Rajon Rondo helped the Celtics raise their most recent banner 16 years ago, and when the retired guard attended Game 3 of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals series, a parallel was drawn between the two teams.

Rondo’s understanding of the 2023-24 Celtics goes beyond watching from the comforts of his home. Before the season began in October, Rondo was on an exclusive email list of Celtics alumni invited back to training camp. The 38-year-old jumped at the chance — and a 3 am ET phone call with Paul Pierce — to lend a helping hand before Opening Night.

“They’re a deep team,” Rondo said, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I feel like they remind us of our (2008) team as well. It wasn’t just one or two guys. Every night there would be a different scorer, there would be a different guy to make that intangible play. Coach (Joe) Mazzulla puts them in the right position every night.”

Nearly two decades ago, when Rondo ran the floor at point guard in Boston, the Celtics had plenty of weapons to spare. Also coming off a blockbuster offseason, Boston ran a lineup with Rondo, Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins, four of whom have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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James Posey, Tony Allen and Eddie House provided fresh legs and ready 3-point shooting triggers off the bench, giving the Celtics plenty of depth. And based on any of the 2023-24 team’s 64 regular-season wins or 11 postseason victories, the same could easily be said about the team’s current cast.

Just take Game 3 of the conference finals for example.

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“What (Jrue Holiday) just did last possession to both guards (Nembhard and T.J. McConnell) and Nembhard was having a hell of a game and (Holiday) had to get a stop one-on-one and not even give us (Celtics fans) a heart attack and not allowing (Nembhard) to get a shot off,” Rondo explained, per Washburn. “Shout out to Jrue, one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with.”

Boston dug itself a hole, tailling Indiana by 18 points in the third quarter. But Holiday’s constant defensive pressure kept the Celtics within reach and they eventually secured a 3-0 series lead.

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If Boston clinches a spot in the NBA Finals on Monday night, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the crew won’t need to face a Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, but their biggest challenge will await them.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images