Last week I described one approach to this season.
In short, that approach contemplated taking it easy, staying healthy, and not getting too worked up about anything until, oh, I don't know, February 15? Even then, the only reason to get worked up was to make a trade for a back-up wing or a back-up big on or before the mid-season deadline.
Well, that indeed was one approach.
Looks like we can throw it on the scrap heap, as far as the 2008-09 Boston Celtics are concerned.
You can tell a lot about a championship team by the way the play their first 15 games of the next season after winning a title:
1984-85 14-1 (15-1, actually)
The 1974-75 Celtics, notwithstanding Bob Ryan's thoughts to the contrary, were no big threat to repeat, and started the season telegraphing the proof to the rest of the NBA. The 1981-82 and 1984-85 Celtics entertained serious thoughts of repeating, and one came about as close as the other.
The 1986-87 Celtics fell somewhere between the 1974-75 Celtics and the 1981-82 and 1984-85 Celtics. Due to injuries, no one was quite sure whether to take the 1987 C's seriously or not.
Whatever Doc Rivers said to the Celtics after they stumbled against Atlanta, Denver, and Milwaukee, he ought to bottle it up for later in the season. It worked, and continues to serve as irrefutable proof that the players are still listening to him.
Doc Rivers remains the master-motivator, and what that means is that instead of the Celtics heading into the Christmas-Day tilt not knowing what team will show up at the Staples Center, there is an increasingly good chance the team that will show up is the same one that took six of eight games from the Lakers last year, and probably could have taken eight of eight had a few more balls bounced in their favor.