The Boston Celtics followed their valiant 2012 postseason run by reloading their roster into one that is better, younger, and more athletic than the previous version. With the preseason schedule concluded and the regular season just a week away, Celtics fans have plenty to look forward to in 2012-13, including the return of Jeff Green, a very deep bench, and a far more versatile offense.
A more assertive Jeff Green:
Throughout the preseason, Green has looked like the player the Celtics hoped for when they traded for him in 2011. When he was first acquired, Green was passive, camping out in the corner and getting most of his offense on jumpers. This preseason, he's been aggressive on the offensive end, attacking the basket, and getting to the free throw line regularly. This version of Green along with Jason Terry could make the Celtics' bench one of the most potent in the league.
The Celtics feel like they scored a lottery-level talent when they picked Sullinger 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Sullinger is a strong rebounder, a skilled offensive post player, and a capable mid-range shooter. He averaged 11 points and seven rebounds in eight preseason games, including five starts. Sullinger's skills complement those of Kevin Garnett, and he should be in line for much more playing time than other recent Celtics' draft picks.
Avery Bradley's return:
In 2012, Bradley enjoyed a breakout season and earned the starting shooting guard spot. In the starting lineup, he shared a great chemistry with Rajon Rondo and became a real contributor on both ends of the court. His season ended during the playoffs with multiple shoulder injuries and his recovery will stretch into the start of the 2012-13 season. A week before the regular season starts, the Celtics are aiming for a mid-December return. The question is how long it will take for him to regain his form, rejoin the starting lineup, and build on his progress from last season.
More free throw attempts:
The 2011-12 Celtics were very much a jumpshooting team offensively. They took 19.8 free throws per game to rank 27th out of 30 teams. In 2012-13, they have the personnel to add diversity to their game. This year's Celtics boast more players capable of creating their own shots in the half-court game, as well as the youth and legs to run with Rondo in the transition game, and the size for a better low post game.
During the preseason, Doc Rivers talked about the possibility of using different starting fives depending on matchups. His default lineup should feature Brandon Bass or possibly Sullinger starting at power forward with Garnett as the center. Against teams with big frontcourts like the Philadelphia 76ers, Darko Milicic could start at center with Garnett at the four. Against more athletic lineups, Green could get the nod to start alongside Garnett.
Boston Celtics, Yahoo! Sports
Marc D'Amico, "Rivers open to 'transitional starting lineup,'" Celtics.com
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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