The Celtics took off into a bright blue sky yesterday morning in Salt Lake City. Figuratively as well as literally.

Having watched Nenad Krstic go for 10 points in the first quarter against the Jazz (including an alley-oop dunk and a nice tip-in) and Jeff Green easily post any small forward who dared challenge him, they came back with a better outlook on last Thursday's trade and the future in general.

"I'm definitely looking at the upside," said Paul Pierce of the deal that cost the Celts Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. "It's definitely going to make us a more versatile team offensively. You know, at times we go into offensive droughts — which we shouldn't — but I think these are really going to help us in that department because of the way Krstic spreads the floor and Green is such a matchup problem. He's a lot quicker than 4's, and when he's out there with me, the 2-guard has to guard one of us, so one of us is going to have a post-up.

"It's going to take some time to develop, but I'm excited about the potential moving forward with this group."

Ray Allen was similarly buoyed after hitting clutch hoops and scoring 25 points on a night in which he surpassed 40,000 career minutes.

"I'm happy," Allen said. "I'm great. We know we can get better. There's some things we need to do with the young guys and the new guys. But I'm excited because there's no complacency. It's not like we're here peaking. We know we're not as good as we should be, and we're going to get better.

"I don't envy Doc (Rivers), but at the same time I do because he's got a lot to figure out with how to make these pieces move. But we've got some great pieces to work with."

Even Kevin Garnett was able to take a detour from his sentimental journey to see the realities and the possibilities.

"Jeff is probably one of the most versatile guys I've been around," said Garnett. "It just looks like he does things effortlessly. He just makes it look simple. I can't really put him into words right now. I'm glad he's an addition to our team.

"I've got my own personal feelings about Perk because he's my brother, but I'm embracing this new relationship with Jeff and Kris. Kris is very versatile. I didn't know he was that good of an offensive rebounder. He's very active. I've just got to learn the small things about them, about what they like to do.