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Larry Bird Isn't Walking Through the Door: Learning to Love THESE Celtics

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics prepares to play against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Ed KrupatContributor IIIDecember 20, 2016

It’s basketball time again, Celtics fans.

The leaves of autumn have fallen, and so have the Red Sox of summer. The sometimes mighty, sometimes mighty-frustrating Patriots are doing their thing in Foxborough.

The Bruins are literally and figuratively hibernating.

And then there are the Celtics, the new-old Celtics. You remember the Celtics, with future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce getting a bit long in the tooth, but who are still exciting and productive players.

Add Rajon Rondo, now in his seventh year, who has ascended into the vacated spot in "the Big Three." If you want a pass-first point guard, there’s hardly anyone his equal in the NBA (take that, Steve Nash).

Then there’s household names like Courtney Lee, Darko Milicic, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Sullinger, Jason Collins, Kris Joseph, Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo. These stalwart fellows are known as “depth,” which boils down to a nice mixture of “has been’s” or never was’s” or “will they ever be’s.”

So the Celtics are trying to keep with the old ways—Doc Rivers is a great coach who provides continuity and marvelous guidance—while infusing new talent into the system.

Brandon Bass, Jason Terry and Jeff Green round out the roster and actually have some game. They could make this version of the Celtics somewhere between competitive and very good.

So I watched last night’s game, or at least parts of it, and I learned a few things about the Celts:

- They are good enough to compete with the best teams like the Heat.

- They are not likely to beat the Heat when it comes to crunch time.

- They probably will learn to play better defense once everyone gets on the same page later in the season.

- And Paul Pierce better stay healthy!!

I also learned why it’s easy to love KG and why it’s easy to begin not loving Ray Allen.

Ray gets on the floor and starts hugging everyone in green in sight. If the Stanford mascot had been in town, my guess is that Ray would have given him (her? it?) a gigantic smack on the lips.

So why did Kevin let his body language say, “No thanks.”

I may not be a certified mind reader, but if I were, I bet this is what I would have heard him saying:

“Man, what are you doing? It’s not just that you left the team, but how and why you did it. It’s not as if you haven’t been saying annoying and insulting stuff in the media. It’s not as if you talked to me before or after you left to make things square."

“And now you walk on the court and pull this public relations stunt by hugging people. Are you kidding? This is a basketball game, Ray. This ain’t no love fest. I don’t kiss and hug in the middle of basketball games, and I certainly don’t do it with members of the other team."

“So, let’s forget about public shows of affection when there’s basketball to be played. Game on, man, and stay out of my way if I’m coming down the lane.”

Well, maybe there are a lot of new faces on the new-old Celtics. And maybe they’ll turn out to be winners. Well, maybe, maybe not.

But as long as they are the Celtics of KG, I still think I can get excited about these guys.

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