BOSTON (CBS) — Another season of Boston Celtics basketball is almost upon us, though the expectations surrounding the team remain extremely low.
After an offseason that generated little excitement, the Celtics are once again expected to finish in the bottom of the NBA barrel. 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Celtics analyst Cedric Maxwell joined WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night to preview the upcoming season, and said while this year’s team may be more talented than the 2013-14 squad that won just 25 games, tougher competition around the NBA could lead to a worse overall record.READ MORE: New Memorial In Worcester Honors Firefighters Killed In Line Of Duty
“They’re going to be challenged. I think they could actually be a better team this year but not have a good record because of the competition,” said Max, noting a tough first month on the schedule. “This first month is going to be a killer for them. They have games against San Antonio, in Dallas, in Houston — a lot of good teams stacked in there in that first month. It’s going to tell a lot about what this team is going to do in the first month of basketball. If they get behind, it’s going to be hard to catch up.”
If there is one thing that we know from the preseason, it’s that this year’s Celtics are going to take a lot of shots from downtown. That’s a strategy that Max isn’t a very big fan of.
“I like high percentage shots. Sometimes when you shoot a three, that’s fool’s gold,” he said. “This team is going to shoot threes because they don’t have many bigs.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge actually had a talk with Maxwell at the team’s kickoff gala last week to discuss their expected increase in three point shots.
“He wants everyone to understand that the Celtics are going to shoot a lot of threes this year when they have the opportunity. They’re going to be inside-out because they don’t have the bigs,” said Max.
Max On Upcoming Season, 3-Point Shots:
One player Max doesn’t want to see take many shots from downtown is Jared Sullinger. The C’s big man attempted nearly three shots from long-range last season, hitting just 27 percent from downtown. Max would much rather see Sully attack the hoop and get to the free thrown line, and issued him a challenge heading into the new year.
“What I challenged Sully to is that I want to see him shoot more free throws than threes,” said Max.READ MORE: 2 Extricated From Car After Crash In Medford
Sullinger shot 203 free throws last season to 208 three-point attempts.
And of course, you can’t talk Celtics without touching on their one marquee player: Rajon Rondo. It’s still unclear if the All Star point guard will play in Boston’s opener on Wednesday night against Brooklyn, but Max is expecting big things from the soon-to-be free agent.
“I expect a (high) caliber season and that he’s going to play well. He wants to cash in; the cap is going up and there’s more money to be made,” said Max. “I think Rondo will play well. There is a glut of players at that position, including Marcus Smart, so I don’t know how you get the minutes for everybody and keep everybody happy.”
Max isn’t sure if Rondo makes it through the full season with Boston, but he knows Ainge will do anything it takes to improve his basketball team.
“My belief is that if anything can make this team better, Danny Ainge will make that move. That includes trading Rondo, Jeff Green, or whoever that might be,” he said. “I think all things are on the table right now when it comes to Rondo. The fact he’s going to be at the end of his run, you have to make sure you get something for him. You don’t want him to walk away with nothing to show for it.”
Max also shares his thoughts on rookie Marcus Smart and the evolution of head coach Brad Stevens! Tune in to Sports Final every Sunday night at 11:35pm on WBZ-TV!MORE NEWS: 'Loss Of A Beautiful Boy': Candlelight Vigil Held In Memory Of 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis
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