The Celtics will be the team to beat this year after getting banner 17, hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers to kick off the 2008-09 season. While the starting line-up remains unchanged, the Celtics' bench is in question after losing James Posey to the Hornets in the off-season.
How can the Celts replace him? As Doc Rivers said, they can't, but here are a few players looking to step up and do their part:
Tony is a 5th year guard who, while he does not compare to Posey, specializes in shut-down defense and slashing to the basket. His downfall: he is no three-point threat; but with Sam Cassell and Eddie House also coming off the bench, he doesn't need to be. His minutes should increase, and hopefully so will his production and his ability.
Powe will see his minutes increase after the loss of Posey and hopefully with more minutes comes more points. The young forward showed signs of promise throughout the playoffs when giving Pierce a spell.
He played great defense and hustled up and down the court no matter what the score or situation. Look for his playing time to increase, along with his confidence and offensive numbers.
Patrick O'Bryant and Glen "Big Baby" Davis
Neither of the two have much experience nor have they shown much ability. However, with Kendrick Perkins constantly in foul trouble and not having the best stamina, they will give the starting center some much-needed rest.
They are young and it will take time for them to get acclimated to the game, but look for their minutes to increase without P.J. Brown coming back.
So can the Celtics put up banner 18 this year? It is far too early for predictions, especially with such an inexperienced bench and with a much-improved Atlantic Division.
However, with KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen re-energized, and Rondo stepping up to be among the top point guards in the league, look for them to make a good bid for a repeat as NBA champs.