After a turbulent Week 1, the Boston Celtics are still trying to find their new identity.
The Celtics added much-needed depth during the offseason, but the team still hasn't figured out how to play together effectively.
Just take a deep breath and assess what we've learned about the Celtics so far.
The Celtics lost a key member of their original Big Three and added much-needed depth during the offseason. However, Boston is still a "Big Three" team, with Rajon Rondo seamlessly filling in the hole Ray Allen left.
Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce make up the new Celtics' Big Three. While the new-look Celtics may suffer from growing pains, you can count on those three players to step up when necessary.
They each have their own prominent role on the team. Pierce is the captain and offensive leader, Rondo is the floor general, and Garnett is the intimidating presence on defense.
When Danny Ainge put together the 2012-13 Celtics, he built a team that would specifically make things easier for the Big Three. Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry are all capable of becoming offensive threats. Once they find their rhythm, they will take some of the pressure off the aging Pierce and Garnett. In addition, Rondo has more options to help him run the court.
The Celtics definitely have a more balanced team this year, but it will always start and end with Rondo, Pierce and Garnett.
Three. That's the number of games it took for Jared Sullinger to make his way to the starting lineup.
Sullinger's floor time was limited in the first two games, probably because the opponents favored small ball. However, the rookie finally got his chance to shine against the Washington Wizards. He posted four points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal over about 30 minutes.
This is a good sign for the Celtics. Sullinger was exactly what Doc Rivers needed him to be on Saturday. Not only did he rebound well, but he also played solid defense.
Rookie big men always seem to struggle in the beginning when transitioning to the NBA, and Sullinger is no different. He needs to maintain more energy and focus down the stretch, but that comes with experience.
On paper, the Celtics' second unit is stacked. The reloaded bench includes two former Sixth Men of the Year—Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa. In addition, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green are both offensive threats in their own rights. However, you wouldn't have known based on the team's play during the first week.
Doc Rivers' Celtics are a defense-first team. With the exception of Courtney Lee, none of the new players are known for their defense. It's going to take some time for them to get used to Boston's defensive fundamentals. The best solution is to watch film and study their roles on the team early.
Keep in mind that Green missed the entire 2011-12 season, so he is still getting used to playing again. Plus, Barbosa only joined the Celtics in mid-October, so he is still getting acclimated.
It's not time for Celtics fans to hit the panic button yet. The talent is there, but like many veteran teams with significant new additions, they just need time to gel.
Rajon Rondo is the focal point of the Celtics and will ultimately lead them to victory or failure. As the only true point guard on the team, Rondo's game determines how everyone else plays.
After a disappointing home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Rondo said he has to do better. He had 14 points, 11 assists and only two turnovers over about 40 minutes, but Brandon Jennings was the best PG on the floor that night. Jennings posted 21 points, 13 assists and six steals over 29 minutes.
Rondo is already averaging 41.7 minutes per game, nearly five minutes more than his regular-season average last year. Rondo likes playing a lot of minutes and Doc Rivers isn't concerned about him getting tired, but his minutes have to be lowered in order to maximize his efficiency.
The Celtics need to play at a high energy level, especially on defense. Because Rondo sets the pace for the rest of the team, he can't afford slowing down to pace himself for 40-minute games. When Rondo slows down, everyone slows down.
Rivers has to reel in Rondo's minutes, so the point guard can play at full pace and lead by example for the rest of the team.
The Boston Celtics hate the Miami Heat. In fact, Doc Rivers tried to instill that hate by bringing up the defending champs every day in training camp.
The increased tension between the two teams was very apparent on opening night. When Ray Allen checked into the game, he went to the Celtics bench to shake hands with the Boston staff, he was (hilariously) completely ignored by Kevin Garnett.
Then, there was Rajon Rondo's late-game flagrant foul in which he clotheslined Dwyane Wade. The two have been publicly jabbing at each other since, with Wade calling it a "punk play" and Rondo saying Wade sold the foul.
The Miami Heat are standing in the way of another Boston championship, not to mention the Ray Allen move. The two teams don't play again for another three months, but this is already the hottest rivalry in the NBA.
If you had any doubt before, it seems clear that rookie Fab Melo won't be seeing any floor time from Boston Celtics in 2012-13. He was placed on the inactive list for the first three games.
The Syracuse product, along with Kris Joseph, could be making the move to the NBA Developmental League very soon. Under the Maine Red Claws, Melo would have the opportunity to work on his skills to become an adequate NBA big man.
Melo is a project for general manager Danny Ainge. The potential is there, but he has plenty of room to develop. Right now, Melo is gaining valuable experience by just being around the veterans. In the D-League, he will actually get playing time to help him transition from college to the professional level.
Brandon Bass was not the starting power forward during Saturday's win against the Wizards, but that could end up working in his favor.
Doc Rivers experimented with a different starting lineup by choosing to start rookie Jared Sullinger over Bass, who's played decent so far this season. Sullinger's size gave him an edge over Bass against the Wizards, while Bass' athleticism kept him in the starting lineup against the Heat and Bucks.
However, Bass could thrive in a bench role on the offensive end. The Celtics already have three scorers in their starting five, so Bass usually defers to one of his teammates. If he comes off the bench, he could be a focal point for the offense and actually get a lot more open shots.
Bass came back in 2012-13 with a renewed firepower to attack the basket. If he gets a long-term role on the second unit, his skills and athleticism will allow him to score more easily than in the starting lineup, which will make him a powerful weapon for the C's.