Highs and Lows: Boston Celtics

10.27.08 9 years ago 14 Comments
Paul PiercePaul Pierce, Dime #5

Opening Night is tomorrow. While we wait for the ’08-09 schedule to start, we’re going team-by-team, from 1 to 30, exploring where each team’s ceiling is for the upcoming season and where their basement is. In other words, what are the realistic best-case and worst-case scenarios for each squad?

Additions: C Patrick O’Bryant, SG J.R. Giddens, SF Bill Walker.

Losses: SF James Posey, PF P.J. Brown, C Scot Pollard.

Ceiling: Repeat
Why not? The Celtics still have the best defense in the League until further notice, led by the best defensive player (Kevin Garnett) and the behind-the-scenes architect that is assistant coach Tom Thibadeau. Ray Allen can still shoot it; forget his early playoff struggles and remember the All-Star Game, or better yet, Game Six of the Finals. Paul Pierce is poised to be even better this year than he was last year — after the championship he seemed to have more of an edge in his interviews, potentially pulling the rare trick of an athlete being more motivated now that he’s reached the pinnacle. The Pro-Rajon Rondo crowd sees him eventually becoming a top-flight PG in the League, and I’d tend to agree; it won’t happen in ’08-09, but Rondo will be a year older, a year better, and he has something to prove after quietly going AWOL for some of the Finals and not making everyone a believer. The grunt workers like Leon Powe, Eddie House and Kendrick Perkins have the confidence that rings will bring, and on occasion each of them can be just as productive as their superstar teammates. And don’t worry about the “Now they have a target on their backs” factor — the Celtics had a target on their backs all of last season and still finished where everyone predicted they would finish the day they traded for Garnett. And from KG’s side, at least, don’t worry about the “Are they as hungry?” question. I asked the guy myself and his answer convinced me. He’s going after his second ring as if he’d never won his first.

Basement: Second-round exit
Why not? For one, KG, Pierce and Ray are getting older, they’re coming off a long playoff run, and Ray’s ankles in particular will be under surveillance like a corner store in East L.A. Losing James Posey is almost becoming overrated — the way some people are talking, you’d think the James in question was James Worthy — but it’s still a question mark, especially when Tony Allen is prominently involved in the proposed solution. What isn’t being talked about enough is the C’s losing P.J. Brown, and the fact that they’re trying to replace him with Pat O’Bryant. Sam Cassell is about as done as Antoine Walker; don’t fool yourself into thinking he’ll give them a lot as a backup PG, which means House could be logging a lot of minutes at a position he’s not suited to play. And if not him, it’ll be up to 14-year-old Gabe Pruitt, who’s coming off a grueling summer of AAU ball. Regaining the #1 seed in the East is still possible, as is falling to #2. Either way, a second-round opponent like Cleveland, Orlando, Detroit or even Philly could be dangerous.

’08-09 NBA preview archives
10/23 — Houston Rockets
10/22 — New York Knicks
10/21 — Denver Nuggets
10/20 — Philadelphia 76ers
10/17 — Dallas Mavericks
10/15 — Indiana Pacers
10/14 — Golden State Warriors
10/10 — Detroit Pistons

10/9 — San Antonio Spurs
10/8 — Chicago Bulls
10/6 — Oklahoma City Thunder
10/3 — Washington Wizards
10/2 — Utah Jazz
10/1 — Charlotte Bobcats
9/30 — Memphis Grizzlies
9/26 — Toronto Raptors
9/25 — New Orleans Hornets
9/24 — Atlanta Hawks

9/23 — Sacramento Kings
9/22 — Miami Heat
9/19 — Portland Trail Blazers
9/18 — New Jersey Nets
9/17 — Minnesota Timberwolves
9/16 — Cleveland Cavaliers
9/15 — Phoenix Suns
9/12 — Milwaukee Bucks
9/11 — L.A. Clippers
9/10 — Orlando Magic

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