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ENEMY LINES an opposing team's scout sizes up the Celtics
Ian Thomsen
October 27, 2003
They're no longer a playoff team after trading their two most experienced playmakers, Antoine Walker and Tony Delk, to the Mavs on Monday for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a first-round pick in 2004. New G.M. Danny Ainge decided this summer that this team had peaked, so he's dismantling it and will rebuild with an eye toward a more athletic, up-tempo lineup....
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October 27, 2003

Enemy Lines An Opposing Team's Scout Sizes Up The Celtics

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They're no longer a playoff team after trading their two most experienced playmakers, Antoine Walker and Tony Delk, to the Mavs on Monday for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a first-round pick in 2004. New G.M. Danny Ainge decided this summer that this team had peaked, so he's dismantling it and will rebuild with an eye toward a more athletic, up-tempo lineup....

LaFrentz gives Boston a shot blocker, and he can be a slightly better rebounder and defender than Walker, but overall this trade downgraded the Celtics. Walker was vital to everything they did—he ran the offense, was their best rebounder and rallied his teammates in the locker room....

Without Walker to share the load, Paul Pierce has to take responsibility for elevating the play of his teammates. Can he improve his shot selection while defenses key on him more than ever? His three-point percentage fell from 40.4 in 2001-02 to 30.2 last year, and it got so bad that we were telling our guys to let him prove he could make the three-pointer. That's something we never would have said two years ago....

They'll also concentrate on developing Kedrick Brown, the former junior college swing-man who was a Number I pick in 2001. He's an athletic rebounder and defender who could give them a lot of energy, but he has to knock down jump shots or else the defense will sag on Pierce even more....

Vin Baker has lost a ton of weight since he went into alcohol rehab last spring, but his knees are still bothering him. They're counting on getting absolutely nothing from him, so anything he can do inside will be a bonus....

Ainge and coach Jim O'Brien have long-term contracts, so they can afford to take a step backward. Still, their fans are going to be upset, because this team won't play with as much intensity now that its leader is gone.

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