After the Boston Celtics lost game 7 of the NBA Finals to the LA Lakers, I thought it was time to rebuild the team. The Big Three plus One (Rondo) carried the Celtics all the way to the NBA Finals and unfortunately ran out of steam in the end. I wasn’t upset about the game 7 loss. How could I be? They were not supposed to make it that deep into the playoffs to begin with. They fought so hard to get to the Finals and when they got there, they fought even harder against a better team. They just fell one quarter short.
As I watched Kobe and the Lakers celebrate their back to back championships, I thought to myself “that’s the end of the Big Three”. Ray Allen was a free agent and would be signing with a different team. Kevin Garnett didn’t have the same explosiveness he had two years prior due to the knee injury. Half way thru the playoffs, Paul Pierce looked beat. The hall of famer wasn’t able to give the same reliable performance night after night. The Big Three looked tired and old. And to top it all off, Coach Doc Rivers was retiring. It was a wonderful 3 years where the Big three restored the Celtic franchise, and I enjoyed every moment. But it was the end of an era.
Or so I thought.
The Celtics had a very interesting off season. First the very surprising news, Coach Rivers agreed to come back for another season. This was big news because Rivers was very vocal about retiring. He wanted to be home more and have the flexibility to watch his kids play basketball. Coach Rivers staying would maintain stability in the franchise no matter what happened with players testing free agency.
Then Pierce opted out of his contract. At the time, I thought maybe this was a good moment for the Celtics and Pierce to part ways and the Celtics would then have a chance to go after one of the big name free agents. However within days, Pierce agreed to a 4 year extension with the Celtics making sure he will retire a Boston Celtic.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would be coming back. Only one member of the Big Three was left to sign. Ray Allen I thought would definitely test the free agent waters, but instead Ray agreed to stay with the Celtics for 2 more seasons for less money.
The starting 5 was in place with KG, Pierce, Allen, Rondo, and Perkins. However, Ainge knew Perk would be out for most of the regular season with a knee injury. Ainge had to find a suitable replacement for Perk because of Rasheed retiring. Instead of bringing in one center, he brought in two, the O’Neal brothers. Jermaine O’Neal agreed to take a mid level exception worth $5.7 million to come play for the Celtics. And the other O’Neal, oh…what’s his name…oh yeah…Shaqachusetts; agreed to a 2 year deal for only $1.4 million a year.
I love both signings. Jermaine will give the Celtics rebounding ability and length and if he can find his shot again, that will be only icing on the cake. As for Shaqrock, no brainer. Celtics get a superstar with a ton of playoff and finals experience. Shaq is a veteran joining a team of veterans. Shaq knows his role with this team. And I love the deal for selfish reasons. Shaq is one funny dude so it will be a joy to watch Shaq on a regular basis.
Ainge also added Delonte West and extended Nate Robinson. Nate provided a spark in the playoffs coming off the bench. Nate spent last year trying to figure out his role on the team. I hope he’s found one. Bring energy off the bench and light it up from downtown. As for Delonte, he can score in spurts and is decent from beyond the arc. Both players should be a suitable enough to give Rondo a rest.
The 2010-2011 Boston Celtics look good. The starters are of course good to go. The bench looks strong as well. They have depth at every position. Marquis Daniels will hopefully be healthy for a full season. Big Baby Davis I expect will be more active on the offensive end this season. The biggest plus this team has in my opinion will be there height. They have three 7 footers starting the season and will have 4 when Perkins returns. Height wins championships. It’s what makes the Lakers so tough to beat.
The Celtics will certainly have their work cut out for them in the Eastern Conference. The New Big Three down in Miami have high expectations and certainly have a championship caliber team. Orlando Magic is still a very good team. Atlanta Hawks have a young, talented team. And if the Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony, they could be a contender as well.
The one thing Boston has over the other teams in the East is experience. They are battle tested. They won a championship in 2008. In the 2009 playoffs, the Celtics without Kevin Garnett made it further than expected. Last season, they made it to the NBA Finals. These players know what it takes to win a championship. They know how to play together and rely on one another.
The Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat on Tuesday. Though the game technically is just another game in the regular season, this game will have a playoff feel. The Old Big Three vs. The New Big Three. The Celtic players may be aging, but they will show on Tuesday night that they still got game.
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Written by johnw