Then this year happened. Ray Allen left to join the Heat, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL and the Celtics had their worst postseason finish since 2007.
If the Celtics want any hope of attaining their former glory, they'll have to both stay healthy and say "goodbye" to certain players on last year's roster. While there are guys on the team that define the franchise, there are others that do nothing more than diminish it.
These are those guys.
While I'll concede that acquiring Jordan Crawford was a smart gamble for the Celtics, holding onto him next year isn't. Crawford's play against the Knicks in the first round was less than stellar.
Doc Rivers only had him on the court for less than 12 minutes per game, which he spent shooting 30.4 percent from the field. He finished with 18 total points in the playoffs.
Moving forward, Boston will need guys coming off the bench that can come into the game and either provide quick baskets or defensive stops.
Crawford couldn't seem to do either of those things in a Celtics uniform. If he wasn't good enough for the Wizards, what makes him good enough for us?
Courtney Lee's playoff minutes were close to nonexistent this past April. He put up six points in the series, four of which came from the line.
He'll be 28 before next season kicks off and still has three years left on his contract. While his numbers made him look like a steal heading into the 2012-13 season, his production contradicted his potential. He had the worst season of his career while with the Celtics, averaging just 7.8 points per game.
Boston would be wise to get rid of him before he gets any older.
I like his tattoo. I like the fact that he's a champion. I like his attitude. I hate his numbers as a Celtic.
Whether Jason Terry wanted it or not, he was the guy that was supposed to replace Ray Allen.
Terry's numbers dropped dramatically when he came to Boston. In the 2011-12 season, he averaged 15.1 PPG with the Dallas Mavericks. Last season: 10.1 PPG.
The former Sixth Man of the Year proved to be anything but while in Boston. His slight improvement in the playoffs (12.0 PPG) didn't make up for the fact that he wasn't the impact player that Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and the rest of his teammates thought he would be.
The best thing Terry has going for him right now is the fact that his trade value diminished greatly over the course of last season. It's hard to tell exactly what Boston could get in return for the 35-year-old, if anything.
The only thing for sure at this point is that if Boston can acquire a player that can drop more than 10 points in 26.9 minutes in return for Terry (and maybe Crawford or Lee), then it'll be a move that Ainge will have to make.
Take this slide with a grain of salt: I like Brandon Bass and what he brings to our defense, and if we're able to make a significant move without him, then I say hold on to the workhorse for the 2012-13 season.
Just don't start him.
With the likes of defensive anchors in the frontcourt—Kevin Garnett—and backcourt—Avery Bradley—Boston could use a starting post-man with the ability to do it on both ends of the floor. Bass averaged 6.7 PPG in the playoffs in 34 minutes per game.
To put that into perspective, Kendrick Perkins totaled 6.6 points in 25 minutes per game when the Celtics won the title in 2008. Perkins also shot 60 percent in the playoffs that year to Bass' 48.3 percent.
Bass didn't have a lot of help down low, sure, and the return of Jared Sullinger will change that next year. Nevertheless, he didn't prove himself on offense and was boxed out consistently by the likes of Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler in the first round. If the Celtics can move Bass and acquire a scoring center, then they'd be a lot better off heading into next year.
Terrence Williams wasn't awful in the regular season, given his role: he shot 49.5 percent from the field, scoring 4.6 PPG in 13.3 minutes per game.
Of course, "not awful" regular season performances don't always convert to production in the postseason.
In 9.6 minutes per game against the Knicks, Williams averaged 1.0 point per game on 20 percent shooting.
While his trade value is less than any of the other players on this list, if the Celtics can trade Williams (and others) for a shooting guard that can actually shoot, they'll be that much closer to contending for an 18th banner next year.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com.