Boston Celtics: Breakdown of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Starters
The Celtics still posses four out of the five starters that won them their 17th championship in 2008, so the team will lean towards being a stronger squad rather than a weaker one.
If there’s one thing a shortened season would help the Celtics, it’s that the team would play less regular season games. This would allow them a lot more rest than they are accustomed to.
The team is also a notoriously fast starting one, so if the Celtics can keep to their ways of winning games at the onset of the season they should be in good shape for another postseason run.
Since the Celtics essentially have no guarantees on their bench, the team has to get everything they can from their starters. As you’ll see, everything is still in the Celtics favor, but is it enough to push them over the top?
Jermaine O’Neal: Strengths
Jermaine O’Neal’s upside is certainly limited at this point in his career, but if he can stay somewhat healthy during an abridged NBA season, the big man could prove valuable enough to give the Celtics to give them the boost they weren’t able to reclaim since Kendrick Perkins was traded.
O’Neal may have only played in 24 regular season games last year, but he did start all nine of the Celtics playoff games. To some, this may sound as if that’s just clutching at straws, but the Celtics have no other options that can make an impact as starting centers.
O’Neal can still block some shots, pull down rebounds, and give you seven to eight points per game when healthy. It’s underwhelming by many standards, but with 2011 free agency so thin, J.O. is the man in Boston.
Jermaine O’Neal: Weaknesses
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While O’Neal did play well enough in the playoffs, he’s not a reliable player. Injuries have derailed his career, so at what level of consistency can he be held to?
The answer is none. O’Neal won’t give the Celtics enough durability to maintain a consistent presence in the middle, so the Celtics would head into a shortened season with a definite hole in the middle of their lineup.
Kevin Garnett: Strengths
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Kevin Garnett is still a good player at 34 years of age, and while he is aging, he’s doing it gracefully. Garnett made the All-NBA defensive team again in 2010-11, so he gives the Celtics a huge boost up front, making up some of the gap in the middle for the Celtics.
Garnett can still score, and he is a team leader, so even as his scoring continues to dip, he makes up for it in other areas.
Kevin Garnett: Weaknesses
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Like the majority of the Celtics starters, age is a factor. The NBA has always been a young man’s game, so while teams like the San Antonio Spurs have thrived in veteran-heavy atmospheres, the norm skews towards younger, more athletic teams.
Garnett’s experience may enable him to block an occasional shot of Blake Griffin’s, but there comes a point where athleticism can and will catch up to seniority.
The Celtics lack the athletic factor to push them over the top, so while Garnett is still a terrific player, he’s lost a step, and it has hurt the Celtics in the past two years (injuries included).
Paul Pierce: Strengths
Paul Pierce has never been much of a flashy player, but he has been insanely consistent throughout his career. It’s this quality that still makes him one of the best players in the league.
When the game is on the line, no one would be surprised to see the ball wind up in Pierce’s hands. He’s a clutch player, and that’s made him so valuable throughout his time in Boston.
Statistically, Pierce’s number have decreased in recent years, but he has increased his percentages in the second half of his career, so there’s no reason to expect any immediate drop off in his totals.
Paul Pierce: Weaknesses
There really aren’t any weaknesses in Pierce’s game. Age is a looming factor, but he’s still good for 38-40 minutes per game during the playoffs.
Ray Allen: Strengths
Much like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen’s consistency is his greatest asset. Ray had career-highs in field-goal and three-point percentages last year, so why would he slow down?
This is also the guy who nailed 57 percent of his three-point attempts during the playoffs, so playing nearly 90 games didn’t impact his game down the stretch.
Ray’s game is what it is. He’s one of the best shooters in the league, and he should continue to put the ball in the hoop on a nightly basis.
Ray Allen: Weaknesses
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It’s more of the same here. When will age be a factor in Ray’s decline? Outside of that, he has no real flaws.
If you have to find one, he could be better defensively.
Rajon Rondo: Strengths
Rajon Rondo is the future of the Celtics. You’ll find different opinions on his star power and his ability to lead a team, but he is the only above-average player on the team that the Celtics can build around.
In the outlook on the upcoming season, Rondo is still the best point guard Boston could hope for. His ability to make plays for the veteran starting lineup is uncanny. He finds the open man, and will drive the lane if defenders back off of him.
Rondo doesn’t shoot well from outside, but he can be very effective on the inside.
Rajon Rondo: Weaknesses
Rondo’s weaknesses have been well-documented throughout his career. The man simply cannot hit a jump shot. Rondo can drive very well, but he loses out on being one of the game’s most well-rounded point guards due to his lack of offense.
Aside from jump shooting, Rondo can’t hit free throws, which is embarrassing for guards.