Lining up with Pierce will be point guard Mike James, center Mark Blount and forwards Kedrick Brown and Vin Baker, a radical makeover for a team that had once seemed to be on the right track with two consecutive playoff seasons.
Pierce says not having Walker around will seem strange.
“No. 8, he’s been along my side since I’ve been in the league,” Pierce said. “It’s something I’ve got to get used to. I guess all the pressure is on me. We’ll see what happens.”
The Celtics handed their basketball operations during the last postseason to Danny Ainge, who helped the Celtics win their 16th and last NBA title in 1986.
After signing James as a free agent, Ainge made a more drastic move nine days before the opener by trading Walker, a three-time All-Star who was one of the Celtics captains, along with Tony Delk to the Dallas Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch and a first-round draft pick.
The biggest question mark for the team may be Baker, who contributed little before leaving in the middle of the season to get treatment for alcoholism. He is back in better shape and hoping to show that he has regained the form that made him an All-Star and an Olympian before his skills deteriorated.
“My expectations are high for myself,” he said. “I put the pressure on myself to, obviously, be better than last year. I’m just excited to be on the floor.”
Of course, things seem stable in Boston compared to the Heat, who opened the season on Tuesday night with a costly 89-74 loss to Philadelphia.
Lamar Odom, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract with the Heat this summer, sprained his ankle in the first quarter and is listed as day-to-day.
Wade sustained a hip pointer when he took a charge from Eric Snow in the first half, while Jones sustained cuts on two fingers on his right hand. Both are listed as day-to-day.