The regular season can’t come soon enough. I’m totally pumped about this team, and I don’t care if the Heat are the prohibitive favorites to repeat. Nor do I care that the Lakers are busy scheming to get Dwight Howard. This is all about our Boston Celtics, and hope, as they say, springs eternal.
If the season were to start today, what would the rotation look like? How would the rotations play out? Who would star and who would struggle? It’s never too soon to start asking ourselves these questions, so let’s get down to business. In our hypothetical opening night, our Celtics will play at home against the Washington Wizards. Let’s take a look at the starting lineup:
Center – Kevin Garnett
Head coach Doc Rivers continues to start KG at the 5, and plays Garnett somewhere in the neighborhood of 32-35 minutes. It’s a recipe that Rivers will likely follow all season long, as he tries to save the Big Ticket for another playoff push.
Power Forward – Brandon Bass
Bass gets the opening night nod at power forward, as the team looks to keep last season’s continuity in place.
Small Forward – Paul Pierce
Which Paul Pierce will we have next season – the one who showed flashes of brilliance, or the one who look tired, old and hurt at the end of our playoff run? Only Pierce knows for sure, but we’ll see soon enough. Rivers isn’t saying so publicly, at least not yet, but it’s obvious that Jeff Green will eat into Pierce’s minutes as the season goes along. Again, this should be viewed as a good thing. We want a fresh and healthy Pierce in the playoffs. He’s the guy we turn to for The Shot.
Shooting Guard – Courtney Lee
The Garden erupts when Lee drains his first three-point shot. Suddenly, Ray Allen is no longer ancient – he’s ancient history. Lee has young legs and runs the court well, and he can take the ball to the hole. It gives our C’s a dimension that wasn’t there with Allen.
Point Guard – Rajon Rondo
Rondo is all smiles on opening night. Danny Ainge has provided him with new toys, including backcourt mate Lee. The two of them should feed off of each other quite nicely, and Rondo should start a monster year with the monster game.
Rotation Player – Jason Terry
Terry becomes the team’s de facto sixth man. He’ll come off the bench and play both guard positions this season, especially if Keyon Dooling doesn’t re-sign and Ainge fills the last roster spot with a Dionte Christmas. Either way, Terry will be on the court a lot for the Celtics, especially come playoff time.
Rotation Player – Jeff Green
The wait for Green is over. Now we get to see what all the fuss was about. Let’s just hope he’s effective, and not lost like he was during his previous stint in a Celtics uniform. Green will play some power forward and some small forward, depending on match-ups. Again, another set of fresh, young legs for Doc Rivers to scheme with.
Rotation Player – Jason Collins
Collings is really going to help the Celtics. He’s a vet but not past his prime. If he’s over the injury bug, Collins can come in and play the post – he’ll bang and rebound and compete. He’s a Doc Rivers kind of guy, and could possibly become the most effective reserve center Rivers has had in Boston.
Rotation Player – Chris Wilcox
Wilcox gives the Celtics what Collins does not – he’s more on the athletic side, and can run the break with Rondo. He’ll see the court as well; his consistency (or lack thereof) will determine what kind of role Wilcox will have with this team.
Rotation Player – Jared Sullinger
The rookie is ready to play in the NBA. No, he won’t get big minutes, and that may hurt his effectiveness and confidence as a rookie, but Sullinger is a confident player who believes he belongs in this league. He has some nice offensive moves and a good feel for the game. Great instincts. Rivers will play him. Sullinger will see the court.
Garbage Time Minutes – Fab Melo
Melo will see the court, because the Celtics are going to blow out the hypothetical visitors from Washington. But don’t get too excited – Melo’s main job this season is to learn from players like KG, Wilcox and Collins.
DNP – Coach’s Decision – Kris Joseph
Joseph will spend a lot of time riding the pine, starting on opening night. But if he keeps working hard and keeps improving, then Rivers will have no choice but to give the rook a look. Just ain’t happening on opening night.
DNP – Coach’s Decision – Dionte Christmas
This is assuming Keyon Dooling doesn’t return, and Ainge doesn’t pull another point guard out of thin air. If Christmas is on the opening night roster, he’ll be watching the game with the rest of us.
DNP – Coach’s Decision – Jamar Smith
I don’t think Smith makes the team, but right now he’s in the mix. No way he sees the court.
DNP – Injured – Avery Bradley
Bradley will be at the game, in street clothes, and he’ll be hating every minute of it. He wants to be on the court. He wants to help his teammates win games. And he wants to continue to improve on the quantum leap made last season, before the shoulder injury shut him down.