2012/13 NBA season previews: Boston Celtics

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

19 Have your say

    Related coverage

    The most successful franchise in NBA history came agonisingly close to earning yet another NBA Finals berth last season.

    The Boston Celtics pushed the eventual champions, the Miami Heat, all the way to a deciding game seven in the Eastern Conference finals, but fell just short of upsetting LeBron James and his teammates.

    With a revamped bench, and veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the way, the storied franchise will once again start the season as one of the teams to beat in the East.

    Three biggest questions for the Celtics in 2012/13:

    Has the Celtics’ championship window shut?

    As Boston walked off their bitter rival’s home court after game seven of the Eastern Conference finals, there was a sense that we had seen the last of the latest incarnation of great Celtic teams. There were whispers that Kevin Garnett was going to retire, that free agent Ray Allen would sign with another team, and that General Manager Danny Ainge would blow the team up and rebuild.

    It seemed this current team’s run, which included a championship in 2008, had come to an end.

    Not quite.

    While Ray Allen did the unthinkable and signed with the enemy Heat, Garnett, Ainge and coach Doc Rivers decided there was plenty of life left in this Celtics outfit.

    Garnett re-signed, while Ainge and Rivers went to work addressing the team’s weaknesses. Specifically, bolstering the bench, adding some scoring, getting more athletic, and providing Garnett with some help down low.

    And by doing exactly that, the Celtics may have just extended their championship window by at least another season.

    The Celtics have gotten deeper, but have they gotten better?

    When the all-time NBA three point shooter packs his bags and heads to the arch-rival, perimeter shooting becomes a priority area to address. The Celtics have done a good job of replacing Ray Allen, bringing in Dallas Mavericks sixth man, Jason Terry, and the athletic Courtney Lee, along with re-signing Jeff Green, who missed all of last season with a heart ailment.

    Between them, these three should help to make up for the loss of Allen’s outside shooting, while also dramatically improving the wing defence, and providing more athleticism.

    The Celtics also addressed their other issue: size. Chris Wilcox, Darko Milicic and Jason Collins are never going to be confused for Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, but they do provide some much needed depth down low, an area that Garnett had to handle all by himself last year.

    The Celtics also lucked out in the Draft, when Jared Sullinger fell all the way to the 21st pick. He may end up being the steal of the Draft. At worst, he’ll certainly contribute meaningful minutes for Boston.

    Overall, the Celtics did get deeper, but more importantly, they got better.

    Is Rajon Rondo the most underrated superstar in the NBA?

    Very few players in the NBA can do what Rondo does. He’s an elite-level passer and defender, has an uncanny knack for the ball, plays better when the stakes are the highest, has a tremendous feel for the game and makes his teammates better.

    Those are outstanding qualities.

    So why then, does Rondo struggle to get the credit he deserves?

    For two reasons.

    Firstly, the most obvious skill in basketball is shooting, yet it’s the one skill that Rondo has the most trouble with. He’s simply not a consistent shooter from the field or the free throw line. It doesn’t appear to affect him or his team too much though, if you look at the success both the team, and he individually, have had since he came into the league. Yet it remains an area for his detractors to dwell on, fairly or not.

    Secondly, and there is really no other way of putting this, but Rondo is a strange egg. From the revelations that he and Allen didn’t talk, to the weird ritual of doing strange things with the ball from tip offs, to the sometimes distant demeanour he has on the court, Rondo is different to many NBA stars.

    That slight quirkiness puts some people off, and they perceive him to be too aloof.

    But who cares if he’s weird? He’s a legitimate superstar in this league, and he should get more credit for it.

