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Open Shots (1/28): On DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, Miami Getting Big, Paul George Superstar, and more

via flickr | Fizzcity Gallery

[caption id="attachment_3524" align="aligncenter" width="721"] via flickr | Fizzcity Gallery[/caption]

The Corner Three

Toronto  DeRozan/Ross

Two games before Terrence Ross set twitter ablaze

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Pierce and Garnett Return to Boston: Thoughts on the NBA for 1/27/14

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made their return to Boston last night, and it was magical. Not because of the actual game, of course, that was actually embarrassingly bad. Rather, it was the first time

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Boston Celtics Season Preview: The Rebuilding Process

Can the Celtics count on Rajon Rondo as their point guard for years to come? Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Boston Celtics were defined by their maturity and hard-nosed defense. Entering the 2013 – ’14 season, the Celtics will have a new identity – one that has yet to be defined. With the season less than one month away, let’s delve into Boston’s roster overhaul and predict how their season will end up.

Key Offseason Moves:

On draft night in late June, the Celtics sent future hall-of-famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets along with three-point threat Jason Terry for Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three-first round picks.

After Doc Rivers left the Celtics organization to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston signed Brad Stevens, former head coach of Butler University to a six-year, $22 million contract.

Questions Heading Into The Season: 

Is Brad Stevens a good fit as an NBA head coach? Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Can Brad Stevens succeed at the NBA-level?

Brad Stevens has already proved himself as a very successful college coach. He went 166-49 (a winning percentage of .772) at the helm of the Butler Bulldogs and steered the program to two straight NCAA title games. It was Butler’s first two NCAA Final Four appearances in their history. The question now, however, is whether he will be able to successfully transition from college to the NBA. From Rick Pitino to John Calipari to Leonard Hamilton, many college coaches who tested the NBA waters have failed. Yet, there are a select few who have flourished at both levels, such as Chuck Daly and Bill Fitch. While it will not be easy at first with the roster given to him, Stevens can certainly bring Boston back to relevance in the near future.

Can Rajon Rondo lead the Celtics?

Rajon Rondo, who suffered a torn ACL last season will most likely be out until December while recovering. Once he is back in the lineup, though, it will be very interesting to see how he plays with his new-look team. Before going down with his injury, the 27-year-old was averaging 13.7 PPG while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and dishing out 11.1 APG. With young pieces around the point guard such as Avery Bradley, Jeff GreenJared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics certainly have a bright future – just not a bright season ahead.

Season Prediction: 31-51, 11th in the Eastern Conference

While many are expecting the Celtics to hardly be able to compete this season, I predict more wins than most do for the team that has made the postseason six consecutive seasons. They will be unable to contend with upper echelon teams of the conference, but can surely place ahead of teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Bobcats.

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Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: A New Look

The Nets made a lot of noise this offseason, trading for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp is soon to begin, the start of the 2013 – ’14 NBA season will be underway shortly. There are a lot of new faces on new teams this year, and the Brooklyn Nets are no exception to those new faces. Let’s take a look at their offseason moves and how their season will play out.

Key Player Changes:

While the Nets lost quite a few talented players who played significant roles on last year’s playoff team, Brooklyn certainly got a lot better. On draft night in late June, the Nets made one of the biggest moves of the offseason. They traded away Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three first-round picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, to go along with sharpshooter Jason Terry. They also picked up Andrei Kirilenko, who will play a decisive reserve role throughout the season.

Questions For The Season:

Can the veterans such as Pierce and KG stay healthy? Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 35 are two of the most important pieces in making this season successful for their new team, but getting through all 82 games could be an issue. Rookie head coach Jason Kidd realizes this, and has already stated that Garnett will “probably” not play in back-to-back games. Not only can this help prevent injuries, but it will keep him fresh as well come playoff time.

Brooklyn needs Deron Williams to lead them. Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Can Deron Williams be the star the Nets need him to be? Williams is coming off a great season, averaging 18.9 PPG, 7.7 APG while shooting over 45% from the field. While he has more talent around him than he has ever had before, the offense will still run through the 29-year-old point guard. Brooklyn is not getting any younger, and if they want to win, now is the time. Winning, however, begins with D-Will.

Can Jason Kidd Coach? With a proven, star-studded roster already intact, it will be interesting to see how Kidd, who competed against the Nets as a point guard just one season ago, will coach his new team. It will help having Lawrence Frank, who has served as head coach of the New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons as well as an assistant under Doc Rivers in Boston, right by his side throughout the season.

Season Prediction: 55-27, two seed in the Eastern Conference.

I do not foresee the Nets challenging the Mighty Miami Heat for the one seed in the conference, but Brooklyn is certainly capable of claiming the two seed. The competition, however, will be tough. Derrick Rose will be back on the court with the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers will only continue to get better and the New York Knicks will also be in contention.