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NBA Power Rankings, 10/28 10.28.10 at 2:40 pm ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: After receiving their championship rings, the Lakers started 1-0, thanks to new addition Steve Blake, who nailed a last-second 3-pointer to defeat the Rockets — on an assist from Kobe Bryant. Wait a second, Kobe trusted a teammate? And a new teammate to boot? I must have read that wrong.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: The Celtics made their statement on opening night: When they’re up for a game, they can beat anybody in the league, including the LeBron-led Heat. Then they made another statement last night: When they’re not up for a game, they can lose to anybody in the league, including the LeBron-less Cavaliers.

Miami Heat3. Miami: LeBron was right when he said after the loss to the Celtics that Rome wasn’t built in a day. In reality, it was built over the course of 870 years. I don’t think it’ll take that long for the Heat to start jelling. They played pretty poorly in the opener — and still almost beat our No. 2-ranked team on the road.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: Kevin Durant took his first step towards claiming his MVP trophy, totaling 30 points and seven rebounds in a season-opening win over a team that will probably be one of the league’s best defensive squads (the Bulls). So, what’s in store when he plays against the Pistons tomorrow night? Watch out.

Orlando Magic5. Orlando: I overheard a conversation at the TD Garden the other night. One guy said to another, “Hey, how come you don’t like Orlando’s chances this year?” The other guy’s reply? “They still have Vince Carter, don’t they?” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why — no matter how impressive their preseason was — they’re not higher.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA
The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (7 of 7) 10.26.10 at 2:28 pm ET
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NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.

We’ll finish the seven-part series with five forecasts from some of the best Boston Celtics bloggers around (Don’t forget to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6) …

Boston Celtics
BOSTON CELTICS
by Jeff Clark, Celtics Blog

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal smiles as he jokes with teammate Kevin Garnett, right, while sitting on the bench against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Manchester, N.H. , Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010.

Would a healthy Kevin Garnett (right) and Shaquille O'Neal be enough to push the C's to the title? (AP)

ON THE CELTICS: When you are six minutes away from an NBA championship, what do you do to make up those six minutes in the next year?

You try to get a little bit better. The Celtics are hoping that their gains are greater than their losses.

Is Kevin Garnett‘s improved health enough to make up for the creeping age of this roster? Are Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal enough to make up for the loss of Kendrick Perkins for half a season (at best)? Is Delonte West enough of an offensive upgrade to make up for the loss of the surprisingly steady defense of Tony Allen?

If the Celtics can stay a little bit healthier, maybe they can win a few more games to give them more home games in the playoffs. Maybe, just maybe, that will be the little edge they need to make up those six minutes and raise another banner.

 Boston Celtics
BOSTON CELTICS
by John Karalis, Red’s Army

Boston Celtics center Glen Davis smiles as he cools off under a fan while iciing down his knees after their practice at NBA basketball training camp at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. , Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

Glen Davis leads what many consider to be the best bench in the NBA. (AP)

ON THE CELTICS: With all the talk of what other teams have done this offseason, few people have paid a lot of attention to the fact that the Celtics — a team that was within four minutes of a title — addressed their two most pressing needs: Size and depth.

Now, the Boston Celtics boast what is probably the deepest team in the NBA.

Fast forward to the playoffs – since it would take the most catastrophic of events for this team to miss the playoffs – and the C’s will start their usual rotation of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, KG and Perk.

That means you have Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, Glen Davis, Delonte West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels coming off the bench.

A team of those six guys would challenge for the last playoff spot in the East … and they’re backing up a starting five that, as Doc Rivers loves to say, still hasn’t lost a playoff series.

The Celtics’ team chemistry has been remarkable. So, questions as to whether these guys can coexist are already answered.

They matched up well against most Eastern teams already, so the added size will only give the C’s more guys to throw at Dwight Howard.

The added depth will be able to keep up with Chicago or Atlanta. And the combined size and depth are the perfect counter to a heavily front-loaded Heat team.

