CelticsLife 5-on-5. First Thoughts on the Boston Celtics

First of many, Let's do this.

Hey everyone, I know everybody has seen the popular "5 on 5" series on the ESPN website or "3 on 3" on the ESPN Boston website. Well this year, we are going to have our own, the CelticsLife 5-on-5.

The Boston Celtics are currently 1-2 and there has been cause for concern. I think the media is blowing things out of proportion, but let us see what our writers think.

1. The New York Knicks are a threat for the Atlantic Crown.

Terry P: Heck no! They are 3-0 right now, but once Amare comes back and the ball movement stops, they will be back to square one. Their players are too old to contain their level of play (yes I know we are old too but our old players have proven to play at high levels) and stop with the Rasheed highest PER in the league statistic please, y'all! They beat a depleted Sixers team twice and a Heat team that believed the game should not have been played due to Sandy. I am not sold on a Carmelo Anthony ball-hogged team and never will be, but for my fantasy basketball team, I don't mind him at all.

Matthew Mackey: At first when I heard they signed Kidd and Rasheed (and Kurt Thomas to a lesser extent) I thought that the Knicks we’re trying to assemble an early-2000’s all NBA team. But after seeing them blow out the Heat last Friday and seeing the plethora of great role players, I’m definitely singing a different tune. Huge acquisitions in Brewer and Felton, two solid smart basketball players. Celtics and Knicks will come down to Atlantic Crown, I still give the slight edge to the Green but it will be close.

Jun Pang: The Knicks have always had talent, they have just lacked consistency. With a lot of new veteran faces, the team seems to have entered a new phase of its development. The team, which was already good defensively, seems to have solved their offensive problems. The Knicks seem to have started using a sort of Spurs-lite offense, which involves a lot of ball movement which leads to open threes. A team that is elite defensively that has seemingly solved its offensive problems is very dangerous, and I would definitely consider them a contender for the Atlantic crown

Mike Dyer: No. I'm not going to allow a 3 game sample size change my mind. Before the season started I thought the Knicks were 8-10 games worse than the Celtics, and despite their great start to the season I'm sticking with that. The Knicks problems are two-fold. 1. Their age. Rasheed, J-Kidd, Camby, Prigioni, Thomas are all over 35 and then you have Tyson Chandler (30 years old but already in his 12th season), Amare (30 years old also in his 11th season), Carmelo (28 in his 10th season) and Raymond Felton (28 and battled weight issues since he entered the league). That is an OLD roster, and it's nearly impossible for me to to imagine their impressive depth holding up over the course of an 82 game season. 2. Amare. When old man Stoudemire does return in a month, is that really a good thing? The Knicks play better when he's out, but the $60 million they owe him makes it impossible for them to rid themselves of him. Bottomline is I see the Knicks as a definite playoff team, but not in the upper echelon of the East.

Burak Tekin: It's too early to say anything, but one cannot deny that their performance has been impressive so far. Carmelo looks like he has finally found himself, both their offense and defense looks good, and they've been consistently improving since Woodson became the coach, so all signs are positive. However, there's one issue that might create problems in the future: They've old and injury-prone players. Their PGs are 39 and 35 and fat, their Centers are 40, 38 and 38 and injured-half-of-the-time. It's one thing to have an old roster, it's another to pack key positions with such players. They'd need more luck than Celtics had last year come playoff time.

2. Jared Sullinger should start over Brandon Bass.

Terry P: I do think He should start over Bass. Remember, Brandon Bass was originally a bench player, I think he would be great for our bench with his midrange jumpers and energy. Sully is a great rebounder and i think his low post game would go great with KG's midrange game. Sully is hungry and I think his youth would be great to put into our starting lineup. Also I think he would run the break better then Bass would with Rondo.

Matthew Mackey: 150% YES YES YES….. He meshes better with the starters; Bass meshes
better with everyone because he can shoot those mid-range jumpers and
score. Throw Bass on the bench let him score easier against the other
team’s second teamers. Sully does a lot of things well, brings a skill
set with the starters that provides more versatility. I think Sully
with the starters puts him in the position for his skills to be better
utilized and puts him in the best position to succeed by not being
asked to do too much.

