The Boston Celtics enter this season as the favorites to win the Atlantic Division again. This would be their sixth consecutive title.
Most of the core cast of characters are back for another deep playoff run but there are some new faces in key places as well. That will make this year's journey all the more interesting.
Division titles are just the bare minimum for the Celtics. Much more is always expected of them. Here's a look at five players whose expectations will be the highest.
Fab Melo's career ended abruptly at Syracuse when he was ruled ineligible. Hopefully his time in Boston is much longer and smoother.
At 7'0" and 255 pounds Melo brings youth and legitimate size to the center position for Boston. If he shows up and brings defense and rebounding it will allow Kevin Garnett to stay at the 4 and make matching up with fellow Atlantic Division bigs Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez easier.
It's probably safe to say that no one will put more pressure on Jeff Green in 2012-13 than Jeff Green himself. He's back, has a clean bill of health and is ready to contribute this season.
He was sidelined all of last year after an aortic aneurysm was detected in his heart. Fortunately, it was detected before the start of the rigorous 66-game grind. It put things in perspective for Green.
It's hard not to wonder what might have been. Boston gave the Miami Heat all they wanted in last season's Eastern Conference Finals. The added dimension of Green's game may have put them over the top in that series.
He's expecting big things out of himself this season.
Said I'm about to blow up, this is a tweet for my hatterrzzzz— Jeff Green (@unclejeffgreen) September 13, 2012
The Celtics actually got younger at the guard position with the addition of Jason Terry. J.E.T. came over from Dallas to help fill the void caused by Ray Allen's signing with the Miami Heat.
The season opener between these two teams can't come soon enough.
Terry's sixth man prowess is well documented. He's a career 16.1 points per game scorer. He'll be expected to step in and hit the ground running in Boston.
As we saw last month, he's all in.
Go GREEN mob.li/_nI26Q
— Jason Terry (@jasonterry31) August 11, 2012
Kevin Garnett's intensity, desire and competitiveness will never ever be questioned. After battling a knee injury in 2009 his scoring averages of 15.0 and 14.9 were down by his standards and questions started to be asked.
Had he lost a step? Is age catching up with him?
KG bounced back strong last season particularly in the playoffs where he went for 19.2 points and 10.3 boards per game. If he picks up right where he left off everything will be fine. As the video shows, once you get past the "good job good effort" kid, KG's fire has never diminished.
Rajon Rondo is an elite point guard. Yet he is still enigmatic.
His game is filled with moments that are beyond dazzling. At times there's still occasional inconsistent periods when his staples, assists and defense, are down.
His unforgettable 44-point outburst against the Heat in Game 2 last postseason shows that he can fill it up and that some increased scoring may become more common in the future.
At 26, Rondo is still young, but he's transitioning into elder statesman territory. He's already been in Boston for six seasons. The way he runs things and handles himself and the new changes this season will be paramount to the Celtics' success.