Ultimately, this Celtics team has too much for the rest of the league. Even if a couple of guys get banged up, they have the depth to overcome it and properly rest guys for the playoffs.

Miami will be really good. The Celtics — with their experience, depth and size — will be just a little better, and they’ll get that 18th banner this year.

Boston Celtics
BOSTON CELTICS

by Jay King, Celtics Town

Boston Celtics guard Delonte West runs sprints after their practice at NBA basketball training camp at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. , Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.

The addition of Delonte West only bolsters an already deep Celtics team. (AP)

ON THE CELTICS: Before the preseason started, I predicted that the Celtics were destined to lose to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were tough enough by themselves. Once Pat Riley paired them together and sprinkled a little Chris Bosh on top, they became the team to beat — regardless of who won the Eastern Conference last season.

Then the preseason happened, I got to see the Celtics play in real life rather than on paper, and I’m no longer convinced they’ll fall to the Heat (Yes, I realize it was just the preseason; bear with me).

I expected many of the older Celtics to digress this season. Instead, almost every Celtic looks better than last year.

Pierce entered camp in great shape; Garnett’s healthy; Delonte was a perfect fit; Marquis added confidence and perhaps an outside shot; Nate looks more comfortable after a full training camp; Davis has matured and potentially taken a leap; Rondo remained Rondo, only one year older and more experienced; Shaq has meshed far better than he ever did in Cleveland (I even saw him hedge a pick-and-roll last game); and Jermaine O’Neal’s addicted to the injured list.

Okay, maybe J.O.’s preseason didn’t work out perfectly, but every other player — stunningly — looks to be improved from last season.

A lot of teams claim to be motivated by tough losses, but the Celtics took that motivation to a next level. They used the devastation from the Game That Must Not Be Named and channeled it into returning in great shape, with only one purpose — winning an NBA title.

One through 12, the Celtics are the NBA’s most talented team. If healthy, they’ll win the East and then take down the Lakers in the NBA Finals. If healthy.

Boston Celtics
BOSTON CELTICS
by Brandon Paul, Gino’s Jungle

Von Wafer's battle for the 15th spot says a lot about the C's depth.

ON THE CELTICS: When asked by WEEI for a brief preview of the Boston Celtics 2010-11 season, the first thing I had to do was run to my desk and grab that fashionable pair of green goggles I’ve worn throughout my time as a Celtics fan.

Now that I took care of that, here’s what I think will go down this year for the hometown boys in green:

The Celtics are back and better than ever this season. After watching six preseason games, the amount of depth on this team cannot be compared to that of any other team in recent memory.

Von Wafer, a guy who had a solid tenure in Houston, was being talked about as a guy that could be cut from this team. That right there says something.

Of course, the team is going to undergo injuries and other hiccups throughout the course of the regular season that may draw some criticism, but if this Celtics team remains healthy come playoff time nobody (not even the Miami Heat) can match their depth and playoff experience.

For that reason, I’m predicting a solid regular season record of 52-30, a healthy team going into the playoffs and … wait for it … wait for it … Banner 18.

Boston Celtics
BOSTON CELTICS
by Brian Robb, Celtics Hub

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, center, talks with teammates Paul Pierce, right, and Ray Allen during their practice at the team's training camp at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. , Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010.

One advantage the Celtics' Big 3 has over the Miami Heat's triumvirate: Continuity. (AP)

ON THE CELTICS: Continuity. I’m a big believer in it as far as the NBA goes.

You take a look at the teams that have made the NBA Finals in the last 20 years, and the vast majority have been seasoned squads — units that have played together for years; players who know each other inside and out — their strengths and flaws, where they will be on the floor, where they like to catch the ball and everything in between.

You can’t buy that kind of knowledge in free agency, and it’s the biggest edge the Celtics’ core will have over their competition next year — one that will ultimately lead them to the NBA Finals.

The Miami Heat obviously have more talent, and they will get their championship(s) down the road, but next year will be a learning experience once the playoffs roll around. And they’ll fall short against the Celtics.

