Changing The Landscape
The 2008 Boston Celtics set the table for what we know as the modern era Big 3. They created the landscape that the entire NBA tries to emulate to this day. Taking a 24 win team from the year before and making it into a powerhouse by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as well as bolstering to bench with veterans hungry to win.
Many teams have attempted to do this same thing, with mixed results. Teams like the Miami Heat did the same exact thing and were successful. The Brooklyn Nets attempted to do it with the same guys that did it in Boston, but their time had past and the Nets couldn’t even make it to the Finals. This season, the 2017 Boston Celtics have created their own Big 3 with the likes of newly acquired Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to go along with big man Al Horford. Could this year’s team lead by the new Big 3 be better than that 2008 team?
Many people might think the idea of comparing these two teams is crazy, but is it really? The talent from the Big 3’s are definitely comparable.
Before you ask, no I honestly did not intend to make both teams recieve 8 check marks, it just happened. The way the players are matched up I based off of minutes and that is how the order they appear in is done. There were quite a few close calls and I wasn’t sure which guy to chose. I was torn on Pierce and Hayward, but Pierce in his prime was almost unstoppable, we’ll how Hayward fairs as he enters his prime. And no matter what, Scal always has to get a check mark.
Both teams are very different in terms of age and play style. The 2008 team was well known for their veteran status as well as their grit and determination. Grit and determination has been the identity of the Celtics again for the last few seasons, but with almost an entirely new team, we have no idea what the identity of this years team will be. Kyrie Irving doesn’t have the scrappy reputation that Isaiah Thomas, neither does Gordon Hayward like Jae Crowder before him. These are guys are much more talented, but their identity will become clear early in the season.
A Big 4
One of the overlooked aspects of that championship team was the emergence of Rajon Rondo, especially in the playoffs. The young point guard grew a ton over the course of the season with the guidance of the Big 3 and he became so important that some even coined it a Big 4. Whether you believe that to be true or not, you cannot deny his importance to that team.
With this 2017-2018 team, I believe Jaylen Brown could be the Rajon Rondo of this team. No, I am not saying he is going to be playing point guard and dishing out close to 20 assists, I am saying that he could as important to this team as Rondo was to that team. Jaylen Brown has some serious talent that seems to just be waiting to erupt. He took a back seat his rookie season as he learned the ropes of the NBA and played inconsistent minutes, but with the departure of Jae Crowder and the fact he could be starting and most likely getting serious minutes, Jaylen could be in for a breakout season. If I am right, we could be calling this a Big 4 as well when it is all said and done.
Offensively this team is talented as hell. Kyrie Irving can score at will and you could even say Gordon Hayward is a more athletic version of Paul Pierce. Although Pierce’s athleticism was sneaky good. Al Horford is no Kevin Garnett in terms of physicality, but as we saw last year, he is one hell of a passer and a great teammate to have. Say what you want about him, but without Horford that team is not in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
This current team is not even close as good of a shooting team from deep as the ’08 team was, however. Guys like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Eddie House and even James Posey were all lurking around the perimeter ready to splash. You could even say that team is the reason current teams stock up on shooting. Guys like Rondo driving the lane and dishing out to 3 point shooters like Ray Allen was deadly and so hard to cover.
However, with Kyrie Irving’s ability to get into the lane and guys like Hayward could be on the receiving end of a lot of 3 pointers. I still think this year’s team needs a true knock down shooter to come off the bench. Who that is, I have no idea, but there are plenty of them out there that could fill the role. There is no doubt the bench of the ’08 team was better and more experienced, but the young athletic bench of this year’s team could be really exciting to watch. If they can mesh right, the talent on the bench can help this team immensely.
Defensively, the ’08 team blows this year’s team out of the water. The grit and determination on the defensive end is not necessarily what these new Celtics players are all about, with the exception of Marcus Morris. That grit and intensity was gone along with Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. The ’08 team was in your grill and wasn’t going to let you push them around. We’ll see if these new Celtics players can buy into that mentality. They are going to need to buy in on the defensive end if they truly want to compete with teams like Cleveland and Golden State.
While Doc Rivers was praised for the job he did with the Celtics, I think we all know now that we gave him a little too much credit. A guy who had horrible records before the Big 3 showed up has not been able to do anything with the LA Clippers besides post very good regular season records. Nothing matters unless you can do it in the playoffs and Doc Rivers track record has been shaky at best.
Brad Stevens on the other hand, has taken every Boston Celtics team he has coached and made them into a group of overachievers. Although it is awesome to say that last year’s team was in the Conference Finals, they were not a team talented enough to be in that spot. They overachieved big time and that is exactly why Danny blew that team up. He knew they would never do better than they did last season. Now, with legitimate talent to reach the NBA Finals, it will be so fun to watch what Brad Stevens can get this group to accomplish. A legitimate Finals team with a coach who makes every team overachieve is a deadly combination. Needless to say this team has a better coach than the 2008 team.
In the end, all we can do is speculate at the moment, but there is definitely a reason to compare these two teams. That 2008 team was one of the greatest Celtics teams in history because of their talent and the leadership brought on by the Big 3. If this year’s teams wants to be as successful as that 2008 team and more successful in the future, they need to copy the fire and culture that the championship team played with. This team is younger and set up better for the future. The talent is comparable, all that is left is to go out and execute. In my honest opinion, I believe this year’s team could be better than the championship team of ’08. Can they win it all though? I guess we will have to wait and see. I cannot wait for this season to start, how about you?