NBA Rumors: Why Break Up the Boston Celtics Big Four?

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IMarch 6, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 04:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics directs his teammates in the second half against the New York Knicks on March 4, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 115-111 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics, with their Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, as currently constituted, are in contention to win the NBA Finals.

That is, if they are all healthy.

With a stat line of 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds against the New York Knicks on Sunday, Rondo has shown that he is one of the best point guards in the league. While he still can’t shoot, he makes up for it in other areas. Instead of relying on his jump shot, Rondo adjusts as he gets his points in transition or breaking down the defense for an easy layup. This season he's averaging a career-best 14.3 points per game with a field-goal percentage of 46.7 percent.

Rondo is third in rebounding among all guards with 5.4 rebounds per game, just behind Kobe Bryant and Evan Turner. He ranks second in the league in assists per game with 10.2. He also defends. Because of Rondo, Boston is left with one year of hope.

At 34-years-old, Paul Pierce is averaging 18 points, 5.4 assists and five rebounds per game. And that's after taking off a few games at the beginning of the season. He's a money player that can still get it done. Against the Knicks, he had a season-high 34 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. When playoff time comes, you can expect him to raise his level of performance, just like he did in a nationally televised game on Sunday.

At 36-years-old, Ray Allen is averaging a career-best in three-point percentage with 48.3 percent. Because of the excellent shape he is in, his game is age-defying. He can still run the floor just fine and plant himself at the three-point line when he needs to. This season, he is averaging 14.7 points per game, scoring more than 20 points in eight games.

While Kevin Garnett seemed to have lost a step in the beginning of the season, it looks like he has found a way to turn back the clock. In his last five games, Garnett is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. For the season he is averaging a very respectable 15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

If head coach Doc Rivers is able to get the proper rest needed for Pierce, Allen and Garnett, this team should be able to make a run at the Finals.

Age is not such a negative in the NBA. In fact, age wins championships.

Last season, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat in the Finals with six players 30-years-old or older. Jason Kidd was supposedly over the hill, Dirk Nowitzki was supposed to be soft and not a closer. The Mavs weren’t supposed to be fast enough. But that all changed when they beat Miami.

On the other hand, the Celtics are battle tested proven winners. They know what it takes to win championships. This group beat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games and were possibly a Kendrick Perkins’ injury away from winning another one just two seasons ago.

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Kevin Garnett #5, Ray Allen #20 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics react in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers on January 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Cel
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In last season's playoffs, this Celtics team swept the Knicks and then ran into the Miami Heat with Rondo having a dislocated elbow and back problems. Without Rondo at full strength, the series only went five games. While Boston only won one game, the series was competitive.

Game Four went into overtime, while LeBron James had to score 10 points in the final two minutes of Game Five to end the series. After losing the series, the Celtics and all of Boston were left with the question of what if? What if this team was healthy?

Well, this season they should get their chance to see what if. Right now, Rondo, Pierce, Allen and Garnett are all healthy. With Garnett and Allen working on expiring deals, this really is the Big Four’s last shot at a championship.

If Boston is able to make a run, they are likely to face the Heat and Bulls.

I believe that the Celtics have a favorable matchup against the Chicago Bulls. Rondo against Derrick Rose is an equal matchup. Paul Pierce is better than Luol Deng. Ray Allen can score more than any of the Bulls’ shooting guards. And Garnett could be a strong defensive presence against Carlos Boozer. Boston will have to find a way to deal with Joakim Noah.

The Celtics only faced the Heat once this is season and they were without Paul Pierce. They lost, but it was close until the end. Boston was able to withstand the Heat’s Big Three. To beat Boston, Miami needed a 20-point performance from rookie Norris Cole.

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 04:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics heads to the net as MarShon Brooks #9 of the New Jersey Nets defends on January 4, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Nets 89-70. NOTE TO U
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With a healthy Paul Pierce, the game may have been a little different.

Danny Ainge should just ride this season out to see what happens, instead of breaking up this team and giving up. If he does, he would be left with plenty of cap space when Allen and Garnett’s contracts come off the books this year.

No team is going to give the Celtics anything of real value in return. Pierce and Allen still have value, but is any team going to give up one of their young star players for either one of them?

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes: "According to multiple league sources, there just hasn't been much call for the Big Three."

Keeping this group together will cost the Celtics a lottery pick in what appears to be a very good draft. But, does that outweigh the positive of perhaps another Finals run?

The problem with Boston is that their franchise and fan base are all about championships. Instead of being a decent playoff team, which would be NBA purgatory for them, they would rather give Pierce, Allen, and Garnett away in the name of rebuilding.

Ainge needs to give the Big Four their one, last run. They deserve it.