BROOKLYN — Kevin Garnett sat in a locker room chair last week at the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center and delivered an impassioned defense of Boston Celtics basketball.
“We’re trying to establish something here. You don’t establish that by going through the motions,” he said. “We’ve never been a go-through the motions team, and I don’t think we’re going to start. I didn’t come back (for an 18th season) to go through the motions. I don’t think the guys who signed came here to go through the motions.
MORE: Q&A with Celtics’ brass on expectations
MORE: History of NBA Big 3s
“We are a team that works and works hard. When we’re off, we play hard and we associate with each other. When we touch the floor, it’s all business. … We have a culture here that we adopt. When you put this jersey on, it comes with responsibility, whether it’s preseason, (messin’) around, chillin’, playing 21, whatever it is. It comes with responsibility. We don’t take that lightly around here.”
That is not the sound of a man ready to retire from the NBA. And he makes the case the Celtics are not ready to stop contending for a title, with a new look to this legendary franchise.
Eleven players are gone from last season’s roster. Among the additions are shooting guards Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa, two-way wing Courtney Lee, versatile and explosive forward Jeff Green, savvy rookie big man Jared Sullinger and Darko Milicic, a veteran center Rivers believes will contribute even though Milicic never turned into the star many thought he could be.
ANALYSIS: Which teams can best withstand Heat?
The Celtics get no break in the season opener Tuesday when they go on the road to play the defending champion Miami Heat, the team that eliminated Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2011 and the conference finals last season.
The rivalry – the best in the league right now – burns hotter, more contentious than ever after guard Ray Allen’s decision to sign with (some say defection to) Miami in July. Garnett said early in training camp he discarded Allen’s phone number.
With the modern-day Big 3 of Garnett, Allen and forward Paul Pierce broken up, the Celtics have a dramatically different look and feel this season. Garnett, Pierce, point guard Rajon Rondo and coach Doc Rivers still provide the leadership.
But club President Danny Ainge infused the squad with youth and athleticism, giving the Celtics their most versatile and deepest lineups in years – a revamped roster possibly more equipped to beat Miami than last season.
“We’ve added some guys who are in the prime of their careers,” Ainge said. “We have a team that is selfless and has a desire to play for one another and plays to win.”
The last go-round for Garnett and Pierce in Celtics uniforms never comes. If the window of opportunity on the Celtics’ chance to win a championship has been closing since their last title in 2007-08, Ainge lifted it wide-open with his offseason moves.
The transformation from aging Celtics to a blend of old, new and in between is Ainge’s handiwork. But it starts with ownership, an oft-overlooked aspect of sustaining a winning team. Celtics managing partner and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck has given Ainge enough autonomy to manage player personnel decisions.
“What Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge have done in Boston … their main objective is to beat the Miami Heat,” TNT’s Reggie Miller said. “Right now the (Celtics-Heat) are the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry of professional basketball. I love what they’ve done with that roster in Boston.”
But is it enough to contend against Miami’s Big 3 – All-Star forward LeBron James, coming off his best season, including the 2012 Olympic gold medal, guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh?
“Everyone knew if (James) won one, then it’s going to be hard for everybody,” Rivers said of the Heat’s championship. “But I’m hoping there’s enough good teams, and we being one of them, that we can knock them off. The good news is, he’s the clear target. We know who we’re going after, there’s no doubt about that.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra understands how difficult it will be to repeat – and knows the Celtics, among others, will have the Heat as their target.
“Everybody will be gunning for us this year,” Spoelstra said. “Teams have loaded up. They’re primed and ready to take on the champions.”
Identity needs to be forged
Rivers likes his team, but the Celtics are not close to where he wants them to be for two main reasons. He doesn’t know the rotations – which players will play well together. And with so many new players, the Celtics are not the defensive team Rivers wants.
“It’s just going to take time for this,” he said. “I’m hopeful we get off great, but I’m also realistic that we’re going to be so far from our best basketball on opening night compared to later because we have the ability to play a lot of different combinations. Even though you can do them, they have to work. They have to fit together. It takes time for chemistry and timing.”
