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14 Boston CELTICS
Chris Mannix
October 23, 2006
Their star can do it all--except lead the team into the playoffs by himself
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October 23, 2006

14 Boston Celtics

Their star can do it all--except lead the team into the playoffs by himself

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G DELONTE WEST 11.8 ppg 4.1 rpg 4.6 apg 1.18 spg 48.7 FG%
C KENDRICK PERKINS 5.2 ppg 5.9 rpg 1.54 bpg 51.5 FG% 61.5 FT%
F RYAN GOMES 7.6 ppg 4.9 rpg 1.0 apg 0.57 spg 48.7 FG%
F GERALD GREEN 5.2 ppg 1.3 rpg 0.6 apg 0.41 spg 47.8 FG%
G RAJON RONDO * (R) 11.2 ppg 6.1 rpg 4.9 apg 2.03 spg 48.2 FG%

Let's get one thing straight: The Celtics' failure to make the playoffs for the first time in five years had nothing to do with Paul Pierce. In 2005--06 Pierce had career highs in scoring (26.8 points per game) and field goal percentage (47.1%), and tied Larry Bird for the most 2,000-point seasons (four) in team history. For all his effort, Boston's 6'6" franchise player got 33 wins, a bum left elbow (he had surgery in August) and his name tossed around in trade rumors. Still, he accepted a three-year, $59.4 million extension to remain a Celtic through '10--11. "By making this commitment to me," says Pierce, "I think they're making a commitment to be a contending team in these next five years."

More than the millions, Pierce needs a little help; he accounted for 26.3% of his team's offense last season, sixth in the league. "You always want more veteran presence," says Pierce. "It helps you do your job better." So in the deal for point guard Sebastian Telfair, Boston also picked up center Theo Ratliff in the hopes that the 33-year-old, still a feared shot blocker, can stabilize one of the league's youngest rosters.

The Celtics also hope Pierce gets support from returning players. Third-year power forward Al Jefferson reported to camp injury-free and 30 pounds lighter, while sharpshooter Wally Szczerbiak is healthy after off-season left knee surgery. "I'm excited," says Pierce. "We have a couple of good additions and a lot of young talent and depth. I like our potential."

That's Paul Pierce: just trying to get by with a little help from his friends.

Projected Starting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics

Record: 33--49 (11th in East)
Points scored: 98.0 (12th in NBA)
Points allowed: 99.5 (20th)
Coach: Doc Rivers
(third season with the Celtics)

Theo Ratliff

PPG 4.9
RPG 5.1
APG 0.5
BPG 1.60
SPG 0.33
FG% 57.1
FT% 65.1

Wally Szczerbiak

PPG 19.0
RPG 4.3
APG 3.0
SPG 0.56
FG% 48.7
3FG% 40.0
FT% 89.7

Sebastian Telfair *

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