Boston Celtics Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 11/01/2007
What in the world should we do with the Boston Celtics? The offseason moves have given the franchise and their fans renewed hope, but all it has done for me and most sports bettors is give us a headache. The public is going to be all over the team in the early going, and they will probably stay with them for a while regardless of what happens. Everything you read tells you that the Celtics are the most improved team in the league, they have the best trio of players that there is in the league, and that they are going to be a major force in their division and conference. All that makes me skeptical of what is going to happen, and makes me feel like the smart move is going to be to fade the Celtics and the public early on. They are going to be a much better team than they have been, but they probably can't be as good as the expectations that have been set for them. Besides, sometimes it's more fun to be critical than optimistic. Here are nine reasons I'm not as bullish about the Celtics as the media is telling me I should be:
History of mediocrity - Sure, Pierce, Garnett and Allen are all great players, but none of them exactly have a tradition of leading their teams to the highest heights. Not only do none of them have a ring, but none of them even have a good story about how close they have come. All three players are obviously enormously talented, but they have to prove that they can do more than just put up big numbers for decent teams before I get too excited.
Point guard problems - Somebody will have a huge job making sure that all three stars get the ball and stay happy, and you'll forgive me if I'm not convinced that Rajon Rondo is the answer. Not yet, anyway. He has one year of experience, and he averaged just 6.4 points and 3.8 assists last year. Don't get me wrong - I think the guy has all sorts of upside. He'll just have to make a quantum leap this year to meet the expectations placed on his shoulders, and he'll have to do it in a very high-pressure situation. That's not an ideal way to bring along a young player. He could really be in trouble if he gets off to a slow start.
Center? - Somebody needs to patrol the middle for this three-headed monster, and Boston doesn't have very good options. Kendrick Perkins would need to be much better than he has been in his first four years in Boston, and Scot Pollard is, well, Scot Pollard. Neither guy has done anything statistically significant in recent years, and neither guy has been putting in starting minutes lately. This is definitely an area of concern.
Bench - Do you notice a trend here? The team may have the best trio in the league, but they gave up all of their depth to assemble them. There are some acceptable pros on the bench, but nothing inspiring. Eddie House, James Posey, Brian Scalabrine, Tony Allen - all are decent players and can fill roles, but they're not exactly threatening for the sixth man award. The teams that have done well in the playoffs have rosters that are eight or nine players deep (at least). The Celtics are barely four deep.
Injuries - Pierce and Allen combined to play 102 of a possible 164 games last year. Neither one has been made of steel throughout their career, so it would be more of a surprise if they didn't miss significant time this year than if they did. Garnett has been more durable, but he's not getting any younger, either. If any of these guys misses significant time then it could get ugly. If two of them are out at the same time then it could be a nightmare.
Playing tight - Allen and Garnett took a leap of faith to end up in Boston. All three of the stars know that their windows for a championship are closing. This may be the only shot that they get. If it doesn't go well early then this thing could get off the tracks quickly. The players could tighten up, and could play below their abilities. All three guys are seen as reasonably nice guys compared to many of their colleagues in the league, but things could get tense if the dream team in green doesn't mesh and get the results that are expected.
No Plan B - If this experiment works then Danny Ainge will look like a genius. If it doesn't, though, or even if it needs another piece to work fully, then Ainge could be in big trouble. He's painted himself into a corner. He has salary problems and he has very little that is attractive to other teams beyond those top three, so the lineup he has is essentially the lineup he will have to be stuck with through the year. That could be a good thing or a really bad thing. I know which way I lean.
It's Boston - This team is going to require some patience. Boston fans aren't particularly well known for their patience. Enough said.
The East is tough - It's not nearly as good as the West is even still, but most of the teams have done something to improve in the offseason. If everyone else had stood still then Boston would be virtually guaranteed of being dramatically better. Many other teams improved, too, and with more depth, so there's no guarantee in my mind that this is even a playoff team.
Those, to me, are nine good reasons to make me think that the Celtics have to prove that they are worthy of my money before I direct it their way.