The San Antonio Spurs ran through the 2014 season like a man on fire, avenging their heartbreaking 2013 Finals series loss with a complete dismantling of the Miami Heat in the ’14 Finals, beating the LeBron James-led in five games while playing a beautiful brand of team-first basketball that can still be considered the poster child for what selfless basketball can lead to.
One of the main leaders on that team, Tony Parker, one-third of the Spurs Big Three that helped deliver four championships to San Antonio, believes that with Coach Ime Udoka leading from the sidelines, the Boston Celtics can make up for their heartbreaking Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. It all starts with allowing 2022 to serve as a motivator to the ultimate goal of not only making it back to the Finals but winning it all.
“He was with us in those years,” Parker said. “So he can definitely take some stuff from what we had to go through. I played with him as teammates and had him as a coach. He’s been through everything with us, so he knows better than anybody how to bounce back from a tough NBA Finals loss.”
There are some big differences between those Spurs and these Celtics. For one, the core of the Celtics are all under 30, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being 24 and 25-years-old respectively. The Spurs championship core were all well into their 30s execpt Kawhi Leonard, who won his first Finals MVP that season but was yet to become the lethal scorer he is today.
The main thing that the Celtics will have to do is continue to play like they did from the flip into 2022 until the end of the regular season, finishing the season fifth in assists per 100 posessions and forming the top-ranked defense in the Legue. Being able to lean into team play will allow the Celtics to not allow offensive lapses like they did during their run to the Finals and over the final four of the championship series against the Warriors.
Both Udoka and team president have stated that they want to see the Celtics play with “a little bit more movement,” on the court. Being able to replicate what the Spurs did during their 2014 title run will be difficult, espcially with two wings that are deadly in isolation, but in order Boston to hang their record 18th title, they might have to sacrifice those points in order to accomplish their ultimate goal.
“For me, the way we lost in 2013, it created what happened in 2014,” Parker said. “Maybe one of the best finals in NBA history. Maybe the best Spurs basketball that we played. In 2014, the way we played, the passing game, everything, we were maybe at the highest level of my whole career. It started with a tough loss in 2013.”