The last time Rafer Alston , Tony Battie , and Courtney Lee  played against the Celtics , they sent the C’s packing for the summer. The trio were members of the Magic  team that eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. This year they are in a different uniform and noticed the Cs have a different look as well.
Alston, Battie and Lee were traded from the Magic to the Nets  over the summer as part of the Vince Carter  deal. On Sunday they got their first take at the Celtics with their new team during preseason action at the TD Garden (recap here ).
‘They got a brand new season,’ Battie said. ‘I mean, you look and [Kevin Garnett ] is back and Rasheed [Wallace]  is part of it. They got a great steal in getting Marquis Daniels , and you have those three additions coming back in the team. So, I think they’re the team to beat, definitely.’
Last season a hobbled Celtics squad was outscored, outrebounded and burned from the 3-point line by the Magic. Without Garnett on the court and veterans Ray Allen  and Paul Pierce  overworked, the Celtics bench could not save the season. Now the additions of Wallace and Daniels give the team much-needed depth.
‘They get their big guy back and then they add Rasheed Wallace  in there now,’ Alston said. ‘I think when you’re trying to take away a lot of their main guys, they have a lot of guys that can step up and stretch the defense or post up on the low block. They have a different dynamic to their team, especially from a defensive aspect for other teams.’
Both Alston and Lee agree the series would have been completely different if the Celtics had so many weapons last season.
‘They would’ve been a better team,’ Lee said. ‘They definitely would’ve been harder for a matchup because you can play Marquis at the 1 and you sub in Rasheed, so they keep a shooting big in at all times, so they definitely would have been better.’
Said Alston: ‘I don’t think we would have been able to roam a lot off of a lot of their guys ‘ [Rajon] Rondo , [Kendrick] Perkins , Big Baby [Glen Davis ]. Those guys who really bring more scoring to the offense, especially from the bench standpoint.’
The combination of a healthy Garnett and a revamped second unit has Alston noticing a difference in the 2009-10 Celtics. Although he isn’t as willing as Battie to name them the best in the Eastern Conference, he can’t deny the changes on the court.
‘Whenever they have all their guys, they have a swagger,’ he said. ‘When someone goes down they don’t have swagger no more. That’s just how they are.’