NBA preview: Celtics with ear-muffs on when it comes to expectations
The Red Sox are in the middle of the World Series, the Patriots just moved to 6-2 on the year, and the Bruins are playing like early Stanley Cup contenders once again. Heck, the Revolution just made the playoffs, too.
And then there are the Celtics.
The hype surrounding the C’s for the last six seasons is no more, replaced by the visions of ping-pong balls dancing in some fans’ heads. Not all, of course. There are plenty of diehard C’s fans that will cheer the team on no matter what. But expectation-wise? You’d have to find a fan wearing some pretty thick green goggle lenses to hear the word “playoffs” when talking about this season.
With the preseason a thing of the past – the C’s finished 2-6, FYI – they kick off their 2013-14 regular season in Toronto Wednesday night (7 p.m., CSN). It’ll be the first time in a decade-and-a-half that Paul Pierce’s name won’t be called over the loudspeakers when the team is introduced. While that’s a big change for fans, players know that they’ve got to move on with the current roster and keep the right attitude.
“Only thing that’s different is personnel,” Courtney Lee said. “We have a couple guys that are not here that were here last year. But going in this year it’s the same mindset, to go in and try to win every game, one game at a time.”
At 0-0, that’s not a hard mindset to have. But assuming every other NBA team is also trying to win one game at a time, talent alone will probably prevail.
Are the Celtics ready?
“We ain’t got no choice,” Gerald Wallace said. “Ready or not, the season is here. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves individually, the team, regardless, we have [until Wednesday night] and then it’s tip-off.”
And opening night brings lots of questions. The starting lineup isn’t quite set in stone, as head coach Brad Stevens continues to tinker with a few things. And specific player roles aren’t established yet either – nor should they be with a roster like this.
“It’s going to be exciting to see how the season starts off,” said Wallace, who already called out teammates for lack of effort in the preseason. “See how guys are going to respond, especially if it’s your first game, a situation like that. To see Coach Stevens in his first real NBA game, and how he’ll react, and how he’ll respond. It’s going to be intriguing and interesting to watch.”
In a season where wins may be few and far between, basketball fans might have to settle for “interesting.” But don’t tell anybody on the team they can’t be more than just that this season.
“Just block out whatever anybody is saying about us or any expectations, and just fight for the man that’s in this room with you,” Lee said. “We’re not going to go in there and give up just because outside people that aren’t playing in the game are writing us off.”