The night of Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals was one in which few Boston Celtics fans could sleep easy on. LeBron James, who wasn't supposed to have a fourth quarter, scored the game's final 10 points for the Miami Heat in a 16-0 run to end the game, knocking Boston out of the playoffs, something he had never done before.
For Celtic nation, it was a humiliating loss that led to thoughts of the team being too old and needing to rebuild. Doc Rivers assured the team he would be back to coach the following season, meaning he believes this group still has a shot.
The past year has been a roller coaster for the 2008 NBA champions, as Kendrick Perkins was traded in February, and the rumors of Chris Paul and other big names floating around have left players like Rajon Rondo unsure of their future. General manager Danny Ainge assured Rondo he was not going to get traded, but after Perkins' fallout, nothing is guaranteed.
Now practically out of the Dwight Howard and Paul sweepstakes, Boston must go into this 66-game season with a similar group as last season, with age really creeping up on them. The Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are all at least 34 years in age, and injuries remain a concern.
Rivers is optimistic his group will remain in elite company in the East with a chance of capturing banner No. 18. Personally, I wouldn't be too optimistic.