Boston Celtics: The Big Green Machine

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Celtics Win Laugher Against Bobkittens

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 29, 2009

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The Boston Celtics came into the season saying they wanted to be one of, if not the, best defenses in NBA history. Today, they put on a performance that will be remembered for a long time. The Bobcats didn’t score more than 18 points in any one quarter and only had 41 points after three quarters of play. Those are staggering numbers when you really look at it. Now I know that Raja Bell, DeSagana Diop and Flip Murray, three of their more veteran players, didn’t play, but any professional basketball team that is a member of the NBA should be able to muster at least 60 points in a game.

Does this game speak more of how great the Celtics’ defense is/can be or how bad the Bobcats were/could be? I personally think that it speaks volumes about how stingy Boston can be on the defensive side of the ball. Naturally, to have such a dominant defensive performance you’re going to need the opposition to have a horrible night on the offensive end, and Charlotte did just that. The Bobcats shot just 31% from the floor, 0-10 from beyond the arc and miserable 13-25 from the “charity stripe”. Those are about as bad as of numbers as you will see the entire season. Good thing the Bobcats got that stinker out of the way.

For the Celtics, there was no real dominant performance from any one player as all 11 healthy players all saw some considerable floor time. The lone double-double in the game went to Rajon Rondo, who finished with 10 points, 11 assists as well as three steals. Four other players finished with double-digit points: Ray Allen (18), Kevin Garnett (10), Paul Pierce (15) and the offensively challenged Shelden Williams (12). Looking at the plus/minus numbers for the team, the starters were all at least +19 while the Celtics were a stunning +34 with Garnett on the floor. The starting five plus Rasheed are showing that they can be the best collection of six players in the entire league, hands down.

Now I didn’t get to see any of the second half as I was too busy dropping 30 points myself in my own game (shameless plug), but it looks like I didn’t miss much. Lester Hudson and JR Giddens both got to play some real minutes, but they only took one shot each and neither connected. I would have liked to get to see them both play to see how their stints on the floor went, but it looks as if Shelden Williams may have been the focus of the offense for the bench players.

This is yet another great win to start the season for the Celtics, but in such a different fashion than last night. We beat our rivals on their own floor last night and then came out and dominated a team that shouldn’t challenge us. This is how championship teams should play, so let’s hope this keeps up for the entire season.

Posted in 2009, Game Analysis | 1 Comment »

Second Half Of Double-Dip: Bobcats @ Celtics

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 28, 2009

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After a thrilling opening to the NBA season by taking down the hated Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics fly home and will host the pesky Charlotte Bobcats at the TD Bank Garden. Yes, it is opening night and yes the Celtics are favored by ten and a half points, but Charlotte ALWAYS play us tough and are very capable of stealing a win tonight. The Celtics are coming of a big win last night and hopefully can carry that momentum over to this game to start the season 2-0.

Looking at the Celtics offensively, the entire starting five (besides maybe Perk) should have no problem scoring on any of the Bobcats’ starters. Charlotte isn’t a very defensive oriented team besides two players: Raja Bell and Tyson Chandler. Bell is a legit NBA defender and can frustrate even the best offensive players in the league (ex: Bryant, Kobe), but he has got a wrist that isn’t even close to 100% and is putting off surgery, so it’s yet to be seen how he plays with the injury. Chandler, who was brought over from New Orleans for the Bobcats’ first ever draft pick in Emeka Okafor, is a very good shot blocker and definitely will be deterring some shots down low tonight.

On defense, the Celtics will need to keep Gerald Wallace out of the paint. Force him to shoot jumpers all night. If he starts hitting them, more power to him. The same goes for Raymond Felton. If he starts getting to the paint at will, he will be able to dish off to some of their more athletic bigs for easy finishes around the rim. When the Bobcats go with a small back court of Felton and DJ Augustine, we’re going to need Marquis Daniels to guard one of the two point guards because I don’t think Eddie House or Ray Allen will be up to the task.

