2007… perhaps the greatest single year in Boston sports history… is now gone. As we move ahead to 2008… let’s look at some of the questions that dogged us heading into this season:
Yeah… Boston has the big 3… but what else have they got?
More than we thought. James Posey came in billed as our defensive guy off the bench…. and people didn’t exactly laud Danny’s decision to bring in Eddie House. However, their 18th and 12th respectively in the NBA in 3 point fg percentage (House is 8th among guards, Posey is 7th among forwards). They have both hit huge threes in this past road trip alone to keep opponents at bay. Glen Davis has show he’s got the ability to hang in the league. Now if only we can see more of the Tony Allen we saw against LA… and less of the Tony Allen we saw in the 3rd quarter against Sacramento… we’ll be in extremely good shape.
But what about that point guard spot… and center?
Rajon Rondo is growing up right before our eyes. He has clearly improved his jumper, and he’s got one of the better eyes for the open guy in the league… even at this young age. At some point, it will click in him that he can destroy opposing pg’s off the dribble all night long… and he’ll do it to soften up the defense. As for Perk, I think we’re seeing everything this guy is going to be: an angry, bruising, rebounder and defender that will occasionally score big because he’s the forgotten man. But being that angry, bruising guy still means foul trouble… and that will probably dog him for a long time. Now that Scot Pollard is getting healthy, let’s see if he can provide good minutes at the back-up spot. If not, then its probably and Danny’s best interest to look for an insurance policy at both spots. Tony Allen filled in well enough for Rondo in LA… but we should probably have more of a straight ball handler in that situation.
They’ll still have a weak defense
Tom Thibodeau has come in and masterfully handled this for the Celtics. Much like Tex Winter’s triangle offense is to Phil Jackson’s teams… Tom Thibodeau’s concept of relentless team D is something that Doc can let him handle without worry. What’s brilliant about what Thibodeau has done is he’s made OK individual defenders in to a great defensive team. Aside from Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, there aren’t many guys who can really shut down an individual on the other team. Even KG can get muscled by bigger forwards. But when the guards can funnel their guy towards the middle and rotate quickly enough to take away the pass… it lets KG or Perk come over and block shots. It also leads to steals for the guards, because they’ve stepped into passing lanes, and little dump offs to the big men that Garnett or Perk just left get picked off.
Will Paul Pierce still be happy?
You tell me. He seems pretty happy so far. He’s on a pace to shoot fewer shots than he has in every full season he’s played but one. He could also set or approach personal bests in assists, 3pt fg% and ft%…. and his turnover percentage is currently the second lowest its been since 1999-2000. Oh yeah… and he’s 26-3. Who wouldn’t be happy?
Won’t Doc Rivers hold them back?
One thing I’ve seen about Doc is that he seems to be the right coach for a veteran team. Doc expects guys to carry themselves a certain way. Young guys like Gerald Green need to be taught how to act and what to wear and how to eat (remember that idiotic hamburger incident from last year?). Doc doesn’t have the patience for that. Is it a flaw? You could say that… but it’s not an issue this year. Guys like Garnett and Ray Allen help the younger players become pros… and Doc can focus on the game plan. I still contend Doc wasn’t as big a problem last year as many people thought he was. I heard countless times from the players themselves that they weren’t executing what Doc laid out. And as for his substitution pattern… everyone had their own idea of who should be starting. One guy wanted Gerald Green to get 30 minutes a game… another wanted him to go to the D-League. Doc really was grasping at straws to find a rotation that worked. I think this year we’re finding out that Doc’s OK when options 1-12 aren’t all equal.
Won’t they need time to jel?
I’ve already gone into the Rome trip ad nauseum, so you know that I think that’s the big reason why these guys got so close, so quickly. But we’ve also seen both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce take last second shots. We always see KG and Paul doing postgame interviews. We see all of them running to pick up a teammate that dove on the floor. Everyone on the bench jumps and screams and cheers for everyone else. This team was essentially assembled from scratch, but they act like they’ve been together for a few years now.
It’s nice to see that in a few short months, the C’s have answered just about all of the questions about them. They have won tough games and they’ve won easy ones. They’ve won in OT and they’ve wrapped up games by halftime. Simply put… they’ve won… in every sense of the word.
Herald: More than star power | How the west was won | Globe: The road had many bumps | Shaughnessy: Magic 8 ball tells all | Camerato: Up Close with Paul Pierce | Cape Cod Times: For the rest of the world, the C’s are worth hating again | NY Post: Celtic Thunder | Fox Sports: Predictions for ’08 | Power Rankings: #1 on SI | #2 on ESPN