The Boston Celtics have a lot of questions facing them as they enter the 2011-12 NBA season. When they brought their Big 3 together, they were clearly wanting to win now, which they did when they won the NBA Finals in 2008 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, the Celtics' stars are near the end of their careers, and depth has suddenly become an issue. The Celtics will be greatly tested during this shortened NBA season when they are forced to play three games back-to-back. Here are three questions facing Boston as they start this season:
The Celtics' decision to trade Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic came with much criticism because Perkins had been a key part of the Celtics' championship run in 2008, and their team from 2009-11.
Jeff Green was expected to play a much larger role in the Celtics' rotation and give Paul Pierce much-needed breaks during the game.
However, Green has undergone a heart procedure and will miss the entire 2011-12 season
The news comes as a blow to the Celtics, as he was going to be a major contributor for them this year and his loss extremely depletes an already-depleted Celtics bench.
The team picked up Marquis Daniels and Mickael Pietrus to add much needed-depth behind Pierce and Ray Allen, but they will need to step up their scoring to fill the hole left by his loss.
Green struggled in Boston last season, but was expected to be much more comfortable in his second year with the team.
The loss of Green will definitely hurt, but the play of the rest of the bench will determine how well the team recovers from this setback.
The Celtics' age has been a question for the past few seasons. Three of their top four contributors are over the age of 34, and the only two players who really have potential to be building blocks for the future are Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass.
This year with a shortened season, the stamina of the Celtics will be greatly tested during a grueling 66 game schedule. Can they hold up the entire season and continue to play well? That is one of the major questions the Celtics have coming into this season.
Allen has showed little sign of slowing down and Pierce is still a strong offensive threat, but the health of Garnett has been an issue during his entire tenure with the Celtics.
He has struggled with knee problems and those could only get worse with age. The Celtics will have to greatly monitor the minutes of their older players and give them sufficient rest to keep them fresh for likely their last legit title run together.
The extended offseason will likely benefit the Celtics greatly, as it gives their veterans more time to rest up and be ready to play than a normal offseason would. The Celtics already had great chemistry together, so a shortened training camp and preseason should not affect them too much.
Rajon Rondo has steadily become one of the NBA's elite point guards. He is an excellent defender, passer and can drive to the hoop and finish.
The one thing that has held Rondo back has been a terrible jump shot and free throw.
Teams have effectively guarded Rondo by playing way off of him and daring him to shoot, while not allowing him to drive. If Rondo develops a strong jump shot, he would become much more effective.
Seeing all that he does without a jump shot really shows what he could be if he could shoot and defenses were forced to respect it.
He is already one of the best passers and playmakers in the league and is excellent at creating shots for others. He is fearless driving to the basket and is not afraid of contact.
However, he is maddeningly inconsistent on offense and he will need to develop consistency in order to be able to carry this offense when the veterans are off the floor and late in the season, when fatigue begins to set in.
He is also a great defensive player and he can guard players larger than himself due to his quick hands and awareness.
If he can elevate his play, especially on offense, and be a consistent scorer along with his playmaking abilities, the Celtics will be in a much better position for this season and the future. He has been mentioned in potential trades, but that should only serve as a compliment and motivation for Rondo to continue to play at a high level.