Last year Doc Rivers and Executive Danny Ainge brought in top talents Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to combine with Paul Pierce to form the Big Three. And it paid off dividends as the Celtics brought it all together to win the 17th NBA Championship in Boston Celtics history. With Pierce, Allen, and Garnett still taking the court for the Celtics, most experts think Boston will contend for another title. Find out what Expert NBA Handicapper Dave Price has to say in his Boston Celtics Preview for Point-Spreads.com to see how we think the Celtics will finish this season. The Boston Celtics are +300 odds on repeating as NBA Champions at Sportsbook.com.
There is no doubt that Rajon Rondo came into his own last season, although he had a tendency to play like a stud at home and play timid on the road. Rondo looks to be the Celtic's starting point guard for years to come, and why not since he is on his way to becoming the best defensive point guard in the league. While Rondo is solid, his primary reliever, Sam Cassell, is no longer with the team, which means Eddie House, who is a streak shooter with questionable ball-handling skills, will serve has Rondo's primary back-up. Second-year player Gabe Pruitt may also get some quality minutes, and eventually move into the primary back-up role, as he is a better defender than House is and better than Cassell was.
Ray Allen is a great shooter, but his age started to show late in the season, particularly the playoffs. While he showed his age, Allen was still making plays in the NBA Finals so he is still a top play-maker with a deadly touch. Danny Ainge was unable to sign Corey Maggette to back-up Ray Allen, so the Celtics will put a lot of weight behind Tony Allen, who the Celtics believe can develop into a deadly scorer if he can overcome three knee surgeries in three years, and get his confidence back. The Celtics also picked up rookie J.R. Giddens out of New Mexico, who could get some early minutes due to his defensive skills.
Paul Pierce, the 10-year man out of Kansas and returning Finals MVP, is no longer going to fly under the radar. Pierce has always been the real deal, and picking up the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett allowed him to flourish as not only a great shooter, but also one of the best defenders in the league at small forward. The loss of James Posey hurts the Celtics at small forward, and sounds the alarm that New Orleans, where Posey ended up, is serious about competing this season. Posey's departure means Tony Allen will get some minutes here, as well as rookie Bill Walker out of Kansas State, who just had his third knee surgery.
If Kevin Garnett can stay out of the middle, and continue to be the best help defender in the league, then Garnett will continue to be the best power forward in the NBA. Many feel that Garnett should be a post player, but he prefers a perimeter offense, and that must be accepted. P.J. Brown's retirement will hurt, but Leon Powe and Glen "Big Baby" Davis will come in big.
Kendrick Perkins, who is coming off his third shoulder surgery, is the man assigned the task of allowing Garnett to roam the middle and help out. Whether or not Perkins can stay healthy at center could be huge for this team, although they signed Patrick O'Bryant to fill in behind Perkins. O'Bryant is an inexperienced underachiever so filling in for Perkins, who is becoming one of the toughest players in the paint, is no easy task. If Clifford Ray, Celtics big man coach, can get O'Bryant to buy into his coaching Boston could have a solid back up here, but as it is, they need to hope Perkins stays healthy.
Final Analysis – The Celtics are certainly good enough to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions and compete for back-to-back league titles with the Big Three still intact. Plus, the Celtics play great defense with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett among the top at their position. We have the Celtics winning the Atlantic over the Sixers, Nets, Knicks, and Raptors, and going on to win the Eastern Conference championship.
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