Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Celtics journey from laughing stock to champion

After a Game 5 Lakers win, you could sense that Boston felt that they had missed an opportunity. They fell behind early in Game 5, much like they did in Game 4, and came back. But in the end, they just couldn't get over the hump.

In Game 6, the Celtics removed all doubt early. They knocked the Lakers out by half with a combination of stifling defense and efficient offense. In one of the biggest routs in clinching games in NBA history, the Celtics could do no wrong as they embarrassed the Lakers, 131-92. 131 points in an elimination game, no it isn't a misprint. L.A played like a semi-pro team last night, as the score would indicate.

Coming into this past offseason, the Celtics were down on their luck, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers' jobs were both in jeopardy, and they were the laughing stock of the league. Boy, do things change in a hurry. The Celtics then pulled off the two biggest trades of the offseason, landing both Kevin Garnett in Ray Allen in a week that will go down in Celtic lore. All of a sudden, the Celtics roster transformed from Al Jefferson and a cloud of dust to three stars and a nice array of role players, such as James Posey, Kendrick Perkins, and Eddie House.

Not only did the roster look good on paper with the additions of Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett to go with the incumbent star Paul Pierce, but these guys are all unselfish and they compliment each other perfectly. Paul Pierce is the slasher, the guy who gets to the hole seemingly at ease. He also has a good outside game to compliment his ability to get to the hole whenever he so pleases. Ray Allen is the outside sharpshooter, one of the best in NBA history. Garnett is the dominating inside presence on defense, and someone who can score in the low post (though I don't believe he truly makes full use of his skill in this area). Garnett is the number one difference maker defensively on this team, as his presence on the interior makes it easier for the perimeter defenders as they can play tighter knowing that they have one of the best shot blockers in the business backing them up. Tom Thiebodeau (I REALLY wish the Knicks would have waited to get this guy an interview), was also a major part of the defensive renaissance as his the Celtics bought into his scheme. The Celtics team defense, as a whole, is simply superb. It showed in the Finals series as Kobe Bryant struggled for the majority of the series as a variety of defenders and different defensive looks made life difficult for him.

The Celtics ended their season last night much like their season started (in June), with a bang. They went from the laughing stock of the league to cream of the crop all in one season. They are a testament to the word "team,” and a model for what could happen when you are down on your luck. Things change fairly quickly, and the Celtics are the perfect example of this.

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