When it comes to fast starts, there are few who do it better than the Boston Celtics.
In the Big 3 (now Big 4 if you include Rajon Rondo) Era, the Celtics have been the one team no one wants to see early on.
Look at the numbers. Dating back to the 2007-08 season, Boston has won more than 87 percent of its games prior to Christmas -- easily the best in the NBA.
However, that success has come after a full offseason of free agency, training camp and preseason games. This season, which will kick off on Christmas Day, is anything but business as usual for teams like the Celtics.
With the NBA and players tentatively agreeing to a compressed 66-game schedule, it will be a challenge to all teams -- especially clubs like the Celtics.
Their core group (Rondo excluded) is old, and with the games coming faster and more furious than past years, the C's will struggle to keep up with their younger, more athletic opponents.
Sounds familiar? It should. Lockout or no lockout, we've heard this before about the Celtics.
Every year, actually.
And there they are, bolting out to start the season better than anyone else, positioning themselves for title talk before the calendar flips to a new year.
But this is a totally new season, and the Celtics will be a totally different team. And unlike their past success, their starting point to the season has changed as well.
But the biggest change, maybe more than anything else, is there will likely be more new faces playing prominent roles in the rotation, than past years.
The Celtics only have six players under contract this season. That does not include Jeff Green, a restricted free agent that the C's have said repeatedly they want to re-sign.
"It'll be a different makeup (this season)," Rondo said. "A lot of different guys; a lot of new faces around the city. We'll try and get them accustomed to how we do things here in Boston and go for a championship."