Keys to the Game:

  • Show Them Who’s Boss: It’s opening night on our home floor. We’re the title contender, they’re the cellar-dweller. Put on a Cleveland-esque run to start the game and keep the pedal to the metal. This team is easily defeated mentally and the game could be won in the first quarter.
  • DEFENNSEEE!!! : Not going to lie, this will be a key to the game every night. The defense looked very good last night and could be even more stifling tonight as the Bobcats don’t have a LeBron James type of player.
  • Play Like A Champion: Nothing frustrates a coach (and us fans) more than watching our team play down to the competition. I know in the middle of the season the team could possibly just go through the motions against a lesser team like Charlotte, but that should not be an option for the home opener.

My prediction is that the Celtics will win this game 102-84. I see Rajon Rondo having a great game, Paul Pierce will continue to do his same 20-point game while the bench will shine once again with Eddie House scoring double-digit points. Bottom line, I just want to see a win regardless of who does what and by how many points. Let’s hope we get out of tonight 2-0 and as healthy as we are now.

Posted in 2009, Game Preview | Leave a Comment »

Chance At Rondo Extension After All?

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 28, 2009

From Marc J. Spears:

Contract talks between Rajon Rondo(notes) and the Boston Celtics were revived from the dead Tuesday.

Agent Bill Duffy said Celtics president Danny Ainge restarted talks by expressing a willingness to improve a possible offer to Rondo during a meeting at halftime of Boston’s 95-89 win in Cleveland on Tuesday. On Monday, Duffy told Yahoo! Sports that Rondo would not sign a contract extension with the Celtics and would become a restricted free agent next summer. The deadline for a possible extension is Saturday.

“Our position was firm, but Danny Ainge reached out and said they were willing to move,” Duffy told Yahoo! Sports in a phone interview. “Our mind was made up on this. But he said, ‘Let’s try to talk again, let us put some stuff together and talk [Wednesday].’ ”

Some may think that this is very surprising, but seeing that the two sides weren’t all that far away, in my opinion, from reaching an agreement in the first place (dollars wise), it doesn’t surprise me that Ainge would like to sit down and make a counter to his own offer. How do I think this one will end? Just like it has been all summer and pre-season, there will not be an extension in place for Rondo by the time Halloween rolls around. I’m not worried about it either because I know deep down that the Celtics want Rondo back and will match (almost) any deal that he receives on the open market.

Posted in 2009, News, Players, Rumors | 1 Comment »

C’s Clip Cavs On Opening Night

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 27, 2009

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It may not have started off well, but it ended just fine as the Celtics beat their rival Cavaliers in Cleveland to start the season. The Cavs were 39-2 at home last season and will start this season 0-1 at the Q. Everyone had to know that the great start from Cleveland was going to happen and the question was whether or not the Celtics could weather the storm. They did that and much more as they went from down seven after one quarter to up six at the half.

The Celtics never relinquished the lead at all in the second half. It was comfortable for most of the third quarter, but when it got tight in the fourth, the Celtics just seemed to make buckets and get stops when it was needed most. LeBron James had a good game (38 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks) but he didn’t make enough plays down the stretch to get his team in a position to win. He had some crucial turnovers that really kept the momentum from swinging in Cleveland’s favor.

The MVP of the game has to go to The Truth, Paul Pierce. He paced the Celtics’ scoring in the first half with 13 points, but was held scoreless in the third quarter. But tonight, like any other night, Paul was Mr. Fourth Quarter. No matter how cold he gets at any point of the game, there is still very few players in the entire league who I would want to have the ball in the final quarter. He finished the fourth quarter with ten points, finishing the game with 23 and knocking down three huge buckets while dishing out a beautiful assist to Kendrick Perkins for an and-one finish under the rim.

Garnett played 33 minutes in his first serious game action since his knee injury and looked good, but still rusty. He finished with 13 points, ten rebounds and three block shots, but he missed a dunk that he would finish 98 out of a hundred times. His knee didn’t look to bother him much and he just needs time to strengthen it and get back into game shape.

Ray Allen got hot in the second quarter along with Paul Pierce to spark a huge Celtics run, but cooled off considerably in the second half and finished with 16 points on five of 16 shooting. Rajon Rondo played a good game. He knocked down a couple jumpers and got to the rim for a bucket or two. He did get blocked badly by LeBron in the first quarter on a layup he should have just sprinted down the floor instead and that seemed to deter him from getting to the rim from then on. He finished the game with eight points, six boards, three steals and a game-high ten assists.

