[Each year I write season previews for each NBA team. Traditionally I've written these posts for my own site, but this year Tom has graciously allowed me to house these posts here at Sactown Royalty. We'll kick off with the Boston Celtics and wrap up with the Sacramento Kings right before the season tips off.]
The Boston Celtics are interesting. Boston's Big 3 were called the Big 3 even after they were legitimately a Big 4. Rajon Rondo is every bit as important to the success of this team as Ray Allen was. With Ray Allen gone to Miami and replaced (in the loosest sense of the word) by Jason Terry, Boston now truly is just a Big 3.
Terry will likely come off the bench after Avery Bradley returns from injury. Coming off the bench was a role that Ray Allen was vocally unwilling to accept in Boston, so in this way Terry can provide an actual upgrade simply by accepting the role the Celtics attempted to move Allen to last season. For the on court differences, Kirk Goldsberry of Court Vision Analytics has a very in depth breakdown of the scoring differences between Terry and Allen. I recommend checking it out (and checking out the site in general. Kirk is doing some amazing work over there).
Aside from Rondo, the most intriguing player on the Celtics continues to be Kevin Garnett. He's embraced and accepted the role of Boston's center, and is actually far better at center than I ever would have expected. While KG is generally limited to about 30 minutes per game these days, last season he quietly put together his best season of the past four years. The fact that he continues to play at such a high level despite such high mileage is incredible. The question of how much longer he can keep this up will hang over the Celtics, but that question has been hovering for years now.
The coaching job that Doc Rivers does with this team and the way Danny Ainge has smartly acquired pieces that fit what Rivers is trying to do (what a concept!) are just magnificent. Brandon Bass wasn't a flashy name when he was acquired last offseason, but he perfectly fit into the way Boston's offense uses the mid-range game to spread the floor. Jeff Green, returning after missing all of last season with a heart abnormality, is reportedly in great shape and could be a major X-factor for the Celtics. Green has never lived up to his selection with the 5th overall pick in the 2007 draft, but the talent and potential is there. Green is also a strong defender, and could be instrumental if Boston's season once again comes down to a match-up with LeBron James and the Heat.
The Celtics will be a playoff team yet again barring significant injuries to Rondo, Garnett, or Paul Pierce. I don't believe they'll be legitimate contenders for the crown, but Rivers knows how to coach this team to do just enough to get to the playoffs, get healthy, and then wreck havoc. Although Boston seems unable to overcome the Heat, you just know that Miami dreads any series against the Celtics. Boston always has a puncher's chance.
Coming up next: Brooklyn Nets