Can New Celtics Still Handle LeBron?

HANG TIME TEXAS – Seasons change and teams change. It’s part of the circle of life in sports.

An interesting angle to watch tonight when Boston plays at Miami is whether the Celtics have changed too much to contend with the new-look LeBron James.

A year ago, whenever James tried to take the ball inside against the Celtics, he was confronted by the hulking and sometimes snarling likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis.

Now the Boston front line consists of the aging Jermaine O’Neal along with Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.

Bass came up big on Christmas Day in New York, hitting the boards hard for 20 points and 11 rebounds, which our good friend Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald says delighted the men in green:

“Kid can play,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things. He’s doing it right now, but he’s second guessing half of the things he’s doing because of the execution part of it.

“He’s late on a lot of stuff because he’s just not sure yet. He’s just going to keep getting better and better as the year goes on.”

Kevin Garnett was equally impressed, though when asked about Bass he preferred to refer to the bench as a whole.

“Brandon is going to give us a more mature, consistent scorer off the bench,” Garnett said. “I actually like our bench — not just on paper, but in practice and in games. Not just Brandon, but Chris Wilcox and Keyon (Dooling), too.”

The question can the Celts’ new threesome derail James’ plan to use the post-up drills he did with Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer to do most of his work closer to the basket this season? While the powerful slam dunks and the pretty tip-pass to Dwayne Wade was nice, maybe the most impressive part of James season-opening effort in Dallas was that he did not attempt a single 3-point shot. Neither did Wade.

As Joseph Goodman points out in the Miami Herald, that’s all part of the 2011-12 for the Heat:

“The biggest thing for us is not rely on jump shots when we need a bucket — be aggressive, put pressure on the rim,” Wade said. “Obviously, me and LeBron have worked at that aspect of our game — of getting in the post and being comfortable down there.

“It makes us more of a dynamic team, and it makes teams have to make a decision whether they double [or] whether they don’t.”

Heat reserve James Jones was the beneficiary of James’ and Wade’s work inside. Forgotten in The Finals, Jones played nearly 19 minutes Sunday and was 3 of 5 from three-point range. His barrage of three-pointers broke the game open in the third quarter.

Even on a day when Chris Bosh found himself in foul trouble and was mostly ineffective, the Heat still dominated inside. The effort of James and Wade near the basket, coupled with the Heat’s fast-paced transition game, was too much for Dallas, which sorely missed departed center Tyson Chandler as a defensive enforcer and is still adjusting to its group of hastily assembled talent.

“That’s one of the elements we’re trying to develop,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ low-post presence. “If you’ve seen us in the preseason, it helps.

It has always helped the Celtics in the past to have the likes of Perkins, Shaq and Davis down in the low post, guys whose personalities and styles were often confrontational and successful against James.

Now that Perk is snarling in Oklahoma City, Big Baby is playing in Orlando and Shaq is cracking jokes with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on the TNT set, the look has been altered drastically in the paint for Boston.

Will the Celtics still thrive with the change?

49 Comments

  1. mariele dhane bael says:

    hahahaha celtics and heat are the best team in nba

  2. williams41 says:

    who cares this is a hocket town. GO BRUINS lebron biggest choker ever.

  3. yeah says:

    I think it could be, maybe, but not seriously

  4. yeah says:

    It was a joke, or not?

  5. DudzCastro says:

    Common Celtics will always be a celtics… But my Heat will become champion this year and no one can stop that PROMISE.

  6. mike says:

    no one in the nba can stop lebron he go to dam hard

  7. JR says:

    It was fun watching the Celtics on their rise to a championship back in 07-08. That era is over. The Heat, Bulls, and Thunder ARE THE NBA now and for the next seven or so years. The Heat are ferociously hungry and immensely talented. The Thunder are young, quick, and talented and will run circles around old teams like the Celtics. The Bulls, with D-Rose leading the charge, will give every team a huge headache this year. Like I said, it was fun watching the Celtics back in 07-08.

  8. JZA says:

    I think Boston never really had control on James, rather Heat struggle with the point, now Chalmers and the Rookie also have a solid frontcourt making able for Dwayne to handle himself.

  9. exqzt says:

    Is miami in boston?

  10. Madkickers says:

    I love this game eversince lary and magic rivalry,MJ & Barkley and most of all i love those guys who give their best to win the game. for the benifit of the doubt let’s just wait and see after 66 game season by june 2012!