The three newcomers, I thought, played very well as a group. Rasheed Wallace led all bench players with 12 points on four of nine shooting including three of six from deep. His defense was as advertised, but he seemed very trigger happy. He took a couple bad shots early in the game and he may just have been anxious to get his Boston career off to a good start, but he seemed to settle down and hit a few big buckets for us. Marquis Daniels looked very smooth out there. He didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but his penetration with and without the ball got others some good looks. He slashed to the rim, posted up once or twice and hit a big three from the corner, too. Shelden Williams played as I thought he would. His defense was good, as was to be expected, and grabbed three boards. He finished with four points, all on free throws, and we shouldn’t expect much more from him on that front.

To me, the unsung hero award goes to Kendrick Perkins. Looking at the box score does him no justice. He finished with nine points, one rebound and one blocked shot, but his impact was so much more than that. It was clear as day that his jumper from the short corner will be there for him all game off of penetration by Rondo, Pierce and Garnett. He was knocking it down and had a couple rattle in and out, so that is a great part of his game that will be utilized accordingly. He may have only had one rebound, but he kept Shaquille O’Neal, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskus from getting offensive rebounds. Garnett, Pierce and Rondo got a lot of their rebounds off of Perkins’ defense and box outs.

Tonight was a great way to open the season. Those who were on the floor for the Celtics looked healthy. The defense was great, holding the Cavs to 41% shooting. TNT had a graphic that showed the plus/minus in three categories: bench points, three-point shooting and fast-break points. In all three categories, the Celtics heavily dominated the Cavs. If we continue to do that, we should win a lot of games going away. We can happy that the season has started the way it is, but let’s not get satisfied yet because we have a pesky Charlotte Bobcat team coming to town tomorrow night. This is the same Bobcat team that ALWAYS seems to steal two games from us each season. Let’s hope we can put them down tomorrow in front of a raucous home crowd.

Posted in 2009, Game Analysis | 1 Comment »

Season Opener: Celtics @ Cavaliers

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 27, 2009

Cavs Opener

 

Here we are folks! We’ve had our time to discuss the Celtics’ roster, off-season moves, contract extensions, injuries and preseason basketball. Forget all that because it is time to focus on meaningful basketball games. I know (as well as the Cavaliers) that the first game doesn’t make or break your season, but this is definitely a game I would circle on the Celtics’ schedule. Other than the Magic, the Celtics and Cavaliers are the on the only true contenders for the NBA title out of the Eastern Conference this season.

Both teams have new faces that they will have to integrate into their respectful rotations and fast. Boston added Rasheed Wallace who has seemingly gelled with the team very well. His skill set fits perfectly as he plays defense and can stretch the field and bang down low. ‘Sheed will be a huge boost to the bench and will certainly be a reason we win a lot of games this season.

Marquis Daniels will be playing point-forward off the bench and has looked very comfortable in that role. Seeing the second unit play in the pre-season, it looked as if the backcourt of Daniels and Eddie House were a great combination and Daniels could be a match-up nightmare for opposing teams that choose to put an undersized guard on him.

With the unfortunate injury to Glen Davis, Shelden Williams will be broken in to the rotation more than we would have expected just a week ago. Nicknamed “The Landlord”, Williams can carve out some space in the paint, rebound effectively and play some very good defense. Shelden is an ideal power forward off the bench for this team and if Clifford Ray could work a little magic on this kid’s offensive game, he could be a steal for the Celtics.

The Cavaliers have just as many new faces to break in. The biggest of them all is Shaquille O’Neal. He is way past his prime, but he did improve his play in Phoenix last season. He looks to be in the best shape since his LA days, but will his game hurt LeBron’s? The Cavaliers also upgraded their wing position. Instead of having to rely on Sasha Pavlovic, they now have Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. Parker is a good, consistent shooter while Moon is an athletic freak and can play some stringy defense. Both players are upgrades over Sasha, and with rumors that Antonio Daniels could be on the way to Cleveland, this team looks to have a stacked backcourt.

