By Craig Kwasniewski
The Celtics are going through a ruff patch. KG and Pierce are both banged up, Ray Allen's looking very, how should I say this, looking very Derek Fisher these days and the C's can't seem to protect any huge second-half leads. So obviously it's time to blow up The Big Three and trade Sugar Ray! He's done, he's finished... the Celtics need to make a panic move now while his expiring contract is... well close to expiring.
I think it's insane to break up The Big Three so soon after hanging banner 17. Shouldn't they be allowed to give it one last shot together? Shouldn't we consider that this might be a rough patch in a long season? Why break up a good thing so quickly, did you not forget the 22-year championship drought?
Anyway, here are a few reasons why the C's should keep Ray Allen and give The Big Three one last chance at a title:
The long regular season. Relax Boston... I know it's cold and miserable back east and the long winter is getting to you but you really need to be reminded how The Association works. The NBA regular season is a very long 82-games over six months. Mix in preseason and hopefully a long postseason and you're looking at a 8 or 9 month season. Veteran teams always seem to hit a lull somewhere between Christmas and Easter. It's impossible to bring playoff efforts when your key players are in their 30's... it's just not possible (and the ones that did, like the Pat Riley Heat teams in the late 90's collapsed in a heap by playoff time). Just ride out this rough patch, usually teams find their second wind around March Madness.
Don't be so quick to blow up the Big Three. Counting playoffs The Big Three era has lasted about 2 1/2 seasons for a total of 253 games. Actually that sounds like a good number of games... a good run at legitimate title contention, right? Not really when you consider that the C's were last legit contenders when Bird retired in 1992. That's 15 seasons with 6 brief postseason appearances (and only one conference championship appearance in 2001-02 with the Jim O'Brien chuck-and-duck era) for a grand total of 1,275 games. Suddenly 253 games doesn't sound like a lot does it? Maybe you might want to remember the long drought before sending off a future hall-of-fame guard for a quick fix.
At the bottom of my gut, with every inch of me, I plain, straight hate you. But dammit, do I respect you! Appreciate what you have Celtics fans. I'll be honest here, I hate the Boston Celtics. Of course I do, I'm a 11-year Lakers season ticket holder. One of my worst sporting experiences ever was Game 5 from the 2008 NBA Finals. It still scars me to this day and anytime I see a 2008 NBA Champions tee, I make a concerted effort to throw a "hey FU man!" look at whomever is wearing it. But you know what? The NBA and especially Lakers fans need the Boston Celtics to be relevant. We need to have one of the fiercest rivals to be also championship rivals. The NBA was built on it and it still exists because of it. As much as I hate this, I want to be able to appreciate the Big Three for what they have been for the last 2 1/2 seasons and I want to be able to appreciate them for as long as I can. Why be so quick to blow up this squad? Yeah I know the potential is there to acquire some key talent, but the Celtics ain't getting more than a Kurt Hinrich and a bag of contracts for Allen... nothing more. That might be appealing right at this moment, especially with Allen playing like garbage, but in the long run Hinrich's offensive game doesn't even sniff Allen's jock.
That's the thing here... even near the end of his career Ray Allen is still more talented that what the C's will likely get in return. He still gets the respect calls from the refs and he still has that killer mid-range jumper that will stretch out the defense and create lanes for Pierce and Rondo to drive through. Plus Allen still is the C's second-best player in the clutch. Need I remind you what he did in the Bulls series last year? Stats, especially "clutch stats" may count shooting percentages late in the game but they don't keep count of the willingness to take they key shots with the game on the line. And Ray Allen is fearless with the ball in his hands, the clock winding down and a chance to tie or win. Despite having an off year he's still very capable of bouncing back and rallying for one last shot at a title.
The Big Three deserves one last shot at a title. You're telling me that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen only get two shots together to win a title? That's it? Maybe the Celtics fans should cut Allen a little slack after all he was 1/3 of a group that literally dragged the franchise from the depths of hell. Need I remind you that in 2007 The Garden was taken over by Lakers fans doing MVP chants for Kobe Bryant? The Big Three saved professional hoops in Boston and they deserve the finish out their third season together with one last shot at a title. You never know how the seeds play out. Maybe the Cavs break down from playing at such a high level, maybe the Magic fold under the playoff pressure because Vince Carter realizes he's Vince Carter and tanks...again and maybe Atlanta is still a year away from turning into a legitimate contender. Yeah it's a rough stretch but the C's only have to face two of the top 4 teams in the east and as with Orlando last year, you never know.
Keep the Big Three in tact for one last run.