Skip to content

Celtics-Heat Game 7: A fade from green to black

Jun 10, 2012, 3:38 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Four Getty Images

It’s possible, however remotely, that Miami’s 101-88 win in Game 7 wasn’t the end of the Big 3 era in Boston. It’s not inconceivable that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers could elect for one more ride. But it doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like it because of how close this team came to being blown up before the season, during the season, at the deadline. It doesn’t feel like it because of the economic realities and the difficulty in retaining said players at market rates while not squandering their window of opportunity to rebuild around legitimate, motivated talent. But mostly, it doesn’t feel that way because of the look on the Celtics’ faces in the fourth quarter of Games 6 and 7. Last year they could throw out Rondo’s injury, or the way the roster was constructed. But this year is different. This year is a  team they liked, a team they trusted, a team they believed in. And in the fourth quarter of Games 6 and 7, the truth was etched on their faces. Not The Truth, but he truth.

The Heat are just better than they are.

The belief was there, even for three quarters in Game 7. That effort and execution would trump talent. That heart and grit would trump ability. That sheer force of will was more important than strength, speed, and athleticism. But then, as these things do, the reality set in. Santa Claus is not real, there is no gold at the end of the rainbow, and the Miami Heat are a better team than the Celtics.

As much as a Game 7 can prove such things.

So now there’s a whole other world waiting for them, a summer that will deal with free agency for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, with Allen already having speculated about moving on. The Celtics wouldn’t get into the discussion of whether they will finally pull the trigger on the detonation Saturday night, it wasn’t the time. But if this is it, it’s important to note what they leave with.

An NBA championship for Boston, first and foremost, having carried the title back to Beantown when it had been absent for twenty year. Two Finals appearances, a year cut down by an injury to Kevin Garnett, and then, the Big 3 era in Miami. (The Heat have never lost a playoff series in the Big 3 era to Boston. There’s a fun small-sample stat). They brought us Ubuntu, they validated the careers of Allen, Garnett, Pierce. They made Doc Rivers into arguably the best coach in the NBA, certainly the coach most want to play for. They gave us dedication, sacrifice, intensity, and a whole lot of fouls. They resurrected the Lakers rivalry and may have been primarily responsible for “The Decision” and the formation of the Big 3. They were the superteam before there were superteams (apologies to the Spurs).

It was an amazing run.

But the truth is that it’s over.

It’s time to look to the future, to get Rondo some running mates his age (or younger). It’s time to move forward and look for the next great Celtic. It’s time to let go of the past. Because this team gave everything anyone could have asked of them, and it wasn’t enough. The time has come, and Ainge and Rivers know it. They’ve known it for a while, but they chose to believe in miracles. And for a while, this team of over-the-hill veterans made them believe. But at the end of the rope there’s an anchor. It’s time to let go.

There will be a great many questions about this Celtics team going forward and looking back. Were they truly one of the great teams of their time, or is their lone title not enough to justify the hype about them? Were they victims of fate (Garnett’s knee in 2009, Perkins’ knee in 2010) or simply flawed in trying to win with older players in an athletic age? Is Rondo the lone reason they were able to compete for so many years, or are teams unable to win a title with him as the best player? Should the Celtics have made a move sooner? What about the failed deal for David West? The questions will haunt the city and sports talk radio and are worth asking.

But beyond that is a team that deserves to be remembered not as three superstars that came together to win titles. But a team of great players who all bought in to something greater than themselves and came out with a bond greater than that of just teammates. They won together, they lost together, but they fought through everything the league, the world and fate threw at them. They fought to the bitter end. There’s no shame that the Heat were better. There’s only a pride in being another in a long line of great Celtics teams.

And for the city with the most NBA championships, a grateful hand is extended, even as the question is on their lips.

“Where do we go from here to win Banner 18?”

Latest Posts
  1. Cavaliers trade with Jazz, gain pieces for Kevin Love deal

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans Kevin Love, Jeremy Evans

    Utah reportedly trades John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to Cleveland for Carrick Felix, second-round pick and $1 million

  2. Clippers CEO: If Sterling remains owner then Doc Rivers, players, sponsors all ready to bolt

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

    Sterling will be removed as Clippers owner one way or another because he is toxic to the organization right now.

  3. Bojan Bogdanovic officially becomes member of Brooklyn Nets. Finally.

    Jul 22, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    JSF Nanterre v Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Getty Images

    He’s going to get some of Paul Pierce’s minutes.

  4. Isaiah Austin says NBA has offered him a job once he finishes degree

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Adam Silver does the classy thing. Again.

  5. Agent spins Evan Turner could have gotten $10 million a year if he’d stayed in Philly. Nope.

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Evan Turner is now a reclamation project — if he wants to get paid he has to become more efficient.

  6. Report: Cavaliers trying to acquire other players to put in Kevin Love trade

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    It means the Timberwolves want to send Kevin Martin out in the Love deal, Cavs trying to make that happen.

  7. Report: Cavaliers to sign Andrew Wiggins as early as Wednesday

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Once signed, he can’t be traded for 30 days … to the Timberwolves, for example.

  8. Report: Bulls making push to trade for Kevin Love

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Kevin Love

    Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler would reportedly be sent to Minnesota.

  9. Report: NBA warned stars against participating in clinics in the Philippines

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Liillard among players who would face fines if they participated in a planned exhibition in Manila.

  10. Wizards will have new alternate uniform for 2014-15 season (PHOTO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT

    Martell Webster; John Wall

    Wizards take a more subtle approach than some of the others we’ve seen.

  11. USA Basketball names 13 NBA players to 2014 Select Team

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Rookies Doug McDermott and Marcus Smart make the cut to train with the National Team in Vegas.

  12. Sasha Vujacic has been working out with Blake Griffin, eyes NBA return this season

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:13 AM EDT

    Vujacic_Sasha

    Vujacic is known for his time with the Lakers, and hasn’t played meaningful minutes since 2011.

  13. Seven standout players from Las Vegas Summer League

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:42 AM EDT

    Nerlens Noel, Akil Mitchell Nerlens Noel, Akil Mitchell

    The list includes Gorgui Dieng and Donatas Montiejunas.

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4926)
  2. L. James (3831)
  3. L. Stephenson (3806)
  4. A. Wiggins (3497)
  5. R. Allen (3401)
  1. C. Boozer (3344)
  2. E. Bledsoe (3223)
  3. K. Bryant (3220)
  4. D. Rose (3009)
  5. D. Wade (2571)