Cavs' visit should light a spark

WALTHAM, Mass. -- For the Boston Celtics, Friday's visit from the Cleveland Cavaliers will serve not only as a reminder of what could have been, but of what they hope will someday be.

While it's LeBron James' return in a Cleveland jersey that will draw much of the fuss, it's also the first trip back to Boston for Kevin Love, last seen gallivanting here while rubbing elbows with Boston's other sports stars -- including Celtics captain Rajon Rondo -- in early June when he sent the city into a frenzy with his curious offseason presence.

We know how that all worked out. Minnesota sniffed at the future-minded assets that Boston had to offer and instead shipped the disgruntled Love to Cleveland as part of a three-team deal that brought back the past two No. 1 overall picks in the draft.

That meant no real offseason fireworks for a Boston team that had matches in hand. Instead, the Celtics trudged on diligently with their rebuilding process. To some, Love represented an accelerator pedal on a process that hasn't been easy for anyone to digest.

But even just five months' time and a handful of games allows us to re-examine the potential swap in another light. Now that they've had the chance to watch the likes of rookies Marcus Smart and James Young, and seen the progress of young bigs like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, it's fair to wonder if Celtics fans would be quite as eager to mortgage so many assets to land Love.

Yes, Boston clearly needs another star talent to pair alongside Rajon Rondo. And if Love helps James secure another title ring, particularly this season, Celtics fans will always wonder what could have been had they pried another All-Star big man out of Minnesota.

But what's left here could still be the foundation for Boston's next contender.

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