Opponent Recon: Celtics rebuilding efforts off to a flat start

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics may be the only team in the league to have a height advantage on the Pistons in their starting lineup. They don't, however, have a talent advantage.

Projected starters: Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Vitor Faverani

With the strong start of Michael Carter-Williams (told ya) and his Philadelphia 76ers, early front-runner status for the worst team in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs. Boston may be contenders. They've dropped their first two games of the season against the uninspiring Raptors and Bucks. They don't look to be a good offensive team, a good defensive team, they're the slowest team in the league. Over at SB Nation's CelticsBlog, they sound like they're getting nervous.

Long-term, the Celtics should be determining what they want to do with Rajon Rondo, both for his future with the team and his return this season. Short-term, the Pistons should just avoid a brainfart against a crummy team.

Rising: Vitor Faverani. The Brazilian rookie is off to a scorching start, filling the role of a rebounding, shot-blocking big man. If you'd heard of him, you'd have an advantage on me. The 6'11, 260 pound center has filled a vital role for the Celtics as most of their frontcourt options are on the soft side, offering a jump-shooting or combo forward alternative. Over at CelticsBlog, they're getting a bit carried away by suggesting him as an early Rookie of the Year candidate. That's a bit optimistic. But he certainly looks like a nice find by the Celtics front office.

Not so much: Backcourt depth. The starting unit isn't good. Avery Bradley is decent defensively but offers very little on the offensive end and Jeff Green is way out of position. But the the depth is really bad. Undrafted rookie Phil Pressey is the option at backup point guard, but has been unplayable - which means bench shooting guards Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford have spent time at point despite their 9 percent and 21 percent assist percentage respectively. Yikes.

What you might not know: The Celtics may not be able to do much right now, but they can crash the offensive glass. Through two games they have accumulated 25, led by Faverani's 7 offensive boards. Oddly, they've not had the same success on the defensive end, currently in dead last in their defensive rebounding percentage. This may indicate a focus by new head coach Brad Stevens to crash the offensive glass. Previous Celtics coach Doc Rivers was a major skeptic of the value of offensive rebounding due to the vulnerability of transition opportunities. Grantland offered some interesting thoughts on the subject that are worth revisiting.

Don't let them beat you: The refs. The Celtics haven't been good at much this season, but they have been able to get to the line. Particularly the big men - of the team's 67 free throw attempts, 62 have been from the big men. If the Celtics are able to make an impact on the offensive boards, Pistons' big men will need to keep their feet.

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