An improved offense, more depth and a deep sense of urgency will be enough to get Boston back to the promised land — where they will earn redemption against the Lakers after coming up empty last year.

Thanks to all who participated in this year’s NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast.

Read More: blogs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat
Irish Coffee: Celtics & Heat get … it … on at 9:39 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Just how out of control has the hype surrounding the Miami Heat gotten this season? Here’s Exhibit A: The Whiskey Tango All-American Bar & Grill in Hollwyood, Fla., is picking up the bar tab each time the Heat lose a game this NBA season.

I guess basketball fans in Miami will be drinking for free tonight.

And just how out of control has the hype surrounding the Boston Celtics gotten this season? Here’s Exhibit A: This guy will trade his car and his camera for a pair of tickets.

I’m guessing Vince Wilfork wouldn’t trade front-row tickets for a 1994 Honda Civic.

By the way, if you’re looking for front-row tickets to tonight’s game between the C’s and Heat, Stub Hub has got one for you. It’ll only cost you $18,824.00.

NBA COLUMNISTS WEIGH IN

The NBA is upon us, and that means newspaper columnists are waxing poetic about who will win, who will lose, who will rise and who will fall in the league this year. Let’s check in with some of the best columnists covering the league around the country.

The Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon says this NBA regular season is the most anticipated since Michael Jordan‘s 1995 return to the game, and he picked the Celtics over the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals …

“Now, they’ll find out what it is like to get every team’s best, most fanatical and purposeful effort every night, starting in Boston tonight,” Wilbon wrote. “And they’ll do it without having the savvy that comes from winning a championship together . . . which is why I don’t believe that Miami is going to win the NBA championship this season. Oh, they’ll win three or four before this group calls it quits – but not this year. They can win 65, 66 games in the regular season and it won’t help them one iota during the playoffs.”

The New York Post’s Peter Vecsey not only believes the Los Angeles Lakers will win a third straight title this season — but he thinks they’ll win a fourth next year. In his eyes, the only team that stands in Kobe Bryant‘s way? The Orlando Magic …

“Only a David Stern-stimulated, full-term lockout, Jerry Buss deciding he’s bored of winning or a dashboard-light outage can stop the Lakers from seeing paradise next season. Only Orlando and injuries can prevent them from three-peating this season.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Heisler is in Boston, and he’s reopening the wounds of Game 7. Good times …

“Remember Game 6 in 2008 when the Celtics sent the Lakers home as crispy critters in a 131-92 rout that recalled the horrors of the rivalry from 1959-1984, when the Lakers were 0-8 in Finals meetings featuring Frank Selvy‘s miss, Jack Kent Cooke‘s balloons, James Worthy‘s interception, Magic Johnson‘s dribbling out the clock, the Sauna Game, the 3 a.m. fire alarm, fans rocking their bus.

“This Celtics loss was worse.

“At least the Lakers never blew a 13-point second-half lead in Game 7 with a title within their grasp.”

Meanwhile, ESPN polled 25 of its NBA writers, and 24 of them picked either the Lakers or Heat to win the NBA title. Only ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg picked the Celtics.

Speaking of ESPN writers, Chris Sheridan‘s pick for Defensive Player of the Year: Tony Allen? Wait, what? Is Sheridan related to Tony?

Tom Brady in Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics, Game 2

Tom Brady has got his popcorn ready for tonight's Celtics home opener.

TOM BRADY ON THE CELTICS

We all know the only guy whose opinion really matters when it comes to the Celtics is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. While he won’t be in attendance tonight, he still shared his thoughts on the C’s with Dennis & Callahan this morning:

“I love the Celtics, and they were one game away last year from winning it all. Those guys know how to get it done. They did it a few years ago. Last year, it was heartbreaking to lose to the Lakers the way they did. But if anybody knows how to do it, it’s Doc (Rivers) and KG (Kevin Garnett) and Ray (Allen) and Paul Pierce, who’s been such a great player for so long.

“They add Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, they’ve got a lot of great players, so they don’t need any advice from me. They know how to do it. I’ll be excited to watch them. They’ve got a great opportunity as well. I hope they take advantage of it.”