Jun Pang: I’m all for Jared Sullinger to start. It makes sense. His terrible defense will be best covered by playing next to Kevin Garnett. He will have little responsibility except for rebounding, which this team desperately needs a lot of. He will get very easy baskets handed to him by Rondo’s playmaking and passing. Starting him would maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. Bass should still see the bulk of minutes however (although that’s another story).

Mike Dyer: Before the season I was beating the "Bass as the starter" drum, but my excitement for that is waning. Sullinger brings a different type of low post game to the starting unit while Bass's midrange game is a little too similar to KG's. Bass has a definite role on this team, but I'm starting to think it's on the bench. As an aside, I don't want Green starting at all, I think he needs to get comfortable in a set role to have consistent success and that role should be as 6th/7th man. He can be a great weapon off the bench.

Burak Tekin: Yes, at least for now. Not because one player is better than the other, but because that'd create a more optimal scenario. Even though the bench has "a lot of scoring power," Green still looks lost, JET's shots aren't dropping and we cannot just expect Barbosa to carry the bench every game. Add Bass, who has played with Terry and who's a terrific pick-and-pop player, and a bench that looks like beautiful strangers at least gets a good set of plays. For starters, Sully is someone whom doesn't need plays called for, so add him there while he gets rebounds and points while Big 3 figures things out themselves.

To me, the Knicks' chance of winning the division left when they let him leave. -Terry P

3. Who is the most disappointing player thus far?

Terry P: Man, This is easy, JEFF GREEN. Mister murder it in the pre-season and disappear in the season. I picked him to be Sixth man of the year, don't prove me wrong Jeff. By the way, I love how the James Worthy comparisons stopped.

Matthew Mackey: Can I say the invisible man Chris Wilcox? I thought he’d be playing
solid back up to KG over Darko and grabbing rebounds and running the
floor but he hasn’t played at all. But I did expect Jeff Green to
continue his awesome play from the preseason; he has looked lost out
there at times and has played mediocre at best.

Jun Pang: The player I have been most disappointed with so far is Jason Terry. One of the main reasons he was viewed as such an important player coming in was because he added a dimension to our team that has been lacking: instant offense. Viewed as a sort of chucker, Terry was supposed to shoot and be aggressive. We’ve seen a hesitant and unconfident player these past three games however. He needs to stop thinking too much and start shooting, we need his “chucking”.

Mike Dyer: Most disappointing thru three games is tough because the majority of the team has been poor, but I'm going with Green. I loved the signing in the off-season and actually think he can be worth the money, but damn, so far he looks like the Jeff Green we got at the end of the 2010-11 season. He looks tentative and passive out there, a far cry from the aggressive guy we saw in the pre-season. I'm certainly not giving up on him this early but Doc and the veterans need to reach this guy somehow. His potential is legitimate but thus far in ~30 games with the Celtics it has not been reached. Honorable mentions: Courtney Lee, Jason Terry.

Burak Tekin: It's unfair to say that they've been disappointing, but if I had to choose it'd be a tie between Green and Lee. Green has looked confident and aggressive in the preseason, that was his recipe for success, yet come regular season he has displayed none of that. That's quite confusing. More or less the same goes for Lee. It's one thing if your shots don't drop or an opponent outscores you, it's another thing when you don't show the defensive tenacity or willingness to attack.

4. Tough games coming up for the Celtics, 6 games in 9 nights, how many wins will the C's win?

Terry P: Of course as a Celtic fan, I hope for all 6. But with a tea, with 9 new faces and a bunch of them looking lost, I don't believe we can. I have to say 4 of them, I won't get into match-ups because I thought we would beat the Bucks, and we did not. I do think we will play well against the Bulls even though ever since the KG era, we really haven't. I will promise a win tonight though.

