Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks.
Boston Celtics Overview
The Boston Celtics finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last year, making it all the way to the Conference Finals before losing to the Miami Heat in seven games. Their .591 winning percentage was the lowest it’s been since the “Big Three” era began in 2007-08.
The roster has turned over quite a bit this year and notable losses include Ray Allen, Ryan Hollins and Greg Stiemsma. New to the team are draftees Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, along with free-agent signees Jason Collins and Jason Terry. Courtney Lee arrived in a trade with the Houston Rockets, as well. And, of course, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are back for another run.
The Celtics played terrific defense last season (second in the NBA in defensive efficiency), and that figures to continue. But Boston did struggle mightily to create easy shots last season. A heavy reliance on inefficient shots—lots of long two-pointers—resulted in the one of the league’s least efficient offenses. Boston averaged just 98.9 points per 100 possessions in 2011-12. And, as you might imagine, their offensive reliance on jumpers resulted in the worst offensive rebound rate in the NBA by a staggering margin.
The Celtics will remain gritty, defensively sound and unselfish. But they haven’t exactly addressed the team’s biggest weaknesses by replacing Allen, an outside shooter, with Terry, who offers basically the same type of offensive production as Allen did. Avery Bradley, if healthy, is another tough defender, but along with Brandon Bass, Garnett, Pierce and Rondo, the Celtics’ starting five will probably struggle to create easy shots and rebound again this year.
Key Matchup/Important Stat
Rajon Rondo got anywhere he wanted against the Warriors last year. In the teams’ lone meeting, Rondo operated surgically in the paint, beating his man off the dribble before drawing defenders and setting up the Celtics’ shooters. He totaled 14 assists against just two turnovers in 35 minutes as the Celtics beat Golden State 105-103 in Oakland on March 14.
The key matchup in the Warriors two contests against Boston this season will involve Rondo and whichever Golden State guard is in front of him. If the Warriors’ smalls can do anything to slow Rondo down and keep him out of the paint, the Warriors could split the season series. If Rondo has free rein to run all over the court again, it could go badly for the Warriors.
Threat Level: 8/10
The Celtics are a solid, intelligent veteran team. And while the Warriors talk about promoting a defensive culture, the Celtics have been living in one for five years. Expect a pair of hard-fought contests when the Warriors and Celtics meet up in 2012-13. If Golden State splits the series, taking the game in Oakland and dropping the one in Boston, nobody’ll be disappointed.