Sam Cassell is the only player on the Boston Celtics  who knows how it feels to defend an NBA championship. Not only that, he also knows what it takes to win two consecutive titles. Nearly 15 years after going back-to-back with the Houston Rockets , Cassell explains what the Celtics should expect heading into Opening Night.
On playing as an NBA champion: These guys got a grasp of that early in preseason. Everyone’s going to be giving us their best shot. Every game is going to be a big game. Every game.
On controlling emotions from the ring ceremony to focus on the game: You don’t control them. You don’t control them but our game plan is defense. If our offense ain’t hitting, our defense is going to be hitting so that’s the thing we live and die by, our defense. There’s no excuse if our defense isn’t up to par, so you’ll see our defense up to par and if our offense is struggling our defense will have to win the game for us.
On being a target for 82 games: Our big guys understand that and that’s why when we practice, our second unit goes after our starting unit, fouling and going after them, trying to frustrate them. But they’ve been doing a hell of a job just keeping their composure and understanding what’s at stake. And what’s at stake is winning.
On the reception in opposing arenas: Oh we’re on top of the mountain. We’re the Celtics and the majority of places we play at, we’ll have a lot of fans there ourselves. Everybody loves the champion no matter who they are. We’ve got great guys on our team and people really enjoy the way we play the game of basketball. We play it, we don’t taunt, we play hard.
On repeating the same success with different players this season: First of all, we’ve got to have the basketball gods on our side. Injuries, course of the NBA season, they happen. But we’ve also got to understand that every night is going to be a dog fight for us. So we’ve got to bring the fight. If we do that we’ll be fine.
On convincing the new Celtics to buy in to the system: Well they’ve got to. We don’t have too many new guys on this ball club but they’ve got to. They’ve got to understand. I told the guys I had a great summer last summer. I had a wonderful summer being a champ. That’s what we want to get back to. Everyone on this team had probably the best summer of their NBA career. For me it was blast because where I came from and where I ended up at, I went from last to first in a matter of 48 hours.
On putting last season behind them: It’s forgotten. It’s forgotten. We haven’t done anything yet. It’s all over. Doc emphasizes that every day in practice that it’s all over. After one night we’re just the world champions, it’s just a title. So we’re trying to get that back again.