Celtics' 2010-11 Season Preview

Photo courtesy of:  Robert Chin, Look GOOD Studio
Team Name:  Boston Celtics
Last Year’s Record:  50-32
Key Losses:   Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace,  Brian Scalabrine, Tom Thibodeau, Clifford Ray
Key Additions:  Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Von Wafer, Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, Semih Erden

1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?   The most significant move was to shore up the front line and assure that they have the center spot filled until Kendrick Perkins comes back.  They accomplished this by signing first Jermaine O'Neal and then Shaquille O'Neal.  These moves made the team older, but also better.  
 The Celtics made the decision to keep the team together and make another run at the title again this season by re-signing Paul Pierce to a 4 year contract and Ray Allen for 2 more seasons.  They also brought back Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson and signed Von Wafer, Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden.  While the signings of Bradley, Harangody, and Erden might not seem very key right now, they may end up being key, either in their ability to contribute this season or as chips to bring in a player who will be a key addition.   Of the trio, Bradley's NBA ready defense would seem to make him the front runner to get minutes on this team. 
One significant move was who they didn't bring back.  Tony Allen's defense will be missed but hopefully someone like Delonte or Bradley can step up and fill that void on the defensive end. Another loss I consider significant is Brian Scalabrine.  He may not have been all that important on the court at times but he was a glue guy in the locker room and that can't be underestimated.   I also consider the loss of both Tom Thibodeau and Clifford Ray as significant.  Both are the best in the league at what they do and the defense and the development of the bigs will be affected by the departure of these two great coaches. 
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?   The team's biggest strength will be their starting 5, just as it was last season.  Rajon Rondo is a year better.  Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and KG are coming back with a chip on their shoulders and the mission to avenge their finals loss.   Jermaine O'Neal will aptly fill in for Perk until he comes back.  And the Celtics will have one of the best starting units In the league again this season.   And this season, their bench is also deep, especially their front line and they are strong from 1-12.  

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses? 
The biggest weakness at this point seems to be at the small forward position behind Paul Pierce.   Marquis Daniels was resigned to back up Pierce at the 3 but Daniels has been oft injured and should he be out for any length of time or if he once again finds himself in Doc's doghouse, the Celtics are very thin behind him.  The Celtics' biggest need right now is to get another long defensive 3.  It's possible they have that already in Gaffney and if Von Wafer or Delonte don't work out, Gaffney could be what they need here.   But Danny also  has a few chips he can use for a trade should the right player become available and so I don't expect this weakness to be there come playoff time.  Weaknesses of last season's team that have to be addressed this season are the offense, especially in the 4th quarter, rebounding, and turnovers.  With the roster moves that Danny made this off season, it appears that he has made them with at least the offensive lapses and the rebounding problems in mind. 
4. What are the goals for this team?
        The goal is to win a championship and nothing less.   They came within one quarter of winning the title last season and have reloaded and come back looking to avenge that loss.   The East hs gotten a lot stronger and it won't be easy, but the Celtics will have the singular goal of hanging another banner come June. 
5. What is the biggest obstacle to wInning It all this season.      First and foremost, it will be injuries.   Without the injury to Perk in game 6 of the Finals, they would be champions today.    With a team loaded with older veterans, staying healthy is much easier said than done.   The Celtics will need some luck to avoid the injuries that could sidetrack them this season.   Home court advantage is important and so the Celtics need to have that luck throughout the season so that they can  play their best ball all season and not just in the playoffs.  Unfortunately, although we hope they never are, injuries are usually an unavoidable reality for most teams. This guide on sports medicine schools will provide you with the info you need to find out what is needed to get into sports medicine and get our injured guys back on the court.

Bonus Question:  Will the Celtics trademark defense return this season?  With the departure of Tom Thibodeau to coach the Bulls, the Celtics have lost their defensive mastermind.  Stepping in to fill Thibodeau's shoes will be Lawrence Frank, who is a very good coach in his own right, but the Celtics will still miss Thibs'.  Also affecting the defense will be the absense of Kendrick Perkins who has been the anchor of the defense for the past 3 seasons.   The O'Neals will add more offense to the mix, but they can't come close to Perk's ability to shut down opposing centers.  The answer to this question will unfold as the season goes along and we get to see how the team's identity develops with the new pieces and without the old ones. 

Projected Record for 2010-11   60-22