5 days until the Raptors kick into action, so what better time to take a look at the Atlantic Division and what the season could hold in store? Each day, I will take a quick look at what the Raptors are up against, culminating in a Raptors preview the day before the season opener. Since it is in the wee hours right now, I am going to consider this Friday’s post.
Last year, before the season started, I remember some local blogger who kept referring to the Boston Celtics as the World Champion Boston Celtics. While I am quite sure that this certain blogger was being completely facetious, let’s also leave the door open a tiny bit to allow him to look like he had some kind of idea what he was talking about and was actually taking the Celtics to win it all. Yeah, let’s leave him that…that would be nice…and we’re nice people here at RF.
So now, of course, the logical question to ask is, “Can the Celtics repeat?” Of course, they are going to be good, but I just don’t see them repeating this season for a few reasons. The first thing that actually bothered me about the Celtics last season in the playoffs was their complete inability to win on the road. Sure, you can work some fairy dust once going through the playoffs looking like stars at home and chumps on the road, but if they show up in the playoffs looking like that on the road again, they can’t assume that they aren’t going to be tripped up at least once at home. You play for home court advantage and the Celtics used every bit of that advantage last year, but asking for that to happen twice is a little too much.
Second, I think some people last year didn’t appreciate how much James Posey meant to the Celtics in the playoff drive. You wouldn’t think that a guy who has spent time in a few different cities over 9 years would be an important cog in the system, but last year during the playoffs, he shot almost 40% from behind the arc, played some good D and managed to pull down a few rebounds a game. He was able to get up and down the court, getting back on D to establish the team defence that Doc Rivers placed so much emphasis on. Losing Posey also means that there may be some minutes shifted around for the Celtics and if this means any sort of increase in time for any of the Big 3, that can’t be viewed as a good thing. The Celtics were a little lucky to get through last year with no major injuries to the Big 3 (other than that “injury”…and subsequent miraculous rehab by Paul Pierce) and if the minutes go up while the age goes up, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Third, at some point, the Celtics are going to need more minutes from guys like Big Baby Davis and unless there’s a glazed ham at the other end of the court, this guy isn’t going to get down there in a rush. Davis has the ability, but I’m not sure if he really has the desire and when you come off a championship season as a young player, you might start to think you are entitled to a shot every season.
How They Match Up Against the Raptors
The Raptors actually played the Celtics well last season, but failed down the stretch as they were unable to contain the Big 3 and mental lapses started to compound. With the way the blood seemed to rush away from the Raptors’ brains late in games against the Celtics, you would have thought that the Celtics Dance Pack was workin’ it naked. Defensively, things should be a little more interesting with O’Neal and Bosh patrolling the floor, which may lead to the Celtics looking to dial in from long distance if KG is tired late. Without Posey in to offer some additional shooting off the bench late in games, the Raptors may be able to pull out a few tough wins.