March 4, 2015

2008-09 NBA Preview: Boston Celtics

See all 2009 NBA team previews

Boston Celtics

2007-08 Record: 66-16

Cool 2007 StatNon big-3 contributor Leon Powe averaged 26.4 pts and 13.5 rebs per 48 minutes played. That’s a better scoring rate than 12 2008 all-stars and a better rebounding rate than 21 of the 26 all-stars this year.

Anticipated Starting Five

PG- Rajon Rondo
SG- Ray Allen
SF- Paul Pierce
PF- Kevin Garnett
C-  Kendrick Perkins

Bench: Tony Allen, Eddie House, Leon Powe, Glen Davis, Patrick O’Bryant

Biggest Strength – Team defense

One of the best defenses statistically in history.  Watching this team all last season, the thing that stood out to me was their rotations and relentless contesting of shots.  It’s like they have some sort of game of who can contest the most shots because very rarely do they let teams shoot open shots.  They have have one of the best defensive big men in the NBA anchoring them and providing unparalleled energy.  Then they have Rajon Rondo at the point of their defense causing havoc against opponents’ point guards, disrupting offensive continuity, bothering post players in help defense and getting in passing lanes.  They also have arguably the best defensive assistant coach in the game in Tom Thibodeau.  I fully expect that to carry over this season.  A big question will be whether Tony Allen can provide that defensive stopper off the bench they need with the lost of Posey.

Biggest Weakness - Front court depth

Most people have wondered about the loss of James Posey.  But what has gone relatively unmentioned is the loss of P.J. Brown due to retirement.  Since the Celtics didn’t bring in any significant pieces, someone or multiple players on the current roster will need to fill their shoes.  Because Patrick O’Bryant hasn’t really done much, and I don’t expect him to play I think Leon Powe becomes even more important.  I actually think he can fill the Posey role as the energy, hustle guy off the bench and like P.J. Brown be the best big man off the bench in terms of production as well.  That leads perfectly into the key player…

Key Player in ’08 – Kendrick Perkins

Because of the aforementioned lack of front court depth, that puts added pressure on Kendrick Perkins to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court.  The Celtics get extremely small behind him with Big Baby and Powe (O’Bryant isn’t going play).  Perkins can really be a force on the boards and defensively.  He also allows KG to roam and not guard bigger players in the post.

Their Thaddeus (exciting player 22 or under)– Patrick O’Bryant, 22

The Celtics were full of young talent before they traded it all for Allen and Garnett. Now, they have very little in that dept., but they did make an interesting signing picking up Patrick O’Bryant. O’Bryant went to Bradley and is the definition of someone who was drafted entirely on potential. He looks awkward in the paint, and while he has touch around the basket, his footwork can be comical at times. Can he learn from the veterans Boston has? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Pete’s 2008 Outlook: 1st place, Atlantic division / 1st place, Eastern conference / 2nd place, NBA

Just what Boston fans needed. Another championship. This team is loaded and very motivated, especially on the defensive end. They will miss James Posey but not as much as people think. I’m not sure the big 3 (particularly Ray Allen) can put up the same production this year, so some of their bench guys (Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Eddie House) need to step up their game. I have them with the best regular season record, but losing to Cleveland in the conference finals.

Dannie’s 2008 Outlook: 1st place, Atlantic division / 1st place, Eastern conference / 2nd place, NBA

Boston is still the favorite in the East without question.  But they are weaker this year than last simply do to attrition.  This surprises me because unlike last season when Doc Rivers wanted the Pierce, Allen and Garnett to play a lot of minutes to build chemistry, I would think Rivers would like to limit their minutes a bit this season so they are fresh for another title run.  I am not sure they have the quality depth to do that having lost two rotation players in Posey (24mpg) and Brown (more for the playoff run) and not knowing how much they can really get out of 39-year-old-to-be (in November) Sam Cassell (17mpg).  They will need two bench guys to step up if they plan on repeating (Powe and Tony Allen).