Matthew Mackey: There's nothing like some real games to force your team to mesh and
mold together on the fly. I think this stretch will be good for them
in the long run, some playoff caliber team to force them to either
sink or swim. The real measuring game will see how the Chicago game
plays out, even without DRose they have a solid ball club that plays
hard. Although there's the history of playing down to the competition
and 2nd nights of back to backs killing us, I think we'll be just fine
and start a nice winning streak.

Jun Pang: The slate of games for the next nine days is not too daunting, as it is full of second tier teams. The main worry seems to be the back to backs, where the team has struggled in past seasons. I think predicting a record of 4-2 seems to be fair. I think the Wizards, 76ers, Bucks, and Nets will prove to be overmatched by us, but Chicago and Utah will steal wins. Considering how this team is playing right now however it could go in any direction.

Mike Dyer: It's a tough stretch for sure. Milwaukee, Chicago and Brooklyn are all playoff caliber teams on the road, however I like the C's to beat Washington tonight, and then find away to go 3-2 against the other 5. Chicago has given us fits, even without D-Rose but I like the Celtics to send a message in that game. Philly just got blown out in a home and home with the Knicks and are still Bynum-less so that game doesn't look as tough as it would have a few weeks ago either. 4 out of 6 looks good to me.

Burak Tekin: I'll be more than happy if we win half of the games. We should not lose to the Wizards at home. Both Bucks and Nets games are Segababas on the road, and we know that doesn't work well for the Cs. Let's beat 2 of 76ers, Bulls and Jazz (and those are teams that traditionally have made us work for it) and I'm set. But I believe that fans should be ready for the worse and not push the panic button immediately.

5. Finally, what do you guys think of Paul Pierce's (I call him Paul Peezy) performances so far? Hero-ball? Sustainable?

Terry P: It is probably what we need right now, but I don't like it. Do you remember how he started the season after we won the championship, how great he played? Kind of reminds me of that season. Everyone needs to step up their game, the captain should not be burning himself out at the beginning of the season to a poor team like the Wizards.

Matthew Mackey: I am a huge Pierce fan and I never want him to retire EVER, I want
him playing till he's 50 and all gray like Uncle Drew. But really he's
playing well, it seems like in his old age he's getting more accurate
from 3pt land and as long as he doesn't morph into Antoine jacking up
3's with 20 seconds on the shot clock I'm happy. He came into this
year in great shape and hopefully his body doesn't betray him and
break down later in the year. His athleticism is on the decline but
his footwork and body control will always give defenders fits and get
him to the free throw line. We can afford Pierce to play bad but if KG
plays bad we're in serious problems, especially if Pierce takes it
upon himself to play superhero ball. Barring a Pierce injury or him
becoming a superhero-Antoine player he'll be awesome this year.
Potential All-Star?

Jun Pang: Paul Pierce has looked pretty good these past three games. He hasn’t been as efficient as he usually is, but he’s rebounding very well. His usage rate is a little high for my taste (28.3) but it’s understandable considering the struggles of the team so far. Paul seems to still be the player that we need, a highly efficient scorer who can rebound and defense well. It looks like the Captain is ready for another run and we do not need to worry too much about him.

Mike Dyer: Pierce has looked really strong to me over these first three games after an impressive pre-season and I'm pretty high on him continuing this. The guy just keeps getting better from beyond the arc, 6 straight seasons over 36%, and his athletic ability seems to be fading slowly rather than quickly. He can still get to the line and he's in much better shape than earlier in his career. Of all the legitimate concerns about this roster, Pierce is very low on my list. Guy is like a fine wine, just gets better with age.

Burak Tekin: I like the way he started the season especially when I remember the beginning of the last season. We need to get a lot out of either Pierce or Green (if not both) this season if we want to raise Banner 18. Barring injury problems, Pierce should be able to contribute like this for the rest of the season, since even if he gets older, his footwork is still impressive. Nevertheless, he sometimes gets too stubborn when his shots don't fall down or when he gets double-teamed, and that's one aspect of Pierce's game that keeps me up at night.

What do y'all think about these topics? What do you think about our 5 on 5? Comment below.

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