- PG – Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson, Avery Bradley
- SG – Ray Allen, Delonte West, Von Wafer
- SF – Paul Pierce, Marquis Daniels
- PF – Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Glen Davis, Luke Harangody
- C – Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’Neal, Semih Erden
- Power, size, length and strength on the interior. A formidable amount of size with Garnett, Perk, Jermaine and Shaq. A lot of quality rebounding and defensive contributions. Low post options offensively. Very difficult to matchup against.
- The all round brilliance of the emerging Rajon Rondo
- Spectacular shooting and quality two way basketball from their starting wings Paul Pierce (All-Star) and Ray Allen.
- Exceptional depth with Nate, Delonte, Marquis, Jermaine, Shaq and BBD.
- Strong rebounding team
- Defensive ability – I have the Celtics ranked as the best defensive team in the league. Their defense will once again be a great strength for the side.
- The shooting ability of their supporting cast.
Not many … and the ones that are there are mostly minor in nature compared to their strengths.
- A lack of a true go-to scorer.
- Age and health. An older team that has several players who have had injury concerns in the recent past and possibly in the future.
- Kendrick Perkins is still out with a long term injury and isn’t expected back until February. The team has good cover for Perkins thought – Jermaine, Shaq and BBD to play alongside Garnett.
- Shaq is vulnerable in many team defensive sequences, especially the pick and roll, but once Perk comes back they can drop Shaq from the rotation and use BBD and Jermaine as the backup bigs when facing a squad that poses. So a problem but an avoidable one if need be.
- Tony Allen has left the club which takes away the team’s best wing defender. That will put more pressure on Paul Pierce defensively + we’ll have to watch for Ray Allen and see how he does defensively with another year on his belt (below par regular season last year defensively but very good in the playoffs so who knows?).
- Marquis is a poor shooter which is a bad fit with Rondo’s lack of a jumper. Could cause some problems. The Celtics do have great shooters in Pierce, Ray and Delonte and a good shooter in Nate Rob though. So they should be able to handle this well enough.
- A lack of depth on the wing. No true backup small forward. A lack of size, length (small wings) and defensive ability (Marquis solid defensively not a standout like TA) with their backup wings.
Rebounding was a weak point for the Celtics in the regular season last year but they turned that around in the playoffs, well, until Perk went down with an injury. This season, with Shaquille O’Neal (excellent rebounder) replacing Rasheed Wallace (very poor rebounder last year), the Celtics should be one of the best rebounding teams in the league.
Ray Allen and Paul Pierce seem to have taken that rebounding issue to heart and have rededicated themselves to picking up those extra rebounds on the perimeter in pre-season. If that continues, or more importantly if it shows up in the playoffs, the Celtics should be the top rebounding team in the league.
Supporting Cast’s Jump-Shooting
Delonte West and Nate Robinson are both quality perimeter shooters. Glen Davis and Jermaine O’Neal have good to solid jump shooters for their respective positions.
Marquis Daniels is the only perimeter player with a suspect jump shot in the supporting cast although he too has shown good form with his jumper in preseason. Also important, gone is Tony Allen who couldn’t shoot the ball to save his life.
It’ll be a lot easier for the Celtics to space the floor this season + with Nate and Delonte firing off a good number of three pointers, the side looks closer to the 2008 team with Posey and House that was so lethal from the outside than either of the two previous teams (2009 + 2010).
This is a good improvement for the side too.
Lack of Go-To Scoring
Paul Pierce has slowed down offensively. He has lost some of his athleticism and is more vulnerable to top defenders on opposing teams these days . Not as dependable as he used to be in those situations. No longer able to get as much separation from his defender as he was when he was younger.
Pierce will still light up mediocre and below par defenders with frightening efficiency (20-25ppg 60+ TS%) + will be a good to very good scorer (18-20ppg 55-58% TS% depending on quality of opponent) against tougher defenders … just not the all world scorer he once was that could get whatever he wanted, against whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
Rajon Rondo’s athleticism and ball-handling allows him to create his own shot better than anyone else on the team but he hasn’t shown inclination in stepping up as a go-to scoring threat + with a supporting cast full of offensive talent, he is unlikely to do so. Rondo enjoys his passing too much.
Kevin Garnett continues to be extremely passive as a scorer although remains very capable once he decides to attack.