    Boston Celtics Snapshot:

    Last season:
    Regular Season:
    – 39 wins, 27 losses
    – Finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, and first in the Atlantic Division

    – Lost 4-3 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals

    Statistical leaders in 2011/12:
    Points: Paul l Pierce (19.4 ppg)
    Rebounds: Kevin Garnett (8.2 rpg)
    Assists: Rajon Rondo (11.7 apg)

    Major additions:
    Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Darko Milicic, Jason Collins, Chris Wilcox

    Major losses:
    Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, Ryan Hollins, Mickael Pietrus

    Doc Rivers
    Career Record: 546 wins, 433 losses

    Predicted finish in 2012/13:
    Regular Season:
    – 2nd in the Eastern Conference
    – 1st in Atlantic Division

    – Lose in the Eastern Conference finals

    Images from nba.com/celtics

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (19)

    • October 25th 2012 @ 4:39am
      Johnno said | October 25th 2012 @ 4:39am | ! Report

      I think Boston should move back to the old Boston Garden. So much tradition you can smell the sweat from the old garden. It was hot place too play, so much energy at the old Garden, in the legend of Bill Russell , Larry Bird, Parish, Kevin Mchale, and many many more. And loved the old Laker duels in the 80’s and 90’s and Bulls duels in the Halycon days of the NBA .So much history they can go back to the boston garden rekindle the old traditions they form what I know have only moved in the last year or 2 I think or I am out of touch with the boston celtics i don’t follow them much , i am a Lakers fan anyway, but from what i know they onl moved like 1 season ago form th old Boston garden, they should move back there much better the old school Boston Garden, loved the wooden chairs too like the old wooden tennis racquets kinds, just an old school , old gym locker room style, old style atmosphere. They don’t make arenas like the old Boston Garden anymore.

      • Columnist

        October 25th 2012 @ 12:12pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

        Johnno, the Celtics moved out of the Boston Garden in 1995! And the building was demolished a short time after!

        • October 25th 2012 @ 12:46pm
          Millz said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

          Johnno never let’s facts get in the way of a good post.

    • Columnist

      October 25th 2012 @ 10:02am
      Elisha Pearce said | October 25th 2012 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Rondo is probably in the top 12 players in the world. So for a guy who’s that good he’s probably a bit underrated. Apparently he’s been shooting much better this pre-season and worked hard on it through the off-season. Also has talked the talk when it comes to working out how to be a leader on and off the court.
      So as a C’s fan I’m just hoping all that is true and in effect this year.
      Few people talking him up as an MVP smokey. Lets hope. Still think that LeBron annihilates everyone this year and takes that gong again, especially now he’s worked out how to flip the switch to killer mode (Game 6 v Boston changed everything). Rondo second or third in MVP voting would mean he’s taken ‘the leap’ and the C’s would then be a legit chance to topple Miami if things went well.

      • Columnist

        October 25th 2012 @ 12:15pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        Elisha, I’ve heard lots of pundits talking up Rondo’s MVP chances as well. I was a bit shocked at first, but there is no question he’s one of the best players in the league, so it’s not that far fetched to think he could win the award.

        I still think its LeBron’s to lose, but if Rondo plays like he did the Eastern Conference finals, who knows?

        • October 25th 2012 @ 12:33pm
          melo-drama said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

          MVP is done off votes not off the stats they got that year it’s why Tyson Chandler got DPOY ahead of Serge Ibloka and D12. It’s deemed as the person who has been the most valuable player for their team in that season so it could really be anyone it might be Durant, Love, Aldridge, Anthony CP3 or Rondo who knows…..

          • Columnist

            October 25th 2012 @ 1:16pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

            The MVP voting is actually a little strange. There is no set criteria for how you are asked to judge it. It’s totally up to the voters discretion. It could be the best player in the league, the best player on the best team, the player whose team would struggle most without them, the player with the best stats, etc, etc.

            I think the NBA keeps it mysterious on purpose because it generates discussion and debate, and therefore headlines.

        • October 25th 2012 @ 12:47pm
          Millz said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          Ryan, why didn’t Rondo play in Team USA if he’s so good?

          • Columnist

            October 25th 2012 @ 1:13pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            He was in the 20 man squad, but then, depending on who you believe, he either pulled out or wasn’t selected.