Keys To The Game:

  • Keep “The King” In Check: The Celtics cannot allow LeBron James to take over this game on both sides of the floor.
  • DEFENSE! : The Celtics pride themselves on the defensive end and need to show that tonight. Limiting their offensive boards will allow us to rebound, outlet and run (Tommy can’t wait to see us fast break!).
  • Protect The Rock: The Celtics were plagued with turnover problems last season and need to remedy that if they want to win a title again this season. This team loves to make the extra pass, but may need to get a bit more selfish and take those good looks at the hoop rather than risk a turnover.

Not much more to say now. Time to throw on your favorite Celtics’ garb, grab the beverage of your choice, get the lighting just right and get ready to scream at the TV screen another 82 (hopefully much more) games as this season kicks off. Enjoy the game and let’s hope we start this season off with a bang!

Posted in 2009, Game Preview | Leave a Comment »

Glen Davis Has Successful Surgery, Out At Least Six Weeks

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 27, 2009

Glen Davis SurgeryFrom John Beattie:

Following a weekend fight with a former high school basketball teammate that left Celtics forward Glen Davis with a broken thumb, the Celtics announced Tuesday that Davis underwent successful surgery and will likely miss the next six weeks of action.

As every Celtic fan craves details on this story, it remains to be cloudy as ever and we may never know exactly what happened between Glen Davis and his “friend”. All that is known now is that he won’t be contributing to this team for close to two months. He’ll be out at least six weeks due to the injury and Celtics’ owner Wyc Grousbeck has already said he will be suspended once he returns. This is very sad as he was going to bolster a bench that would be tops in the league. With Davis out now and Scalabrine already sidelined, this means that new addition Shelden Williams will have to step in and give some meaningful minutes right away.

There were said to be some problems with Glen Davis (if you haven’t noticed, I’m trying not to call him Big Baby any more) last season and perhaps that was a major reason why he didn’t get nearly the contract he was expecting. After something like this, it makes the league’s GMs look that much more smart for not throwing money at him for having a good postseason.

This is a sad story and is taking up way too many headlines for my liking on opening night, especially when we are playing our rival Cavaliers. This injury will sting, but I’m ready to forget Davis as a part of this team until he is back and contributing for this team. If he wanted to prove that he deserved the bigger contract, he would have improved his game (yet to be seen) and have been more professional and concerned with the situations he put himself in off the court.

Posted in 2009, News, Players | Leave a Comment »

Rondo Boosts 2010 Free Agent Class

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 27, 2009

Rondo Restricted FA

From Marc J. Spears:

Rajon Rondo(notes) will not sign a contract extension with the Boston Celtics, allowing him to join next summer’s heralded free-agent class, the player’s agent told Yahoo! Sports late Monday.

Rondo and the Celtics have until Saturday to negotiate an extension, but his agent, Bill Duffy, said the point guard has already made a decision to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Duffy said he has had recent talks with the Celtics about Rondo, but the negotiations never progressed enough to lead him to believe the sides were close to a deal. Celtics president Danny Ainge couldn’t be reached for comment.

“We’re not going to do an extension right now,” Duffy said. “The conversation has been cordial. We’ve been talking the last couple of weeks. There is a difference between the perception of him in their eyes and our eyes. With that being said, the focus is on Rajon to have a fantastic season and concentrate on winning a championship.”

I really can’t say that I was at all hopeful that we would sign Rondo to an extension before the deadline, so this doesn’t surprise me much. Would it have been great to have him locked up for this season and the next five as well? Of course it would have. Would that mean that we would have had to overpay for him? Perhaps, but top-flight point guards are going to cost money and Rondo has got all the skills to be elite at his position.

The report goes on to say that the Celtics had offered Rondo and his camp a five year, $45 million extension. Rondo’s agent was looking for something in the area of five years, $55-$60 million instead. Personally, I would give him $55 million for five years, but it’s not my checkbook being opened. Without an extension being agreed upon, Rajon Rondo will become a restricted free agent and able to seek any contract he would like. Even though it hurts for the Celtics not able to get a deal done, they still hold all the cards as they can match any offer he accepts. If the Celtics want Rondo to be a part of this team after this season, he will be here.

