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The End Of The Affair?

Everyone holds out hope the Celtics will lash out at Miami tonight with renewed energy and send the series back to the TD Garden for game six on Friday night, but there remains a very real possibility that tonight will be Boston’s final game of the 2010-11 season. This is not to bury the C’s but a reminder that you may be watching this particular core for the last time.

This might be the final night we’ll see Doc Rivers stalking the sidelines in front of the Boston bench. Kevin Garnett may choose to retire rather than wait out a lockout for the final half-season of his contract.

It seems increasingly certain that neither Jermaine O’Neal nor Shaquille O’Neal will play basketball beyond this spring. This may also be the final go-around for Glen Davis and Delonte West in Celtics’ uniforms. Both will be free agents this summer.

And while you surely don’t approach them with nearly the same kind of sentiment as the guys above, does anyone expect to see Nenad Krstic, Von Wafer, Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo back here next year?

The 2011-12 Boston Celtics may be no more than Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and eight other guys with whom Celtics fans have no history. Sure, that’s still three of the big four, but there would be an inestimable void without #5 on the court, should he decide to step away. Think at all the angst felt since the departure of Kendrick Perkins.

None of this is meant to kill the vibe in the room (Monday night’s game took care of that quite nicely). But it is a reminder to enjoy watching these guys tonight, no matter the result. There may yet be one final Rondo-to-Garnett alley oop left in them, one last ill-advised Davis jumpshot to draw your ire, one final demand from Doc that the team pick up the pace. And for all the scattered half-efforts and no-shows over the last four years, no final estimation of this era would be fair without recognizing how superb this group has played and the renaissance their assembly sparked for this franchise. And there remains the little matter of that seventeenth banner they hung up in the rafters.

In sports as with anything else, it seems like there’s never enough time with the things you love. And however wildly our opinions may vary about the importance of a group of multi-millionaires playing a game, it seems reasonable to assume that love is the word many of you would use to describe your feelings towards them. Because ‘millionaires playing a game’ doesn’t do it justice. It’s not even close.

Tipoff is at 7:00 EST tonight.

It’s not one you want to miss.

  • Jeremy

    It would undoubtedly be sad to see one of the classiest players in the NBA, Ray Allen, and one of the most emotional and dedicated players in the NBA, Kevin Garnett, retire. But if there is a silver lining to be found, it is this..Rondo has showed us that he too with his never back down and never give up attitude is as worthy of our support as any other of our previous Celtic legends. The sad thing is Kendrick Perkins would also have been another player worthy of our support as he was as close to a second KG as we could have had. Regardless, I wont be thinking about that come gametime. All I'll be thinking about is next series because I still believe the Celtics will win this.

  • AussieCeltics

    I love Ray.

  • Batman

    If we lose this series….The end of an era gentlemen
    Have to call us a success
    Won only 1 ring, but injuries took down our most important player in 2009
    Were on the verge of a ring in 2010 but Perkins…..
    And this year we were just victims of another uprising
    Good 4 years gentlemen

    • kricky

      This group has been really unlucky with injuries. KG in 2009 and Perk last year in the finals. And don't forget the Marquise injury this year. Without that injury the trade doesn't happen and we are still the team to beat this year.

      • Batman

        Heres the thing about the Marquis injury i realized a couple days ago:
        It was actually a better thing for us
        Marquis is injury prone. This we know.
        What if we went to the finals and he went down? He went down pretty easily when no one really touched him
        Then we would be stuck with no backup
        Then we would be in a worse situation
        I think Marquis's early injury was a blessing in disguise (wish him well)

  • All about 18

    Get rid of krstic He’s horrible

  • kehntangibles

    As a Laker fan, I can't bring myself to actually root for you guys in this series, but it's mostly because… if the Celtics did prevail, we'd never hear the end of it from you guys… if the South Beach Talents win the series, we'd only have to hear about it from what…. all eleven of their fans? But if anyone goes down with a fight, it'll be the Celtics. Here's hoping that Delonte scores a lot on Lebron's mom, and here's hoping that Lebron retires as ringless as Frodo Baggins did.

    • Mike

      HAHA I'm gonna use that frodo quote.

  • It will be interesting. If you remember back when Danny took over – he traded Antoine and made the comment that he didnt want a team that would be good, win 40-45 games per year, make the playoffs and then exit in round 1 or 2 at the best. He wanted a team that could win championships. With that in mind – I could see him making major changes after this season, with everyone (with the possible exception of Pierce) being available. Also, Doc i am assuming is gone. He seems to really want to enjoy watching his son play college ball, which would mean taking at least a year or two away from coaching. Also, while Doc has been a great coach for this team, and is a great coach for a veteran team – i dont think his strength is developing young talent and building a team. That is the type of coach this team is going to need in the next year or two (unless Danny can land Dwight Howard, but I dont see that happening).

  • duggyfresh88

    Very well said. As Boston fans this decade we have become so spoiled with all the great teams and athletes we have been able to watch. It has really been a pleasure to watch all of these hall of famers play alongside eachother. Lets hope they can pull off a miracle and advance so we can see them keep it going!

