baby may have no idea what his role is on this team but he has proven over the last 2 years that whatever he is asked to do, he does.  He has improved each year and will provide depth to the Celts front court and is basically the 6th man on this team.

There are many that have criticized the Shaq signing, but I am a huge advocate of bringing Diesel to town.  No one is expecting him to play like he did earlier in his career, that is unrealistic.  However he is still a presence and will provide Rondo with another option when he drives to the basket.  Shaq will open up the floor for Ray and KG when they are on the floor at the same time.  Semih Erden is a 7 foot project but gives the Celtics some height that they have lacked the past few seasons.

THE BENCH

Shaq has already coined the bench as the BBM, Boston Bench Mob.  This bench is better than some of the starting lineups around the league.  With the energetic Nate Robinson at point, Delonte at the 2, Quis at the 3, Baby at power forward and Shaq in the middle there should be little to no let down that the bench has been known for since the Big Three came to be.  In past seasons, the starting five would leave the floor with an eight to ten point lead only to be tied at the half.  If anything this bench can expand upon any lead the starting five runs out to.

I haven’t even brought up first round pick Avery Bradley.  He was a high school stud that had an ok freshman year at Texas.  Word around the league is that he is the best defensive rookie in this year’s class.  As a diehard Longhorn fan, I can tell you first hand that Bradley wasn’t used where he could maximize his talents at UT.  He has the ability to penetrate and dish with a solid mid range jumper.  At first glance, there aren’t many minutes for Bradley on this roster, but he his learning experiences will be invaluable for the rest of his career.  Do you think Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis would be as good as they today without the tutelage of KG? I think Bradley will learn a lot from Pierce and Ray.  When it comes time for him to contribute he will be ready.

Dogging the Regular Season

After last year’s run in the playoffs it would appear there is no reason to put forth any effort in the regular season.  The Celtics had the 4 seed after a lackluster finish during the season.  In fact the Celtics were mediocre at best from Christmas on.  Yet they made quick work of the Heat in round one, embarrassed LeBron and the Cavs in the second round, handled the Magic with ease in the Eastern Conference Finals and took the Lakers down to the wire in Game 7 of the Finals.  There really is no reason for the Celtics to compete during the regular season other than playing for home court advantage or for favorable matchups.  It is important to be healthy for the playoffs as well.  That is my biggest concern.  Yes, in the playoffs they proved they could “turn it on” when need be. But very much would like to see the Celts have home court advantage throughout the playoffs.  I want to hear how loud the Garden can get when they play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

PREDICTION:

I think the Celtics will finish 2nd in the East behind the Miami Heat with a record of 60-22.  The toughest part about being a die hard fan is being objective rather than emotionally speaking about your team.  With that preface, I will say that the Celtics will win the NBA Championship capturing Banner 18 taking down the Lakers in six.

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