Resilient. That is the word most associated with this year’s Boston Celtics team. Nobody, and I mean no one outside that team’s locker room ever truly thought their recently concluded bout with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals would’ve gone down the way it did. There were the Magic Johnson-like passes and triple-double performances of Rajon Rondo, and the late series domination by LeBron James.
But there were also tired, aging veteran bodies on the C’s, particularly Kevin Garnett. So, few expected that the Heat’s Big Three would need seven long games to take out Boston’s Big Three. But that’s exactly how it went down, in instant classic but very grueling fashion.
So while Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh battle Oklahoma City to try a second consecutive year to win the NBA Finals (after losing to the Dallas Mavericks last year), Boston is now wondering if their Big Three of Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are done as a unit for good. Celtics fans and media have been worried and wondering aloud about this for a couple of years now, only to see the core of the team back the next year.
My opinion, in short, is that this core of four (if you include Rondo now) will finally be broken up. Allen (who had successful surgery on Wednesday on his injured right ankle) won’t be back. He is a highly sought-after future Hall of Famer and current free agent, but one who has trouble staying healthy for a full season. It will be a sad day if he goes to another contender and takes his graceful three-point shooting prowess somewhere else, but it may very well happen, either for health or financial/budget reasons.
KG, on the other hand, rediscovered his old self as the season went on – after moving from power forward to center – and in the playoffs, becoming a double-double machine who could reliably nail 15-to-18-foot jumpers game after game, be the most reliable big man on the boards, and be the C’s biggest intimidating defender down low. He may be an aging free agent in his mid-30s like Allen, but as long as coach Doc Rivers can continue to manage his minutes well like he did this past season, I see no reason he won’t be back in Celtic Green via at least a two-year deal (making at least $15 million per year), unless he just wants to call it quits and retire. If that happens, the C’s are in big trouble and might as well rebuild around Rondo.
But count me in as one who thinks the Celtics will still be a contender for the title next year, as long as KG, Rondo, and Pierce are still around, and that GM Danny Ainge can sign better quality veteran free agents – ones more consistent than the likes of Marquis Daniels and Mickael Pietrus – to surround them and can (for once) have most of them and the core of the team stay healthy. Getting Bradley and Jeff Green back from injury will be a big help, and resigning restricted free agent Brandon Bass will also be essential to keeping the C’s in contention for the near future.
There will be more on the Celtics from me in the future, but for now, it’s best to enjoy the rest of the NBA Finals. All I have to say is, go Thunder!