With the NBA lockout in the rear view mirror at last, it's time for the Celtics and the rest of the league to get to work. The Celtics tip off their season this Sunday at noon down at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The game will be broadcast on TNT
Comcast SportsNet’s 55-game regular season schedule starts on Wednesday, December 28, with a match-up against the New Orleans Hornets.
CSNNE will also have pre- and post-game coverage for all Celtics games, including the Celtics’ 11 national network appearances. For the first time, Comcast SportsNet will deliver all telecasts in Dolby 5.1 audio.
Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn are back for their 31st season together broadcasting the Celtics.
After failed attempts to acquire Chris Paul and David West, the Celtics were forced to satisfy themselves by restocking their bench in hopes of getting rest for their veteran starters. Will it be enough to keep the Celtics as contenders in the Eastern Conference?
TNT, ESPN and NBATV all held conference calls this week for the start of the NBA season. A number of the analysts weighed in on the Celtics chances.
Shaquille O’Neal (TNT) on the Celtics this year and Jermaine O’Neal as their only legit center: "(Head coach) Doc (Rivers) does a good job of managing the bodies and Paul (Pierce) loves the bench. I think he (Jermaine O’Neal) will be fine. He is a guy that can play inside and outside. I look forward to them being in the top of the East (Conference) and in the Finals."
Charles Barkley (TNT) on the Celtics this year: "They are one team that is going to be coasting through the regular season. They won the world championship, they have a terrific coach. I am probably going to pick them as my favorite in the Eastern Conference."
Greg Anthony (NBATV) on this year’s potential contenders and surprises: "I still think Boston is a team that could really benefit from having a short season because of the veteran status of their roster. Anthony went on to add a little later on: "The big advantage Boston is going to have is their core group of guys have gone through a lockout before. And I think Doc Rivers can do a really good job of resting his guys over the course of the regular season to prepare for the postseason."
Anthony's colleague Chris Webber disagreed that injuries will be an issue, but did acknowledge that teams which have a core that has played together for a long time will have an advantage: "I don’t think injuries are going to be an issue. You really can’t predict who is going to get hurt. The biggest difference on who will have the advantage is how well the teams know each other."
The Celtics starters know each other as well as any unit in the league, which should count for something. But will it be enough?
On the Celtics’ title aspirations, Magic Johnson, who just joined ESPN this week, and will be the biggest star on their revamped NBA studio show, doesn't think the Celtics have a chance – "Doc Rivers is a great coach, but the window is closed because Miami is a better defensive team and the Chicago Bulls are a better defensive team with younger legs and more talent."
Jon Barry, also on ESPN, doesn't necessarily agree with Magic on the Celtics – "I like this team. That series against the Miami Heat was much closer than people give it credit. LeBron James was spectacular and he won that series. I still think the Celtics make a last run. This is it."
The Celtics next season will likely be a dramatically different looking team than they are now. We should try to enjoy them while we still have them together. If the pieces fall right, this could be a glorious send-off for this era.