Tuesday, October 27, 2009
That blank banner, just begging to be dressed with letters and numbers, adorns the Celtics' practice facility in Waltham. It both sums up the ultimate shortcomings of last season as well as the hope for this upcoming campaign.
The Celtics have something in 2009-10 that they lacked in 07-08: depth. Oh yeah, and a point guard. Rajon Rondo matured into a near-elite level PG last season, averaging 8.2 assists and 11.9 points per game. Compare that to the Championship year when he was 5.1 and 10.6 in those categories.
Marquis Daniels backs up Ray Allen at the other guard spot. I'm not a huge Ray Allen fan, and I think he's lost more than a step. He's also been inconsistent in big games, occasionally busting open with 25 points, and sometimes holding himself to less than 8. Daniels can eat up a lot of minutes, allowing Allen to keep his legs energized.
Rasheed Wallace is another starter-turned-backup that will play in support of a guy who needs extra rest. Last year when the starters went out, this team struggled big time to stay above water. With Daniels and Wallace, they might even be able to extend leads when they sit KG, Pierce, and Ray Ray.
Kevin Garnett is the X factor. It's a long season, and I wouldn't have minded if they kept him off the roster for the first month of it. He's got to be 90% or better for the Celtics to have a chance at Banner #18.
The C's should win the Atlantic Division with ease. Last year they beat the 76ers by 21 games. What really matters will be the playoffs. That's where I think Rondo, Daniels, and Wallace will have their biggest impact.
I think the Celtics go to the NBA Finals, before losing in a tight series against the Lakers. Hopefully I'm right about the finals berth and wrong about the victor.