Sensational or Sleepwalking?

The Boston Celtics of the Kevin Garnett Era have been feast or famine. The Era started out like a sprint, with the Celtics bolting to a 66-16 regular season record in 2007-08, followed by a less dominant playoff run in the Eastern Conference, only to reach new heights of excellence in the NBA Finals against the Lakers. Each year that followed, save last season, the Celtics started out with a sprint, only to get winded (bored?), fall back from their breakneck pace, and leave fans wondering which team would show up for the playoffs -- the sensational team that started the season or the one that sleepwalked through the second half.

Last season, I began the year predicting that the Celtics would skip the sprint, and sleepwalk through the entire season. For a while, it looked like I possessed some inside information because the Green underwhelmed and underachieved for a good spell. But then Doc moved KG to the 5, and somehow the Celtics sprinted to the finish line after a very slow start.

What will it be this season?

Later this week I will post my annual pointless win prediction plus a more thorough analysis of what we might expect to see from the Green this year. You may recall that last week I got awfully excited about the Celtics win over Brooklyn. I compared the local boys to their 1976 World Champion predecessors. I stand by that comparison. If the Celtics can use the first half of that Brooklyn game as their baseline, stay healthy, and build from there, holy cow, this team will be good.

Or maybe that game was the exception and the Celtics will sleepwalk through much of this season like they have through many of the other seasons in the Garnett Era. The preseason showed that outcome was as likely as any other. Either way, this post represents installment #1 in a season-long series I will call Sensational or Sleepwalking? We will look at the Battleship Shamrock from 100 different angles, getting progress reports on which way the ship seems to be leaning each week.

In the next installment, we'll take a quick look at how "fresh blood"  might impact the equation.

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