BOSTON (CBS) – On Celtics media when training opened to begin this season, I asked Kevin Garnett just how much he liked this particular Celtics team and he promptly answered, “I don’t like us, I love us.”
That was before the C’s even stepped on the floor to begin the 2010-11 season. And, way back then the team looked great on paper with the additions of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal plus Delonte West.
But things never worked out.
Reason number one? The trading of Kendrick Perkins.
In late February, Ainge pulled the trigger on a deal that shocked Celtics fandom. They shipped perk and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City in exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
I can understand Danny’s reasons for doing it. He wanted to get a younger player that he could pair with Rondo and build upon for the future. He also felt he wasn’t going to be able to re-sign Kendrick Perkins. Fine.
But, for this season… this playoff run… Ainge lost.
This was a Celtic team that had as good a chemistry as I have ever seen. The starting five knew each other as brothers. Doc Rivers was the father figure to these guys and the rest of the players brought in just had to carve out a role and they’d be fine. Posey, Brown, Big Baby, Nate, etc…
KG was the leader with his intensity both on and off the floor. As long as he was healthy things were good. Each of there other four starters knew their role. Pierce would keep up his all-around game, Ray would keep shooting and hitting threes, Perk would compliment KG on defense to guard the pick-and-roll and the paint. Rondo would play outstanding defense while keeping the engine running on offense. They also didn’t want to let each other down as well as Doc… especially in the postseason. This starting five had never lost a series when together and nearly won two titles in three years.
Then, in one trade, it was all gone.
We saw the team get amazingly emotional when the deal went down. We heard that Rondo took it maybe the hardest.
We saw a team struggle to find its identity. The swagger was gone. They tried to welcome both Green and Krstic to their family. However, Green looked like you would expect he would; a talented kid that didn’t know when to shoot or drive on offense. Krstic simply couldn’t play the type of defense that this team needed.
Shaq and Jermaine went from perfect role players, giving you 12-20 great minutes per game, to needed starters and their bodies just couldn’t hold up after years of wear and tear.
Meanwhile, the bench became totally ineffective and it cost Boston big time. The Big Three, which had played so many playoff games in the previous three years, had to log way too many minutes down the stretch so that the C’s could at least capture home court advantage for one round. The Big Three, especially KG and Paul were tired. And what did that lead to? Inconsistent performances in the postseason. Great one night… awful the next. Missing shots down the stretch. Physical and mental fatigue.
Now, I know if Rajon Rondo hadn’t gotten hurt that maybe things could have been different, but, it still didn’t look or feel right with this group.
And, by the way, the trade may be a great thing for Ainge and the Celtics down the road. Jeff Green may become a huge piece of a future title here in Boston. Things could work out. I give Danny a ton of credit for having the guts to pull the trigger. That’s why he is one of the best at what he does. There’s no question in my mind.
However, for this one team… this one single season… 2010-11… the trade was a bad move. And, that’s the realty we wake up to the day after the new Big Three ended the old Big Three’s season.