Also, on a final note here, the Celtics lack a true go-to scorer but they have several solid go-to scorers + a very talented offensive minded supporting cast. So while this isn’t a strength for them offensively they do still have other good strengths in scoring / shot creation.
Rondo’s Post Game
Most PGs use their size/strength to muscle someone down, like Andre Miller or Jason Kidd used to, but, Rondo relies on that explosive quickness of his. Rondo likes physical play. Very aggressive.
Physicality and explosive quickness is a terrific combination in the paint. An unusual combination for opponent PGs to go up against.
Rondo’s quickness — when he faces up from 10 feet in under, he is one dribble from the rim, and, with his explosiveness attacking the rim there is no way that the defender can stay in front of him. When he puts his back to the basket and then starts spinning left and right, trying to get around his man, there is no way the defender can consistently beat him to the spot. Too quick, too physical, too skilled.
Put him against a bigger PG defender like a J-Kidd. It’s not about strength. It’s about denying Rondo the spin and beating him to the spot. Kidd, more often than not, won’t be able to do that. He has enough strength to fight the back down but not the quickness on the spin move which will allow Rondo to get a good look at the basket with regularity.
You put him against a bigger guy like Kobe, even Kobe will have trouble stopping Rondo from getting to where he want … Kobe’s best shot at denying the scoring opportunity is on the shot when he tries to block it. Either by blocking it, altering it or intimidating Rondo to the point he doesn’t take even take the shot.
How do the Celtics matchup against the other big name contenders?
Los Angeles Lakers
The Celtics additions of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal will go a long way to negating the advantage LA had in the paint against Boston in the Finals last year. Without that advantage, LA doesn’t win.
This would be a defensive minded series with both team’s defensive strengths matching up very well against their opponent and turning one another’s offenses into one of the weaker offenses in the league.
However, the Celtics defense will bother LA a little more than LA’s will bother Boston and that should be the difference maker in a Finals series.
The Celtics continue to matchup extremely well with Orlando. They have the post defense to handle Dwight Howard, the versatile defensive play of Garnett to contain Rashard Lewis, the physical defense of Paul Pierce to deny Vince Carter and the quickness of Rajon Rondo to bother Jameer Nelson.
Unless Orlando shows a massive improvement in shot-creation this season, they still aren’t good enough to unseat the Celtics.
It’s looking like Boston has this team’s number too.
The one area where Orlando could get a lot of joy is by shifting Rashard to the three and forcing Pierce to defend him and switch Vince Carter onto Ray Allen. Vince Carter can still create in isolation and especially in the post against Ray + Rashard can score in the post against Pierce. The Magic will likely have to turn to this combination to have any chance of winning the series.
Ryan Anderson would offer the most spacing to Lewis and Vince in the post but Bass would give more defense. I’d go with Anderson.
We’ll have to wait and see how often SVG uses that lineup/combination, particularly when playing Boston, before commenting further.
The Heat are going to have to give up an advantage in the backcourt. Dwyane Wade can only cover one player, Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen, and, Mario Chalmers has proven in the past that he is incapable of covering either player. Miami should put Wade on Rondo because he can cause more damage than Ray can but Ray’s scoring will give Boston’s offense a big boost in a matchup against the Heat.
Miami will also have trouble in the paint against Boston’s imposing frontcourt. Haslem doesn’t have the size or length to contend with Garnett’s post game and they have nobody who can defend Shaq. However, if Boston uses Shaq, the Heat can get a lot of joy in the pick and roll. In other words, Miami could end up giving up 20+ points a game to Shaq in a series but their offensive strengths versus his weaknesses should allow them to win the game.
Boston also have a big advantage with their depth against Miami’s.
A complete clash in styles with Miami based around quickness, running and a star based offense while Boston bring a lot of power, size and a team based ball movement offense. Consequently, it will be a terrific matchup.
Too early to say for sure who has the advantage here. It looks close. But I am leaning towards Miami.
It’s all about health with this team. I think they’ll end up winning 58-61 games because of their depth but I do expect them to pick up quite a few injuries again this season.
The Celtics will be right there for the Championship if they’re healthy entering the postseason. At the very minimum, this is a top three team in the league. One of the frontrunners for the title.
Considering the overwhelming talent of the team, the Boston Celtics are flying under the radar as we begin the season. The Celtics might be the best team in the league.