Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have had to alter their plans to see banner 18 during the Kevin Garnett era in Boston. Ainge had always vowed not to let emotion influence his basketball decisions, thus cutting ties with the team's former starting shooting guard. The Celtic community reacted like they were jilted lovers, but knew in the end it was best for the team.
The Celtics got more than their money's worth out of a team lead by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. Their best year together was obviously the first when they won the 2008 NBA Championship.
The 2009 season opener saw me at the TD Garden, sitting near the tunnel watching John Havlicek walk out and hand the trophy to an emotional Paul Pierce. Pierce had finally lived up to the standards of being a Celtic by delivering a championship. It was the best Celtic memory I ever had and would like to see that happen again this upcoming season.
My sentimentality aside, Doc Rivers also followed the blueprint when he made Avery Bradley a starter and unleashed Rondo on the court. The next step was to admit that they needed a complete bench to make their championship dreams come true.
This could be the best rotation of players that Rivers has ever had to grow as a team. It is also the most balanced and talented on paper. He also has a point guard that could boost their output even more.
Former Dallas Maverick, Jason Terry, was a big coup for the team during the free agency period and strengthens the bench. Leave it to Danny to hook-up with his old friend Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale in a trade that brought them Courtney Lee. This time Danny didn't have to gut the team like they did to get KG.
The return of a healthy Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox as well as re-signing Brandon Bass, gives the team the flexibility for different lineups. The rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo give them hope for the future.
All this talent calls for a more creative approach to match the unique talents of its mercurial point guard, Rajon Rondo. The days of having one player run around multiple screens need to be gone from a Celtic offense that had become predictable, clunky and malodorous.
This 2013 version has to be about speed and nothing but speed, led by KG's heart, Rondo's ability to bend his passes, and the old "54 Ford" truck approach of Captain Paul Pierce. The teams core players have championship experience and know how to conduct themselves in the playoffs.
For once, coach Rivers has viable offensive weapons off the bench so the starters can get more rest.Training camp and preseason should be Rivers' laboratory to explore those options.
The extended window is almost gone; the collective team has gotten younger, the bench has gotten better and has gained postseason experience. They are even spending training camp in Europe, another bonding that ushers in deja vu moments of a duck boat ride through Government Center.