, Salem, MA


October 24, 2012

Aging Celts geared up for another run at title

BOSTON — Ray Allen moved to Miami over the summer, and that’s not the only reason that Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers is focusing his attention on LeBron James and Co.

The biggest hurdle for the Celtics on the way to another NBA title is now within their conference — the first time since the New Big Three was assembled that Boston has had to worry about a reigning champ within the East.

“I honestly rarely look at the West,” Rivers said at media day after discussing the moves the archrival Los Angeles Lakers made over the summer. “I could care less about the West, because at the end of the day we have to get out of the East, and the defending champions are in the East.

“So, we have one target, and that’s Miami,” he said. “Whatever happens out West: Good luck. Hope to see you. That’s how we think about it.”

Allen’s departure broke up the trio that brought Boston an unprecedented 17th title in 2008 — its first since the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish won it all three times in the 1980s. But Allen had been relegated to bench duty anyway, with Rajon Rondo filling his role as an All-Star alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Now comes the Big Three, 3.0.

The Celtics insist that this is Rondo’s team now, acknowledging a fact that has been apparent for some time as the young point guard has taken over on the floor. Last season, he had a career-high 11.7 assists per game along with six triple-doubles in the regular season and four more in the playoffs.

Jason Terry — fourth on the NBA’s career 3-pointer list — is a logical replacement for Allen, who took less money to join the defending champions, perhaps because of a rift with Rondo. Courtney Lee will also help out at guard — at least until Avery Bradley, who pushed Allen out of the starting lineup, returns from shoulder surgery that is expected to keep him out until December or January.

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