August 23, 2010
In an offseason that's seen a bunch of crazy stuff happen — Brad Miller's(notes) camouflage shorts, LeBron James'(notes) television show, Chris Bosh's(notes) desperate quest to be as unliked as his new Miami Heat teammate — it's easy to forget that just two months ago we watched an NBA Finals Game 7 between two of the most storied franchises in the history of the NBA. Kinda slipped your mind, right? But it totally happened and was not incepted. I think.
One bro who didn't forget that that happened is Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who is adamant that the Celtics just need their real starting five to topple the Lakers. He's said it before, and he still thinks it's true. He said so during an interview last week with ESPN 980's John Thompson. Here's what he had to say, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews:
"They still have not beaten our starting five. Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell him don't forget that. We will be back strong and Perk (Kendrick Perkins(notes)) will be there next year if there's a game seven."
Fine, Doc Rivers, you are right. The Lakers have not beaten the Celtics in a seven-game series when the Celtics are totally healthy. He is totally 100 percent correct about that and no one can disagree about that. Howevski, the problem with saying that is that the average age for Boston's team is measured in tree rings. And there are a lot of tree rings on the inside of those old oaks. And when there are that many rings, injuries start happening.
The worst part, though, is that it wasn't even an old guy who went down during last season. Perkins' injury was a freak thing, no doubt, but Kevin Garnett(notes) or Paul Pierce(notes) getting hurt wouldn't be a huge shock. Heck, we all thought KG was washed up all year long, until he had a bionic knee transplant prior to the finals. Now he's a year older? That doesn't bode well. To make matters worse, the two O'Neals brought in to replace Perkins while he's out aren't known for their health, and neither of them have played a full season since Jermaine had cornrows.
Word to Doc Rivers — the Celtics' starting five is one-for-one in NBA Finals appearances where all of them are healthy for the entire series. That's a very specific set of circumstances, but it's valid. That's a good team and the Lakers haven't beat them. But the thing is, that's not necessarily going to be the team that faces the Lakers, and even when they don't, the games still count.
On the other hand, if Boston can petition the league to only count games in which the expected Celtics starting five takes the court, we might be looking at the first undefeated team in NBA history. It might only be for six games, but still.