2009 Boston Celtics Season Preview – Betting Odds

2009-10 Boston Celtics Season Preview
By Ryno of Predictem.com

Last Season’s Record: 62-20
Head Coach: Doc Rivers
Division: Atlantic
Conference: Western

Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Rajon Rondo 6-1
SG: Ray Allen 6-5
SF: Paul Pierce 6-7
PF: Kevin Garnett 6-11
C: Rasheed Wallace 6-11
Key Reserves: Kendrick Perkins 6-10 C, Glen Davis 6-9 PF, Eddie House 6-1 PG, Lester Hudson 6-2 SG, Marquis Daniels 6-6 SF, Tony Allen 6-4 SG, Brian Scalabrine 6-9 PF.

Current 2010 NBA Championship Odds: 9-2.

After winning their 17th NBA championship in franchise history in 2008, the Celtics had another successful season with 62 wins and looked to be a championship contender once again. That was until Kevin Garnett got injured late in the season and wasn’t able to return in the playoffs. Without Garnett, the Celtics were still a strong team but the hope for another championship wasn’t as strong. After being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Orlando Magic, the Celtics have made some upgrades and are once again a favorite in the Eastern Conference.

Who’s In/Who’s Out
The Celtics return every key player from last year other than Leon Powe. Their top eight scorers from last season return. And the Celtics made a key acquisition in the offseason by signing veteran Rasheed Wallace, who will start alongside Garnett down low, moving Kendrick Perkins to the bench. Neither Wallace nor Garnett is a true center, but obviously both players are way too good to come off the bench.

The Celtics also signed Marquis Daniels to add depth off the bench. Daniels is a defensive-minded wing who can also score some points when needed. Boston drafted Lester Hudson with its only draft pick. Hudson is a 6-foot-2 scoring guard, similar to Eddie House. Hudson is not as consistent of a shooter as House, but he is not afraid to shoot the ball. He can run the point if necessary, or he can give the team a scoring punch off the bench.

Rajon Rondo is only 23 years old, but he is already one of the best point guards in the league. He is as pure of a point guard as there is in the NBA. Rondo can knock down an open jumper every once in a while and he can score well around the basket, but he is a pass-first point guard. Rondo averaged 8.2 assists per game last season. He averaged nearly a triple-double in the playoffs with 16.9 points, 9.8 assists and 9.7 rebounds per game. Next to Rondo in the backcourt is Ray Allen, one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. Allen struggled for much of the 2008 playoffs, but he put up 18.3 points per game in the 2009 playoffs. He improved his 3-point shooting last season from the year before, shooting over 41 percent from beyond the arc. House, Hudson and Tony Allen can all come off the bench and provide the Celtics with some instant offense.

There probably isn’t a better starting frontcourt in the NBA than Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. Pierce averaged 20.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season. He is a tough guard for most defenders because he can post up smaller guards or shoot over them with his deadly jumper. Garnett is one of the greatest power forwards of all-time. His long reach allows him to shoot over anybody. He can step out and shoot from 20 feet or dominate in the post. Wallace can score in the post, but he is especially dangerous from 3-point range. His versatility is tough to guard for a big man. This frontcourt will be tough to defend for almost any team. There aren’t many centers that can guard Garnett or Wallace. Kendrick Perkins is the only real center on the team. He is a strong body who plays tough down low and has been an important part of the Celtics’ success over the past two years. Daniels, Glen Davis and Brian Scalabrine give the Celtics even more depth in the frontcourt.

The biggest strength of this team is experience. Almost every player on this roster has won an NBA championship. This team is full of veterans, so they know how to win the big games. There are so many weapons on this team that it’s virtually impossible for a team to shut them down. Garnett, Wallace, Pierce and Ray Allen are all capable of scoring 30 points on any night. Even Rondo can lead the team in scoring from time to time. Then, there’s a bench full of talented players like House, Davis and Perkins. In the frontcourt, Garnett and Wallace are too quick and versatile for most defenders. This is an excellent 3-point shooting team, as Ray Allen, Pierce, Wallace and House can all light it up from downtown.

There are a lot of older players on this team, so injuries are always a concern. Garnett’s injury last season cost the Celtics a run at the championship. Luckily, they have so many weapons that one key injury won’t hurt too much. But it’s still a concern. Wallace and Garnett are so talented that not starting a true center probably won’t affect them much, but it could hurt them against powerful centers like Shaq or Tim Duncan.

Betting Odds and Projections
The Celtics won the NBA championship in 2008 with basically the same roster minus Wallace. If they could win a championship without Wallace, imagine what they can do with him. Rondo is even better than he was last year or the year before, especially after dominating in the 2009 playoffs. If everyone stays healthy, the Celtics may have as good of a starting lineup as any NBA team in the past 15 years. And their bench could be as strong as any bench in the league as well. There is no doubt that the Celtics will win at least 60 games and win their division. The Celtics have to compete with young stars like LeBron and Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference, but they have as good of a shot as any team at winning the 2010 championship.