Philly Connection: Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce ReclinerGM
For the 1996 draft, I was in Nashville, TN on a service trip, and I had no access to TV or (obviously) internet. I was a huge Kansas fan at the time and was upset that the Sixers appeared to be just out of the range to select Paul Pierce. I got a USA Today the day after the draft and immediately went to the sports page where my eyes went right to the Sixers pick: Larry Hughes. Not too bad, I thought, he has some potential. I then scanned up to see where Pierce had gone, and to my surprise didn’t see him there. Upon seeing he was on the board when we drafted, I was incensed. How could we select an unproven freshman over a prototypical NBA SF? Turned out I was right, for once. It would have been interesting to see if Pierce and Iverson could have ever co-existed, but we will never know.

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  1. Max says:

    The Hughes-over-Pierce debacle still drives me nuts.
    The title of this web page says it all…

  2. Rob says:

    Nice assessment Dannie & Pete!  After watching the Celtics last season and two days ago and the Sixers game yesterday, I have to say: Damn!  They are a Great team, to gell like that last year that is Incredible.  I am Green with Envy as a Sixers fan, but glad as an NBA fan overall!
    (Greatest strength(s):
    -Team Defense
       The “Big 3″ being committed, esp Ray Allen & Paul Pierce.  KG has always been great defensively.
       Tom Thibodeau should get plenty of credit and Should Have earned an “Assistant Coach of the Year” Award for 2008.

       The No Layup or Dunk Rule
    -Give Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge, Paul Pierce, and their fans their dues for sticking around during the tough times.
    -Frontcourt Depth (They have enough I think)
      They can always find someone that was released by another team.
    -Maintaining Most of Last Year’s Roster (Chemistry)
    -Post Up Skills
    -The “Big 3″
    1) They don’t have to score 20 a piece
    2)One or all of them can come through when it counts!
    -The Team Concept
      I love this team in terms of “playing the right way” (I’m still a Sixers fan FIRST though!)
    -The Hustle of the Bench and Young Players
      Underrated bench, esp in the postseason
    -Experience to Build On (Consistency)
    -Celtic Pride
      1)Understanding what it means to wear the Green
      2)Want to win more Championships and make more history!
      3)Others will want to sign with this team
      4)Former legends support team constantly
      5)Championship City
      6)TD Banknorth Garden  (35-6 last season, 13-1 postseason)
      7)One of the top five sports fans
    Greatest weakness(es) or Question Marks?
    -3pt Shooting From THE BENCH
    -James Posey loss
     Tony Allen is missing the 3pt shooting and the extra hustle
     (ala Billups pump fake last season)
    -Possible complacency?
    -Road issues in postseason?
    -Lose focus when teams or players get under their skin?
    (Hawks series, Cavs series– went 7 games due to that)
    -Nothing will be easy like last year (target on their backs)

    Paul Pierce, ultimate Sixer Strangler.  Yes, I do wish we had him.  He represents the type of emotional player that we need especially in the CLUTCH!  Sixers team lacks that clutch!

    (With that said, the Celtics will be 1st in the Atlantic Division, 1st in the East, maybe #1 or #2 team in the NBA depending on Lakers-Celtics matchups regular season!)

    (On a side note, the Sixers will split the season with the Celtics (2-2) with each winning one at home and one on the road.  Thaddeus Young’s extra hustle and post up play has harmed the Celtics the last two games (last reg season and the preseason game).  Keep an eye on Young against the Celtics.  Both benches will be key in determining who wins that series.  Andre Iguodala has to hit that jumper like he did last season against the Celtics that March game.  Elton Brand vs Kevin Garnett will be an interesting matchup, even though Garnett has the height advantage and the length.  I am looking forward to that series matchup indeed!!) 

    I will probably have more stuff later!!


  3. Rob says:

    Not to mention the unbelievable feat last year of beating every team in the league at least once!!
    They do not have to go through major adjustment periods like every other team this season and last season!!

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