BOSTON — Brian Scalabrine would have none of the suggestion.
After key members of Boston Celtics‘ 2007-08 title squad reconvened Sunday in Boston for Paul Pierce’s jersey quantity retirement ceremony at TD Garden, Scalabrine was sought out to reply whether or not the 2017-18 Celtics had any similarities to the championship workforce of a decade in the past.
“First of all, let me preface this: No workforce was like the 2008 championship workforce,” Scalabrine mentioned. “I’m telling you, I’ve been a part of this league for a long time now and that was so unique. That team was like no other team I’ve ever been around.”
Scalabrine is expertly certified to opine on the matter, given his reserve position on the 2007-08 workforce and his place as a tv broadcaster for the 2017-18 squad. But on a weekend that put a highlight again on Boston’s accomplishments throughout that 2007-08 season, Scalabrine would not be the just one to scoff at the mere inquiry into whether or not the two groups have any similarities.
“I really don’t see any comparisons,” Pierce mentioned. “We had been all outdated, wily veterans who had been All-Stars for years. [This year’s team is] a bunch of younger, up-and-coming gamers. They’ll have their time, however they should not be in comparison with us. …
“They’ve acquired a methods to go. They’ve acquired to determine who they’re gonna be.”
What turns into apparent in asking the comparability query is simply how particular that 2008 title workforce is considered by those that had a front-row seat for a dominant championship run after the Celtics introduced collectively Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
“The very second we had the [introductory] press convention [for Garnett and Allen], it was a workforce that was simply destined to be nice,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “[Coach] Doc [Rivers] at all times says, ‘Boy, going to Rome [for training camp] was big. And we developed all this chemistry.’ And I’ve mentioned, and I nonetheless preserve, there was a lot enthusiasm and vitality in that workforce that we might have coaching camp in a Waltham [Massachusetts] car parking zone and nonetheless received. Because it was simply such an uncommon pleasure.”
“There was a lot enthusiasm and vitality in that workforce that we might have coaching camp in a Waltham car parking zone and nonetheless received.”
Celtics president Danny Ainge, on the 2008 NBA champs
Ainge famous that there was a palpable buzz when Boston introduced collectively a brand new star trio this summer season by touchdown Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to place alongside Al Horford. But Hayward’s harm on opening night time actually dampened expectations. And the general youth of Boston’s roster has allowed this 12 months’s workforce to patiently navigate the journey to title competition.
For the 2007-08 Celtics, there was a hair-on-fire urgency.
“By like the third day in Rome, I knew that I might by no means been part of something like this,” Scalabrine said of Boston’s 2007 trip overseas. “I might by no means been a part of a coaching camp with this a lot depth and simply so many aggressive folks. It was insane.”
Scalabrine mentioned Boston’s aggressive nature typically spilled off the court docket and onto the workforce airplane. He playfully in contrast workforce flights to the 1997 motion flick “Con Air.”
“There was no sleeping occurring,” Scalabrine said. “There was loud music. I am telling you, it was nuts. There’s no workforce I’ve ever been part of that was like this.”
On a cavernous film studio lot in suburban Boston, the 2017-18 Celtics herded their new-look workforce collectively in late September for Media Day. Irving, who seemingly hadn’t stopped smiling since being traded to Boston lower than a month earlier, checked out new teammates Hayward and Horford of their pristine white uniforms and playfully instructed that the trio ought to stroll towards the cameras as in the event that they had been “Charlie’s Angels.”
Before the ensuing laughter subsided, social media had been deluged with varied snapshots, all bearing an analogous caption: “Boston’s new Big Three.”
It’s a threadbare nickname that has been recycled for 3 a long time in these elements, but it surely carries the unremitting burden of expectations contemplating the way it was beforehand bestowed upon these at the helm of Boston’s most up-to-date championship squads: first, the Larry Bird-Kevin McHale–Robert Parish trio, then Pierce-Allen-Garnett.
Did the Irving-Hayward-Horford deserve that billing? They certain seemed the half when the Celtics opened coaching camp the subsequent day on the campus of Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. Even the gamers themselves marveled at the cohesion and continuity that Boston’s stars displayed of their first full-squad exercises.