Brady really went out on a limb with his prediction there, didn’t he?

HEAT, C’S PLAYERS WEIGH IN 

For the most part, members of the Celtics and Heat are saying all the right things leading up to tonight’s game. We sifted through all the run-of-the-mill answers to the millions of NBA opening-night questions to bring you the best from each team:

“For us, this game is to set the tone,” Glen “Big Baby” Davis told NBA.com. “We have to set the tone against a team like that and just let them know, hey, you guys got a new group of guys, but we’re still the team to beat in the East.”

“I’ve had my battles with Boston the last few years when I was back in Cleveland, and I’ve seen the great games they’ve had with Miami also, so we’re going to take the challenge and it’s going to be fun to start the season this way,” LeBron James told The Miami Herald. “It’ll be a very hostile environment, and us being the most hated team in the world, it’ll even be more hostile.”

 Lace ‘em up, fellas. It’s game time. Keep checking in at WEEI.com all day. We’ve got plenty more preview stuff leading up to the game, and we’ll have you covered pregame, in-game and postgame. I think I just wrote game too many times.

Can you tell I’m excited for this NBA season to tip off? Maybe I’ll buy that front-row seat at Stub Hub.

 

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Celtics, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat
The NBA 30 on 30: Blogosphere Forecast (1 of 7) 10.24.10 at 10:18 pm ET
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NBA fans live a team’s ups and downs. They react to every draft pick, trade and free-agent signing. They debate the merits of the 15th man. They find significance in the most insignificant stats. They simply KNOW their team. So, too, do bloggers. That’s why we sought the opinion of the league’s best blogs — one for each of the 30 teams — to break down the team they cover and, of course, the Celtics.

We’ll begin in the Western Conference’s Pacifiic Division with the first of a seven-part, two-day series …

Golden State Warriors
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

by Rasheed Malek, Warriors World

Golden State Warriors' David Lee, left, drives against Portland Trail Blazers' Dante Cunningham during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in Oakland, Calif.

The addition of David Lee (left) gives the Warriors their own Big 3. (AP)

ON THE WARRIORS: The shackles on the Warriors have finally been removed, as dysfunctional owner Chris Cohan sold the team to a group headed by former Celtics minority owner Joe Lacob. Sheer jubilation and excitement has captivated Warriors fans, as they’ve begged Cohan to sell the team for years, and he finally obliged.

Gone are Don Nelson and Corey Maggette, both of whom were jettisoned this offseason — much to the approval of everyone in and around the team. Keith Smart takes over for Nelson and gets an All-Star power forward in David Lee to add to his core of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Andris Biedrins looks to be healthy for the first time in two years, and the addition of Dorell Wright gives the Warriors a legit NBA frontcourt.

If healthy, the team has an outside shot at making the playoffs as long as they show and execute an actual desire to play defense.

ON THE CELTICS: It seems a foregone conclusion to many that the Miami Heat are going to stroll into the NBA Finals, and the rest of the Eastern Conference has no say in the matter. This is where I disagree. The Celtics quietly had a great offseason, as they accumulated additional front-court depth in Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal, brought back Nate Robinson and added Delonte West to replace Tony Allen.

Add a fully healthy Kevin Garnett, a slimmer Paul Pierce and quite possibly the best point guard in the NBA in Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics are poised to make another Finals run. Kendrick Perkins should return around the All-Star break to provide depth up front, which will keep the front line fresh and ready to go during the playoffs.

I see the Celtics making a return trip to the Finals, as their chemistry, experience and toughness will prove to be too much for Miami and the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles Clippers
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
by Steve Perrin, Clips Nation

Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin dunks the ball as Denver Nuggets' Shelden Williams looks on during second half of their NBA preseason basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010, in Los Angeles.

The Clippers desperately needed Blake Griffin's on-court demeanor. (AP)

ON THE CLIPPERS: The Clippers have long been one of the most unpredictable teams in the NBA (unless you just take the easy route and predict bad things). Every year, they look pretty good on paper, yet every year they seem to underachieve. I call them the anti-synergy team — the whole is always less than the sum of the parts.

