When we first heard that Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett had been traded to the Boston Celtics, it was chaos. Photo shoots of them and Paul Pierce were being organized everywhere. They were on the cover of every sports magazine. Nicknames were being thought of. Commercials of them could be seen everywhere. They were being named the Eastern Conference champs before one ball had been tipped.
In this offseason, the Houston Rockets traded for Ron Artest. The Rockets now have a trio of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Artest. Does the Rocket’s trio not match the talent level of the Celtic’s trio? I’d say in a game of three-on-three, they’d be pretty well matched...on the offensive end as well as the defensive end.
Garnett and Ming are the two big men. Garnett may be more versatile because he is at the 4 position, but Yao can also hit outside shots and extend his range. Yao perhaps scores more than Garnett, but Yao’s scoring will go down with the addition of Artest. In rebounding, they are about the same. Garnett’s defense may be better, but Yao can block some shots. I’d say these two are about equal.
Pierce and Artest are the small forwards. I’d say Pierce is better offensively, but Ron Artest is better defensively (although Pierce did play excellent defense during the playoffs). So the advantage goes to Pierce by a little.
Allen and McGrady are the shooting guards. Allen may be a better shooter, but that is all he has on T-Mac. T-Mac has the complete package. He can shoot, drive, defend, pass, and rebound. The advantage goes to McGrady, and it makes up for the Pierce-Artest matchup.
The supporting cast is pretty well-matched, in my opinion. James Posey can be compared to Shane Battier...Rajon Rondo to Rafer Alston, Kendrick Perkins to Luis Scola, etc. The Rockets are also an excellent defensive team, just like the Celtics.
Perhaps the only advantage Boston really has over Houston is that they are in the Eastern Conference.
But besides that...how come the Rockets aren’t getting the same love that the Celtics got?
The answer is heart.
No one can question the heart of Garnett. Yao, on the other hand, has been considered soft and a “pushover.”
Pierce has longed to play for a contender. If Boston hadn’t gone out and got Garnett and Allen, he would’ve demanded a trade. Artest, on the other hand, has been causing trouble all his life. Artest once ruined his chance of getting a championship in Indiana.
Allen may not have the same amount of publicized heart as the previous two, but it’s there. He has longed to play alongside stars of his own caliber. McGrady has often been criticized for never getting out of the first round of the playoffs. But for me to say that McGrady doesn’t have heart would be a lie. I remember after the loss to the Utah Jazz in the 2007 playoffs he was in tears.
But it would seem that the Celtics have more heart than the Rockets. That is what separates the contenders from the champions.