“Looking again on coaching camp, I used to be like, ‘Man, if we get this clicking, we will be a drawback,'” Horford recalled this week, his pleasure palpable as he thought again to Boston’s first practices of the season.
That buzz was tempered quickly after, when Hayward fractured his ankle throughout Boston’s season opener in Cleveland. The Celtics possibly exceeded expectations early in the season, together with a 16-game successful streak by which Boston’s younger roster displayed unimaginable resiliency for a workforce that was beginning two gamers age 20 or youthful in rookie Jayson Tatum and sophomore Jaylen Brown.
“They’ve acquired a methods to go. They’ve acquired to determine who they’re gonna be.”
Celtics legend Paul Pierce, on the 2017-18 squad
That early-season success first acquired Celtics followers eager about similarities to the 2008 champions. Could a wholesome Hayward have made Boston a 2008-like contender?
Scalabrine would not assume the Celtics’ win whole could be all that totally different with Hayward. Yes, Boston is likely to be a bit extra constant than what the workforce has displayed not too long ago, however there is not any assure they’d have put collectively that early successful streak if not pressured to rally round one another in the aftermath of Hayward’s harm.
The stats counsel the 2017-18 Celtics ought to really feel lucky to be the place they’re, particularly given an offense that has been amongst the league’s least environment friendly in the new calendar 12 months (although Boston typically performs elite protection that rivals that of the 2007-08 squad).
The 2017-18 Celtics have already got confronted double-digit deficits in 25 video games this season. By comparability, the 2007-08 squad confronted simply 17 double-digit deficits all season. This season’s Celtics have led by double-digits 37 instances this season, whereas the 2007-08 squad made blowouts the norm, topping the league with 65 double-digits leads that 12 months.
ESPN Stats & Information analysis signifies that the 2015-16 Warriors — they of a league-record 73 wins — owned 68 double-digit leads that season, which provides you a way of simply how dominant Boston’s 2008 squad was by even being in the similar neighborhood.
Horford got here out to the court docket on Sunday to observe Pierce’s quantity go to the rafters and was genuinely awestruck to see that the enviornment remained full regardless of the indisputable fact that Boston’s present squad acquired steamrolled by the rival Cavaliers earlier in the day. It reminded Horford of why this franchise was so alluring when he left the comforts of Atlanta and the Hawks to affix Boston’s quest for its subsequent championship workforce.
Celtics proprietor Wyc Grousbeck even playfully chided Horford about how he was on the incorrect facet as a rookie when Boston defeated the Hawks in seven video games in the opening spherical of the 2008 playoffs. With that firsthand expertise, Horford confirmed it is unfair to match this 12 months’s workforce to that title squad.
Horford does hope that the two groups finally share a title bond.
“Winning that championship has cemented [the 2007-08 team] in Celtics historical past,” Horford said. “[This season’s team is] at some extent proper now the place we’re actually attempting to develop into a extra constant group and develop as we go. We really feel like there’s numerous potential.”
Ainge believes the enjoying time that Brown and Tatum are getting in Hayward’s absence is invaluable and can assist the workforce be even that a lot additional alongside when Hayward is ready to return.
“The 2008 workforce instantly they felt like they had been the favorites to win the championship,” Ainge said. “Whereas I felt like this [year’s] workforce was actually excited, and we nonetheless are very excited. But we’re nonetheless not there but. We acquired numerous work to do.”
Last week earlier than a sport in Washington, D.C., Irving admitted he generally daydreams a couple of future when Hayward is accessible once more. He photos the totally different lineups the Celtics might run and thinks about the workforce’s potential.
Those early practices are sufficient for Horford to know why Irving is likely to be intrigued.
“Just taking a look at what Coach [Brad Stevens] had orchestrated with how we had been going to run offense, how issues had been going to be, it is simply scary, as a result of you could have 5 guys on the flooring that may shoot the ball, that may drive, defend,” Horford said. “It’s simply one thing that I do not assume it has been seen on this league fairly often.”
That uniqueness is vital to Boston’s future success. These Celtics cannot attempt to be like the 2007-08 workforce; as members of that squad made clear, there may by no means be one other workforce prefer it.