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The 2013-14 Boston Celtics have been under a magnifying class since the All-Star break of 2012. It was that time of year again- the All-Star Break aka when people start shouting their opinions as loud as possible. Celtics fans topic-hopped from wondering why more Celtics weren’t in All-Star discussions, to what free agents Boston should target in the off-season, to asking what Danny Ainge could really get for Rajon Rondo, to coming to terms with Ray Allen being traded FOR REAL this time.

Ray Allen wasn’t traded, Rondo’s value continued to fluctuate with each game, Garnett & Pierce reinforced it was Rondo’s team, and the unofficial catchphrase became, “let’s just get to the post-season.”

Fast-forward 17 months and here we are on Preseason Eve. The Big Three Era is complete, the cornerstone of a team is doing his best to make friends with the LA media, and Celtics fans are divided on whether to trust in Danny Ainge or publically flog him on Causeway Street. I guess some things never change.

This Celtics team is… well… a strange team in a strange season for the NBA. As a product, the NBA version 2013-14 is as strong as it has been since the mid-nineties. There are “characters” on every single team that casual fans want to see. There is a draft class looming full of forecasted franchise altering athletes. There hasn’t been this much buzz around professional basketball since Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash were in their rookie & sophomore campaigns. From a media standpoint, apparently every team is going into the tank for Andrew Wiggins- a young man who is yet to play one second of NCAA season basketball.

While there are thirty different jerseys in the NBA, there are really only four teams this year: Contenders, Tankers, Holding Patterns, and the Boston Celtics

Let me explain. The Boston Celtics are vehemently stating that they are not tanking this season, and are playing Duck, Duck, Goose around the phrase “rebuilding.” Yes, this team is different. Yes, this is the first team in years to not feature a consensus first ballot Hall of Famer. Yes, there are just as many question marks as there are shooting guards and small forwards on this team- and if you’re looking at the roster that means that yes, there are TONS of question marks. And that’s okay. This team features the following:

A top five point guard in the NBA in Rajon Rondo

An explosive offense machine that is about to enter his prime in Jeff Green

A supporting cast of defensive minded role players in Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, and Kris Humphries

A head coach who wants to be here in Brad Stevens

A GM & ownership group who wants to be good for YEARS, not for THIS YEAR (I’m looking at you Brooklyn)

A fan base that shows up

Something to prove

If you only listen to the national media, The Celtics are a less than 25 win team this year. Too good to completely fail, not good enough to succeed, and out of the running for a transcendent first round pick. Everyone is already predicting a Miami three-peat. Everyone is saying that Indiana is the young team on the rise. Everyone is saying that Brooklyn is going to be the team to push the Eastern Conference. I’m hearing everything that people are saying. There’s only one thing I haven’t heard.

The bell.

While slightly more dramatic than it needs to be, calling this team “Rocky” isn’t that bad of an analogy. They’re going to take a beatings for sure, but they're not going to celebrate every loss like they're the 76ers, either. This team may not feature the Big Ticket, but I am willing to bet we'll still see Knuckle Pushups and Grit & Balls on the parquet floor this season.

We’re approximately 27 hours from preseason and we’ve been jumping rope in a crappy gym all summer. There’s only one left for this team to do.

Work.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter at @padraic_oconnor

Padraic O'Connor 10/06/2013 04:27:00 PM Edit
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