  11. val says:

    the only way to stop LeBron is to force him to take a jumpshot…don’t allow him to attack the basket..i think Box-1 or 2-3 zone may help boston to stop LeBron…

  12. beantown says:

    bosch is soft and ineffective. chalmers is by no means going to effective against rondo which by the way is going to be a possible candidate for this years mvp. ray allen might be 36 but can still compete with wade off screens. wade will get tired of chasing him all night long and that leaves lebron james. last time i checked the celts have a better fit team than the heat. they will shut them down by 10

  13. Lebrades(Lebron and Wade) says:

    Miami heat all the way. Miami is younger and more athletic. They also have the 2011 three point contest winner James Jones who beat Paul Pierce and Ray allen in the final three. They have 2 of the top 5 players in the league on hteir team. They will win by 10+ points. I say they can go 66-0 if try hard enough. Heat vs Clippers in the finals.

  14. Dwadefan says:

    I wouldn’t count out the Celtics yet, especially against the Heat, too much has happened in the past to make me think this will be an easy matchup.

  15. bigg 3 says:

    Nothing else to say (HEAT WIN 66 GAMES !!!)

  16. King James says:

    do i even need to post this?
    miami is going to win the finals
    rii now we are seeing a whole new, unstoppable miami squad like no other

    • NBA says:

      Heat and OKC in the finals.

      The Celtics are still strong. Just a different team now. Much like LA is now.

      Its a new era in the NBA, and this year is only half a season.

      Like the article said, team changes are part of sports. Just glad we got a season at all.

  17. dre says:

    The Celtics couldnt handle him last year. Specially in the playoffs. What is this author talking about??

  18. kirkhart23 says:

    rondo did go off against new york yes but miami is one of the top defenses in the league remember that. and the celts last year had a better chance of a title than this year. miami did see boston in the 2nd round and just made a fool of them walking out in 5 the heat are only going to get better and the celts are going to get older thats how the cookie crumbles

  19. Abuzar says:

    Ok i am so tired of these stupid fan who make comment like lebron this wade that i am a boston fan since 06 i love that team i also hate the people that saw stupid fan crazy stuff of boston like fuk heat celtics going to win their both great team i like both Boston my fav i think no, the cletics new chamge did well with amear and chandler forgive me if i spell it wrong, at time the lookes sloppy but so did the heat when they first came together but the came back later on in the season and just like last year celtics won 3 out of the 4 games they had during the season heat won in playoffs and celtics had injury but the gave a fight and these two team work hard and will be a great game 2 of the best teams in the nba instead of fighting lets be happy we get to see this game and we are not in the lockout and action speak louder then words

  20. NBABaller says:

    The Heat blow the Celtics out! This is an easy one considering they wrecked Dallas. LeBron was a different LeBron from the one Dallas saw in the Finals. If LeBron is that same LeBron we saw in Dallas, and Dwyane Wade puts up those same monster stats, and if Chris Bosh actually shows up in Miami tonight, Miami will cruise past Boston tonight. I do believe, however, that the Heat need to place Dwyane Wade on Rondo for defensive purposes, because Rondo was the reason the Celtics almost beat the Knicks. I will be looking forward to seeing LeBron on Pierce (if he’s active) or LeBron guarding even Rondo. This way the Heat ensure that Rondo doesn’t explode like he did in NY.

  21. What’s up bloggers. Hang time blog is back and i am ready to win some gambling money. The Celtics are aging and not getting younger. The heat have two of the top 5 players in the league and both can score and go on a run. Celtics fans are loyal and have heart in the Celtics. Even though i was a Miami fan last year and now a Chicago bulls fan, i know that Boston have the most loyal fans. Sorry Fans. I have to admit that i am a bandwagon fan because i switched from Miami to Chicago. I’m ashamed of that but i love Chicago so much. Boston will never raise Banner 18 if they stick with the “Big 4″.

  22. KWAPT says:

    They’ve been the saying the C’s were “too old” and “rebuilding” since ’08. And what have we done since then? Let’s see…a title, reaching Game 7 of the Finals and a playoff-run every year.

    • JohnZ says:

      Agreed,but that in mind,Heat are huge favorites.Fact is Heat gets better with every game(Bosh doesn’t count lol),while the Boston Baldies are getting worse by the game.But I agree,even when Boston is down by 10 wih 1 min to go,your in your seat,waiting for Ray-Ray to go off.

      • NBEATZ says:

        Just because Bosh has a bad game doesn’t mean he doesn’t get better, this year BOSH will average 20 and 10, so stop hatting. dummy

      • GoHeat2012 says:

        I totally agree. I have been saying this since day 1: Bosh is a LIABILITY for the Miami Heat and the sooner they get rid of him the better they will become. Use all that money he is making to a descent center!

