Power Rankings: Celtics begin on top, back and ready for more

Updated: October 27, 2008, 3:21 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Paul Pierce celebrated his NBA Finals MVP performance by shedding nearly 10 pounds over the summer. Ray Allen strutted into training camp far healthier than he did for his first Boston camp, when he was coming off surgery on both ankles. Kevin Garnett, meanwhile, was spotted warming up for an exhibition trouncing of the Knicks last week by bashing his head into the basket standard twice, then standing for most of the fourth quarter to cheer on the Celtics' reserves as if it were a playoff game.

What does it all mean?

To your friendly NBA Power Rankings committee (of one), it means that the Celtics might indeed find it difficult to repeat as champions -- because it's always tough to win back-to-back titles, something this storied franchise hasn't managed since 1968 and '69 -- but we struggle to picture any letdowns coming. If the Celts can't go back-to-back, trust us: It won't be because these guys didn't want it enough.

"They just came back with a great team mentality," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of his three stars.

The defending champs, as always, start out at No. 1 in the opening night edition of our weekly, fully non-automated pulse check of the league, which is scheduled to appear every Monday from here for the rest of the regular season. Click here to rank the teams yourself or click here to comment on these rankings.

Editor's note: The Record category shows the team's 2007-08 regular-season record. The Last Week category shows the team's ranking in Marc Stein's Training Camp Edition of the Power Rankings.

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