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Bulls' Boozer achin' to go

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Eastern Conference / Atlantic Division


Last season: 50-32, lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-3 in Finals.

Starters: G Rajon Rondo (13.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 9.8 apg, 2.3 spg), G Ray Allen (16.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Paul Pierce (18.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Kevin Garnett (14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg), C Jermaine O'Neal (13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 apg).

Additions: C/F Jermaine O'Neal (FA, Heat), C Shaquille O'Neal (FA, Cavaliers), G Delonte West (FA, Cavaliers).

Losses: C Rasheed Wallace (retired), G Tony Allen (FA, Grizzlies), F Brian Scalabrine (FA, Bulls).

Coach: Doc Rivers, seventh season with Celtics, 12th season overall; 451-380.

Outlook: If they have everyone healthy for the postseason, the Celtics believe they have another title run in them.

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The reality of starting the season on the sidelines hit Carlos Boozer this morning as the Bulls arrived for shootaround at the Oklahoma City Arena in advance of tonight's opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Boozer, of course, suffered a broken right hand in a home accident during the first week of training camp and still is roughly a month away from being able to return to the court.

"It's one of those things where it was a great summer, a lot of excitement for our team and not to be able to celebrate with my team and open against Oklahoma City is gonna be tough," Boozer said. "But I'll do a good job of being a good coach, a good teammate, a good cheerleader and I'm looking forward to seeing us play. I think we have a lot of character and we'll show a lot of it tonight."

The injury required surgery and Boozer is scheduled to get the cast removed next week. At that point, he'll begin a rehabilitation program and the process of making it back to the court.

No target date has been established just yet, but Boozer said getting the cast removed is a significant step in his mind.

"Absolutely," he said. "Right now, I've just been changing the colors of the cast. I get it cut off on Tuesday. I'm excited about that. Then they'll take the pins out, put it in a soft cast for four or five days and then I can start attacking my rehab. I'll work my butt off doing my rehab so I can get back.

"The one thing I've been able to do is stay in shape. I've been able to lift and do conditioning and all that kind of stuff. I just haven't been able to do anything with my hand."

Despite his disappointment at not being able to start the season on the court with his new team, Boozer was optimistic as he talked about the Bulls' prospects this season under new coach Tom Thibodeau.

"The biggest thing is we have a lot of guys that are willing to listen and learn," Boozer said. "We're putting in a new system for everybody. This isn't the Jazz system, this isn't the Chicago Bulls system from last season and this isn't the Boston Celtics system. This is our new system, so we have a lot of guys that are tentative, focused and hungry.

"I think we're a deep team when we get healthy. Completely healthy we have a very deep team. It's gonna be fun to watch us progress as the season goes along."