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Boston Celtics 2005-2006 Season preview

“Ah, the wonders of youth.” That ought to be the mantra of the Boston Celtics for the coming season. If they decide to go in a different direction and endorse sayings such as “The future is now,” they and their fans may be sorely disappointed.

The newest version of the Celtics are very high on potential and quite low on actual NBA experience. Coming into training camp, the Green has eight players with four years of combined experience and 10 players aged 23 or younger. The inexperience on this squad has gotten so out of hand that Ricky Davis, he of the ripe age of 26, has been talked about as a possible veteran leader of this bunch. Sweet mother of mercy!
It’s not as if the Celtics weren’t a young team last season, but this summer they drafted three players and signed another rookie while letting future Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton walk and facilitating a sign-and-trade that sent Antoine Walker to Miami. That means that Delonte West and Al Jefferson should have the inside track for the jobs of starting point guard and power forward, respectively. It’s not that West and Jefferson are necessarily downgrades from Payton and Walker (some might even argue to the contrary), but when it comes to an understanding of the NBA game, the second year players clearly have much to learn.

However wet behind the ears the Celtics may be coming into the season, it shouldn’t be confused with gloom and doom. Young as they are, the Celtics are a very, very talented gang. Jefferson has been lauded everywhere for his strong rookie season, West is already known in NBA circles as an intelligent player and fellow sophomore Tony Allen showed that he belonged when he was inserted into the starting lineup midway through last season. In addition, the Celtics have what many are calling the steal of the draft in high schooler Gerald Green, a talent many thought would be gone by the fourth pick but somehow was still around when the Celtics made their selection at 18. They were able to nab Ryan Gomes, a product of Providence, late in the second round, something that was also considered a bit of a coup for Executive Director of Player Personnel Danny Ainge.

Of course all of these players will surround cornerstone Paul Pierce as he returns to Boston for his seventh season after an offseason filled with whispers and trade rumors. For all of Pierces’ warts and last season’s Game 6 meltdown against Indiana in the first round of the playoffs (a game which people forget, the Celtics won), #34 is still one of the most talented player in the league and last year was one of his best seasons to date. If the Celtics will make the postseason for a fifth consecutive year, it will be because Pierce is happy and willing to play team basketball with this group.

Will the Celtics compete for a playoff spot in the improved East or wind up spending the season just trying to learn the ropes in the NBA? No one knows that, but one thing is certain: Head Coach Doc Rivers will compensate for his team’s lack of maturity with plenty of new gray hair for himself.

AT THE HELM:

Rivers will begin his second year as the lead man on the Celtics’ bench and he’ll have his hands full. With the moody Pierce, the zany Davis, the tender Raef LaFrentz, the inconsistent Marcus Banks and the just plain disappointing Mark Blount, Rivers already has more than enough responsibility to fill an entire season. And that’s without even mentioning the youngsters who have no idea how to play in the pros.

Rivers shouldn’t have to worry about job security–he gets along well with Ainge and management has no preconceived notions about this club being a contender. Still, while the team was generally pleased with how the coach brought along last year’s crop of rookies, there were whispers about his game management. Also, it’s getting close to put up or shut up time for Rivers when his team makes it to the postseason. In four trips (three with Orlando, one with Boston), he has never advanced into the second round.

PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

Is there any doubt that, more than ever, the microscope is bearing down on Pierce? Even though Pierce quietly had what was arguably his second best season, frequent dust ups with Rivers and his ejection against the Pacers on a national stage badly damaged his reputation. If Pierce is to rebuild his battered image, he must have another sterling season while being careful to respect his coaches and teammates. If he does that, he could carry the Celtics to the playoffs. If not, you’ll hear his name a lot before the February 23rd trade deadline.

BREAKOUT PLAYER:

Jefferson looms as the best candidate, though some would argue he shouldn’t qualify because he already broke out last season. Even so, given his status as a projected starter and a more muscular physique, he should earn more than the 14.8 minutes a game he averaged last year and have a real chance to pad his stats. That is, if he is able to overcome the foul trouble that plagued him much of last year.

Another player to watch is West, who could start after playing in only 39 games in an injury riddled rookie campaign last year. With extended minutes and without a future Springfield resident ahead of him in the rotation, West may just be the Celtics’s answer at point guard. The Celtics were 6-1 with West in the starting lineup last year so there may just be something to that.

