With the King basking in the glow of his ring in Miami, Dwight and Steve joining up with Kobe in Tinseltown and subsequently getting head coach Mike Brown fired, the Celtics have been somewhat of an afterthought this fall.
They've already been penciled in as the crotchety old men who will win 55 games and lose to LeBron and their new nemesis/former teammate Ray Allen in late May.
Not so fast.
No matter how much they bark, it's tough to see Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo beating out the younger, more skilled Miami trio that's knocked them out of the past two playoffs. Where the C's have an advantage is a level of depth unmatched across the league.
Their bench has played in a combined 31 playoff series. They added two former Sixth Man of the Years in Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa to spell Rondo in the backcourt. When Avery Bradley returns from his shoulder injury, Doc Rivers will have one of the best young perimeter defenders in the league to use as a pest for his opponent's star player. The depth continues in Boston's frontcourt, where rangy forwards Jeff Green and Brandon Bass provide rebounding and defense and big men Chris Wilcox and Darko Millicic (don't laugh) bring grit.
Terry, no stranger to stacked teams, says that this roster is the deepest he's been a part of. I caught up with him in Washington last weekend and he had some interesting thoughts about what this Boston team could accomplish. "We have a lot of new parts right now, everybody's just feeling each other out so you never know with these things how long it will take."
Still, Terry was unequivocal in his belief that this Celtics unit has what it takes to win a championship. "I'm not sure when we'll completely click, but when it does it will be magical."
The Celtics have struggled out of the gate so far. They've been blown out in Miami and Milwaukee and their two wins have come in close games against a John Wall-less Washington unit.
Comparatively around the league, they're in decent shape. Two of their biggest Eastern Conference rivals Chicago and Indiana, will be missing their best players for the foreseeable future. The Lakers are coach-less and seem to be on the edge of full-scale mutiny.
What the players in the Boston locker room believe will set them apart from the heavyweight champ in Miami is a second unit that could compete with some starting fives around the league. The leader of this group, Terry, believes that this will be what makes the difference in the long run. "You can't win in this league without depth. Everybody has it to some extent. We just happen to have a little bit more than everybody else."