BOSTON - As the Celtics advance in the playoffs, expect a load of comparisons between this team and the one that captured the NBA title in 2008.
The reasons are fairly obvious. That team, fresh off off-season deals that brought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to town, rolled to the NBA's best regular season record and beat the Lakers in the Finals, four games to two. All five starters from that team still are introduced first in 2010 but the players say they see some marked differences.
"I believe this team is deeper," said Allen. "We have guys that once you see definitely what you are playing for, everyone is zoned in and tuned in to what we are trying to accomplish."
The key differences between the two teams comes on the bench. In `08, James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell and Eddie House all helped in reserve. This year's bench is shorter but Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen all play valuable roles.
Paul Pierce says the experience of grinding through the playoffs in `08 is certainly coming in handy this spring. These players know what to expect and know how to raise their level of intensity.
"That `08 team, that was our first time in the playoffs together. The difference here is that you've got a veteran team that's been in the playoffs and understands what it takes," said Pierce. "Before, we had to learn our way in the playoffs, being our first time in it together. Now it's a different game. Now we're a little more comfortable, whether we're playing at home or on the road."
The other key difference between the two teams is the journey they've taken in the post-season. The `08 team struggled most of the way, winning seven-game series in the first two rounds before knocking off the Pistons and Lakers in six games.