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ATLANTIC
Chris Mannix
December 05, 2011
BOSTON CELTICS (56--26 in 2010--11)
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December 05, 2011

Atlantic

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BOSTON CELTICS (56--26 in 2010--11)

What they've got

The Big Four (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo) returns intact, as does steady coach Doc Rivers.

What they need

Depth is an issue; the Celtics have just six players under contract—and they are due $66 million. (The salary cap is expected to be about $59.5 million.) Free-agent forwards Jeff Green and Glen Davis will likely be brought back, and 2011 draft picks JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue teammates, will fill out the roster. A cheap, defense-first center such as Jason Collins or Joel Przybilla would be a natural fit.

Bottom line

Both Garnett and Allen have expiring contracts, so the clock is ticking. Injuries and upheaval (the midseason trade of center Kendrick Perkins) caused the Celtics to spiral in the second half, but G.M. Danny Ainge wants to give this group one more shot. A shorter (if more compressed) schedule will benefit an aging roster, which, if healthy come May, has the talent to make another run at a title.

NEW YORK KNICKS (42--40)

What they've got

Offense, and lots of it. Up front Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire combined to average 50.9 points, making them the league's No. 2 scoring duo. They also have Chauncey Billups, who averaged 17.5 points in 21 games after being acquired from the Nuggets.

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