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Open Game Thread #7: Pacers vs. Celtics

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Incoming!!! As the Pacers try to right their ship and get moving back in a winning direction, the last thing they want to see right now are the Boston Celtics. Too late. The C's are in town and looking lethal with their shiny new line up that includes Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. David Stern may need to step in at some point. Is it really fair to have three such talented players actually give themselves to the team effort and share the spotlight? Can the league possibly allow three players on one team to average at least 22 points (EACH!!!) per game? I can only assume the Celtics' offseason moves were allowed because everyone figured egos would clash or injuries would limit just how good this team could play. But all systems are go, so far, as the Celts arrive at the Fieldhouse with a 5-0 record and don't appear to have broken a sweat yet.

Here's Bruno's game preview. Marquis Daniels is listed with Ike Diogu as out for tonight's games. Yeesh, so much for Quis playing the back up PG minutes.

Also, I participated in this Q&A with Jeff from Celtics Blog. Here are Jeff's answers to my questions about the Celts.

1. I have a good friend and huge C's fan from Vermont who feels a little strange about the Celtics incredible roster and sudden status as a championship contender. He feels like the C's are trying to buy a championship and he's deprived of seeing a championship team develop over time in a more traditional manner. Have you encountered this line of thinking before? What do you think? Is this just decades of Yankee hatred revealing itself?

CB: I have come across that a little, but mostly before the trade happened. People were still wrapped in the mindset of developing "our guys" over the long term. The problem with that is getting stuck in a rut of always developing and accepting a culture of losing. Once people got to see the three stars holding up their jerseys together, hanging out together in Rome, and finally playing well together on the court, most have accepted the fast forward approach with open arms. And as sudden as this has all happened, it actually has been in the works for several years. Danny said from the start that he was acquiring assets to use to pick up big name players. It actually took longer than he thought, but I'm happy with the way it worked out. In a perfect world we'd have superstars, depth, and a young pipeline of stars (like the Red Sox have) but given the choice between maybe developing for the next 8-10 years and going for it all over the next 3-4 years, I'll roll the dice and take the plunge.

2. Any preseason detractors of the Celtics would point to Rajon Rondo and the lack of depth available off the bench as reasons why the C's might not match expectations. With the strong start, which players included in that supposed lack of depth have been a pleasant surprise? Which player(s) have more to offer than most people think?

CB: Well, first of all the lack of overall depth hasn't really gone away. It has been minimized somewhat by Doc's decision to play the big 3 a lot of minutes, which covers up a lot of mistakes by anyone else on the floor. Basically the big three make everyone else look a lot better.

With that said, I think most have been pleasantly surprised by the play of Eddie House. He's not a point guard, but the committee of House, Tony Allen, and Ray Allen have been getting the ball across half court and getting it into the hands of one of the stars to start the offense. And when House knocks down dagger 3's with one of the quickest releases in the game, you kind of forget about the fact that he's not a playmaking point guard and go with the flow.

3. How is the mood among the faithful regarding Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers? Both have taken (much of it earned) their share of abuse over the past couple of years. Will Doc get any credit for W's or does the roster idiot proof game management?

CB: I'd say it is night and day with the attitude towards Danny. Many people, myself included, were getting down to their last nerve with the moves Ainge was making (or not making). We heard about his plan to land the big fish but time after time he came back with empty lines or more bait. Now we have a fish feast and he's got the early lead on Executive of the Year.

Doc, on the other hand, has been given a Get Out of Jail Free card. He still has his critics but they are being held at bay for the moment. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen would make anyone look like a coaching genius. I will maintain that Doc's role is pretty important in that he is very good at managing personalities. If he can keep everyone (in particular Pierce) happy and bought in to the program, then he deserves some credit.

With that said, the Boston fans have long memories and will be very slow to give him credit for the wins. And if the team hits a downturn or cold streak, guess who people will look to blame. The murmuring is already starting as it seems like Doc is playing the big 3 a few minutes too many for most people's comfort. If he wears them out and finds them burnt out or hurt in April, you'll hear some pretty loud complaining about Doc's game management skills. But for now, the more they win, the more rope Doc gets.
Projected Starters
PACERS pos. CELTICS
Jermaine O'Neal F Kevin Garnett
Mike Dunleavy F Paul Pierce
Troy Murphy C Kendrick Perkins
Danny Granger G Ray Allen
Jamaal Tinsley G Rajon Rondo

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