One Big Three is not like the other.
Stop comparing the ’07-08 Celtics to the ’99 Rockets. Right now.
I get it. Really, I do. The Celtics have accumulated a collection of three All-Stars. So did the ’99 Houston Rockets. Said Rockets didn’t win anything (they flamed out in the first round of the playoffs to the Lakers), so some doom-and-gloom types are claiming that the Celtics may be headed down the same road. I beg to differ. (And I can do my points in bold, too!)
The Celtics aren’t that old.
The ’99 Rockets were ancient, with TONS of mileage on those legs. Scottie Pippen was the whippersnapper of the group at 33, and he was coming off six championship runs and an Olympic gold medal in eight seasons (adding the equivalent of another season), and both Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon were over 35. Ray Allen, the oldest of the Celtics trio, is 32. Paul Pierce doesn’t even turn 30 until October. And when was the last time any of these guys made a deep playoff run? All three of those guys are gonna feel a LOT younger come November 1st.
The Celtics should be way more motivated.
Of course Barkley wanted a championship real bad, but Pippen and Olajuwon already had eight rings between them. When it became readily apparent that the Chuckster was hopelessly out of shape (not that it prevented him from putting up his usual numbers), Pippen started sniping and the whole championship thing fell by the wayside. The Celtics should have no such problems. KG, Paul Pierce and Allen are all still seeking their first taste of an NBA Finals, and should have no problem combining their talents to get there. What, KG’s gonna want to get his numbers so he can finally get paid?
The Celtics three aren’t THAT unhealthy.
It’s been pointed out (by Mannix and others) that Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both missed a bunch of games last year. What hasn’t been pointed out is that the Sonics and the Celtics were both godawful. Somehow I think if either team was in the playoff race, both of those guys would have played in a LOT more games. Um, not that I’m saying the Sonics and Celtics were tanking in an attempt to get Greg Oden or Kevin Durant or anything.
I’ve got one team for ya—the ’05-06 Miami Heat. It’s the EAST, for God’s sake. The Bulls have a lot of pieces, but they’re still young (and lacking a definitive go-to guy). The Pistons are a year older (and coming off two straight non-Finals appearances), and the Cavaliers have two fewer All-Stars and an equally thin bench. Why couldn’t the Celtics reach the Finals next year?
But…they can’t compete with the best of the West!
But…they only have to beat ONE Western team. After the Spurs and Suns and Mavs and Nuggets and whoever else are done kicking the crap out of each other, what if a well-rested and insanely motivated Celtics team is waiting for them in the Finals? Anything can happen. Anything at all.