(At Least) One More Shot at Banner 18
The Boston Celtics will play a familiar role for the upcoming 2012-2013 NBA season: the old guard that no team wants to play a long playoff series against.
There are some new faces on the Green this year, and General Manager Danny Ainge has assembled a deeper team on paper that many believe can give the defending champion Miami Heat a run for their money in the playoffs.
“[Guard] Jason Terry and the return of [forward] Jeff Green were the biggest moves this offseason,” said Jay Pinsonnault, a 1996 graduate of Northeastern and former co-op student with the team. “Terry basically takes the place of Ray Allen as the legitimate outside threat, while the athleticism and skills of Green provides [Coach] Doc Rivers with another scoring option off the bench.”
After the aging Celtics came up short in a hard-fought seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, there were many questions surrounding how the team would be built going forward. The team selected college stand-outs forward Jared Sullinger from Ohio State University and center Fab Melo from Syracuse University in the 2012 draft back in June.
After the draft the Celtics signaled to the rest of the league they were making another run at a title by re-signing team centerpiece Kevin Garnett to a three-year deal that will most likely take him to the end of his career. Between Garnett, team captain Paul Pierce and the dynamic young point guard, Rajon Rondo, the Celtics will try to compensate for losing all-time three-point shot king Ray Allen in the offseason to the Heat. But Dover, New Hampshire’s WTSN-AM 1270 sports-talk show host Justin McIsaac believes Rondo is key to a successful season for Boston.
“Rondo has to continue emerge as the leader of this team. As far as Rondo goes, they go,” he said. “It will also come down to a couple of breaks like which team stays healthy. Pierce is not a spring chicken and neither is Garnett, so Doc needs to limit their minutes and keep them healthy for the playoffs.”
The Celtics will face increased competition from their Atlantic Division rivals who are anxious to end Boston’s five-year dominance of the division. The new Brooklyn Nets have vastly improved with the addition of Joe Johnson, and the Philadelphia 76ers now boast one of the best centers in the game, Andrew Bynum, according to Pinsonnault. Although Bynum is once again battling knee issues
“The Celtics are still the team to beat,” he said. “Yes their division got better but so did the Green with the additions of Terry, Courtney Lee and Darko [Milicic].”
This new depth has Boston’s fans excited for things to come.
“They definitely became a stronger and deeper team that will be fun to watch,” Northeastern student and lifelong Celtics fan, Sam Zorfas, a political science major at Northeastern 2015, said. “I think you’ll see Pierce, Garnett and Terry not rack up a lot of minutes in the regular season if they want a shot at a title.”
Sink or swim this season, the Celtics will be in the conversation for a championship, but may come up short to the Miami Heat again in the Easter Conference Finals said Pinsonnault. Regardless, fans like Zorfas feel more secure now than at the conclusion of last season because the team has a strong core moving forward as it transitions out of the “New Big 3” era.
“They have a really good core of young guys, and free agents will want to come play with Rondo,” he said. “The Celtics succeed because they play as a team and these young guys will learn from Pierce and Garnett and eventually grasp what makes this team so successful.”