Was the recent lack of synergy a function of the seven-year regime of coach Mike Dunleavy, and might new coach Vinny Del Negro be the answer? Unclear. What is clear is that, perhaps more than ever (and forgive me if you’ve heard this before), the Clippers are loaded (on paper). At four positions, the Clippers start a player with an impressive prefix for his name: two-time All-Star Baron Davis, Team USA gold medalist Eric Gordon, 2010 All-Star Chris Kaman and 2009 first overall pick Blake Griffin. Of course, three of those guys were there last season when the Clippers won only 29 games.

Griffin is the key, only partly for his basketball ability (which is almost unlimited). Just as important is the attitude he brings, and the Clippers are hoping it will infect the entire team. While the Clippers have visibly given up on their last three seasons, Griffin has never in his life given up on a single possession. If his presence serves to keep the Clippers playing hard all season, then perhaps the prospect and the reality will finally align for the Clippers.

I expect them to finish near the .500 mark this season, a definite step forward but probably not enough to qualify for the playoffs.

ON THE CELTICS: Five players on the Celtics have combined for a staggering 51 All-Star Game selections in their careers. When the Celtics decided to corner the market on former All-Pros named O’Neal who were willing to take $18M pay cuts, Jermaine (6 All-Star selections) and Shaq (15) joined Pierce (8), Ray Allen (9) and Garnett (13) on what must surely be the most decorated team of all-time.

Yet it may be two other Celtics with just a single All-Star selection between them who hold the key to Boston’s season. For all the accolades of the ‘drafted in the 90s’ crew, Rondo is the engine that makes Boston go, while Perkins is a lynchpin in their stifling defense. How well Rondo plays and how quickly (and how well) Perkins returns from ACL surgery will be major factors in Boston’s fortunes. Rondo is the one guy on the team who is entering elite status as opposed to exiting it, and elite teams always have elite players.

Meanwhile, it’s far from clear that either of the O’Neals has anywhere near enough gas in the tank to do what Perkins does in Boston’s vaunted defense. With so many 30-somethings, health will of course be a factor as well, but if Rondo takes the next step and the team enters the playoffs healthy (including a full-strength Perkins), then I expect the Celtics to give Orlando and Miami a run for the Eastern Conference championship and possibly even bring another banner back to Boston.

Los Angeles Lakers
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
by Jason Riley, The Lakers Nation

Matt Barnes holds his new Lakers jersey at an introductory press conference in El Segundo, Calif. , Tuesday, July 27, 2010.

Free-agent signing Matt Barnes gives the Lakers some added toughness. (AP)

ON THE LAKERS: The Champs had a surprisingly busy offseason — picking up a veteran point guard (Steve Blake), another solid, defensive-minded role player (Matt Barnes) and an insurance policy for Andrew Bynum (Theo Ratliff). The Lakers have two simple goals during the regular season:

  1. Get healthy for the playoffs.
  2. Win the West.

If I know Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, they’ll take a clean bill of health in April over the No. 1 seed every single time. The regular season will be a grind, but I expect L.A. to find a way to emerge as the top seed in the West. If Kobe is healthy and Bynum can find a way to stay off the operating table, I like the Lakers’ chances to have another ring ceremony this time next year.

ON THE CELTICS: If the NBA were a horror franchise, the C’s would undoubtedly be Jason Voorhes — the aging, veteran killer who isn’t exactly chasing people down anymore, but continues to get the job done, sequel after sequel. With the offseason additions of the Big Minimum (Shaq), Delonte and the cadaver formerly known as Jermaine O’Neal, the C’s are actually more talented (and deeper) than they were last season. If everyone stays healthy (their biggest concern), I expect Boston to give Miami all they can handle in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Phoenix Suns
PHOENIX SUNS
by Seth Pollack, Bright Side of the Sun

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash looks to an official during the second quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, in Phoenix.

