The one thing standing in the way of the Celtics next title is not a specific player or team.
It's father time.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Boston Celtics are among the top five oldest teams in the NBA. They have also played in 401 games since the 2007-2008 season to the 2010-2011 season.
To put those 401 games in perspective, the Miami Heat over that same stretch only played in 356 games.
The Celtics are going to be a victim of their own success in this year’s playoffs. Boston is going to have go on the road: Not having games in the TD Garden could cause problems.
The 66-game compressed schedule has made it tough on a lot of teams. But none has probably felt it more than Boston.
The Celtics' original big three have been in the league an average of 14.6 seasons. That’s an awfully long time for crunch-time players.
Kevin Garnett has been in the league the longest of the big three. For 16 years, he has gone all out. Garnett was always known for his defense dominance but this year he has shown that he has a lost a step.
Garnett’s offense hasn’t really dipped since his first year in Boston. You will not see the same explosive plays that Garnett used to make but you will see him use a solid post game to help him get his numbers.
Ray Allen has been in the league 15 years. He still has one of the best jump shots in all of basketball.
The problem with Allen, however, is he is starting to get those injuries that never go away. His current injury is a swollen ankle that has been bothering him for more than a month now.
Paul Pierce is the captain of the Celtics and has been in the league for 13 years. Pierce has been through the good and the bad in Boston, but his days are numbered.
Of the big three, Pierce is the one whose statistics have dipped this year: He is having his worst shooting percentage year since 2003.
This year has also been his lowest three-point shooting percentage since the 2005-2006 season.
It could be coincidence that Pierce’s numbers are starting to dip or it could be the fact his legs are starting to getting tired.
Three of the four most important players on the Celtics have played 44 combined seasons. When you look at the best three teams in the NBA, you will see a huge age gap between Boston and the NBA’s elite.
The three most important players for the Miami Heat have played 24 combined seasons; the top three for the Chicago Bulls have been together for 19.
And the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the youngest teams in the NBA. The Thunder’s three most valuable players have combined for only nine seasons in the NBA.
The Heat, Bulls and Thunder’s three most important players have all combined to play in 52 seasons. Only eight more than the Celtics' big three combined.
The Celtics are more than likely going to land somewhere between the third and the sixth seed.
Boston does not have a history of breezing through the playoffs. In the 2007-2008 season, the year the Celtics won the NBA title, they played the most games in playoff history at 26. That record was previously set by New York Knicks in 1994.
The Celtics cannot get into a knock-down, drag-out kind of series. But, the Celtics don’t really have any other way of beating teams nowadays.
They cannot out-athletic people because they have players that were in the league when Michael Jordan was still in his prime.
People tend to think that the playoffs might be better for the older teams. I tend to think the opposite; every possession of playoff basketball is a grind. The grind isn’t just on your body, but also on your mind.
The Celtics are going to have to spend a lot of energy on road games—they are 15-16 on their travels this year.
Those numbers are not signs of a team that can win on the road in the playoffs. They might be able to win road games in the first round but probably not past that.
Do the Celtics have a legitimate chance to win the NBA title?
Sure, you can defend them. You could say their age is a good thing or that they have been through the wars. Chicago and Miami have yet to win titles while Boston has, so they have the know-how.
But father time is undefeated.
And teams like the Lakers and Celtics are a big step behind the Thunder, Bulls and Heat.
The age of the Celtics is going to be their achilles heel. Unless Boston can figure out a way to get through the first round in a sweep and get through series quickly and uninjured, they have no shot.