Tony Allen (above) is as strong a defender as James Posey, but he's not as sharp a shooter, preferring to slash to the basket.
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The Celtics were second in the league in scoring defense last season (90.3 points per game), but no team was stingier down low. Boston held opponents to an average of just 34.0 points in the paint.
Record: 66-16 (1st in East) Points scored: 100.5 (11th in NBA) Points allowed: 90.3 (2nd)
The Big Three is back, but a playoff hero isn't. Who will fill his role for the reigning champs?
When a defending champion opens training camp with three healthyAll-Stars, a deep bench and a point guard on the cusp of stardom in Rajon Rondo,how concerned should it be about losing a 31-year-old backup forward? Well, ifthe team is the Celtics and the forward is James Posey, who played a pivotalrole in Boston's title run last season before signing with the Hornets as a freeagent, the answer is very. "Look, we can't replace Posey," says coach DocRivers, "so we're not going to break our heads trying."
The first player who will get a shot at Posey's minutes is fifth-year guardTony Allen. While the 6-foot-4 Allen is not much of a perimeter threat (he hitjust 31.6 percent of his threes last season), he is a rugged defender who can guardboth wing positions. "It's going to be on him to prove himself," says Rivers."Mentally, I think he's in a great place. He has worked hard."
If Allen can't fill the void, then one of two rookie swingmen, J.R. Giddensof New Mexico or Bill Walker of Kansas State, will have to earn his wayinto the rotation. What Rivers won't be tempted to do is increase the playingtime of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen to compensate. Garnett played32.8 minutes per game last season (the fewest since 1995-96, his rookieyear), and Rivers says he would actually like to reduce Pierce's andAllen's minutes by "a couple per game. We need those guys to be fresh. It took aphenomenal effort to win the championship last season. It will take an evenbigger effort if we want to do it again." -- Chris Mannix
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