Was Saturday night the last time we will see these three in Celtics green together? Only time will tell
For every beginning of a season, there will always be an ending to one as well. For the Celtics, that came courtesy of the Miami Heat on Saturday night in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami now heads to Oklahoma City to face the Kevin Durant and the Thunder for this years NBA championship. But, with all due respect, this is not about either one of those teams. This is about the Boston Celtics and their magical season. I do not know anyone out there who had extremely high expectations for this team coming into the year, especially with news of swing-man Jeff Green being ruled out for the year before it even started due to an unfortunate heart ailment. Then came discussions, yet again, on how old these guys are; too slow, breaking down, unable to consistently perform game in and game out. That, along with the compressed schedule due to the lockout, did not bode well for the aging legs the Celtics had. Then Chris Wilcox, the only reliable big man off the bench we had, goes down with a heart ailment similar to Green’s. Jermaine O’Neal was shut down soon after continuing to affect the depth up front the Celtics had. The Big 4 dealt with ailments up through the entire postseason. Injuries are never an excuse though, as every team goes through them and by the playoffs, everyone is playing injured to some regard.
Thats what was so great about the Celtics. They had the “out” they needed. Injuries. Age. But they never used it as an excuse, instead they just kept playing basketball, and kept doing whatever they could to help each other out. They sat idly by at the deadline, urging Danny Ainge to not break them up. He listened. The end result was something I’m sure he could be satisfied with. Celtics went on to win their division, grabbing the 4th seed in the playoffs and while no one doubted they would make it in a very weak Eastern Conference, the question was always :Well would they lose in the 1st round or make it to the 2nd and lose to Chicago, a team that was clearly one of the favorites entering the postseason.
While injuries normally went against the Celtics, this time they saw the window get slightly opened when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs. This gave the Celtics an easier journey to at least the conference finals, and had people wondering ”Maybe..just maybe we could do it again.”
It was not meant to be though as the Celtics ran out of gas against Miami a la NBA finals 2010 game 7 against the Lakers. While winning against the Heat would have been no guarantee to win a NBA title (would certainly have more than hands full against OKC, arguably the favorite even against the Heat) it would have been fun to see them try one more time. This was a team that cared more than anyone could possibly imagine. They were no longer at the tops of their games individually, but working together they could still prove critics wrong. We should not look upon being eliminated as a failure of a season; we should look at as a group of guys who defied all odds and were within 12 minutes of going to their 3rd NBA finals in the 5 year run of this Big Three.
Who knows what possibly is going to happen this off-season. The draft is at the end of June and the Celtics own 3 picks (2 in the first round) and this is an especially deep draft. The Celtics will also have plenty of money to spend for free agents as KG and Ray’s contracts come off the books on July 1st. If this was truly the end as many see it being, for this era’s Big Three, then let us acknowledge them and thank them for bringing basketball back to relevance here in Boston. They gave it all they could, but as they say: Father Time is undefeated. It will certainly be an interesting off-season to look forward to, and looking at the draft to see the direction the C’s are heading. For all we know, these guys could get back together and have dirt thrown on them once again, and make another magical run through the postseason. Thank you Celtics for this season, and if this is the end of the Big Three, it was one hell of a ride. Let’s Go Celtics!! I encourage you to watch both of these videos, one from the past, and one from the present. Both these videos embody what it truly means to be a Celtic, and to believe in loyalty and team.
***Make sure you continue to check New England Sports React for off-season updates on the Celtics through the draft and free agency, as well as the other articles that our other writers work very hard on. Thank you for reading throughout the season. ***
- John Calabro