How will the Boston Celtics fare when the NBA season tips off later this month?
Placing last season: 39-27 (4th in Eastern Conference, Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals)
Key moves: The Celtics were one of the talking points of the 2012 draft, taking Jared Sullinger, who when coming into college had been projected as a top-five pick when he entered the draft. His stock fell while at Ohio State but Boston could have got a steal by taking him at 21. They also picked up Fab Melo one pick later. Melo might prove to be more of a project, given his raw game, but the Celtics have definitely built for the future in the front court with these two picks.
Jason Terry was also signed as a free agent by Boston, having played eight years in Dallas. Most Celtics fans will be happy as Terry should offer more of an all-round game than the ageing Ray Allen, who left in the offseason.
Challenges ahead: Boston really need to make the step from Eastern Finalists back into the NBA Finals picture. For all that was made of putting the ‘big three’ together in 2007, they won the championship in that season but have arguably underperformed since then.
Let’s not forget that Kevin Garnett is now 36 and despite a solid performance last year it is unquestionable that he tires down the stretch.
Reason to be positive: Having had the Miami Heat on the ropes in last year’s playoffs the Celtics failed to make the push, but the Terry signing could be one of the best deals of the offseason. If the Heat suffer from a championship hangover then there’s always a chance they could make the finals.
The Bulls are unlikely to have Derrick Rose at full pelt at any point this season after his ACL injury, making the Celtics run to the finals all that much easier.
Prediction: 52-30 (2nd in Eastern Conference)
image: © Keith Allison