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The Boston Celtics tip off the regular season Tuesday night in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. The Cavs have a major addition this year — Shaquille O'Neal — and the Celtics will be down a key player — forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis could miss a month or two after breaking his thumb reportedly in a fight with a former college teammate.
Davis' injury is "not a great loss, but it's a loss," said Peter May, a former Boston Globe and Hartford Courant and sports reporter, who now covers basketball for Yahoo Sports HoopsHype.com.
"I think he definitely was going to be part of the rotation and he had really blossomed last year, especially after Kevin Garnett got hurt," May said.
But the absence of Davis will be cushioned, May thinks, by Rasheed Wallace — "if he can stay on the floor."
What's most critical, May said, is keeping healthy Kevin Garnett, who played in every pre-season game, coming off surgery in May. "He's their best player...he makes them go," May said. "He makes them play defense. So if he's not on the court — if he's hurt like he was last year — than they're not going to do anything, go deep into the playoffs."
Luckily, "he's looked great so far," May said. "He's ready to go and when he's ready to go there's nobody more manic than he is."
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are also looking good, May said, and all three are going to come into the season with determination after feeling robbed last year. "They had a punter's chance, basically, without Garnett," May said. "So they have it on their minds that they're going to get back to where they feel they should be this year."
Tuesday night's game against the Cavaliers is likely to be only the beginning of a season-long rivalry for supremacy in the Eastern Conference, but May is betting on the Celtics to come out on top in the end.
"I like the Celtics to come out of the East, if they stay healthy," May said. "If nobody else gets in any bar fights, they'll be fine."
Click the "Listen Now" button above to hear Oakes' full conversation with Peter May.
This program aired on October 27, 2009.
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