- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the first time since last season's memorable playoff series, the Boston Celtics returned to the United Center on Saturday night. Only this time, everything seems to be much different than it was just seven months ago.
While players and coaches from both sides have strong memories from that series, it's clear that everybody has moved on.
"Different teams, different years," Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Different players are here, different players are there. Injuries, everything that's involved. Totally different circumstance. Last year was last year and this is a different year."
Here are some other thoughts from some of the Celtics who were there:
Does being back in Chicago bring back memories of that series?
"Not really. I don't think about that much. It was a great series. And I'm reminded of it a lot by you guys, my family, everybody else. But, [it's] two different teams. We've added some players. Kevin [Garnett] and Rasheed [Wallace]. So we're a different team in some ways and they are, too. [Luol] Deng didn't play in that series. And [Ben] Gordon did. But that series will always be remembered. And so that's part of history, I guess."
Do the Bulls miss Ben Gordon?
"I don't know. You look at their numbers, their defensive numbers are better than last year's. And the injury bug, I think [they] miss that more than anything. I'm amazed about all the fever here about making changes and all that stuff. I'm like, 'Wow, it's the same team that went seven games last year [in the Eastern Conference playoffs]' and people are panicked already. I'm surprised by that."
What do you think about Derrick Rose?
"I love Rose. He's a terrific player. He's young and he's just going to keep getting better. Extremely humble. And it looks like very easy to coach. From a coaching standpoint, those are all good. But he's going to be great. I think he's going to go down as one of the best, if he keeps improving."
Does being back in Chicago bring back memories of the series?
"Once the next season comes along, it's kind of in the back of your mind. You still remember it, but [the Bulls are] a new team. We're a new team. New season. So you kind of forge ahead knowing that this is a new situation that we want to create. And you try to forget about the past, but learn from it."
From what you've seen on tape, what makes the Bulls different now compared to where they were before?
"I try not to make comparisons because any night anybody can win. Regardless of who they are now, [and] who they were. Whatever team we see tonight, we got to adjust to them and try to beat them."
Do the Bulls miss Gordon?
"They got guys that are more than capable. Ben's on another team. He's gone. You can't harp on the idea of him being here or not being here. He's on another team."
Does being back in Chicago remind you of last year?
"No. Not at all. It's a new season. A new team. We got new guys, they got new guys. It's different teams."
What is the difference between where the Bulls are now and where they were back in May?
"It's hard to really say. They're a different team without Ben. He was a lot of their scoring power especially when we played against them. I think he averaged over 25 a game. Other than that, they play teams differently than they play us. It varies each night."