Boston Celtics: 5 Needs for the 2011-2012 NBA Season
After months of deliberation between the players and owners, the NBA lockout is finally over. Fans no longer have to worry about there not being a season and can get ready for some basketball.
Many fans and experts believe the lockout has actually helped some aging teams by giving them fewer games. The Boston Celtics are definitely an aging team that may have been helped out by the lockout, but if they want to raise an 18th banner, they need many things to happen.
5. Improvement from Jeff Green
Jeff Green was traded to Boston last season in a deal that sent defensive starter and fan favorite Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. Many fans and even a few players questioned the deal, and Green's play last season didn't help his case.
Green was supposed to bring versatility and athleticism to a Boston team that desperately needed both. However, Green struggled to find his role with the team and saw his points per game cut in half.
If the Celtics want to make a deep playoff push, Green needs to step up his game. He needs to be their best player off the bench and be more aggressive on the offensive end. Green also needs to provide solid defense against opposing players such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
4. An Improved Jump Shot from Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is undoubtedly one of the most exciting players in the game today. He is an excellent passer and ball handler and also possesses elite defensive skills.
However, Rondo's one major flaw has become more glaring as the years have passed. Rondo has been unable to develop a reliable jump shot, and this has allowed teams to play way off of him in the Celtic's half-court offense.
At times, it seems as if the Celtics are a man down on offense because opposing teams leave Rondo alone knowing he will not make them pay.
Hopefully, Rondo has been working tirelessly at developing a jump shot during the extended lockout. If he hasn't, he will continue to be at times a major liability for the team.
3. Kevin Garnett to Continue His Defensive Dominance
Over the course of his career, Kevin Garnett has always been among the league's best defensive players. His intensity and passion combined with elite athleticism and size has made him one of the league's most feared defenders.
Garnett had another great season defensively for the Celtics and was once again named to the NBA's All-Defensive Team.
Garnett is now 35 years old and has been in the league since 1995. Many people wonder if Garnett can keep up his tremendous defensive play despite the wear and tear his body has taken over the years.
If the Celtics want to make a deep playoff run, Garnett is going to have to continue his elite defensive play. He is the Celtics' lone defensive stopper and his play is crucial to the team's success.
2. LeBron James to Be the NBA Finals LeBron James
We all know now that LeBron James played pitiful in last year's NBA Finals. He seemed hesitant and at times seemed as if he didn't want to be there.
Rewind to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Boston and James was the exact opposite. He hit big three-pointers and was by far the best player on the court. He came up big whenever his team needed him, which led to the Heat beating the Celtics in five games.
The Celtics will have to go through Miami if they want to make another Finals run. If James plays the way he did against the Celtics last season, then Boston has no shot. The Celtics need to pray that James plays more like he did during the Finals if they want to get by the defending Eastern Conference champs.
1. Avoid Injuries
The Celtics are one of the league's oldest teams; and with that comes the risk of injury. The shortened season will help a little; but 66 games is still a lot and coach Doc Rivers will need to be very careful with how much he plays the Big 3 during the regular season.
The Celtics should stick with what they've been doing the past few seasons. Instead of running their starters ragged during the regular season, monitor their minutes and save them for the playoffs.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are each at least 34 years old. If one of these three goes down with a serious injury, the Celtics' season will go right down with them.