  • misel

    i dunno, man. i just don't want to think about that yet. i became a celtics fan in 2007, but i've never been so attached to a team as i am now to the celtics… heck, i even cried for them more than i did for my favorite basketball team in my country.

  • Mike

    I still think adding a few pieces in the offseason (like Oden, JR Smith and Battier) and the Celtics are still contenders the next year as well.

    • Batman

      I think we r contenders for next year if we add a young center

  • wgr

    Funny that the writer didn't mention Jeff Green at all as part of either the group that is leaving or the group that is staying. It's almost as if he doesn't exist…

    • Jon

      True he didn't even mention Jeff that's tough. I think that Jeff has been the best bench player of this series and he needs more time to produce and give a breather to Paul. I think things should be really interesting next year.

    • Dan

      Who's Jeff Green?

  • Mike

    Also how sad is it that those three fakers in miami are comparing themselves to our Celtics? The blueprint…? Please… It took the three (or 2 and half if you prefer) of them to join ''forces'' to be in a position of 3-1 against us since alone they couldn't get past us ever. And still had that play been executed it would be 2-2. And people still call them old. What does that say of the other team. I still see this match up as ''good vs evil'' and evil can't win. Lets play defense tonight and force game 6 Celtics!

    • Faye

      I couldnt have said it better myself. I’m so annoyed with the Heats phoniness. All that garbage about our C’s being their blueprint? Give me a break. They will never be like the Celtics. I just can’t see these guys winning a title any time soon. But since we know Big Daddy Stern controls everything, I’m sure they’re are just gonna cheat their way to the top just like they did in Game 1 this series. Ugh I’m over it. Can’t wait for next season. Doc’s coming back, Thank God.

  • NC34

    Came in here to mention the Jeff Green omission but wgr beat me too it.

    Assuming some of these guys do retire, I hope they bring Green and Delonte back for sure. Wouldn't mind seeing JO or Wafer either.

  • kricky

    If there is a lockout maybe we have a chance to keep this group together and contend in a short season.

    The thing that killed us this year was the grind. We were playing so much better at the beginning of the year when all our guys still had fresh legs.

  • torpid bunny

    I love this team. I believe they will play with pride tonight like Doc said.

  • skeeds

    The C's can stay relevant after this season, but it'll take a wizard (a la Doc Rivers) to do it. This team of veterans has 2 ways out as it is:
    Retire, while they're still a playoff team. Or, carry on, make the uneasy transition from starters to bench players, slowly play less, and retire because they can't get resigned.

    Or, the C's have the rare opportunity to do something none of the other big 3's in history could. Right now, none of them is hurt, they're actually quite healthy. But they can't handle pushing through another season alone. Then how about a team with more equally spread minutes? Jermaine can be very effective for 20 minutes, so can KG Pierce and Ray. We have 2 starting caliber bench players, might have 3 if Baby didn't go missing. Jeff, Delonte, ok Davis too, +2 good pieces, can easily spread the load between them and dominate.

    It might sound crazy, but as a euroleague enthusiast, and a Panathinaikos supporter, it seems so logical to me. And it's something we've never seen in the NBA. A kind of team that has the luxury to sustain a very high level of competition while avoiding to wear out it's starters. We'll never see a 40 game from Pierce again, but we wouldn't expect to see many more as it is. And I bet KG can average 12-10 if he only had to run up and down the court for 25 minutes. Ray I won't even comment on. Guy could keep making threes 'till he's 50 years old.

  • Neddy

    Last paragraph brought tears to my eyes

  • Sauce

    Regardless of the Ring and the near ring, it has been such a pleasure to watch this team play and I've learnt so much from them, little things like those small details on defense and all those moments we've all shared and been a part of.

    But I won't be reminiscing properly until we either win the title or get put out, we still have some vintage BC2008 performances in us yet.

  • Renato Afonso

    Yes, Celtics fans got spoiled with the core they got. They had a 4 year window to win it all, and as of now they're 1-2 and probably be 1-4. For most teams not named the Lakers, Spurs or Celtics, going two times to the Finals in three years and winning one of them is something else. As a Lakers fan I wanted the Celtics to become relevant and they did. And once they did I learned to hate Pierce and KG (specially) to heights I never thought would be possible. Funny how I didn't hate Pierce when he was on a losing team… And this says all you need to know about that core.

    But from now on the question is: who do you have on your roster that is building block? Most of you will say Rondo right away but I beg to differ. While Rondo has amazing physical tools at PG he still can't shoot the ball and without the big three around him to draw defenders from the paint, Rondo can be neutralized. Obviously you can surround him with great shooters, but will they be available? Is Rondo a natural building block or the ultimate distributor for two or three alpha dogs?

    What I do think the Celtics should do is keep Krstic and Green. They would be great role/complimentary players for your future core. Most people are saying that Krstic sucks and cannot play any defense. I say that Rivers should play him more against the Heat, or is Joel Anthony that big of a threat to the Celtics?

    The rest, maybe they can snatch some free agents… It will be difficult due to the lure from warm weather cities, but still possible.

