The summer of 2007 was a historic one for the Boston Celtics. The franchise traded for one of the greatest shooters of all time, Ray Allen, on June 27th, and just one month later they acquired one of the greatest power forwards ever, Kevin Garnett. Even though these two moves were the main ingredients needed to build a championship contender, one piece was missing: the bench.
In my opinion, one of the most hyped free agent signings in recent Boston Celtics history came in the form of the bench players acquired that summer. Those names are guard Eddie House and small forward James Posey. These two players turned out to be significant components on the roster that would eventually become the 2008 NBA Champions.
Eddie House came to Boston as a well-respected veteran player that brought heart, hustle, speed, and a deadly three-point shot. Yet, somehow House managed to surpass expectations, coming in and shooting 39.3 percent from behind the arc. While backing up second year point guard Rajon Rondo, House averaged 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 19-minutes per game. Quite frankly, it's not the statistics that really matter, because the intensity that House brought to the court cannot be quantified or understood unless you watched him play.
House was benched during portions of the Celtics' playoff run in favor of a more traditional backup point guard, Sam Cassell, who was brought in mid-season. However, House was not forgotten about, as he finally got back in the rotation during the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Eddie House's shining moment came in Game Four when his ability to spark the team was desperately needed. The Celtics trailed by 24-points in the first half, but the bench, aided by Eddie House's hustle and two three-pointers, helped bring the Celtics back on a 21-3 run. The C's ended up winning the game 97-91 and grabbed a 3-to-1 series lead. House made contributions off the bench in game's five and six, as the Boston Celtics won Banner 17.
As the Celtics made a run during the 2009 Playoffs, Eddie House played a much more crucial role on the team. House played in all 14 of the C's playoff games, averaging 16.6 minutes and 7.7 points on 51.9 percent shooting. Eddie had another incredible performance in Game Seven of the opening round against the Chicago Bulls. In 22-minutes he shot 5-of-5 from the field, including 4-of-4 from three-point land, for a total of 16 points. The C's edged the Bulls 109-99, in large part because of House's efforts.
Eddie's hot streak would continue in the next round against the Orlando Magic, when he scored a career-high 31-points on 11-of-14 shooting. Whether Eddie House was draining a there-pointer or diving a loose ball, his contributions to the franchise will always be remembered.
James Posey signed with the Celtics for the veteran minimum even though he certainly could've received a much larger contract elsewhere. He was known as one of the most hard-nosed defenders in the NBA but could also shoot effectively from the perimeter. Posey came in as the sixth man, playing in 74 total games, averaging 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, in addition to his absolutely stellar defense.
"Big Game James" exceeded my expectations set for him because I underestimated his ability to be a shutdown defender, as well as his importance in building chemistry in the locker room. Posey came to Boston knowing he had a strong chance at winning a championship and he wouldn't be denied in the playoffs, often defending the top player on the opposing team, like the great LeBron James.
Despite all of Posey's gritty contributions on defense, the play I'll always remember him for came on offense with under two-minutes remaining in Game Four of the NBA Finals. After the Celtics managed to come back from a 24-point deficit, Kobe Bryant cut the Celtics' lead to only two, at 89-87, with only 1:30 left in the game. With ten-seconds left on the shot clock, somehow Posey leaked over to his sweet spot in the left corner three. Ray Allen fired a pass at him and Posey spotted up, sinking the three and giving the C's a five-point lead. "Big Game James" signed up for moments like that and didn't let the opportunity pass him up.
Even though Eddie House and James Posey didn't equal the mass contributions made by other players brought in over the years, they were played their roles and were main parts of the Boston Celtics 2008 championship roster. Had they been signed during an ordinary offseason, they wouldn't have been touted as the final pieces that would help the Celtics potentially win a title. Considering the Celtics did win the championship and each of these players brought clutch play, heart, hustle, and determination, I believe that both of them surpassed the hype set for them.