After a disappointing playoff performance in 2011, the Boston Celtics believe they have something to prove. They also want to win one more championship before the primarily veteran core is broken up.
In a league with a lot of up and coming teams, the older Celtics will have a target on their back once again.
There are many questions surrounding this team. How will they fare in the regular season? Are they a threat in the playoffs? What moves will they make in free agency? Is the window closed?
Once the lockout ends, here are five predictions for the Boston Celtics and the coming season.
There is a reason Danny Ainge wanted Jeff Green in exchange for Kendrick Perkins. Green can bring a lot to the table.
He can play both forward positions effectively, and could back up both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Green has all the skills to be a lock down defender-size, length, speed, athleticism and versatility. The Celtics have been lacking a true lock down perimeter defender since James Posey and Tony Allen left town. And when you're going to have to beat Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James/Dwyane Wade, you need some lock down defenders.
He may have felt as if he had to replace Perk, who has extremely popular in the locker room. Adjusting midseason is always difficult, no matter how talented a player is.
It is reasonable to believe that he will also benefit from playing against a lot of second unit players from other teams. A large part of his success must be based on confidence, which he did not have with the Celtics.
He's too talented of a player and is surrounded by excellent teammates to struggle this year. Expect big things room Jeff Green.
I'm anticipating Delonte West will not be returning to Boston, due to his lack of consistency and injury problems. If that is the case, the Celtics need to give Avery Bradley a chance.
Bradley did not play much at all with the C's last season, as he only appeared in 31 games. When he did play, however, he gave it his all.
He still has a long way to go on the offensive end, where he is very raw. Don't expect him to be scoring 20 points any time soon.
But his gritty on ball defense and hustle could help energize this veteran team during the regular season. He is a tenacious perimeter defender who can spell Rajon Rondo for a few minutes a game and provide a spark off the bench.
Expect Doc Rivers to give Avery Bradley an opportunity this season, and look for Bradley to take full advantage.
Glen Davis has certainly had his moments as a Celtic. He was part of the championship team, and has played very well at times. But it looks like his time with the team is over.
As an undersized power forward, Big Baby has struggled to play within himself as his role on the team his grown greater. He makes terrible mental mistakes and tends to take way too many low quality shots. When you're on a team with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, there is absolutely no need to be forcing shots. Especially when your name is Glen Davis.
It's clear that Doc Rivers has been very frustrated with Big Baby over the years, particularly in the playoffs this season where he disappeared against the Heat.
Davis probably wants to start and be payed like a starter. Don't look for the Celtics bite on that. Some other team will, though.
Well, this one actually shouldn't be much of a surprise. Even when they had Kendrick Perkins, Doc usually played with two power forwards and no center. It was usually James Posey or Big Baby who would replace Perk. Expect Jeff Green to now fill that role.
With Rajon Rondo already on the floor, Doc doesn't want to have two players on the floor who can't make their free throws at the end of a game. And rightfully so. With a lack of quality centers in the league, this really doesn't put the Celtics at much of a disadvantage.
Expect Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Green and Garnett to be the five that Doc trusts at the end of the game. As big men, Garnett and Green can both spread the floor which could create driving lanes for Rondo and isolation opportunities for Pierce.
More so, all five are capable defenders. Rondo and Garnett are elite defensive players, while Green has the potential to be a very good defender. Pierce and Allen have picked up a commitment to defense over the past few years and are not at all a liability.
Motivation during the regular season will again be an issue. With three veteran future hall of famers who have rings, this is to be expected. That being said, they will still be a top four team in the East during the regular season.
Expect the Bulls and Heat to be one and two, as they are both younger teams with more energy and less basketball fatigue.
And from there, the journey begins.
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