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An opposing team's scout sizes up the Celtics

Let me get this straight: The Celtics are going to walk away with the NBA championship, they're never going to lose a game this season, they'll start building the statue of Garnett around All-Star time, and their games will go on ESPN as Instant Classics immediately. Did I get it right? ...

As much as everyone wants to award everything to the Celtics after their big summer, I have some doubts. Is Ray Allen healthy enough for 82 games? You could ask the same thing about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. ...

The point-guard situation raises more questions: Rajon Rondo was at his best last year when that team was just flying up and down the floor, but I don't see Pierce as a fast-break offensive player, neither is Garnett and the same thing probably goes for Allen too. Then there are the big men: They'll have to put Garnett at center sometimes because Scot Pollard can't back up Kendrick Perkins there. Perkins' minutes will average in the low 30s because of foul trouble and because they won't be able to run enough with him in the game. And they'll want to get James Posey on the floor and play Posey at power forward and Garnett at center and try to be a running team then ...

I didn't even mention the fact that Garnett, Pierce and Allen -- not to mention Posey and Pollard - are in their 30s. At that age you do get hurt -- it's not if but when -- and when you do, you don't get back as quickly as you used to. They'll have nagging injuries all year ...

But I'm not questioning their trades. The deal for Ray Allen, they needed to do that one. They already had so many young guys, and no one saw rookies Jeff Green or Yi Jianlian as a franchise-changer. Allen has an unbelievable stroke. It's a clinic watching him shoot, and if you want to teach somebody how to do it, he's the one to watch. He's no set shooter either; he's a jump shooter who gets off his feet. He's still got a motor that can go up and down the floor, and at full speed he can catch and shoot on a dime. He's a ballsy shooter who makes contested shots. They'll use him handling the ball in pick-and-rolls, and also with Pierce handling the ball ...

Then the trade for Garnett changed the whole outlook of the franchise, the whole organization. When they traded for Allen they were doing it to satisfy Pierce, but even then they were still a borderline playoff team. That changed when they brought in Garnett. With his determination and drive, those guys can jump right on his back. He is a player who can carry a team. Now I don't think he's a player who can make the last shot, but Ray Allen and Pierce will do that. But Garnett can make the last stop, and he will make sure that the play gets run right for one of those guys to attempt the last shot ...

My guess is that Garnett's scoring will go down quite a bit, partially because he won't give a damn -- he'll be intent on Pierce and Allen getting open shots. Scoring is not a concern for him. But they will need him on the floor for a lot of minutes, and he'll be more the glue than Pierce ever thought he was and Allen ever will be. If something happens to Garnett, then all of a sudden they'll be the same as they were last year, because Pierce and Allen can't get it done alone ...

The other thing about Garnett is that I've never thought of him as a low-post player. He prefers to face up to the basket, and Kendrick Perkins isn't a low-post scorer either. But Pierce is, and he'll continue to be their strongest low-post threat ...

How will they adapt to play with each other? I don't think it's going to be a big deal for KG because he's a facilitator for others. It's going to be a little more difficult for the other two to mesh together and play off each other because they're more ball-in-my-hands players. Allen can get away with being a catch-and-shoot guy, but Pierce may have to make the biggest adjustment as far as not having the ball in his hands all the time ...

I've always liked Pierce as a complete player who can post up, shoot threes, handle the ball, though he floundered in these last few years since Jim O'Brien quit. While he was still capable of scoring, his effort wasn't there all of the time. He's still a good player, but his clock is ticking down. I think Pierce is still respected in the league, and if he picks it back up again this year, it will solidify his reputation ...

I love Doc Rivers coming out of timeouts: He's got a lot of stuff that he pulls out of nowhere that he saw somebody else run in another game. It's obvious he watches a lot of games. You might see somebody run something one night, and then he'll be running it a few nights later. He likes a lot of misdirection things where you'll see his first option and get suckered in. So, yes, I like him as a coach. His teams play hard, and he seems to treat his players with respect. One thing I don't agree totally with is he doesn't invest a lot into advance scouting. He's somebody who prepares his team more than he prepares against the other team. And that's fine ...

How will Rivers perform as a defensive coach? Enter assistant Tom Thibodeau. It will be interesting to see how much influence Thibodeau has. He's very organized and he'll have a plan for each game. He'll pick out what they need to stop, if they need to get the ball out of somebody's hands, and he'll have a plan to do that ...

I saw Rondo play pretty well in a few games last year. With the ball, he can get up the floor as quickly as anybody in the league. As a finisher, he struggles because he's really small -- he's going to take a pounding in there. So he's going to have to figure out where to find these guys spotting up for shooting. In his good games last year, he was always like a racehorse getting to the basket. Well, these games are going to be a little more serious now. It's easier when it's a track meet and your team is down and you're pressing to get back into it, but this year each possession is going to be more important. I have a feeling they're going to wait for KG to get up the floor to run their plays ...

The other question with Rondo is obviously his poor shooting. If KG is handling the ball and making plays from the high post, then with Rondo you're basically got a non-shooter out there. I've got a feeling they're going to try to use Tony Allen and other guys at point guard, on the theory that Allen and Pierce can handle the ball so well that they can get by without having a real point guard on the floor. That might work for short stretches maybe ...

Depth is a worry for sure. Tony Allen is another big question coming off his major knee surgery last year. They're counting on him a lot, especially as a defensive stopper off the bench ...

Eddie House is instant offense and energy. He is 6-1, but he's not a point guard. He did more for Phoenix two years ago than for New Jersey last year, and it's probably because Phoenix gave him the green light. That's how you have to manage a guy like him: You live and die with him as he is, and you tell him to go out there and get up his 10 shots before he comes back to the bench ...

Posey will be OK there. He's a utility forward who's had decent years shooting, but don't think anybody would say he's a great shooter from behind the three-point line. He's not a big-time scorer, but he rebounds a little bit, he can score a little bit. What he does better than anything is he defends. He's a 6-8 guy with close to a 7-footer's wingspan, and that length is bothersome. They'll be counting on him a lot ...

I don't think Pollard has a lot left in the way of athleticism. He may give you five minutes or a few good possessions and you may want to see him playing more, but he doesn't have anything more. If he winds up playing 10-15 minutes a game, you'll see ...

Where is Brian Scalabrine going to fit in? Is he going to play power forward instead of Garnett? The options are limited because you can't play him at small forward -- he'll get torched there. He's got the right brain type, though ...

Is Glen (Big Baby) Davis the second coming -- or the second helping -- of Tractor Traylor? That's never a good proposition ...

There may be some sentiment that they'll use this year to gel their team and build their bench back up to make a real run at the title in 2008-09. But I would warn against that kind of thinking. At their age, I don't know if they can get it going next year. They've got to have big, big strides this year, and if they don't live up to the hype and win the No. 1 seed in the East, then you know people will be saying things like, 'Ray Allen doesn't have it anymore,' or, 'They should have moved Pierce and kept Al Jefferson.' The hype is so much this year that if there's a disappointment, it's going to be hard to rally the troops for next year.

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