The Cavs and celtics tip-off the NBA Regular Season tonight and what better way to get ready than with a quick chat with one of the best NBA blogs on the web, SBNation's own Celtics Blog!
FTS -- Winning the NBA Championship has lifted a huge weight off the shoulders of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Coming off of that, what has your impression been of the team, and those three in particular?
CB -- After the championship I made a concerted effort to soak everything in and refrain from worrying about 2009. Eventually I grew somewhat concerned when I thought about how many playoff games the Celtics played (26), read stories about their numerous post championship sleepless nights, heard about a Celtics gathering in Vegas, came across this story, and realized how short the off season would be. However, much like last year, KG, Pierce, and Allen have exceeded my expectations. They all came into camp in excellent shape and the first unit looked tremendous during stretches in the preseason. I believe they're ready to put the necessary work in to back up their talk of repeating.
FTS -- How big of a void will the loss of James Posey be this season?
CB -- It's funny because a lot of people immediately jumped on Posey's deal with New Orleans as ridiculous. Yet I've come across several, "Wow this guy makes a difference" reactions from bloggers and fans based solely upon Posey's training camp/preseason performance. Granted it was not a contract that Boston should have offered. And the Celtics have to realize they won't exactly replace what Posey brought to the table. For starters he is an incredibly flexible defender. He also has a knack for grabbing boards and hitting 3s at key moments and actively works to get an edge through physical play. To that end Doc Rivers has gone out of his way to remind everyone Tony Allen is not the same type of player. Allen is more of a slasher and perimeter defender. If he avoids mental mistakes, takes care of the ball, and adapts to coming off the bench it will be a huge lift. I've also come across some sentiment that the Celtics will be less likely to go small. It's definitely one of the key stories heading into the season.
FTS -- From a Celtic's fan perspective, just how tough was the series versus Cleveland last year? Was it the toughest match up of the postseason for the Celtics?
CB -- As confusing as the Atlanta series was, the games in Boston were never close. And while I can't speak for Celtics fans in general, the match up with Cleveland was definitely the most difficult for me. For starters Cleveland played great defense. Furthermore, Rajon Rondo had to step up in Game 5 (20 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 huge 3-pointers) and P.J. Brown hit a crucial jumper in game 7. Granted Ray Allen, KG, and Pierce all had their moments. Yet the role players stepped up where Cleveland's secondary players could not. Which brings me to LeBron James. He's terrifying. I can admit it. At times he struggled and ultimately Boston's defense was up to the task. But, as you know, LeBron is a force of nature. Meanwhile, Detroit did not have that type of player (who does?). And Kobe Bryant could not get to the rim like LeBron.
FTS -- Which Celtic player that is a relative unknown do you see having a big impact this year?
CB -- I thought about this one for a long time and grappled with which Celtics are relative unknowns on the national stage. Ultimately I made a call to the bullpen and got Steve Weinman of Celtics Blog to share his thoughts, "Hmm....there's no way we can even make a shadow of a claim that Rajon Rondo is unknown anymore, right? He's the point guard of the defending champs after all...
Despite his performance in Game 2 of the Finals I'd say Leon Powe is the guy to go with here. While Phil Jackson made a show of mispronouncing his name, I think there are still plenty of folks that don't know a ton about him.
Beyond that, I think it gets dangerous if we go to the real unknowns for a 'big' impact. I'm in love with Bill Walker like anyone else, but I'm not sure what sort of quantifiable impact to expect from him. And don't get me started on the hype POB (Patrick O'Bryant) got after a couple of good preseason games..."
I agree. Powe consistently makes things happen and has steadily improved throughout his time in Boston. If he gets respectable minutes, he'll do some damage. And realistically the real unknowns - Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens, and Bill Walker - will probably earn their share of DNPs.