Big Five? Talent-rich Celtics embracing lofty expectations

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Published 7:04 p.m. ET Sept. 24, 2018

CANTON, Mass. (AP) — Last summer, new Boston Celtics arrivals Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward beamed just imagining what it would be like to share the court together.

Those dreams lasted all of five minutes before Hayward was lost for the season to a gruesome leg injury on the opening night of the season.

The Celtics somehow survived it and had set themselves up to make a run at the Eastern Conference title when Irving was lost for the final stretch of the regular season and the playoffs following a pair of knee surgeries.

But four months after a season with so much potential was tossed into the “what might have been” basket and following an offseason conference shake-up that saw LeBron James head west to Los Angeles, Boston again finds itself in the spotlight heading into training camp.

Irving and Hayward are back and healthy. And they are flanked by a loaded roster of veterans and talented young players who are hungry for another shot at the franchise’s 18th championship.

Irving said last season taught him not to take anything for granted.

“I missed it so much and for it to be taken away the way it did, with the timing and everything, it just wasn’t ideal,” Irving said. “It was hurtful, honestly, because it was an uncontrollable thing. To go through it was a learning experience, but it only helped my evolution as a person.”

Hayward, who is

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