            He was in the 12 man team in 2010, but left under strange circumstances. He said he was homesick, the team said he left for personal reasons, and there were rumours that he and Derrick Rose had a fight. That wouldn’t surprise me, as those two hate each other.

            He has since said he never wants to play for the USA again.

            Like I said, he’s a weird egg!

    • October 25th 2012 @ 10:32am
      melo-drama said | October 25th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

      Rondo on his day is the best PG in the NBA however his issue is he can be quite inconsistent, as a Knicks fan im quite used to Rondo get 20-12-10 tripple doubles over the knicks but then the next night he might get 8-4-10….. Celtics definitely look like the team to beat in the Atlantic this year, Jeff Green’s looking like he’s come into his own in the preseason and if he can continue that during the season then Boston will be tough to beat still cant go past Miami and the Lakers at the moment they will be the teams to beat….

      • Columnist

        October 25th 2012 @ 12:17pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        That’s true Melo, his stat lines can be inconsistent. (Though to be fair, an 8-4-10 game is not too shabby from your point guard!)

        In any case, point guards are usually measured by one thing: the result.

    • October 25th 2012 @ 11:42am
      Worlds Biggest said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:42am | ! Report

      nice one Ryan, as a Celts fan the two things which stood out for me in the playoffs last year was the disappearance of Pierce and Bradleys injury. We really missed him particularly agains the Heat. If he comes back fully fit and Pierce can step up they should be in the mix. Rondo and Garnett were the rocks last year. Hopefully JET can slot the three’s too !

      • Columnist

        October 25th 2012 @ 12:21pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        I forgot you were a Celtics fan, WB. I should have got a cheap shot in there somewhere to rile you up!

        I’m not hearing positive things about Bradley’s injury. He could be out for quite awhile yet, so the Celtics were wise to stock up on perimeter players.

        As for Pierce, he was extremely banged up in the playoffs last year. He was basically playing on one leg, yet still had many great, inspiring games. None more so than his monster game when Rondo was suspended. As a Laker fan, I’m meant to hate the Celtics, especially Pierce (and his wheelchair antics), but I’ve always had a soft spot for The Truth. He’s an old school basketballer that does nothing great, but everything extremely well.

    • October 25th 2012 @ 1:19pm
      Worlds Biggest said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

      Lakers fan are you kidding me, now the sledging is definitely on ! As a Celtics fan I’m meant to hate the Lakers and I DO ! In saying that geeeez I’m envious of your all world starting 5. Not a huge amount coming off the bench though.

      If we can get Bradley back fit for the second half of the season that will be a bonus. Agreed Pierce was banged up which he generally is at the pointy end but he just took poor options in the clutch last season which is very unlike him. He will bounce back the warrior.

      • Columnist

        October 25th 2012 @ 1:30pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

        Yep, been bleeding purple and gold since 1985. The first game I ever saw was the “Memorial Day Massacre”, when Boston obliterated the Lakers in game 1 of the finals. My dad and two older brothers were/are massive Boston fans. They made me sit down and watch it and go for Boston. But as a toddler I was more attracted to the flashy purple and gold uniforms than the boring white and green ones. And for a toddler, it was pretty cool that there was a player called ‘Magic’.

        I was practically disowned by my family, but the love affair had started and I’ve never wavered. And I absolutely hate the Celtics. Hate them.

        As for our bench this year, yes it is a little skinny. Yet ironically, I think Antawn Jamison will win 6th man of the year.

    • October 25th 2012 @ 1:43pm
      Worlds Biggest said | October 25th 2012 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

      yes of course with a surname like O’Connell I understand why the family disowned you ! The Showtime Lakers up against the knuckle duster Celts of the 80’s, one of sports greatest rivalries. It pitted the high society / beautiful fans in the forum against rampant / fanatical east Coasters in the cage at the old Garden. It was chalk against cheese in so many respects. Nowadays both teams play in relatively shiny new arenas and the hostilities have subsided somewhat. Still the hatred never wanes !

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , , , , , , ,