You may have forgotten already but the Boston Celtics were 12 minutes away in Game 7 against the Miami Heat, from advancing to the NBA Finals. Strong free agent acquisitions have these Celtics gearing up for a run at a championship in 2013.
According to ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg, the Celtics have officially signed Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox to deals. Together, along with NBA first round pick Jared Sullinger, will improve the Celtics' frontcourt production, which is arguably the one weakness that kept the Celtics from an NBA Finals berth last season.
Forsberg also mentioned that the Celtics have handshake agreements set with both Jeff Green and Jason Terry, but a few details must be worked out prior to finalizing the signings.
Boston is not only improving their squad with these top-tier talents, but they are also putting themselves a step ahead of last season as well.
Here are three major reasons why this new-look Celtics team will be a tougher, more feared championship contender than last season.
Considering Boston's horrendous rebounding last season, it's hard to believe the Celtics were up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual NBA champions.
Boston was ranked dead last in the NBA in rebounds per game (38.8). Putting this into perspective, the seven-win Charlotte Bobcats averaged 39 per contest. Kevin Garnett was the only consistent threat for the team on the glass last season. He posted 8.2 rebounds per game and upped his average to 10.4 per contest in the playoffs.
Now that the anchor of the team's defense is back, the Celtics can surely maintain solid production. Yet, it will be the additions of Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox that will help this team improve dramatically on the glass.
Snatching Jared Sullinger in the draft was a steal for the Boston Celtics. Other teams were worried about his back injury, but Celtics took a gamble and got lucky. Sullinger has been proving his worth in the Orlando Summer League. In 4 games, Sullinger grabbed 33 rebounds, and these games only have 10-minute quarters.
Two seasons ago Green averaged 3.3 rebounds per game in just 23.5 minutes per game. Bass was sound on the glass as well. The PF talent was second on the team in rebounds last season with 6.2 per contest.
Wilcox's hustle and drive to succeed will be important as well, as he has certainly proved his worth as a rebounding talent. He is arguably the most proficient rebounder aside from Garnett. Last season he averaged 4.4 per game in just 17.2 minutes per contest.
Jason Terry Will Do more Offensively than Ray Allen Could
The loss of Ray Allen will be no problem for these Boston Celtics. When the Celtics can officially get Terry's deal squared away, he will provide these Celtics with the offensive lift that Ray Allen wasn't capable of doing.
Allen stands as arguably the best shooter in NBA history. His shooting stroke and shot selection are some of the best to grace the league. But we must remember that his injury didn't allow him to produce the way he wanted to. In the playoffs he shot just 39.5 percent from the field and just over 30 percent from three-point range.
However, aside from the injury, Terry is a more complete scoring threat today than Allen is. He is able to take the ball to the basket, master the midrange game, or shoot the three. Terry is also known for taking big shots and producing in the fourth quarter, which is a quality the Celtics will need with Allen's departure.
Unlike today's Allen, Terry can make things happen by making moves to the basket. There is simply not much this player can't do with the ball in his hands, and it will undoubtedly open up the Celtics' options offensively next season.
These Celtics starters are begging the second unit to put up points. The Celtics were considered an inconsistent team offensively last season, when in reality, it was a lack of bench scoring that held the team back.
Paul Pierce and the starters did their part in the scoring department. In the 2012 postseason meeting with the Heat, the Celtics were outscored 41-21 in the first two games and had just seven points in Game 2. In turn, Boston was also in a 2-0 hole through two games.
What's more? In the Game 7 loss to the Heat, the Celtics had just two bench points in the entire game. There were just four field goals attempted by bench players as well.
Bass and Garnett are both primetime-scoring threats. The two averaged a combined 30.3 points per game in last season's playoffs. After Garnett moved to the center position Bass was able to get starter's minutes and has been especially effective since.
With the Celtics more than likely to add two top-notch scorers in Terry and Green, and top-notch frontcourt in Sullinger and Wilcox, there is much promise for this team's scoring depth going forward.