Last season the Boston Celtics were the defending NBA Champs and in many people's minds, were primed for a repeat. All 96 games the Celts played last year (including playoffs) can be summed up in two words. Injury and disappointment.
Heading into the stretch run the Celtics lost their perennial All-Star forward Kevin Garnett to a knee injury. The team, and Coach Doc Rivers, hoped he could return for the playoffs, that never transpired as he coached from the bench in a different suit each night. He still brought his intensity as he willed his teammates to a seven game opening series win against the upset minded Chicago Bulls.
Leon Powe was also lost in that series with a torn ACL and Boston's size, as well as depth was tested early. Brian Scalabrine and Glen "Big Baby" Davis filled in well but even to their own admittance they were no "big ticket". However it was not enough as the defending champion Celtics lost in the next round to the Orlando Magic in seven games.
Celtic players went from on top of the world to out of the playoffs and could only watch as the enemy Lakers won an NBA championship. The same Lakers these Celtics beat the previous year for their banner.
So the question is, how do they get "back on the mountain again?" and get back to the finals.
I can't answer that but here are five questions I have for this years edition of the Boston Celtics. Enjoy.
1. Obviously the most important question Celtics fans have is... "Is Kevin Garnett back? He says he is, obviously Tuesday's trifecta of big men opposing him we will find out. Newcomer Shaquillle O'Neal, Zyndrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varajeao will prove a test, but it could take Garnett weeks, maybe even months to pass.
2. Will the additions of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels provide the necessary size and depth they need? Rasheed, a staple in Motown for years is now in Bean town and he wants a ring. Marquis Daniels is easily overlooked as an acquisition but for a 6'6" SG who averaged 13.6 points per game he adds size and scoring from the bench.
3. How will Glen "Big Baby" Davis adjust back to his reserve role after having success in the postseason as a starter? Davis fared well for himself in last years playoffs, after Leon Powe and KG went down. He played some of his best ball and even hit a game winning shot against Orlando game 4. If he reacts positively after signing back with the club for two years he could see his time increase and therefore production.
4. Will Rajon Rondo continue to improve and mature as a player and is it now a big four? If Rondo plays like he did against the Bulls in round one of the playoffs, not necessarily averaging a triple double, he can lead the Celtics to 60 plus wins. He'll have to get past his recent off season issues of possibly being traded he can mature as well.
5. Finally, will the Celtic's selflessness style of play lead them to another championship with many of their big players aging? In 2007-08 it did. In 2008-09 it almost led them to a trip to the finals without arguably their best player. If they stay injury free, which is easier said than done, we could be looking at two championships in three seasons.
All these questions and more start to be answered with NBA's tipoff Tuesday with Boston at Cleveland.