T-24 hours until tip-off: 5 burning questions for Celtics
Can the C's wipe the smile off Lebron's face?
Well folks it's almost here. The time for talking is nearly over, and the time for action is upon us. No I'm not talking about that jerk Sandy, I'm talking about tomorrow night's Celtics/Heat match-up. After over four months without NBA basketball, the wait is finally over. And while we unfortunately now live in a world where Lebron James is an NBA champion, it sure as hell feels good to have basketball back.
However, despite the fact that tip-off is less than 24 hours away, there are still several burning questions about the C's that need to be answered. Let's take a closer look at what too look for tomorrow night on South Beach.
1. Who starts at PF?
- What we do know? That tomorrow night Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will be announced as starters for the Green. What we don't know? Who starts along side them. The candidates are Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green, with Doc going as far as saying that the final starting spot will rotate on a game to game basis:
Someone’s going to start. It’s the four guys and, like I said, every night -- not every night -- but we’ll have three different lineups. Jeff Green will start in some different games, Brandon will start some games and Sullinger will start some games.
Now listen, I love Doc as much as the next guy, but I'm completely sold on this "different starting line-ups for different match-up's thing". In my opinion it's imperative on a basketball team for players to know their role, and have consistency in how they prepare for each game. For me the choice is clear: Brandon Bass. While Bass may not be the flashiest player in the league, the team took off after he was inserted into the starting line-up last season (35-19 record including the playoffs) and his consistent play and attitude was a big reason why. Green and Sullinger will have major roles on this team, but Bass has earned the starting spot.
2. What do the Celts do when Miami goes small?
"If you go small against us, you may be playing into our hands." - #Celtics Doc Rivers before the C's practice this morning.
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) October 29, 2012
- The reason the Heat won the title last year (besides the absurd free throw differential of course. Yes I'm still bitter) was that they finally embraced Lebron at the 4, and Chris Bosh at the 5. The five-some of Chalmers-Wade-Battier-Lebron-Bosh played exceptionally well against both the Celtics and Thunder as the Heat seemed to peak as a team while Lebron peaked as an individual. Last year the C's just didn't have the personnel to match-up when the Heat went small, but the 2012-13 team has a plethora of options. Both Lee and Green give the Celtics the necessary speed to run with the Heat, without giving up much in the way of size. It will be interesting to see what Doc decides to do with his new toys tomorrow.
3. How much does Ray play?
- Ok ok, this isn't about a current Celtic, but still who among us isn't wondering just how Ray is going to fit in with Miami? Last week we learned that Allen is still dealing with a bum ankle and while he surely hasn't forgotten how to shoot, there is no question that the ankle limited him during last season's playoff run. How will he look with a new set of teammate's and another candle added to his birthday cake? Chances are there will be plenty of open looks for him to bury, but I also think that every time he's on the court it will slow down the vaunted Miami transition game, and that could greatly help the Celts.
4. Which 5 close games for the C's?
- It seems like a foregone conclusion that Rondo, JET, Pierce, and KG will be on the court during closeout time. But who joins them? Unlike with the starting role, I think this is a spot where Doc can play the hot hand. Jeff Green is playing a great two-way game? He closes things out. Courtney Lee is locking down D-Wade? He closes things out. Bass or Sully is unstoppable from 18 feet? They close things out. One of the best parts of this season's added depth is the ability to pick and choose match-ups at the end of games. Doc will be able to handle just about any situation the opponent throws at him with the depth of talent at his disposal.
5. Do the Celtics watch the King get his ring?
- This one has nothing to do with X's and O's and everything to do with the hatred that flows between these two teams. While the respect factor is high between them, there is absolutely no love loss between the clubs and tomorrow night when the Heat raise their championship banner, that hatred will be put to the test. Doc has made it clear that the Heat "don't own the trophy" in the eyes of the C's, so it should be fun to see the Celts huddle up and enter their own world while Miami celebrates.
While the Heat have bragging right's at the moment, tomorrow night mark's the official end of last season and the beginning of a new one. And I for one can't wait.