Replacing Allen, one of the NBA’s all-time best shooters, is impossible. However, the Celtics acquired Terry and Lee and have the return of 21-year-old guard Avery Bradley, who replaced Allen in the starting lineup last season. Celtics brass believes the team can be better in the backcourt this season.
Terry will fill the role of three-point shooter off the bench. Lee will attack offensively and defend. Bradley, another strong perimeter defender, and Rondo developed chemistry last season and expect that relationship to strengthen on and off the court.
Boston also is deeper in the frontcourt, taking chances on players with health issues — Green (coming back from an aortic aneurysm that cost him last season) in free agency and Sullinger in the draft (where concerns about his back dropped him to No. 21, potentially a steal for the Celtics).
Both have been very good in the preseason. Green is explosive from the perimeter.
The additions give Rivers a variety of lineups to choose – small-big, quick- slow it down. That also presents problems, at least early in the season.
“You want it now, but I’ve always understood it just takes time,” Rivers said “Sometimes, it doesn’t come. You just don’t know. … If we have six combinations right now, three of them will be really good and the other three will not be as good as we want them to be. All the combinations aren’t going to work.”
Rondo key to how far they go
As promising as the Celtics are, Rivers is still searching for an identity: “I don’t know what type of team we have.”
He wants that identity to begin on the defensive end. Rivers was unhappy with the defense early in preseason but liked what he saw against the Nets a week ago.
“I am trying to convince them with all the scoring we have, if we get stops we’re going to score,” Rivers said. “We’re going to score in transition more. We can score in a lot of different ways.”
The Celtics have been a top-five team in points allowed per 100 possessions since 2007-08 and were No. 2 last season.
“We can’t lose that part,” Rivers said. “If you don’t play defense, you’re not winning in this league. We’ll find out, but I don’t know who we are yet because of all the changes.”
The changes should be stabilized by the constants on the court — Garnett, 36, Pierce, 35, and Rondo, 26.
Garnett averaged a double-double in the playoffs last season (19.2 points, 10.3 rebounds), including four double-doubles in the seven-game series against Miami. Pierce, at the end of the regular season last spring, was still one of the top small forwards; he was player of the month in March (averaging 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists).
Then there’s Rondo, who has stepped into a bigger leadership role, such as organizing offseason workouts.
Earlier in Rondo’s career, his stubbornness prevented him from earning the trust of his demanding coach and All-Star teammates. That’s one reason Rondo’s name was mentioned in trade talks following Boston’s title in 2008.
However, the longer he stayed with the Celtics, the more he earned respect and became an irreplaceable part of the lineup. Rondo was a star in last season’s playoffs with four triple-doubles, including an amazing 44-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound game against the Heat.
He has made the case that he is the best point guard in the league. He runs the offense from the court as much as Rivers does from the sideline.
“Rondo is still very young, and he’s progressing with his leadership each year,” Ainge said. “He’s getting more and more confident as a player, and he’s developing a closer relationship with Doc.
“He’s progressing in the right way. There’s a lot of basketball left in his career and a lot to be proud of already.”
Rondo is the link to Boston’s present and future. His leadership this season will go a long way in determining how far the Celtics go.
