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The Boston Celtics Are Back! Predictions for the 2012–13 Season

Oct 18, 2012 01:32PM ● By Erin Frisch

Boston Celtics

No NBA team in recent memory coming off a Conference Finals appearance has undergone perhaps as dramatic a retooling as the Boston Celtics have this off-season. While the leadership core has, for the most part, remained intact, it will be the supporting cast that will largely determine if the Celtics can improve on last season’s performance in 2012–13.

Off-Season Changes

After a championship playoff run in 2008 and a near-miss in 2010, many experts thought it was probably time that GM Danny Ainge break up the Big Three (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen) last season, but Ainge was able to retool to again get the Celtics deep into the playoffs in 2012. The handwriting appeared to be on the wall again this off-season, with Allen jumping ship for the Miami Heat, the team that ended Boston’s 2011–12 season.

Reduced to a sixth-man role in the playoffs behind Avery Bradley, Allen took less money to join the Heat due to dissatisfaction with his projected role. While it was the end of a successful partnership, the new backcourt of Rondo and Bradley, with Jason Terry and Courtney Lee coming off the bench, is a much better unit than the Celtics had at the beginning of last year, even without future Hall-of-Famer Allen.

While the backcourt is indeed intriguing, the biggest question marks for the Celtics are in the frontcourt. Garnett and Brandon Bass are already penciled in as the starters, but the return of Jeff Green and the arrival of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo could be wild cards for the Celtics.

Green is not a new addition to the Boston Celtics, having come over in the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011. However, Green missed all of the 2011–12 season after suffering an aortic aneurysm. Green’s return gives the Celtics an athletic player who can man both forward spots. His ability to fill that role off the bench will go a long way to determining how successful the Celtics can be this season.

Also joining the frontcourt will be rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Boston Celtics fans are expecting big things from Sullinger after his summer league performance. While they may need to temper those expectations, Sullinger should be solid behind Bass.

Keys to the Celtics' Season

As Pierce and Garnett go, so go the Celtics. Even as the Boston Celtics get younger, they are going only as far as their two aging leaders take them. Because of this, this team’s bench play is perhaps more important to their title hopes than any other team’s. Coach Doc Rivers will be looking for his reserves to step up so he can save Pierce and Garnett for high minutes come playoff time.

The Celtics’ hallmark over the last five years has been their defense, but if they want to take it all the way in 2012–13, the offense needs to be greatly improved. They were top three in the league defensively last year, and little should change in regard to that. However, they were only 24th in the league in points per possession, fueled by a league-worst offensive rebounds per game average. Getting more aggressive on the offensive glass should help their points per possession average as well, giving them a boost that should get them over the hump in close games.

Although the Nets and Knicks are also improved, look for the Boston Celtics to remain atop the Atlantic Division. If all the new pieces click, and Ainge once again has worked his magic, an 18th title could indeed be possible.

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