The cigars are still smoldering in ash trays across Celtic Nation but that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward. I’ve held off on this topic because I wanted to savor the moment. Now I’m starting to get greedy for another banner. So here are 3 reasons why repeating might be tough and 3 reasons why we have some hope to repeat.
Big 3 Obstacles To Repeating:
1. The Big Thirtysomethings – I’m sure you are aware of this by now, but Pierce, Allen, and Garnett are all over 30 years old. Everyone stayed (reasonably) healthy this year. Pierce still seems spry and Garnett is intense as ever. Still anyone can be injured at any time and the older you are, the harder it is to recover. It was nice to see Ray Allen break out of his early postseason slump, but it always seems to be the shooting guards that trail off suddenly. There are a lot more Mitch Richmonds in the world than Reggie Millers. On the other hand, even if Ray devolves into a pure spot up shooter, that would still be a valued piece of the puzzle.
2. Complacency – They’ve climbed the mountain, reached the pinnacle, and realized their greatest dreams. What’s left? How do you get motivated now? How about history? I mean, the Celtics are not just known for Championships. They are known for lots and lots of Championships. This Celtics team has achieved the immediate goal of winning their first title. Now they can work on that whole "dynasty" thing. They are going to need to find something to keep themselves driven. The best defense in the league won’t stay the best if they aren’t giving 110%.
3. Post-Title Money Grab – You’ve already heard that James Posey will exercise his out option to become a free agent. His value is at an all-time high and he’s going to demand a big payday. It is not clear how much money and how many years it will take to hold onto him. I hope he’ll be back, but I don’t think anyone would blame him for taking more money and security elsewhere. To a lesser extent you could say the same for Eddie House and even Tony Allen.
Big 3 Reasons They Could Repeat Anyway:
1. One More Year of Familiarity – Clearly the entire team came together in a big way on defense. Offensively, on the other hand, things weren’t always smooth sailing. Many times it seemed like the New Big 3 took turns taking over and leading the team in scoring. It was what each of them was used to in their past lives and it was enough to get the job done - mostly due to the superior defense. But it wasn’t ideal. Every once in a while, however, they gave us a glimpse of what they are capable of. When they were truly clicking they presented a balanced attack with beautiful ball movement and spacing that kept defenders’ heads spinning. Pierce slashed through the paint, Garnett played the pick and roll perfectly, and Ray bombed 3’s from all around the arc.
Now they’ve played 108 games together (plus preseason). They’ll have another preseason to tweak the offense and develop roles further. Basically, if you thought they looked good on offense this year, look out next year.
2. Rondo and Others Now Vets With Championship Experience – Rajon Rondo took a huge step forward in his development curve this year. He went from shaky rookie with potential to solid starter to occasionally dominant in under a year’s time. Still, there were forgettable moments where he looked very much the 2nd Now he’s seen just about everything teams will throw at him and stands tall as a Champion. He’s an obsessive game tape watcher. He’ll get in the gym and work on that jumper. Count on him figuring out ways to get better and better.
Count on the same from Perkins who gets a little bit better every year. Leon Powe and Big Baby each learned a lot by playing and helping the team win. Gabe Pruitt learned a lot just from being around this team. He could be a hidden gem at the backup point guard position next year. year point guard.
3. Free Agent Destination – Last year a few coveted free agents (notably Posey, PJ Brown, and Sam Cassell) chose to come to Boston, even though they might have been able to squeeze a few more dollars out of other teams. If Ainge thought he had good choices to pick from last year, he might find free agents lined up around the block this year. I don’t know who that will end up being this year, when you can have your pick of the lot, it helps you find the right mix. I never knew much about Eddie House before he came to town, but he was a great fit. Expect at least a few fresh faces accepting the veteran minimum to help fill out the roster.
The window of opportunity for this core group was never going to be too wide. They need to focus on winning now. Year one was a huge success. Year two presents another golden opportunity to further the tradition of banners. Danny is already hard at work trying to make the most of that opportunity. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. Let’s do it again! Drive for 18!