- Balanced Celtics Pass First Test Without Hayward
- Celtic maintain perfect start to league season with victory over Hamilton
- Celtic travel to Rennes for Europa League assignment with tails up after fifth league win in a row
- Youth chama turns silage into a money-maker
- Mother-of-three, 44, known for her incredibly youthful appearance reveals the 12 minute 'miracle shower' ritual she follows EVERY day - and why you should do it too
- Maharashtra Police deradicalisation project: Core curriculum step by step
- How Kalli Purie is getting India Today group future ready
- The Claremont serial killings of Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon shocked Perth to its core
- Earth’s core too hot ‘n heavy for oxygen, but may have rusty coating
- Sex Attacks, Brawling, Theft: Far Left Youth Club Admits Migrant Outreach Failed
- M-Belt youth berates Tsav over statement
- EU 2030 climate deal meets UK's core demands of ambitious cuts and choice
|Big Shiny Planet UP Vol. 1: Choices Youth Group Study4.5★ / $9.37||Mixed Up with All the Rebel Horde, Why Black Southerners Fought for the South in the War Between the States - Two DVD Set5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Genetipetz Leopoctocrab Plush, Leopard + Octopus + Crab Mixed-Up Animal with NFC Tag check it now at Amazon||Bubble Mix Up with Rhinestone Middle Cheerleading Hair Bow check it now at Amazon||CIA 2903 Stepped Up Surging and Core DVD with Seasun Zieger check it now at Amazon||Leashinabag Lightweight 30 Ft. 1/4” Brown Black Mix Pet Tie-Out with Handle Loop. For Dogs up to 70 Pounds. 100% USA Made. check it now at Amazon||Leashinabag Lightweight 15 Ft. 1/4” Brown Black Mix Pet Tie-Out with Handle. For Dogs up to 70 Pounds. 100% USA Made. check it now at Amazon||Leashinabag Lightweight 20 Ft. 1/4” Brown Black Mix Pet Tie-Out with Handle Loop. For Dogs up to 70 Pounds. 100% USA Made. check it now at Amazon||AVENGERS HULK THOR IRON MAN Light-Up Sneakers Shoes Boys/Youth Size 1 New with Box check it now at Amazon||Fashion Faux Leather 2-way Mid-calf with Fold Style Lace up Military Combat Kids Youth Casual Winter Boots New Without Box check it now at Amazon||Elite Core LK-FBVGA3RCA Pop Up Floor Box with VGA and 3 RCA check it now at Amazon||GoodsCity Black Sound Activated Light Up and Down With Music LED EL T-Shirt Beat-mixing, Large check it now at Amazon||Grasslands Road Celebrating Heritage Celtic Over the Door Plaque with Stand, May the Road Rise Up, 6-1/4 by 19-Inch4.4★ / check it now at Amazon||Preciosa Ornela Traditional Czech Glass Crow Roller Beads, 9mm, All Mixed Up with Facets, 75-Pack check it now at Amazon||Doritos with Steak & Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt Seasonings by Japan Frito Lay 75g check it now at Amazon||Knees: The mixed up world of a boy with dyslexia$25.59||Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy from Brooklyn Got Mixed Up with the Rolling Stones (and Lived to Tell About It)$45.25||Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth$18.32||[ KNEES: THE MIXED UP WORLD OF A BOY WITH DYSLEXIA - IPS ] By Oelschlager, Vanita ( Author) 2012 [ Paperback ] check it now at Amazon||The Honey Cake Mix-Up (Disney's Out & About With Pooh, Vol. 5) check it now at Amazon||Small Group Ministry With Youth (Sonpower Youth Sources) check it now at Amazon||Mixed Up with the Mob (The Mob Series #2) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #30) check it now at Amazon||Richard Scarry's Mr. Fixit's Mixed-Up Christmas!: A Pop-up Book with Flaps and Pull-tabs on All Sides! (Richard Scarry Pop Up)$6.15||Mixed Up With The Mob check it now at Amazon||Shut Up (And Sleep With Me) [Original Airplay Mix] check it now at Amazon||NE PEOPLE Women's Fitted Mixed Media faux leather Zip Up Moto Jacket with Hoodie check it now at Amazon||MINI BAMBA APPAREL Baby Boys' Mix Up Footed Romper Set With Hat And Bib check it now at Amazon||Volcom Little Boys' Mixed Upness Pajama Set Youth check it now at Amazon||AGB Women's Long Sleeve Twofer Cozy Shirt With Mix up Bead Applique Inset check it now at Amazon||Champro Performance Pull-up Baseball Pant With Belt Loops Youth$12|
Celtics mix up core group with youthful newcomers have 2207 words, post on www.usatoday.com at October 24, 2012. This is cached page on USA Posts. If you want remove this page, please contact us.