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Donnelly's Dossier: How good can the Celtics be?

After last season ended, the Celtics were said to be one of the teams who would make big moves. Well, they didn’t. Instead Danny Ainge picked up 32-year-old David Lee, bench player Amir Johnson, and drafted Terry Rozier, RJ Hunter, Jordan Mickey and Marcus Thornton. Free Agents like Marc Gasol and Demarre Carroll went to other teams and the Celtics were left with what boils down to basically the same team as last season. Although they made the playoffs last year, this team is clearly not the most loaded roster in the NBA. So the question still remains, who are these Celtics?
Newcomer with the most to prove: Amir Johnson
Here is a guy who has been a bench player his entire career. Through the Celtics’ preseason games, he has broken into the starting lineup and played well averaging 12 points and five rebounds. Head coach Brad Stevens says that Johnson is underrated and can spread the floor with his shooting ability. Johnson can also help the Celtics on defense with hustle plays and can help protect the rim with his 7-foot-4-inch wingspan. This is a fresh start and he will have a good chance to prove his worth.
Rookie who could contribute right away: Terry Rozier
Rozier has played extremely well this postseason after sitting out early with swelling in his knee. In his last game against the Nets, Rozier scored 16 points including 3-3 from beyond the arc. He also contributed six assists while turning the ball over just once. Although the Celtics have Thomas and Smart, I think Rozier could work in well if they want to work Thomas off the ball. Rozier has received comparisons to All-Star point guard Damien Lillard because of his quickness and shooting ability. I’m not saying he will be that good, but Rozier is good enough to play and compete at a high level.
Biggest Improvement: Marcus Smart
Smart was arguably the most dominant performer during the Celtics Summer League games. This preseason has been somewhat subpar. I still believe that Smart is ready to take over the point guard position to start the game, while running the two guard position when Thomas is on the floor. Will he be an All-Star? No, but I think he will be a very solid player and improve upon a solid rookie campaign. The Celtics will need him to score the ball more if they are going to contend in the East and I think he will.
Starting Lineup:
PG: Marcus Smart 
SG: Avery Bradley
SG: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: David Lee
People are probably wondering why Isaiah Thomas isn’t starting. To be honest, Thomas is better as a sixth man. I do believe he will probably play the most minutes on the floor. Look for him to run the point most of the game with either Bradley or Smart at the two guard.
Best case scenario:
Thomas picks up where he left off and makes the All-Star game. Smart improves his play and the battle inside between Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynk, Johnson and Lee turns out to be healthy competition and they all contribute. Jae Crowder proves he is worth the money as the team’s toughest player. If all of this happens, the Celtics could grab a three or four seed in the East and have home court advantage through the first round.
Thomas comes back down to earth and has trouble scoring at the rate he did last season. Injury prone David Lee goes down and Amir Johnson doesn’t play as well as he is expected to. The Celtics can’t score and don’t compete against the powers of the East. If they can’t muster a winning record by the All-Star break, look for a major trade having to do with Smart and Sullinger.
47-35; sixth in the East Conference
I think the addition of Lee and Johnson will pay dividends on the offensive side of the ball, especially with the passing ability of Lee. The Celtics will still be tough on defense but score more points night in and night out. I don’t believe they make the Eastern Conference Finals, but I could see them stealing a first round series.

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