On the eve of another NBA season, we convened our expert panel to talk about the Celtics, their quest for Banner No. 18 and the league at large.



PAUL FLANNERY

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WALTHAM — Much has been made about the empty banner that hangs in the corner of the Celtics practice facility. It is a physical manifestation of the expectations that always hover around this franchise, and it is also a not-so-subtle reminder that filling in the unwritten words is the goal for this year.



PAUL FLANNERY

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The big question facing the Celtics this preseason — really the biggest preseason question in the whole NBA — concerned the health and well-being of Kevin Garnett. Those questions appear to be answered. KG is back.



PAUL FLANNERY

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There are nights during the offseason when Marquis Daniels will disappear. Unable to sleep, he will escape to a small area of his home and stay there for seven, eight hours at a time. There he slips into a zone and works on his craft. This refuge is not a basketball court. It is a music studio.



JESSICA CAMERATO

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Candace Parker had to show him up on his turf.

A crowd gathered to watch the basketball power couple tough it out. It was a one-on-one battle between the Duke record-holder and the future face of women's basketball. They had faced off before in friendly matchups, but this time it was different.



JESSICA CAMERATO

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Every year in the NBA as a new crop of first-year players take the floor, veteran players can’t wait to test them. Can they handle themselves on the block? How do they react to the pick and roll? If there’s a weakness in their game it will be exploited over and over again.



PAUL FLANNERY

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Stephen Graham had already heard about Marquis Daniels before they faced off on the basketball court. People talked in the Florida basketball circuit, and Daniels was known as one of the best players on the Orlando-area Edgewater High School team.



JESSICA CAMERATO

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Like snowflakes or Rajon Rondo jump shots, no two NBA offseasons are exactly the same. The summer of 2009 was supposed to be the prudish precursor to the wild hedonism of 2010 when teams with oodles of cap space and money to burn would cash in on the greatest free agency class ever.



PAUL FLANNERY

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In the end the anticipated bidding war for Glen Big Baby Davis never really materialized, and if there was going to be one the Celtics did a good enough job of making sure other teams knew it would be a waste of their time to start one in the first place.



PAUL FLANNERY

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"I don’t know what’s going to happen," Glen Davis said while working out in Houston. "It’s still too early to tell.



JEFF GOODMAN

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