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Stevens-led Celtics head north to face Raptors

(SportsNetwork.com) - Not much is expected from the Boston Celtics this season and they'll kick off the 2013-14 campaign Wednesday with a road test against the Atlantic Division-rival Toronto Raptors.

The Celtics will unveil a new look sans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and head coach Doc Rivers. The only recognizable face is Rajon Rondo. Rondo is coming off surgery from a torn ACL in February and his return date is in question.

"It's a challenge and I welcome that challenge. I'm re-energized to do it again," Celtics President of Basketball of Operations Danny Ainge said of rebuilding. "Being through it, I think the experience will help me. It's almost like I'm walking with a limp and I need surgery on my foot, and right now we're going through surgery. You hope that everything's going to be better, and I'll be able to play again."

One of the first steps in the rebuilding process was to bring fresh-faced Brad Stevens as head coach. He put Butler on the map, taking the mid-major school to consecutive national championship games and now has the task of restoring glory to the proud Celtics franchise.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here," Stevens said.

The Celtics, who will play five of seven games on the road to start the new campaign, have reached the postseason in each of the past six seasons and went 41-40 a season ago, losing in the first round of the playoffs.

Toronto doesn't have high expectations, but could make a run for one of the last playoff spots at season's end. The Raptors went 34-48 last season and haven't made the playoffs since 2007-08.

The Raptors shipped former overall No. 1 pick, Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a first-round pick and two second-round picks. Camby and Richardson were released.

Much of the scoring will come from Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, with Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas contributing to the starting five.

"I really can't say this team is going to be fourth or seventh or 12th," Raptors new executive Masai Ujiri told Eric Koreen of the National Post. "I can't do that. I want us to have growth, big-time growth, and improvement so that we can actually know what we have on this team. And then we can move from there."

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey begins his third season in the great north and his two-year tally is a meager 57-91. He hasn't made the playoffs ever as a head coach, including a stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

After hosting the Celtics, the Raptors will play six of eight on the road.

Boston took three of four meetings from Toronto last season and is 20-5 in the past 25 encounters. The Celtics, though, have lost three of four and four of their past six trips to Air Canada Centre.

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