TORONTO, (Reuters) – While the Boston Red Sox were putting the finishing touches on a World Series championship on Wednesday, the NBA’s Boston Celtics were kicking off a rebuilding phase with a season-opening loss. Few Bostonians were paying much attention to the Celtics’ 93-87 road loss to the Toronto Raptors, however, as champagne corks were popping at Fenway Park, a sobering reminder of how suddenly sporting fortunes can change. The toast of Beantown themselves not long ago, the bar has not been set high for the new-look Celtics and first-year head coach Brad Stevens.
Indeed, lean times appear to be ahead for a franchise that enjoyed a return to its glory days when All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in 2007 before leading the team to six straight playoff appearances, two runs to the NBA Finals and one title.
Having celebrated three World Series, three Super Bowls, a Stanley Cup and NBA championship over the last 12 years there is no need to feel sorry for spoiled Boston sports fans.
But it appears unlikely the Celtics will be contributing to Beantown’s championship legacy again anytime soon.
Following last year’s first round playoff exit the Celtics began its rebuild in explosive fashion by demolishing the team right down to the foundation.
Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry were traded to the Brooklyn Nets for three first round draft picks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks and Kris Joseph.
Coach Doc Rivers was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for another draft pick.
With nine first round picks spread over the next five years, the Celtics long-term future looks bright but the overhaul has just begun.
“I walk out of here (Toronto) with some positives to build on,” Stevens said after Boston’s 93-87 loss to Toronto. “We’re going to get better handling the ball, we’re going to get better rebounding, we’re going to get better at keeping guys in front of us and we fought back and competed.
“We’ve got a lot of different guys who on certain nights are really good and hopefully we can develop some consistency about us.
“I’m not a guy who takes a lot of positives in losses usually but I am able to take away some things tonight that we got better at.”
Celtics supporters can only hope their patience will not be tested the same way Raptors fans have been with Toronto in a seemingly continual rebuilding mode since their last playoff appearance in 2008.
Brazilian big man Vitor Faverani had 13 points and could be a cornerstone of the Boston rebuild along with holdover All-Star guard Rajon Rondo when he returns from knee surgery.