Steve Nash and the Suns will have to catch some breaks to return to the Western Conference Finals. (AP)

ON THE SUNS: The range of goals for the Suns this season goes anywhere from not losing 40 games to a return trip to the Western Conference Finals. It’s almost impossible to predict what the Suns will do this year, given the question marks and variables.

If all goes well (really well), and the team catches breaks along the way, they could certainly be right back at the top of the non-Laker heap. That would require other teams suffering big-time injuries — which played a huge factor last season — along with everything going right in Phoenix.

On the flip side, it’s not inconceivable that the Suns are back in the lottery if a couple of teams improve (and stay healthy). There are just too many unanswered questions going into the season to predict with any degree of confidence that the Suns will win 45 games. At the same time, I can easily make the case that they’ll win 55. That puts the goal somewhere between 40 and 55 wins. That’s the best I can do with this team right now.

ON THE CELTICS: The Celtics are old. Really, really old. And got older by adding Shaq. But we saw last season that Doc Rivers understands how to limp through the regular season and position his guys to be fresh for the playoffs. It’s a risky plan that worked once and may work again.

Or maybe it won’t. It’s so hard to predict when you’re talking about the health of older players. Of course, it’s one of the younger guys, Perkins, who’s the biggest question mark. Even if he returns midseason, it’s going to take months to get him back to where he was.

Fortunately for Celtics fans, the East isn’t that deep past the top three (I’m including the Bulls). Overall, it’s hard to see Boston finishing lower than a sixth seed, and then all bets are off. We know Boston can beat Orlando, and I’m not convinced the Heat will be a great playoff team. This all assumes, of course, that KG doesn’t get fined into the poor house with the new “Respect for the Game” rules.

Sacramento Kings
SACRAMENTO KINGS
by Bryan, Editor, A Royal Pain

Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans looks down at the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy he received as NBA basketball Rookie of the Year, in Sacramento, Calif. , Thursday, April 29, 2010. Evans, who was the fourth overall pick in last year's draft, beat out Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings for the award.

Coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign, Tyreke Evans added a jump shot to his arsenal. (AP)

ON THE KINGS: They’re certainly improved but already dealing with some concerning injuries. Newly acquired center Samuel Dalembert is going to miss a few weeks to start the season, and while I love the potential of DeMarcus Cousins, defensively he’s not there yet. That’s not to say he can’t get there quickly, but as of right now he’s struggling (as to be expected) on that side of the ball.

Assuming Dalembert returns healthy, the Kings’ defense will be far better than it was last season (how could it not be?). They’ve added a great deal of size with rookies Cousins and Hassan Whiteside, along with other big men Dalembert,  Jason Thompson and Carl Landry. They’ll be able to pack the lane much more effectively, and their size should be a unique advantage, especially with 6-foot-11 Donte Greene being named the starting small forward.

Tyreke Evans has spent the entire offseason working on his jumper (when he wasn’t speeding down the freeway), and the hard work has clearly paid off. Make no mistake, you won’t ever confuse him with Ray Allen, but Evans adding a reliable jumper and 3-point shot to his arsenal is a scary sight for other Western Conference teams.

The Kings still aren’t there, yet. The West has a lot of really good (but not elite) teams that will clog the bottom rung of the playoff seedings, but a season with 32-35 wins would be a fantastic growing point for the Kings.

ON THE CELTICS: The Celtics are going to continue to face the “age” question throughout the season. When are they going to show how old they are? A lot of people thought you’d begin to see the cracks last year, and it was completely the opposite, as they ran through the Eastern Conference. And I’d be hard-pressed to say they can’t do it again.

I love the additions of both O’Neal’s, and I don’t think we’ve seen the impact Nate Robinson can have yet. I do think the loss of Perkins is a big blow, but one they can manage through. Perk certainly doesn’t get the recognition he deserves around the league, as he’s one of the best defensive big men in the NBA and a cog in what the Celtics do. With that said, the Celtics clearly have the talent to maintain until he’s able to return later in the season.

