James Donagher (U.S.A.)
2010-2011 NBA SEASON TIPS-OFF: Boston Celtics Team Preview
Written by James Donaher
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 08:01
After last season ended with a loss to the Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Celtics are once again hungry to get back on the court. Coach Doc Rivers and the majority of the nucleus return to a team that was just five minutes away from their second title in three years. In addition, a few old foes have joined the squad to provide depth.
Jermaine O’Neal (13.6 ppg last season, 6.9 rpg)
Shaquille O’Neal (12.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
Delonte West (8.8 ppg, 3.3 apg)
Tony Allen (6.1 ppg)
Rasheed Wallace (9.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Shaquille O’Neal will most likely be the starter in the middle, while Jermaine O’Neal looks to get the majority of the minutes in the pivot. Both newcomers to the team are out to prove that they still have something left in the tank. Kendrick Perkins won’t see his first action until February, after tearing knee ligaments in the finals.
Kevin Garnett is no longer the superstar power forward he once was, but he is still an imposing defensive presence and a solid scoring option for this team. Team captain Paul Pierce will mark his 13th season with the team, after re-signing in the offseason. He remains the Celtics’ top offensive threat.
Rajon Rondo has consistently improved in all facets of his game since entering the league in 2006 and is considered an elite, top-5 point guard. The Celtics will need him to continue to improve, especially in his scoring, as the rest of the starters are likely to see a decrease in their minutes due to age.
Ray Allen turned down bigger free agent contract offers to remain with the Celtics as their shooting guard. Allen was plagued by inconsistency during the regular season last year, but shot the lights out in the playoffs. If his sharpshooting continues into 2010-2011, the Celtics should improve on their record from last year.
The Celtics bench will have some key role players, but any significant injury to a starter will most likely expose a glaring weakness in depth.
Delonte West rejoins the team he started his career after suiting up for Cleveland for the past few years. Nate Robinson returns after a full off-season of being a Celtic under his belt. Both players will see action at both guard positions and often will play together. Robinson’s role will be more of a scorer, while West will be relied on to distribute the ball and play solid defense.
Marquis Daniels will be asked to take on more responsibility off the bench now with Tony Allen gone. Daniels will get minutes at both wing positions, spelling Pierce and Ray Allen.
Whichever O’Neal does not start will come off the bench to see significant time at the center position. Fan favorite Glen “Big Baby” Davis also provides depth there and will back up Garnett at power forward.
Barring injuries, minutes will be sporadic for the Celtics’ two draft picks, Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody, former draft pick Semih Erden, and free agent pick up Von Wafer. Bradley and Erden join Kendrick Perkins on the inactive list to start the season. It’s possible that one or more of the rookies could see some time in the NBDL to get used to pro ball and stay active.
James Donaher is a special CroHoops.com correspondent from Boston, Massachusetts.