CelticsWire – One of the great questions about the KG-Paul Pierce-Ray Allen Big Three era is what would’ve happened if they weren’t beset by injuries. They were the league’s hottest team in 2009 after winning the title, before Kevin Garnett went down with a leg injury. In 2010, they made it to Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers, but lost without Kendrick Perkins who suffered a torn ACL in Game 6. They were hot again the next season before Shaq’s career came to an early end due to lingering calf injuries, falling to the Heat in five games in the conference semis.
I mean, he’s not wrong. The Celtics were absolutely dominant right out of the gate in 2007 on the way to a 66-16 record and the Larry O’Brien trophy. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen had played a grand total of 0 games together before rolling to a 20-2 start. That is insane. KG was Defensive Player of the Year, Paul Pierce was NBA Finals MVP, and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.
All of that was in Year 1. Imagine how good they would have been in Year 2 with a fully healthy team?
“I say it all the time, I thought we could have three-peated,” Pierce said. “Because if you look, we won I think 62 games the second year after we won it. Kevin got hurt after 30 games, so we played 40 games and the playoffs without Kevin and still won 60 games. I believe we were somewhere around 29-2. Everybody was talking about us winning 70.
“If Kevin was healthy, we probably would have won 70 games. 2010 we coasted. We only won 50 games and when the playoffs come, we turned it up and got to the Finals.”
One of the most dominant teams of the century was rounding into form in Year 2 with 3 hungry Hall of Famers before a KG injury shot that all to hell. In more recent interviews you hear about how Garnett was never really the same again after that injury. Sure they made the Finals the following year when he came back, but after 2010 they became the old, wily veterans just getting by on grit and balls. That narrative produced my favorite Celtics commercial of all-time by the way.
But the days of winning 70 games and NBA titles had passed.
Something I say all the time when people chirp Boston fans is that you will never care about your teams more than we do. Even after all the winning. Boston has had an incredible run of success going back to 2001 with all 4 major teams, BUT we also have experienced some of the most heartbreaking losses, which only helps to fuel that fire. I won’t list them all here because I don’t want to smash my laptop at work, but the 2010 NBA Finals Game 7 will forever have a spot on that list. Going for their second title in three years against the Lakers in LA. Perk had blown out his knee the game before and the Celtics were relying on bum ass Rasheed Wallace who was sucking air from the tip. It was a slow bleed too. You could feel the game slipping away and the Celtics just couldn’t put it away.
The Big Three Celtics will be forever remembered as the ones that raised Banner 17 and how they completely changed the culture of the Celtics. We’ll always say what if though. What if KG was healthy, what if Danny didn’t trade Perk for Jeff Fucking Green, what if LeBron didn’t go Super Saiyan and drop 45 and 15 on us in Game 6.
Now I need to cheer myself up, so enjoy this trip down memory lane.