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Point guard Jameer Nelson has reached the playoffs in six of his 11 NBA seasons.
Point guard Jameer Nelson has reached the playoffs in six of his 11 NBA seasons.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Too much was swirling around to make Friday feel anything close to normal.

Rajon Rondo was on his way to Dallas. Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, and Brandan Wright were on their way to Boston.

The Celtics were still trying to wrap their heads around the sudden shakeup. The Celtics' front office was taking inventory of the growing pile of assets it added since it began deconstructing the Big Three.

There was barely enough time for Celtics coach Brad Stevens to think about the game that night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Game-planning became a cram session.

"I probably didn't spend as much time on the opponent as I usually do the day of the game," Stevens said.


"I just kind of squeezed it all together and got it done as quickly as I could because you've got guys coming in."

There was enough time for Stevens to sit down for a quick meet and greet with his new players.

Stevens asked about their families. Then they played the mutual-friend game.

Nelson had heard the praise that tended to follow Stevens, whether it was from his former college coach at Saint Joseph's, Phil Martelli, or from his fellow Pennsylvania-raised point guard Mike Green, who played for Stevens at Butler.

"When you watch guys from afar," Nelson said, "you kind of know what to expect going into a situation when you have a guy like Brad."

One name in particular, though, told Nelson everything he needed to know about what was in store for him.

"When he told me he was friends with Stan Van Gundy," Nelson said, "I knew I was going to watch film right away."

Before their talk was done, Stevens broke out the tape.

"Hey, oh by the way, we've got to play a game on Sunday," Stevens joked. "No big deal, just know everything that's on these DVDs and we'll go from there."


Making the post-trade transition less of a blur will be a bigger challenge.

One minute, Crowder, Nelson, and Wright were on a team in the thick of the Western Conference's Southwest Division, where all five teams have winning records. The next, they were on team four games under .500.

"On the plane ride up here, we were looking at the standings, and the team's right here," Wright said. "It's still goals that are obtainable, playoffs are reachable, and we just want to come in here and do the best that we can and do what we do best — play hard — and hopefully push a little bit in those standings."

They have embraced the challenge of being snatched from a team with title hopes to one simply trying to make the playoffs.

"I feel like we have a chance to make a push in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs," Crowder said. "And that's our goal . . . We're going to influence those guys to keep fighting each and every day and getting better as a unit and see what happens.

"We were in the airport taking a lot of pictures, meeting a lot of fans. So the town was excited. I know Boston lost one heck of a player, but we feel like we've come over here to prove a lot and we know we can play some basketball, so we're excited."

Stevens will try to ensure the new pieces slide into place smoothly.


"I think all three of them have roles on this team," Stevens said. "I think we'll determine the extent of those as I get my arms wrapped around everything more."

Even though Crowder's role has diminished with the Mavericks since he was drafted in the second round in 2012 (he averages 3.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 10.6 minutes), the 6-foot-6-inch small forward is known to provide energy when he steps on the court.

"Jae Crowder is a guy that we think has a big upside, can shoot the ball, has shot it better this year, and is a guy that can guard both the '3' and the '4' and even some '2s' on occasion," Stevens said. "He's a tough guy — just a competitive, tough guy."

Nelson, a 6-foot point guard, has built a résumé in his 11 seasons that includes a Finals appearance, six trips to the playoffs, and an All-Star nod in 2009, but he left his biggest fingerprints as a leader for the Orlando Magic on the court and in the locker room.

"Jameer Nelson's a guard that can really shoot the ball, that has scored, that has been a consummate leader, and everybody talks about the kind of person he is — former coaches, players, no matter what," Stevens said.

From the time Wright was taken by the Bobcats with the eighth pick in the 2007 draft and then dealt to the Warriors on draft day, it was known that his ceiling was high. But shoulder surgery forced the 6-10 power forward to miss the 2009-10 season.


Time ended up being on the big man's side. He played 37 games in 2010-11, then the lockout came along.

"I think the biggest thing was the extra time during the lockout," Wright said. "I was able to heal up. I had some injuries that I needed to address and I was able to work on my game a lot, work on things that I needed to work on, watch film, and I think it finally showed on the court."

He got a fresh start when he signed with Dallas in 2011, and he thrived. He averaged 6.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in his first year and carved out a larger role for himself thereafter.

"I got an opportunity, played well, been playing better and better each and every year," said Wright, who was averaging 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks for the Mavericks before the deal. "So I'm looking forward to what's going to happen here."

Learning on the fly shouldn't be an issue, Crowder said, considering the Mavericks' system.

"Over in Dallas, we had an NFL playbook," Crowder joked. "So we'll be ready."

They had a small practice session planned once they arrived in Miami on Saturday.

"It's going to be a challenge," Nelson said. "It's not going to be easy. These three guys right here, we wouldn't want it any other way, anyway."


Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.