Celtics coach Doc Rivers remembers when Boston overhauled its roster three years ago. "When we made our move, everybody told us you had to wait a year to put a championship team together," he said before the Celtics practiced Friday in Orlando for their Christmas Day game against the Magic. "I didn't buy into that. Neither did our guys, and we proved everybody wrong."
Now, imagine a major midseason shake-up.
The Celtics will face a reconstructed Magic team trying to duplicate the quick turnaround - only doing so in December - that propelled Boston to instant champions, giving this Eastern Conference finals rematch a remix vibe.
Orlando is a shell of the team bounced by Boston in six games last season.
An early slide forced the Magic to orchestrate two blockbuster trades last weekend that brought Gilbert Arenas from Washington and Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from Phoenix. They gave up Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat, plus a 2011 first-round draft pick and cash, in the deals.
There is a glaring difference, of course, from the Magic's makeover to the summer of 2007 when the Celtics teamed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with Paul Pierce: Boston still had a training camp and an entire regular season to get ready. Orlando is doing this on the fly.
"I don't think overconfidence is going to be one of our problems right now," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Our problems are more like learning each others' names and stuff so we can stop saying, 'Go in for No. 23.' "
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has been hired by ESPN as an analyst.
Brown, who was fired in June after the Cavs lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals, will begin his TV stint on Christmas Day for the New York-Chicago telecast on ESPN 3D, the network said Thursday. Brown will also contribute as an ESPN studio analyst throughout the season.
Brown was the most-successful coach in Cavaliers history. He went 314-177 in five seasons and was the league's coach of the year in 2009.
The King, humbled by the Greatest: Miami's LeBron James, after spending some time talking with front-row observer Muhammad Ali immediately after the Heat put a 95-83 whupping on the Suns in Phoenix on Thursday night: "I have [met him before], but it feels like the first time every time you meet him."