A dark horse for breakout player is second year swingman Justin Reed who could emerge as the team’s starter at shooting guard now that Allen will miss the start of the season due to arthroscopic surgery in his right knee. Reed may already be the team’s best perimeter defender and showed a marked improvement from last year in summer league action. Stay tuned…

KEY ADDITIONS:

As soon as the free agency wooing period began, Ainge made a point of getting in touch with the Nets’ free agent forward, Brian Scalabrine and signed him to a five year, $15 deal shortly thereafter. Scalabrine is not expected to oust Jefferson from the starting lineup or impress the crowd with athletic ability–that’s just not going to happen. Ainge brought the redhead in the fold because of his ability to be a steadying presence in the locker room, something not to be taken lightly with the average age of this team, and to be a valuable backup. Scalabrine knows his role and will leave it all on the court every time he takes the floor.

Free agent point guard Dan Dickau may have a much deeper impact on the team than Scalabrine if he is able to replicate some of his numbers from last year with the Hornets. After a nomadic first three years in the league, Dickau finally exploded onto the scene for a New Orleans team bereft of a star, and, frankly, much talent. After being acquired by the Hornets from the Mavericks very early in the season, Dickau averaged 13.2 points and 5.1 assists and had some very impressive individual game stats, including a 19-point, 16-assist gem against Philly in January. It remains to be seen whether Dickau is the real thing or just a small market player with good numbers on a bad team.

While he is a rookie, Gomes may be the biggest boost for the Celtics this year. His play in the Reebok Vegas Summer League so impressed the Celtics’ brass that they signed him to a three-year contract, something unusual for a second rounder. His toughness, nose for the ball and his overall instincts to go with his potential for leadership may mean he finds a place in River’s rotation sooner rather than later. He’ll even be in the mix for a starting job at some point.

PLAYER ON THE HOTSEAT:

Besides Pierce, Banks and, to a lesser degree, third year player Kendrick Perkins must show the Celtics that they belong. Banks frustrated Rivers continuously during the coach’s inaugural season in Boston and if he doesn’t prove that he is coachable soon, there is an outside chance that he could be cut at the end of training camp. Perkins is just two years removed from high school but his development has been much slower than expected. If he is to earn significant playing time he’ll have to outplay his competition early, something he has yet to do since being drafted in the first round two years ago.

ROOKIES TO WATCH:

Gomes is the one who will probably get the most playing time but it’s Green who’ll command the attention of Celtic fans everywhere. The highflying athlete impressed everyone over the summer with some truly ridiculous moves around the basket. He may be the future of this basketball team but for right now, he’s a benchwarmer and may be fodder for year one of the NBA Development League. Raw as he is, the kid has mad skills with a nice shooting touch and an excellent ability to get to the basket. If Green somehow finds his way onto the court for heavy minutes this year it will mean that things are going really well for the Celtics. Or really poorly.

OUTLOOK:

As they have been for the last few years, the Celtics are a bit of a wild card heading into the season. If Pierce behaves, if Davis follows up an impressive and selfless season with another, if West and Dickau (and Banks?) can successfully man the point, if Jefferson can make the leap, if some rookies can contribute, if Blount is motivated, if Rivers can avoid having a brain aneurysm…well then the Celtics will find themselves in the playoff hunt. If not, the losing could mount early on, Pierce could get tired of waiting for this team to compete for a title and ask for a trade; things could get worse before they get better.

In years past, the Eastern Conference was so bad that teams could sneak into the playoffs with a poor record, like the C’s 36-win team from two years ago. Now the East is much improved and only a few teams such as the Hawks, Raptors and the Bobcats are unlikely to be in the mix. With the Celtics downgrade in experience and the conference’s upgrade in talent, expect the Green and White to compete, but ultimately fall short of a playoff spot.

PROJECTED RECORD: 38-44

26 replies on “Boston Celtics 2005-2006 Season preview”

sorry! I write about the Celtics professionally and don’t have much time to venture out of that area. I am going to try to write about 1-2 of the teams that play the Celtics each week of the season, though. It depends on how busy I am, but I’ll try to get it done.

I understand Your a great writer and it would be nice to see your writing about other things too. But I understand that your busy.

