In the words of Robert Collier, "In every adversity, there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time."
At the start of the season, the Celtics picked up right where they left off in 2008. Kevin Garnett came back from knee surgery to rejoin the Celtics, who looked unstoppable as they went 23-5 to begin their drive for an 18th Title.
Comcast SportsNet was running a black and white commercial non-stop that showed the team readying themselves for a game in the tunnel, and then running out to the court with words like, "Reunite, Reawaken, Resurgence, and Reloaded" flashing on the screen rapidly.
Nothing seemed more fitting.
Then a massive wave of injuries came crashing down on the Celtics, yielding a crushing streak of mediocrity and unrest within the franchise.
Kevin Garnett had a hyper-extended right knee and Rajon Rondo had hamstring and ankle trouble. Paul Pierce had a knee infection and a strained left foot; Kendrick Perkins had a wrist injury and got food poisoning. Tony Allen had injuries to his hip and knee. Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis both had serious thumb injuries. Rasheed Wallace was healthy, but was making fans want to vomit Alvin Gentry style with all of his technical fouls and poor three point shooting.
When Kevin Garnett returned to the lineup, he would often limp and hobble his way up the court and had difficulty elevating off the ground.
Pierce was struggling midway through the season after returning from the disabled list. There were major doubts about whether this team could even make noise in the playoffs let alone contend for a championship.
The Celtics went .500 for the last 54 games of the season. They lost to the New Jersey Nets at home. Enough said?
All of this adversity seemed to only fuel the Celtics and make them stronger.
After all of their trouble and turmoil, the Celtics returned to the top of the NBA.
Heading down the stretch, Doc Rivers gave his key players the perfect amount of rest to have them ready as can be for the playoffs. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned very close to top form and Rajon Rondo emerged as a superstar right before our eyes.
In the Celtics’ 2008 Championship season, they were virtually injury free. The team boasted a 68-18 record, wrapped up the No.1 seed, and held home court advantage.
This season, they were plagued by injuries almost all year, finished 50-32, were a No.4 seed, and only had home court in the first round of the playoffs.
But miraculously, the Celtics have had an easier time so far in this season’s playoffs than in 2008. It took the Celtics seven games to win their first round series in ’08 against Atlanta whereas it took only five games for them to beat Miami in this years’ first round. In 2008, it took all seven games to take out Cleveland in the second round, while this season, it took just six. The Celtics went six games in both the 2008 and 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, but they had home court against Detroit in ’08, but not against Orlando this year.
It was Rajon Rondo that made the difference. In 2008, Rondo wasn’t nearly the player that he is today, and now the Celtics’ opposition has to face four superstars and pick their poison.
When Rondo, Pierce, Allen, and Garnett are all playing well, Boston is unbeatable.
Many people counted the Celtics out, but they never counted themselves out, and now they're four victories away from winning it all.
When this team was assembled in the 2007 off-season, the Celtics and their fans had titles—Plural—in mind, and whether the Celtics match up against Phoenix or LA, they won't settle for anything less than another ring.
In the 90’s, the Boston sports teams failed to bring home a single championship. The New England Patriots brought home a championship only a year into the last decade.
There would be no better way to start this decade than for the Celtics to come out on top in the NBA Finals.
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