        I also agree with comments on this chat that Norris Cole should be the main point guard and let Mario come off the bench. Heat should do with Cole when Boston did with Rondo (let him be the may guard from day one and let him grow in that role and the starts (LBJ and Wade, not bosh) develop their game w/ him.

        Let’s start a protest/petition to get rid of Bosh…keep on eye on his plays/lack of plays tonight.

        Pat Riley are you listening? Don’t let Bosh cost you a championship this year!!!

    • HeatvsOKCfinals says:

      well, this year it’s serious. Celts are still gonna get Atlantic Division, but the MIAMI HEAT will win today.

    • luthier says:

      No one said the Celtics were too old in 08… or rebuilding. Their big three had just gotten together to play the 07-08 season. They won that year. In 09 Kevin Garnet was injured, otherwise they should have gone to the finals. In 2010 they had everybody healthy and lost to the Lakers in game 7 of a hard fought series. In 2011 they were too old to compete with an athletic, skilled, Miami Heat team with that had players in their prime. In 2012 the C’s will realize that 2011 was no fluke, and that they should start rebuilding.

    • GREENTEAM! says:

      ITs gonna be tough for us to beat the heat thats the real side to this its the truth, but i think KG vs Chris bosh i pick KG, and rondo can outrun chalmers all night if he plays like sunday, plus his drive ins could get wade and james in foul trouble pretty quickly if their hanging around the rim. Alas it’ll depend the mindset BOston comes with, boston is still a contender but tonight were missing Pierce which is one of the better defenders on james in our team and Pavlovic is not the answer. Im just gonna be a faithful celtic and cheer my team on

  23. JMANTOPS says:

    THE HEAT ARE ATLETIC, CELTS ARE OLD. BOTH TEAM HAVE VETARANS AND ONE TEAM HAS MORE THEN 1 STAR. BOTH TEAM HAS CHEMISTRY BUT ONE EXECUTES WITH A HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE. THERE ONLY HOPE IS AT 1 SPOT BUT WITH ONLY HIM SHOWING UP AND EVERYONE ON THE CELTS WITH JUST AVERAGE PERFORMANCE YOUR LOOKIN AT A 10 POINT+ WIN FOR THE HEAT. WHEN YOU PLAY AGAINST THIS TEAM YOU MUST PLAY AT YOUR BEST.!!!

  24. jomai says:

    celtics are old… even if lebron chokes, wade will do the job

  25. Celtics2012champs! says:

    The celtics will win it all!!!!!! All you bandwagons think that just cuz were old we won’t win it all! I don’t care what you say, cuz the celtics will win today and all you bandwagons will start to become celtic fans when the celtics win it all this year!

  26. BelizeBoy says:

    I’m a big Heat fan, but aren’t we forgetting about one thing? Rajon Rondo! He was killing NY by himself and that game only went to NY after the refs brought them back in it. Boston will have it’s hands full with Wade and James but none of Miami guards can stop Rondo. I see a game happening that is too close to call tonight.

    • HeatvsOKCfinals says:

      I think I’d like to see Norris Cole playing against Rondo, I really like this kid’s game. Screw Mario Chalmers! I’m sure Cole will have the starting spot by the end of this 66 game season.

  27. mattman says:

    boston is returning with their same core and the same head coach which has given lebron fits in the past..with this in mind, I think that the Boston will still be a tough place for Lebron to play, but then again I think that Lebron is hungry to prove himself this year and separate himself from the “4th quarter” jokes..with that being said, the Heat should be able to beat Boston in a 7 game series but time will tell

    mindofmattman.blogspot.com

  28. Kirkhart23 says:

    bigglynch god you are mistaken the celts are done back to rebuilding around rondo the big 3 is old and ineffective now.

  29. bigglynch says:

    Banner 18 bostonnnnn! Fu kk LBJ

    • manny says:

      the old celtics they are very talented but its very likely that two of the big four will miss the playoff and to match heat effort they will have to be on steroids lol… They will have to play soft to preserve garnet knee, rajon shoulders and paul pierce ankles and they will be luck if they can get past firstround.

    • AgentZero says:

      Banner 18 ain’t a dream…….. it’s what Boston is destined for this season

  30. Gray says:

    Boston Front-court? against a better post gamer Lebron?? lets see Boston will they React or will they squirm??

  31. shakenbake says:

    can the front court of the boston handle lebron? not in their lifetime..