It has been 14 years since the Boston Celtics won an NBA Championship. Back then, it was Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen who stepped up to bring the latest title to Boston.
Now, it's Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart who are trying to win, and they are only three wins away from coming out on top.
Ahead of Game 2, former Celtics GM Danny Ainge spoke on the legendary franchise and explained the similarities between today's roster and the 2008 crew.
Ainge was trying to explain the many ways Garnett reshaped the Celtics’ defense. On top of all the obvious traits Garnett brought to the court, including his trademark intensity, Ainge emphasized how much Garnett’s sheer size at the power forward spot transformed the team. Even at nearly 7-feet tall, Garnett could play next to center Kendrick Perkins, a luxury that allowed Boston to put big defenders at every position.
“It’s a little bit like the team is structured now,” Ainge said. “We had good size (in 2008). We had a good size shooting guard (Ray Allen), a good size small forward (Paul Pierce). And obviously (Garnett) and (Kendrick Perkins) — as the four and the five, our size was good. Not a lot different than the team that the Celtics have right now with Al Horford and Robert Williams and allowing Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to be big for their position. When those guys played recently in the last couple years with Marcus at the two and Jaylen at the three and Tatum at the four, they were undersized at their positions. But by inserting Al Horford in there, all of a sudden now they were bigger at every position, and just as big at the five and bigger at one through four. And so that makes a big difference.”
According to Ainge, it was the Kemba Walker trade in the winter that allowed for more important players to blossom and unlock the potential of the team.
No matter what you think about Ainge or his tenure in Celtics' front office, you cannot argue with the results. For years, Boston has fought for legitimacy in the East, and they finally have it with the same core they built years ago.
Hopefully, like that 2008 team, they will come out on top and prove that they are still one of the Eastern Conference elites.