Boston Celtics

Calm down Beantown

Boston needs to down a chill pillWhoa, whoa! Calm down, Boston. Here, breathe into this paper bag and we’ll turn on a Sox game. I know it’s exciting. When your team traded for superstar Kevin Garnett, thus creating a dynamic threesome alongside Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, it resurrected your basketball pulse. But even KG doesn’t make the Celtics a lock for anything.

Oh, there’s potential. Beantown has dubbed this trio the new Big Three – taking over for Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale. People have already started comparing these Celtics to great teams from the glory years, causing Paul Revere to shout, “The championships are coming! The championships are coming!”

But not so fast. History tells us different. Most often, placing several all-stars on the same roster doesn’t guarantee a title.

In 2004, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared a shoo-in for their fourth title in five years after signing the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer Karl Malone and hall of fame-bound Gary Payton. Add Shaquille O’Neal in his prime and an ascending Kobe Bryant, and it created, what most called, the best starting lineup ever.

The result: The Lakers lost in the NBA Finals to the all-star-less Detroit Pistons in five games.

In 1997, the Houston Rockets traded for Charles Barkley, who teamed up with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. This created a daunting frontcourt comprised of three hall-of-famers.

The result: The Rockets bowed in the Western Conference finals to the Utah Jazz in seven games.

Venturing from basketball, let’s examine the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers have boasted all-star-laden lineups and pitching staffs for years. Yet they haven’t bathed in champagne since 2000. Here are some examples of big-money talent the Yanks have lured in since their last title: Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Randy Johnson, Hideku Matsui, Kevin Brown, Carl Povano, and Mike Mussina. And not one World Series crown in seven years.

In the movie “Miracle,” Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) tells the United States Olympic Hockey Commission why the NHL All-Stars failed against the Soviet Union national team: “All-star teams fail because they rely solely on the individual’s talent.” In other words, all-star teams tend not to work as a unit. How will Boston’s all-star lineup function?

Who says Pierce, one of the league’s most selfish players, will share the ball? Same with the other two, who are used to having the team’s weight on their shoulders. Will they be able to share the load?

Now, some say one variable separates this Boston trio from past all-star experiments. The Celtics play in the Eastern Conference, the NBA’s supposed JV. The watered down conference should allow Boston to get away with selfishness, experts claim.

I disagree. The East will be stronger this year, thanks to new faces and increased experience. Not as good as the West, but better.

The defending Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and their star, LeBron James, won’t go way. Dwayne Wade finished last season with one arm. He’ll come back strong. As will Gilbert Arenas, who had the Wizards atop the East standings before suffering a season-ending injury. Then there are the two heavyweights: Chicago and Detroit, both of which should contend for a title.

The road to the Finals, therefore, might not be as smooth as anticipated.

Boston has some problems of its own, too. Namely, its depth and coaching.

Doc Rivers shouldn’t have a NBA head coaching position. He should’ve got canned years ago. But so far he has dealt with young, inexperienced question marks. Let’s see how he handles real talent on his roster.

Three spots on the floor look stunning. But what about the other two? ESPN projected Rojon Rondo as the starting point guard, with the center position up for grabs. Against teams with five talented starters, like Detroit, Boston could experience trouble in, essentially, a 3-on-5 game.

Depth will prove a huge issue for this team. They, for instance, only have one point guard. Should the new all-stars experience foul trouble, injuries, suspensions, etc., Boston will have to play the same scraps that last year produced the league’s second-worst record. Not good.

It’s OK. Stay optimistic Boston, because talent won’t prove a problem. But don’t jump the gun. Talent can only take a team so far.

Just how far? The playoffs? The NBA Finals? Perhaps. But remember, the Celtics aren’t a lock for either.

4 replies on “Calm down Beantown”

Celtics You are comparing the Celtics to some of the past teams, like the old Rockets that featured old and ready to retire players like Barkley and Clyde (actually Clyde probably could have played longer, but Chuck was fatter and slower then ever at that point in his career). Then the Lakers had Karl Malone, who was injured in the finals and would have helped tremendously, and Payton, who has been a problem on most of the teams he has been on. KG, Allen, and Pierce are all much younger then most of the examples you used, if they don’t finish in the top three or four spots in the east then it will be a huge disappointment. The east is so weak that even if 1 or 2 of these guys misses some games they should still be at the top of the conferance. The east is horrible, therefore Boston will be one of the elite teams in the east. It is a good article though, very intersting.

This trade… makes the Celtics relevant again in Boston for the first time in five years (hell, maybe 20 if you talk to a diehard). I think a lot of the excitement lies in “hey, I can’t wait to watch the Celtics this year.” I totally get your point about them not being a complete championship contender yet. But you can’t argue that they should win a lot more games than last year, and a lot of teams won’t have an answer for the Big Three. Beantown shouldn’t calm down, at least right now, because it’s ok for them to get excited about hoops again.

Anyway, good article. There’s always a columnist out there to attempt to piss on the parade, which is fine, because it’s well-written.

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