With the Boston Celtics on the brink of playoff elimination, allow this to serve as your annual reminder to savor what could possibly be the final time Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett share the Garden floor together.I know, I know. We’ve been here before in each of the past few seasons. But last year we saw the end of the Big Three era when Ray Allen defected to rival Miami and, with each passing season, it seems the likelihood of a potentially larger roster overhaul grows. Maybe more so this season given that these Celtics are on the verge of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistencies.Antennas are further heightened after Garnett and Pierce, along with Rajon Rondo, huddled in the shower area inside the team’s locker room at TD Garden for a lengthy confab after a Game 3 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday night put Boston in a 0-3 hole to the New York Knicks.
Was it a gabfest about how the Celtics could pull off the biggest comeback in NBA history? Or was it a trip down memory lane for a championship trio that knew it might never share that sort of moment again?Neither Pierce nor Garnett were available to the media during Saturday’s offday availability. Both did speak after Game 3 and weren’t overly maudlin, keeping the focus on what went wrong and how to reverse the momentum of the series in Sunday’s Game 4.
For the first time in the Kevin Garnett Era, the Celtics find themselves staring at an 0-3 NBA Playoff First Round abyss. After playing relatively well in the first half of both Games 1 and 2 at MSG, the C’s returned home to a raucous crowd, ready to make the roof pop off. Instead, the Celtics played as if they were ready for vacation. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise, since there were signs along the way for weeks. Since March 8th, they’ve won two games against a team above .500, both times against the Atlanta Hawks, once without Al Horford. There was lackluster play, disinterested efforts and worst of all, mounting losses.
Sure, it could be written off as resting for the playoffs but the playoffs are here and well, they’re almost over as quick as they began. These aren’t the KG/Pierce Era Celtics that we’re all used to and in some cases it seems like they’ve checked out mentally. In Chris Forsberg’s piece above, he sums up the brutal reality staring them straight in the face. Late last night, news broke of J.R. Smith’s Game 4 suspension for elbowing Jason Terry. Obviously, a Knicks team without the 6th Man of the Year is an easier one to defeat and maybe this is a spark the C’s need to stave off an embarrassing sweep at home.
It would be good for the team and the Boston fans to see them take at least one win in this series, especially if it’s at home. Mainly because as Forsberg points out, it could very well be the last time we see Pierce and KG in a Celtics uniform at home, or at all for that matter. KG has been doing his thing for 17 years, and unlike most players that come and go, the preparation he takes before 82+ games per year is getting more and more taxing by the game. Pierce could continue to play but would it be here? He’s always said he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding team again and who could blame him? He was loyal and patient to this franchise for nearly a decade before they were able to reciprocate and provide him with teammates and a situation that was basketball paradise. Unfortunately, it can’t last forever and it didn’t last long enough. We’re also seeing some crazy things in these playoff games with all of the unforced turnovers by bobbling easy passes and inability to make easy plays. It’s not the same team it was even a year ago. Time is not on their side in this series or in the immediate future with KG and Pierce. I love these guys to death for all of the Celtic happiness they brought back here. It truly has been basketball and Celtic paradise. But unfortunately, even the sun sets in paradise. Let’s hope the sun stays up for at least one last game.
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