. . . half-formed thoughts on your defending NBA champion Celtics. We're going to assume you understand the significance of the number:
1. He's played a full season plus a game as a member of the green, he's won a championship here, set the tone of intensity for the franchise, and become a beloved and admired present-day icon of Boston sports, just a step on the pedestal below David Ortiz and Tom Brady . . . and yet I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Kevin Garnett is a member of the Boston Celtics. Which reminds me: Did Kevin McHale show up to pick up his ring and raise the banner last night?
2. When words like "vindication" and "redemption" are tossed around regarding the events of last season, the topic is usually Paul Pierce, and deservedly so -- he not only has tenure, but his dues were paid in full long ago. (Remind yourself of this: Until last year, the best player he ever called a teammate was Antoine Walker.) But I also think it's been somewhat overlooked how huge Ray Allen was in the Finals -- remember, he drained 7 of 9 three-pointers in the clincher -- and how much he overcame and how mentally tough he proved to be given his earlier struggles in the playoffs. Don't forget to praise him, too.
3. Glad I got to see the Moment of Truth, so to speak, as the tears and the genuine emotion flowed from Pierce when he received the championship ring that was such a long time coming. Also glad I missed his ode-to-me acceptance speech, during which Pierce apparently sounded like he considers basketball an individual sport.
4. It'll be interesting to see if the Celtics play with the same defensive intensity night in and night out as they did a season ago, especially since they'll be wearing an bull's-eye from Game 1 to Game 82. Garnett, of course, will be the same lunatic as ever on the defensive end, and Rondo is officially a lock-down defender at the point. But the commitment to defense from Ray Allen and Pierce -- two veteran stars not exactly considered Michael Cooper disciples in the past -- was remarkable a season ago, and it is fair to wonder if they will keep it up again this year on that end of the court. I suppose that's why they pay Tom Thibodeau the big bucks.
5. I realize Tony Allen will be the recipient-by-default of many of James Posey's minutes and responsibilities, but it's foolish to think he can provide the Celtics with anything resembling the contributions of the last season's sixth-man extraordinaire. Let's put it this way: When Posey had the ball late in a game, you expected he'd do the right thing, and he rarely let you down. When Allen has the ball, you expect a wild drive to the basket, a dribble off his foot, or a chest pass to the leprechaun.
6. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that by season's end -- and probably sooner -- ferocious Bill Walker will be called upon to do more Posey Things than will Allen, who ideally would settle into sort of an instant-offense, just-play-don't-think role off the bench.
7. Have I mentioned that I miss Posey? I have? Yeah, I guess you're right. If I keep this up, the courts won't allow me within 200 yards of him. (But I can still send him letters, right? Anyone have his e-mail address? Is he on Facebook, maybe?)
8. How encouraging is it that Rajon Rondo looks like he spent the offseason gnawing on barbells? If he put up Jason Kidd-in-his-early-prime numbers this season, would anyone be completely shocked?
9. Too bad Rondo didn't haul Big Baby with him to the gym a couple of times a per week. He looks like he spent the summer interning at Little Debbie, though he does look slimmer than he did at the start of camp.
10. I'm convinced Leon Powe is going to be an efficient and consistent weapon on a nightly basis now that he's improved his defense and Doc Rivers has figured out how to best utilize him.
11. Ainge obviously made the right career choice and all, but still, I can't help but think that had his doors slid a different way and he'd ignored Red Auerbach's overtures and remained in baseball all those years ago, right now he'd be doing a damn fine job as the Toronto Blue Jays' GM. I do not, however, believe J.P. Ricciardi would be running the Celtics.
12. You lead a charmed life, Brian Scalabrine. A charmed freakin' life.
13. He's essentially a one-tool player -- shoot, shoot, and shoot it again -- but I couldn't be happier that Eddie House re-signed in the offseason. There's always room for an accurrate bomber on my team, and House's genial and confident personality is essential to the team's makeup.
14. Gotta suspect Patrick O'Bryant will flash just enough ability to drive us mad. If he didn't move better, I'd think he was Acie Earl in disguise.
15. I should be ashamed to admit this, but until I read Marc Spears's piece in the Globe this morning, P.J. Brown's absolutely crucial contributions during the postseason had mostly slipped from my mind. Kudos to Brown for going out as a champion. The Celtics wouldn't have won it without him, even though some of us sometimes need a nudge to remember that.
16. You often hear that Gabe Pruitt consistently holds his own in practice, but I can't recall ever see him play particularly well in a preseason game. And yes, I am running out of things to write about.
17. Predictions I'll Surely Regret Making: The Celtics will finish 63-19, first in the Eastern Conference. Ray Allen will miss a dozen or so games with various Aging Shooting Guard Maladies, Pierce and Garnett will show up to defend their heavyweight crown every night, the bench will be deeper than last year's but not quite as strong (Posey's gone . . .sob), and if they can manage to get past LeBron and the improved Cavs in the conference finals, they'll make all of the pundits who picked the Lakers to win the title last June eat their words again.
18. As for today's Completely Random Basketball Card:
Of course, we'll always have a fondness for No. 17.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.