It was only fitting that Avery Bradley was in Boston on Sunday, his 27th birthday.

He has a new lease on his basketball life with the Detroit Pistons now. But the birth of Avery Bradley as an NBA player began in Boston with the Celtics, the only NBA franchise he played prior to this season.

Tonight he returns to where it all started, the TD Garden, as the Celtics (18-3) host the Pistons (12-7) in a battle between the top two teams in the East.

The Celts' place among the elite in the East isn’t all that surprising. They had the best record in the conference last season, and while they radically reshuffled the roster in the offseason there was no mistaking the fact that, on paper at least, this was a more talented team than the one we saw a year ago.

But in that pursuit of becoming better, there was some collateral damage along the way -- specifically, the trading of Bradley.

When the final numbers for the salary cap came in lower than expected this summer, the Celtics had to make another deal in order to ensure they would be able to fit the four-year, $127.8 million contract signed by Gordon Hayward.