The Celtics are two wins away from a return trip to the NBA Finals, and with it an opportunity to hoist an 18th championship banner to the rafters at the TD Garden.
Naturally, that evokes memories of banner No. 17.
But ask the team's captain, and he really doesn't want to talk about it.
"You guys are asking me all these questions about the '08 team," Paul Pierce told the media Friday. "But there's no comparison of the teams, man. I mean, you guys want to make them similar, make them different, make them better, but it's a completely different year. New players. We're trying to develop our own identity."
The team that won the 2008 Finals by beating the West champion Lakers in six games had the same starting five as today's Celtics. But the bench was dramatically different, with invaluable veteran leadership coming from James Posey, P.J. Brown and even Sam Cassell. Glen Davis and Tony Allen, the Celtics' sixth and seventh men in this postseason, were at the end of the bench. Rasheed Wallace was still in Detroit.
"Whatever happened then happened," Pierce said of 2008. "But it's not the same thing, man. We're trying to develop our own identity with this team by winning a championship. There are definitely some similarities with some of the players, but then we added new players, too. The roles are a lot different. So when you talk about comparing the two teams, I mean, it's different."
The other big difference? Obvious — this team hasn't won anything yet.
"The only way we can talk about this is if we win another championship," Pierce said. "Then you ask me, and I'll be able to tell you a lot better."