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The Starting Unit is a "Beast"?
"A lot of times," Terry said, "you see your team on paper, and you say, OK, we might have a chance. We got here in September, earlier than usual, went to Europe, and up to our last practice today - we're legit and we're for real. To a man, we're a tough team, and I think our bench is deep, our starting lineup is a beast. These are champions, these guys know what they want, and our ultimate goal is to win the championship."
The Celtics realize they lost last season to Miami because their older players became fatigued, Allen was playing on one ankle, and their bench was offensively inept. With the addition of Jason Terry and the return of Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox, the Celtics' second unit will be considerably stronger. Personnel moves were geared to compete with the Heat, especially in the playoffs, when each side fully expects to see the other.
The starting lineup is a beast.
This is an interesting and important question.
The C's had the third best record after the All-Star break last year, largely because Doc Rives moved Kevin Garnett over to the 5 spot, and inserted Brandon Bass at the 4. The Celtics almost made it to the NBA Finals last year on the strength of their starting five, while typically getting help from only one player off the bench. This year the starting line-up contains at least three potential All-Stars (Garnett, Pierce, and Rajon Rondo), along with Courtney Lee, a valuable two-way player, and a revolving door of talent at power forward.
Last season I thought of the starting line-up as old. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be another year older this season, and still occupying a major role on the first unit. So it is undeniable that the Celtics success will be linked to the contributions from aging veterans. It will be up to the second unit to play well enough to keep Garnett and Pierce on the bench for longer stretches. It will be up to Lee, Bass, Sullinger, Green, and Terry to shoulder some of the burden when the Big Two run out of gas.
But come games end, the Celtics will still rely on numbers 5 and 34 to get the job done.
So the "beast" label will largely rise and fall on the ability of these two players to draw from the fountain of youth.
It certainly isn't a bet we'd stake our lives on. On the other hand, the Heat certainly don't seem to be betting against the odds either:
Don't count Dwyane Wade among those who believed the Celtics' competitive tenure was coming to an end last June. While the horde of reporters surrounding him scoffed and giggled as he said the Celtics would continue with their current core for three more years, the expression on his face remained serious. He wasn't joking or being overly laudatory.
"I understand what he was saying at that standpoint and we look forward to the challenge every year. Boston is always the team that's going to make us point fingers [at each other] in the game sometimes. They mess with your mind a little bit. It's a great challenge for us and by the time you get to the playoffs, we look forward to it. You have to be aware and focused on everything that they're doing because they can beat you any given night."
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