Looking at other players that have received extensions from Rondo’s same draft class, Brandon Roy received a five year, $80 million extension while his teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge, got a five year, $65 million extension. Rondo isn’t exactly on Roy’s level and Aldridge is a very good player, but his salary is inflated due to his height. I think that Rondo’s floor is going to be the five year, $55 million deal that I mentioned earlier. I see him making great strides in his jump-shooting this season and becoming an even better floor general for this team.

Posted in 2009, News, Players | 1 Comment »

C’s Soar Past Nets

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 11, 2009

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The Boston Celtics hosted the New Jersey Nets today in their third preseason game. With the Red Sox battling for their season just down the street and the Patriots on the road at the undefeated Denver Broncos, it seemed that the Celtics were an after-thought, even to those in the arena. As I sat two rows behind the basket closest to the Celtics’ bench (compliments of my lovely girlfriend), I could feel that the crowd just wasn’t there from the start of this game. The loudest cheers came when they would post the Red Sox’s score on the jumbotron (when they were actually leading in the game). I think the lack of excitement inside the arena helped keep the Nets in the game for the first half, but in the end, the Celtics flexed their collective muscles and pulled away late. With my great seats, I had a great view of the game and got an up-close look at everyone on the court. Here are my impressions:

  • Brook Lopez is very good. Perkins, Sheed, Big Baby all had trouble with him in the first half. He also has a very nice stroke from the charity stripe for a 7-foot bruiser.
  • Paul Pierce put this team on his back offensively in the first three quarters. He had 14 in the first half and 11 in the third quarter alone to finish with a game-high 25 points. Terrence Williams and Bobby Simmons had no chance of guarding him.
  • Kevin Garnett looked very good early in the game. At one point I looked up and saw he was five-for-five from the field and was asserting himself physically in the post against Yi. Very encouraging to see him bang at full force.
  • Rondo struggled for most of the game. He just never got into a groove, missed all of his jumpshots and was trying too hard to make an unnecessary pass under the basket with the Nets’ big men swarming. His shining moment was his highlight dunk (pictured above) on a nice pass from Pierce.
  • Rasheed Wallace electrifies the crowd almost as much as Garnett. The man Celtics fans all hated just a few short months ago is now turning into a fan favorite.
  • The lineup of House, Hudson, Daniels, Baby and Sheed did the most damage and pulled away for the win in the fourth quarter. Very interesting lineup to watch, but I was pleasantly pleased to see how they played together.
  • Eddie House is by far the most exciting shooter to watch in the NBA. Every time the ball leaves his hands, you can’t help but to think it is going in.
  • Marquis Daniels looks very comfortable playing point guard, and that is very reassuring. He plays great with Eddie House already and seems to be great at finishing around the rim. Our second unit will be very good because of Daniels.

Posted in 2009, Game Analysis | Leave a Comment »

Sheed: C’s Can Win 72 Games

Posted by r1zzo23 on October 11, 2009

Rasheed Wallace has never been shy about saying what he thinks. Here’s his latest gem:

I think we can get that Bulls record.

For those who don’t know, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls set the record for most wins in a single season with a record of 72-10 in the 1995-1996 season. The Celtics have won 66 and 62 games in the past two seasons, but do have a team that could definitely flirt with the 70-win mark. The question becomes would it be beneficial for the team to strive for this achievement? This would require the starters, mainly Pierce, Allen and Garnett, to play more minutes than I would like to see and perhaps wear them out for the postseason. As great as it would be to see this team win that many games, another NBA title in June would be much more appealing.

Posted in 2009 | Leave a Comment »

Celtics Ready For Title Run… Again

Posted by r1zzo23 on September 29, 2009

Can you guys see that picture up there? Well that’s what the team gets to look at every time they walk into their practice facility in Waltham. The 2008 championship banner is nice, but to add a 2010 banner would make it even sweeter. Everyone from Wyc, Ainge and the Big Three thinks that this team is as good, if not better, than the title team two years ago, and who would disagree? Sure we lost James Posey and PJ Brown from that team, but we’ve added Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels. Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis are another year older and only getting better. The Big Three are getting older, but hopefully the supporting cast will be able to step up and take some pressure off their shoulders.