    • Renato Afonso

      Meant 1-3 in 4 years instead of 1-4.

  • phreesh

    Ray will be able to find a job for the next five years and with his perfect shot and attention to fitness, it wouldn't shock me to see him in the league for ten more years.

    Pierce will have to surrender some minutes to the next generation and KG looks like he's done. I can't see him sticking around much longer.

    Rondo is a great piece to have for a developing team as a distributing PG can bring out the best in developing players – getting them the ball in the right place at the right time, rewarding effort, etc.

    And the Green omission is interesting. No hiding that deal under the rug, Ryan. However, given Pierce's age, he might blossom if he had a year to fit into the system.

    Odd to say for a team potentially losing several key players in the off-season, but a coaching change might be the biggest shakeup. I wonder who might move into Doc's chair.

  • Daniel Lavi

    That said, I haven't given up on the Celtics. You have to understand their personalities, they are old, but a proud bunch. They are war vets that know they may be outnumbered and surrounded, but they will look at each other say it was a pleasure serving with you and go all out and fight for their team.

    This team needs to do just one thank (that i can only hope Doc Rivers is preaching now) take it one game at a time. For at the end of the day its a a 48 minute game. I truly believe if anyone in the back of their mind knows that this is your last chance to do what you love, they will not let that chance, that moment pass them by. KG, Pierce and Allen love this game too much to LOSE their final game together. If they can just approach each game individually as this is potentially the last game we will either ever play (KG) or atleast play together (Allen, Pierce, Doc), I don't think they will let this opportunity pass them by.

  • Daniel Lavi

    Just one game like its your last. that mentality will never fail. Because when your up against the wall at the risk of losing everything that matters to you, like a soldier at war, your heart beats 10x faster than the opponents and that will to survive is the most powerful force in the world.

    Thank you Celtics Family and enjoy watching champions dying for their love of their team and making it to see another game tonight. Becuase I can't believe this is the last game a I will see of the most passionate nba player of all time (KG) and the purest shooter of all time (Allen).

    This game tonight will be my most memorable of the Celtics era. It will be magical.

  • oddbird

    Hey, thanks for this article. its good to be reminded of how good it really all is.

  • Boston

    It would be an absolute shocker if Kevin Garnett stepped away from basketball at this time. I see that being a 10% chance. I think we will see Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Rondo, Bradley with a resigned Delonte West, and Jeff Green. I also think Jermaine O'Neal will be back, Shaq will retire. Glen Davis will sign elsewhere. Where does that leave us? Well with a bunch of open roster spots and very little in the way of cap space. It will be an interesting offseason for sure, but this team needs to get younger… no more old, beat up, injured offseason signings.

    • Dan

      That would be a 45 win team, good enough for 6th seed in the east. Probably lose to the Hawks in the first round. No thank you.


      I would love to see this core group make another run……….you are absolutely right we have to sign some YOUNG TALENT and work them into the rotation just like Red used to do in the old days. The old guard has talent and experience, we fell to Miami when they ran out of gas. New youth and talent will give us another shot and at the same time they will be building a foundation for the next run.

  • diehardceltic

    Ah today is just a bitter-sweet kind of day! I am praying and hoping the the celtic pride that has carried this team for so long will prevail today! Let's just come and play like we will never play again…….ah the thought that this might be the last game I watch the Big 3 together really gives me a headache! *sigh*

    Lets go CELTICS!!!! Win or lose, we will be back at it in October!

  • Seanthoughtwhat

    Kind've along the lines of KG stepping away from basketball…

    I remember reading at some point someone commenting on how KG would be as a coach… but I completely forget if they said he'd be really good or really bad.

    The article mentions how strange it would be to not see KG anymore on this Celtics team. What about a Bill Russell type player coach? Not going to be the dominant player-coach that Russell was, but the Defensive Assistant coach who is a bench player. Is this just a crazy dream? How fun would it be to see KG as a coach?

  • Dan

    Also, if JO wants to go all Bynum on Wade tonight, maybe knock his fragile knee out of the rest of the playoffs, he would earn a place in my heart.

  • Perkisabeast

    Losing Perk destroyed our future anchor

  • Victor

    I would LOVE to see the C's bring back Leon Powe next year.

  • Dan

    You make it sound like the teams leaving town and the website is packing up.

  • Faye

    I want Our Big 3 to return of course. KG is too talented to retire. Rondo is definitely gonna come back. But we can’t let go of Jeff, Big Baby, and Delonte even Nenad. These new guys just need some extra time to gel and recoup. We need a young starting center (Still not over Perk) with no injury issues and a good back up for Ray. Our bench really needs to step it up and get back to our original suffocating defensive mentality. Why we got rid of Marquis (despite horrific injury) and Nate, I will never know. I’m looking toward to the future.

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  • jake

    Rightly said Ryan. In sports there is never enough time for the things you love. You are always in a rush, but again he time span for these sportsman are short though.

    Jake ~ want ex back

  • jake

    Rightly said Ryan. In sports there is never enough time for the things you love. You are always in a rush, but again he time span for these sportsman are short though.
    Jake ~ want ex back

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