With New-Look, Star-Studded Cast, Chemistry Is Key to Upcoming Celtics Season


With New-Look, Star-Studded Cast, Chemistry Is Key to Upcoming Celtics Season The Truth, Jesus Shuttlesworth, Shaqtus and the Big Ticket, among others, make up quite the star-studded cast.

But there is also this to consider: Not since 2007 have the Celtics seen such a shake-up of their roster.

They'll be without starting center Kendrick Perkins for at least the first half of the 2010-11 season, replacing him with Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal — two newbies to the Boston way.

Danny Ainge let defensive stopper Tony Allen depart but added swingman Von Wafer in his stead, and signed two rookies, shooting guard Avery Bradley and forward Luke Harangody, to spots on a 14-man roster (of guaranteed contracts) heading into camp.

Ainge also landed Semih Erden from Turkey and declined to re-sign Brian Scalabrine. Blockbuster moves there.

Many of the new faces in that mix bring big — or even problematic — personalities with them.

Jermaine O'Neal has been generally indifferent toward winning throughout his career. In Miami's 2010 postseason series against the Celtics, O'Neal loafed up and down the court, and went a putrid 9-of-44 from the field.

Love him or hate him, another expected bench spark, Nate Robinson, had a big mouth in New York.

And Shaq is, well, Shaq.

Paul Pierce, for his part, thinks pooling that group together shouldn't be a problem.

"You are adding veterans who aren’t going to have an ego either and are playing for the same things we are playing for," the captain told The Boston Globe at his basketball camp in Boston. "These guys had their success in the league and continue to have it, but they aren’t stat-conscious. That’s the whole key with us. It’s all about the sacrifice."

But Boston's chemistry was no doubt inconsistent last season, as injuries mounted along with losses. From Christmas Day to Feb. 27, the Green lost 16 of 29 games. They quickly dropped out of contention for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the East, as trade rumors swirled around Rajon Rondo and the phrase "too old" became an everyday part of Boston's sports talk radio's lingo.

"It’s not like we gave away games," Pierce recently said of that midseason meltdown. "We got hurt with injuries and chemistry."

Eventually, the pieces realigned. It was a reversal of that chemistry, in fact, that turned around Boston's fortunes in the postseason. Kevin Garnett's knee seemed to be on the mend, Pierce got his bounce back and the bench began to rally around the unlikely heroes of Robinson and Glen "Big Baby" Davis.

Now, that pot has again been stirred.

Six of the Celtics' 14 guys have never played a game in Celtic Green. Davis will be the most tenured member of the bench and injuries will inevitably disrupt the flow yet again.

Despite all the big names and legendary talent, this season for the Celtics — perhaps more than any other under the auspices of the Big Three — will come down to the one thing the club has made a point of emphasizing: chemistry.

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