The East did steal some power from the West with the additions of Carlos Boozer in Chicago and Amar’e Stoudemire in New York, but with the Knicks limited in other areas and Boozer’s injury the Celtics shouldn’t have much issue hanging onto the second seed (not that the Knicks are or were a threat).

They’ll give the Heat a run for their money if they meet in the playoffs. Can they beat them in a seven-game series? That’s a tough call. Injuries will always play a huge factor, but I’m not one of the many ready to just hand over the trophy to South Beach yet. Assuming the Celtics hang on to the No. 2 seed, they wouldn’t meet until the Heat ran through a gauntlet of tough lower seeds. As Garnett so famously said, “Anything is possible,” and I’d be far from shocked to see the Celtics come out of the season hanging yet another Eastern Conference championship banner.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this seven-part series: the Western Conference’s Northwest Division.

Read More: blogs, Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers
Why Doc Rivers is the ‘perfect coach’ for C’s 09.27.10 at 11:53 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.

“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”

One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”

Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.

“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”

The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.

Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.

“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks [1987], so I’m certainly not going to be over this.

“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”

One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.

“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.

“I think [Celtics' lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.

In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.

“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.

“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”

But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Just how many games can this group win this regular season?

“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.

Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Lakers fan put in jail for inciting parade riot by burning C’s jersey 07.09.10 at 9:36 am ET
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Twenty-three-year-old Lakers fan Steve Quintanilla was sentenced to nine months in jail Thursday after being accused of inciting a riot at the Lakers victory parade through the streets of Los Angeles last month. Prosecutors told the AP that Quintanilla, who plead no contest, started the riot when he began burning a Celtics jersey along the parade route. As a result of his actions, he will be forced to stay 90 days in jail on top of an additional six months for probation violations. In total, 45 people were arrested at the parade, and 10 have been charged with any kind of wrongdoing.

Read More: Los Angeles Lakers,
Aftermath of finals roundup 06.18.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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After the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night’s Game 7, the Celtics’ improbable run at banner 18 ended as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers repeated to win their second consecutive title. Despite the NBA season coming to an end, storylines after the game flowed like the streamers and confetti in the Staples Center. Here’s a roundup of what national and local writers are saying after the finale of a classic series.

– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column on this being Kobe Bryant’s most difficult title out of his five championships. After struggling in Game 7 and nearly shooting the Lakers out of the game, Bryant began to trust his teammates, especially in the fourth quarter, which brought him another ring.

– With his fifth ring, Bryant surpasses Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN. Magic, who has also won five championships, always won with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whereas Bryant has done it with and without Shaquille O’Neal, contends Broussard. Against other Lakers greats such as Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant outranks them with his handful of rings.

– Though he coached a team to a championship for the 11th time in his career, Phil Jackson’s future is uncertain. T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times writes that Jackson has no idea where or he’ll be next year and that his salary might be too rich for the Lakers.

– Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that Pau Gasol and not Kobe Bryant is the true MVP of the finals. Ryan writes that Gasol was the real closer with his offensive rebound and basket in the final two minutes to cap off his 19-point, 18-rebound effort. While Bryant had some great performances in the series, it was Gasol who was the most consistent Laker.

– On the Boston side, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports views a lot of changes on the way for the Celtics. The most uncertainty is with the decision coach Doc Rivers will have to make on whether or not to return. The 48-year-old could depart the Celtics to spend more time with his family in Orlando and watch his sons play basketball.

– Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston writes that despite being an unrestricted free agent this summer, Ray Allen still wants to return to the Celtics. The question will be how much is Boston willing to pay and will Allen take a discount to stick with a very close group? Forsberg feels that at 35, Allen is getting up in age and likely won’t see a contract more than two years.

– The most surprising piece of information that came out after Game 7 was the news that Rasheed Wallace could retire after only one year with the Celtics. Gary Dzen and Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe write that after the loss, Rivers revealed that Wallace might walk away from the game. Wallace struggled to get through Thursday night after experiencing cramps and strains as he filled in for the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. The 35-year-old has played in three finals and made four All-Star teams.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers,
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