I'm doing something different with the preview today. Rather than post a lineup chart and a bunch of bullet points, I'm posting a little Q-and-A I did with Jim of Green Bandwagon, SB Nation's Celtics site. My responses to his questions can be found here. His responses to my questions are directly below this paragraph. Tipoff is at 6 PM on Sun Sports.
Excluding the members of the Triumvirate, which Celtic has been
the most important to the team's success this year?
That's a tough question. In every game Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul
Pierce or some combination of the three has carried the team each
game. For example when Boston played Indiana Pierce blew up in the
second quarter, Allen got hot in the third quarter, end of story. And
Garnett is the center of it all. Meanwhile, other Celtics have played
well for stretches in the first eight games. Eddie House was lights
out against Atlanta. Rajon Rondo put up nice numbers Friday night
against the Heat (9 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists). Kendrick Perkins
protects the rim, rebounds well and gets easy baskets when he is not
in foul trouble. Glen Davis made some noise in his seventeen minutes
against the Nets (2 assists, 2 steals and 8 rebounds). But no one has
really saved the team per say. However, going forward I think James
Posey will be the most important bench player. He got off to a rocky
start with a one game suspension on opening night and then some back
issues forced him out of two games. Yet he finishes well, can hit the
three, is an annoyance on defense, brings a little bit of an edge and
always seems to be in the right place. Although the development of
Perkins and Davis will be essential because no one wants to see KG
banging in the post.
If the Celtics win the title, will it be because of Doc Rivers or
in spite of him?
That's a tough question. I'm not as critical of Rivers as some people
are. In his defense you don't see Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Gregg
Popovich and other great coaches lining up to coach the assortment of
talent Boston had the last several years. And yet Rivers does rub me
the wrong way at times. In the past he came off like a salesman, threw
people under the bus regularly and always had an excuse. But in a lot
of ways he is a good coach for this team. He's great with media. He
has settled on an eight-man rotation – Rondo, Perk, KG, Pierce, Ray
Allen, Posey, House and Brian Scalabrine. And Rivers also had the
foresight to hand the defense over to Tom Thibodeau. Also there are
some definite K.C. Jones parallels here where the coach just has to
not mess things up. And I think Rivers can do that. Although it will
be interesting to see if Rivers can keep the triumvirate fresh come
playoff time. Finally, check out the YouTube clip below and ask
yourself, "Who is in charge?"
If you could, would you trade Rajon Rondo for Jameer Nelson?
I don't know. I really like Rajon Rondo. He rebounds well, is
incredibly active on the defensive end, gets to the rim and provides a
spark. People always attack his shot but Rondo is shooting over 50%
from the field. Granted not a lot of those are traditional jump shots.
But if he can limit his fouls Rondo will make a difference. Having
said all that I do like Jameer Nelson. He is definitely more of a
leader than Rondo and I could even see him taking charge with the
Celtics personnel. He scorched the Celtics last season although
Sebastian Telfair played a big part in that. Ultimately I would say no
because I'm not sure if Nelson is more of a pure point guard. But
realistically, like most Celtics fans, I have an irrational attachment
to Rondo. Blame it on Tommy Heinsohn or as I call him the Minister of
Do the Celtics have a weakness? If so, is there any chance the
Magic will exploit it?
I'd say the Celtics have a weakness that a lot of teams will have
against the Magic. That being, "What the hell do they do against
Dwight Howard?!" No one can handle him and the Celtics are thin along
their front line. No one in their right mind wants him banging with
Howard. Perkins is foul prone. And Scalabrine, Davis and Powe are all
under sized. Also I have no idea how Rondo will do against Nelson and
Rashard Lewis will get his points. And if it comes down to coaching
I'd take Stan Van Gundy over Garnett...I mean Rivers.