If you had asked me this question even just a few weeks ago – can Boston make it back to the NBA Finals? – I would’ve laughed in your face and pinned you in as a New England homer. There was Chicago, Miami and then everyone else in the Eastern Conference. But as the Heat have lost their way and as the Bulls have lost their star, the Celtics went from surviving day-to-day to becoming the East’s sleeper, and now at 21-9 since the All-Star Break, the squad playing the best basketball east of the Mississippi. Until the Knicks broke a box score last night, Boston was playing historic defense while Rajon Rondo is on an assist run not seen since John Stockton. The rest of the team is all either reaching in the time machine (Kevin Garnett), playing above their heads (Brandon Bass) or coming into their own (Avery Bradley).
Boston should consider themselves lucky to even be here. Danny Ainge nearly decimated this team at the All-Star Break, and now we have the details. Yahoo! Sports reports that the Celtics traded Jesus for O.J. Mayo and a draft pick, and for 20 minutes after a phone call from Doc Rivers, Allen really believed he was a Grizzly. That deal ultimately fell through, as did another that would’ve sent the Truth to New Jersey for Mehmet Okur‘s $10.9 million expiring contract and a lottery pick.
Instead, Ainge let his love affair with this summer’s draft slide, and brought everyone back for one final, one last championship push.
Allen would’ve been a perfect complement for Memphis’ quirky lineup while the Nets’ addition of Pierce, if everything went according to plan, might’ve made a major impact on this summer’s free agent class. But now they’re both still in green, and plan to give us at least a little Eastern Conference drama outside of South Beach and the Windy City.
Was it the right move to hold on to their old stars?
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