Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – This was a relatively quiet summer by Celtics standards, with the biggest roster move being the re-signing of Marcus Smart to a four-year, $52 million contract.

Heading into the offseason, Boston bringing back most of last year's roster was a goal.

Mission accomplished, with Boston bringing back 13 players who saw action a year ago.

“It pretty much shows you how we feel about our team,” Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, told NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Talk Podcast. “We like this group and we wanted to give them a chance.”

And it is that kind of thinking that seems to be the norm among teams in the East in recent years after getting to the Conference finals.

Much has been made about the Celtics taking a sledgehammer to the roster following the 2016-2017 when they lost in five games to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.

Boston brought back only four players from that team, which was the exception to the general rule of thumb among teams in the East that made runs that ended with trips to the Conference finals or NBA Finals.

Of the participants in the Eastern Conference finals the past five years, seven of the 10 teams returned at least 10 players from the previous season.

The only exceptions were the Celtics (four returnees) and Cavs (six) last year; and the 2014-2015 Miami Heat, who returned seven from the 2014 team that lost 4-1 to San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

 

Still, those teams brought their squads back to try and build off the success they had the previous season.

Boston has similar aspirations, although the Celtics' journey has a twist to it.

Two integral parts of this franchise, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, were not with the team in their impressive postseason run, which ended with a Game 7 loss at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Gordon suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter of the season-opening loss at Cleveland while Irving was lost for the playoffs due to an infection to the hardware inserted into his surgically repaired left knee.

“The exciting part is we should have a full group of guys ready to go,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “The tough part is we know that we have a lot to cover in a short amount of time.”

However, having so many players back is a definite plus.

“All of that familiarity makes it more exciting,” Stevens said. “Because you’re excited to be back together again, too.”

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