This will be the third season with this core of players and like the two before it, health will be the biggest factor in whether or not this team is playing in June. That mainly hinges on Kevin Garnett as he is a rare mix of offensive ability and defensive passion that infuses the team with more energy than any other player in the league. All reports coming out now are that he is “all systems go” as he has been finally cleared to play. This is great news and let’s hope that he gets eased into the season without having to go and play 35-minutes a game right from the get-go. If he goes down, the Celtics become just a very good team rather than a great team, but there is one new face that would be able to ease the pain if we were to lose KG for an extended amount of time.

Rasheed Wallace, for many years our enemy in Detroit, is now most likely going to become a fan favorite here in Boston. He won an NBA title with Detroit in 2004 and played in the championship series again in 2005, so he has got all the experience we could ever ask for from our 6th man. But then the question arises, is he really a 6th man for this team? Kendrick Perkins has been the starting center for this team for years and, most notably, for the NBA title. Many believe (myself included) that it is a foregone conclusion that Perk retains his job as the starting center. Would it be better for this team if Sheed were to start? Personally, I like the defensive presence (not saying Sheed can’t play D) that Perkins brings. Sure, he doesn’t have nearly the offensive game that Wallace does, but Perk’s defense is becoming top-notch when looking at every center in the league. I think bringing Rasheed off the bench gives Doc Rivers so many options as to how he wants to set up his lineup as the game goes on.

Looking past the big name players on the squad, we have to analyze what we have towards the end of the bench. Marquis Daniels, arguably the best free agent pick-up for this team (including Rasheed Wallace), will get plenty of minutes, but what about the other wing players on the bench? JR Giddens and Bill Walker both need to show that they’ve made some tremendous strides in their respective games to carve out any sort of consistent minutes in the rotation. Then there is the human enigma: Tony Allen. Many Celtic fans are ready to say “good-bye” to Tony and I don’t blame them. Ever since that horrible knee injury, he hasn’t been the same. His decision making has always been worse than questionable and for a player who’s game was built on athleticism, he’s just not the same player.

The fourth and fifth big men on the roster are Glen Davis and Shelden Williams. Big Baby tried hard to find himself a team to overpay for his services, but that didn’t happen. Now, he’s back in Boston for probably the next two years at reasonable money for the team. We saw him grow up before our eyes when Garnett was out last season and if he can bring that same production again this season, we will most definitely have one of the most dangerous benches in all the league.

Shelden Williams, a.k.a. The Landlord, has been a huge disappointment since being drafted with the #5 overall pick in 2006 by the Atlanta Hawks. The 6’9 forward was a consensus All-American selection his senior season at Duke and was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2006. Being a team that is predicated on defense, I don’t think there will be any argument that he is worthy of the 14th roster spot for this team. Playing behind Garnett, Wallace, Perkins, Davis and Brian Scalabrine, there aren’t many expectations for Shelden. That should make it much easier for him to just go out and play rather than having the expectations of the #5 pick on his back.

And what about that 15th roster spot? Many wanted a veteran point guard, but that can wait until later in the season when buyouts become common practice. The 15th spot seems to be between two players who both received non-guaranteed contracts this morning: rookie guard Lester Hudson and veteran forward Michael Sweetney. To me, it’s pretty obvious that there’s no room on this roster for Sweetney and he’s being brought in to have a full team for training camp while KG eases his way back in and Tony Allen is still recovering from offseason surgery. This spot is for Hudson to earn.

Lester Hudson was the leading scorer in the NCAA last season and showed flashes in the summer league this year that he could be a viable option off the bench. He brings a great scoring mentality and if Marquis Daniels is handling the ball, Hudson would be relieved of all point guard duties and could focus on doing what he does best.

There are so many questions to be asked heading into preseason. Some of which can be answered and some can not, but who cares? The season starts in about a month and this one, hopefully, will be a season to remember for a long time. With the new additions, the team should be rejuvenated, especially with the energy that Rasheed Wallace will bring. I know many of you are with me, but I just can not wait for this season to start!

Posted in 2009, Offseason | Leave a Comment »