IUFan62, do u choose what people write about? Do we all have to answer to you on the topics of our articles? Why the hell do you care if someone only writes about the celtics. How does that offend you, why do you complain about something as stupid as someone who likes the celtics

CleBrowns, shut up. When are you going to get it? No one cares what you have to say. Firstly, this isn’t about you. I was talking to Gabe not you. Secondly, I was saying it would be nice to see him write about something other than the Celtics. It’s my opinion. Did I say it offended me? Did I complain about him liking the Celtics? I was simply offereing my opinion on his writing. Isn’t that what this site is about? You’re putting words in my mouth and that annoys me. Stop being an idiot and shut your mouth. Lastly, when was the last time the Browns made it into the play-offs? And for that matter, any pro team in cleaveland? That’s what I thought. Who owns who now?

Listen Do you know what a fan is? I stick with the Browns, Cavs, Indians, Buckeyes (who won a national championchip in 02′ dumbass) Becuase I am a fan of cleveland and always will be. I dont go around and pick teams that are good and jump on the bandwagon dumbass. Are you retarded. You should kill yourself if your a fair weathered fan. It’s pathetic.

Secondly what was the point of you saying

“please (#1)
by IUfan62 on Fri Oct 07, 2005 at 05:08:49 PM EST

write something other than Celtics articles”

You sound like a 9 year old kid complaining to his dad to buy him some candy. “Please Daddy will you buy me the snickers instead”…

Why dont you worry about what you write and not what other people write. Is it your obligation to make sure everyone rights about different topics? Do you need Gabe to write about something else besides the celtics so you dont have a mental breakdown. I dont think Gabe wants here people complaining about him always writing about the celtics. Do you?

If someone told me to write about something else, Id tell them that they should read about something else then. You dont have to read Gabe’s column’s if you dont want do you? Do you wake up every morning looking for another one of Gabe’s articles saying I need to read this?

JDWC, I own you now.

Idiot notice how I said, “And for that matter, any pro team in cleaveland?” Don’t you feel stupid. I am also a buckeyes fan and my grandfather went to graduate school there. I’m not going to write everything over because my entire re-buddle was in the comment above. Also the fact of the matter was that I’m not a fair weathered fan, I’m making fun of you and cleveland because I can’t even remember the last time any CLEVELAND PRO team made into the play-offs. Just shutup before you make yourself sound more dumb. Notice how Gabe didn’t have the PMS reaction that you did. I think I own you now.

Wait a second Do i have any affect on how cleveland pro teams do each season. When i go to a game in cleveland can i magically make the other team fumble so we win the game? No, you idiot, i cant. So even if we havent made the playoffs i still stick with my teams you dumbass, there is nothing i can do about it. And I said the buckeyes becuase I am going to ohio state, a college you couldn’t dream of getting into. So if they are one of the teams i like im gonna mention them anyway.

Saying that cleveland teams never make the playoffs, is like me saying you sister makes fun of you. Theres nothing you can do to help it becuase your such a dumbass, and there is nothing i can do to help the browns/cavs/indians becuase of lack of talent. And if you dont remember not to long ago the Indians had a very competitive team, and this year they fell a couple game short and should be great next year, The Cavs are going to the playoffs this year, and the Browns are rebuilding, but did make the wild card in 02′ dumbass. Are you 3 years old, how could you not remeber that? Every team has been bad at some point in the franchise you idiot.

Thats the dumbest comment i ever heard. Pshh

Funny I am just laughing quietly that anyone could take seriously a person who uses the word “re-buddle” and believes that is the actual spelling.

Why isn’t the word “phonetically” spelled like it’s pronounced?

can you… insult me in any other way besides saying i’m a dumbass? And if you think you’re going to Ohio State with your attitude or brain capacity you have another thing coming.

BostonMac I’m not sure I could take a guy seriously who says he has a “man crush” on Larry Fitzgerald :).

Man crush Hey I’ll stand by it, in a completely heterosexual, non-physical way.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  🙂

Vin I’m not sure if you went to Penn State or not but it seems like you did and your also a big philadelphia fan, and through all this I don’t see how you ended up on San Fran.

actually i didnt’ go to PSU but most of my friends did. And I grew up watching them. So it’s in the blood.

Congratulations sgabekahn, you have sparked the most off topic string of comments in sportscolumn.com history!

woah Imagine you were away for a few days and just checked to see how your article was received and you find this!

I didn’t realize this was such a controversial Celtics’ preview when I posted it!! 🙂

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