NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 2nd (All times eastern)
Washington Wizards (0-1) at Boston Celtics (0-0), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The new-look Boston Celtics open the 2007-08 campaign at home, as they welcome the Washington Wizards tonight to TD Banknorth Garden.
Boston's executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge was very busy during the offseason, as he rebuilt the Celtics into the favorite in the Eastern Conference.
Two blockbuster moves have elevated Boston to the top of the conference and maybe even the league. On draft night, the Celtics acquired 32-year-old shooting guard Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics for guard Delonte West, forwards Wally Szczerbiak and Georgetown's Jeff Green, who was chosen with the No. 5 overall pick. A seven-time All-Star, Allen, who averaged a team-best 26.4 points in 55 games for Seattle this past season, is still one of the best outside shooters in the NBA and has a few good years left in him.
However, it's the Kevin Garnett deal that has lifted Boston, which finished an Eastern Conference worst 24-58 during the 2006-07 campaign and did not qualify for the playoffs for a second straight year.
Boston dealt Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, cash considerations and two first-round draft picks to Minnesota for Garnett. The Timberwolves receive Boston's 2009 first-round selection and will also get back the first-round draft pick the team dealt to the Celtics in a 2006 trade.
The 31-year-old Garnett, who will be entering his 13th season in the league and received a contract extension from the Celtics, was the NBA MVP in the 2003-04 campaign. Garnett played in 76 games in 2006-07 and led Minnesota in scoring (22.4 ppg) and rebounding (12.8 rpg), but the Timberwolves missed the postseason for the third straight year. A 10-time All-Star, Garnett has averaged over 20 points and more than 10 boards per game in nine straight seasons.
The Celtics now have arguably the most potent trio in the NBA. Allen and Garnett join five-time All-Star Paul Pierce, who averaged 25.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 47 games for Boston last season. The 30-year-old Pierce now has the help and quality teammates he has been looking for. The Kansas product has been a one-man show the last several years for the Celtics. He wanted to play with better players, and Ainge has made that a reality.
Ainge needed to fill out the roster after giving up a lot for Allen and Garnett. Veterans Eddie House, Scot Pollard and James Posey all inked deals with Boston, and give head coach Doc Rivers a serviceable bench.
The last time Boston, which has not won a championship since beating the Houston Rockets in six games in 1986, advanced to the Eastern Conference finals was in 2002, when it was knocked out in six by the New Jersey Nets. It has been over 20 years since the Celtics played in the NBA Finals. They fell in six contests to the Lakers during the 1987 championship round.
The Celtics have lost two of their last three season and home openers. Boston will visit the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Air Canada Centre before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks.
Washington plays the finale of its season-opening two-game road trip. On Wednesday, Mike Dunleavy scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, as the Jim O'Brien era began in Indiana with the Pacers downing the Wizards, 119-110, in overtime at Conseco Fieldhouse.
All-Star Gilbert Arenas scored 34 points for the Wizards, while Antawn Jamison posted 27 points and 16 rebounds in defeat. Caron Butler added 19 points and 11 boards.
Washington will host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Saturday in its home-opener.
Last season, the Wizards were 3-0 against the Celtics. Washington has won three straight after losing its last four at Boston.
11/02 10:33:51 ET