The Big Three won a lot of games playing together with the Boston Celtics, and I think it is fair to say their time together was a success. The Celtics were able to hang another NBA Championship high in the rafters in their first year together, and then nearly won a second title before losing in the Finals to Los Angeles. Well, now it’s time to break them up. Their window of opportunity has completely shut. While the Celtics are still in the playoff picture – they currently sit in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference – this is a team that’s not good enough to win a championship. Their toughness, grit, fight, and experience cannot be questioned and Doc Rivers and the players have continued to talk about the team being close or just being a few plays away but that’s not the reality of where Boston is right now.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are in the final year of their contracts and if the Celtics can find a way to get any future assets for either guy they should explore it. If they can’t then they hang on to the duo for a mini-victory tour the remainder of the season before getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs. It’s hard to accept the reality sometimes, especially with three future Hall-Of-Famers playing on the same roster, but it’s time for Danny Ainge to look towards the future and transition to the next era of Celtics basketball. The days of the Big Three being a threat in the Eastern Conference are over.
Ray Allen joined WEEI in Boston to talk about how the condensed schedule is affecting Boston, what he makes of the talk around the NBA and the city of Boston about the Celtics, if he was fueled by the trade talk last year and whether he uses trade talk as motivation, and how much longer he plans on playing in the NBA.
How the condensed schedule is affecting the Celtics:
“It hurts us a lot. The one thing said going into the season was this schedule was going to help us being an older team but where it’s hurt us is we’re an older team in the sense that the core group of guys, me Paul and Kevin, but after that everyone else is not even in the prime of their career yet. You look at our team of the last two or three years, we had seven or eight other guys that we had here in the time that I’ve been here it would’ve been a different story because you know everybody knows the system defensively and offensively but what we’re doing now, Brandon Bass has been playing well and Chris Wilcox has been playing well for us, those are two guys that we rely on. They’re bigs defensively that are still learning exactly what we want to run and how to run it and not just to start off a game but also in the fourth quarter because execution down the stretch, we have lost a lot of games not being on the same page and that’s building up our team chemistry again. That’s the difference in having new guys that we can’t practice with a whole deal.”
On the talk around the NBA and in Boston about the Celtics struggles this season:
“I’ve noticed this during my time that once you’re in it you kind of stay isolated from what is being said about your team. There’s been a few guys that read what’s going on in the newspaper or watch what’s going on on TV, if you do that as an athlete you’re looking for trouble because you’re going to hear things you don’t want to hear. For us we just stay very insulated. We know in order to build this team greater and make ourselves better you almost have to turn a deaf ear to what’s going on in public and we have to build who we are greater inside because we’ve all been a part of trade rumors in the course of our careers and that doesn’t make us better or worse, it’s just kind of what it is. One team could call and say ‘hey I like this guy on your team what do you guys think about possibly making a move with him?’ Then somebody catches wind of that and all of the sudden you’re possibly being traded. You can’t worry about it. You have to continue to play basketball and focus on the guys you have because we should do a story on trades that were almost or what if. It’s just part of sports.”
Whether he became more motivated after the trade talk last year:
“No that was just me being me. For however amount of time I’ve been in the league anytime anybody talks about a trade, one thing about a trade is that most people look at it as a negative but the one thing that I take solace in when it comes to trade rumors is that there are other people out there who appreciate who you are, like you, and want you on their team. I’ve heard a couple of other people talking about other teams would love to have me playing on their team and that’s always a great compliment. I just need to continue to make sure that the team that I play for continues to want me on their team, playing for them, just the same.”
How much longer he plans on playing in the NBA:
“Again you’ve got to really stay in the moment and I honestly believe that early in my career and early in my life I chose not to drink alcohol or be like this big, heavy party guy and I think now it’s paying me dividends towards the end of my career where I can continue to play and play at a level where I choose fit for myself and for my game and what I know in how to play this game of basketball. There’s never really a day or number of years that I’ve put on. I tell people I’m on borrowed time because I know a lot of guys in my class and some a lot younger are gone already because they couldn’t sustain playing this game and staying focused at the level that they want to play and the level that the league wants us as players to play to so it’s a blessing. It’s a privilege to play in this league and any years after this that I can continue to play it’s fantastic to not only me but my family and the people that have followed me for a long time.”