Throwback Thursday: Celtics would have wiped the floor with everyone in the 2009 playoffs with KG
With Danny Ainge stepping down from his role as the head of basketball operations with the Boston Celtics after 18 years yesterday, you now start thinking about his legacy. For Celtics standards, one title in 18 years in unacceptable. But where Ainge often is criticized too much and unfairly in my opinion is that the Celtics haven't won a title since the KG/Pierce era. The fact is it's simply not that easy to get the MVP caliber stars you need to win titles. The Celtics had that for 1 and a half years with Kevin Garnett.
If you really want to go back and look where the Celtics could have won more titles, it's right after their last one in 2008. And despite the retirement of PJ Brown and James Posey leaving in free agency, the Celtics had a better record in the 2008-09 season prior to KG's injury than they did the previous championship year.
And it makes sense. Look at the LeBron/Wade/Bosh Big 3 in Miami? They didn't become a championship team until season 2. Season 2 is where you've fully clicked. Shows just how good the Boston Big 3 was that they won in Season 1. Prior to KG's injury the Celtics were rolling. And not only was the Big 3 still in their primes, but 2008-09 Rondo had made another leap in his game. By the playoffs, he was an All-Star talent.
And for all the opposing fans that like to make fun of Kendrick Perkins meager career stats, filling up a box score wasn't his role. But if you want to look at stats, check out his numbers during the 2009 playoffs. Perk was officially a "Beast" by then.
So with a healthy KG, Boston would have had an MVP caliber leader, two additional perennial All-Stars in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and another one on the cusp in Rajon Rondo in their starting line-up. The fact that Boston almost beat the eventual Eastern Conference Champion, the HGH Orlando Magic, shows just how good KG's supporting cast was.
Replace Big Baby in the starting line-up with KG and add Big Baby to the bench with guys like Stephon Marbury and Eddie House and the Celtics were winning that title. There starting 5 was simply too elite to lose. Also I'm of the believe that Marbury, who did play very selflessly in his short Boston stint, would have thrived in the pick and roll game with KG.
Yeah that team would have won it. And watching them the next season go up 3 to 2 on the Lakers prior to Perk's injury with a KG who was maybe 75% of his old self proves it even more. And yes if KG was 100% in 2010 they win that title easily as well, even if Perkins goes down.
While I think I've been very fair with my criticism of Ainge over the years, many people think I've been way too hard on him. But today I will say that he did put together a multi championship team, it's just that the centerpiece broke after just one playoffs. You really need the Russell, the Bird, or the KG to win. Sure if Ainge had many a few different moves here or there they could have still won a second title even with KG's injury, but I'll give the man a break, as we all should, and say that no man is perfect.
But for this Throwback Thursday, I just wanted to point out that while the Perkins injury and subsequent loss in the 2010 Finals stings the most for that team and many fans, the 2009 had that championship on the bag too. And if we're playing the long game on this, the team could have even won more titles after 2010 with a KG at 100%. If you recall in 2012 they almost beat LeBron and the Heat, and they played that whole year with Jeff Green sidelined due to his heart surgery. Prior to that season the Celtics almost signed David West, until Larry Bird convinced him that he had a better shot at a title in Indiana; that Boston's window had closed. West signs with Boston if KG never suffers that injury.
The Celtics lost out on many championships when Len Bias tragically passed away two days after being drafted. They also lost a few more when KG went down in 2009. That team was just getting started.