1. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are still going to walk through that door! Anytime you have four All-Stars suit up for you, you have to feel pretty good about your team’s chances. Now, having the above players is simply not enough and Danny Ainge and Co. will need to work hard to put a complete team on the floor if the C’s have any hope of making a run deep into the post season. Depth was a big factor down the stretch and is something that needs to be viewed as a priority, especially in the front court. The Celtics have enough to cover-up any issues in the backcourt, but they desperately need quality reserves to spell the aging Jermaine O’Neal and Kevin Garnett. This past season, the C’s struggled to find suitable replacements to fill in for both O’Neals and suffered mightily as a result.
2. If any basketball is played in 2011-2012, we expect the season to be cut down to an abbreviated 50-game schedule. The quicker the deal gets done, the more time the Celtics will have between games. While the abbreviated schedule is not something that suits the Celtics in the long run, the current iteration of the Celtics normally gets off to a fast start. If the Celtics can steal some games early, they can help set themselves up nicely for making it into the post season. An advantage the Celtics have over most teams is that they already have a chemistry built up from playing hundreds of meaningful games together. Other teams may not be able to get things going early on and this is an area where the Celtics can capitalize.
3. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. How many times in your life do you get to watch three first ballot Hall of Famers play on the same team night in and night out? Well, as Celtics fans this may seem to be the norm for some generations, but the Celtics went through some pretty lean years in between the current and original versions of the big three. Gone are the days of the $10 balcony tickets and countless nights. This may sound crazy, be we Bostonians can sometime take for granted how good we have it in Boston. With all four major sports franchises winning it all in the last 10 years, fans sometimes forget what it’s like to be a struggling team hoping the top 10 pick in the draft actually works out. This team is made up of winners and they are the epitome of unselfish team basketball.
4. Doc Rivers. Doc has become one of the best coaches in the NBA today, I would put him up there with best in franchise history, but some guy named Red has him beat. Any way, Doc has done what few others would be able to do. He took a collection of All-Stars and got them to buy into his defense first system. Paul, Ray, and KG were all used to being “The Man” with their previous teams and Doc has them convinced that they need to play as a team in order to succeed. This is a feat that is not easy to pull off, but it is something that Doc has been able to accomplish. Players respect Doc and his presence on the Celtics bench helps make Boston a desirable place to play for veterans looking to make a legitimate run at another title. A good coach can single handily steal a few games for his team and based on what the season may or may not look like, an extra few wins, courtesy of the coach, could be the difference the Celtics use to catapult them into the post season. Let’s face it; we need all the help we can get when it comes to luring free agents to New England. Winter in Boston does not make the city desirable, but having a respected coach sure does.
5. The unknown. What is going to happen next? One of the most exciting things about being a Celtics fan in recent years is you just never know what is going to happen next. In 2007 Danny Ainge worked his magic and pulled the franchise from the clutches of mediocrity by somehow pulling off deals that land both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in Boston. Fans were barely done calling WEEI freaking out about missing a once and a lifetime player in Greg Oden. In 2009 Rasheed Wallace walked through that door and in 2010 Shaquille O’Neal did the same. Danny Ainge is not afraid to take chances and save from a certain 2010-2011 deadline trade; he has made some pretty good moves. Economics and the uncertainty of the new labor deal make it tough to speculate possible free agent or trade acquisitions at this point, the landscape of the NBA is about to undergo a drastic change, let’s just hope that it’s a change that we as fans get to benefit from for years to come.