Where does this lineup rank in Celtics history? Potentially right near top

Where does this lineup rank in Celtics history? Potentially right near top

By Danny Dragin

The history of the Celtics is magical. From Bill Russell to Kyrie Irving, the Celtics are about winning, as their record 17 championship banners attest.

When you think of Celtics greats, four players come to mind, and they perfectly reflect their respective championship generations: Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, and Paul Pierce.

If we’re talking purely winning, Bill Russell is maybe the most dominant ATHLETE of all time. Russell’s Celtics won eight straight championships and 11 out of 13. The 1964-65 team won a then-franchise record 62 games before dispatching the Lakers in five games in the Finals. Russell averaged 24.1 rebounds to go along with Sam Jones’ 25.9 points a night. Other stars included K.C. Jones, Tommy Heinsohn and Havlicek.

The peak of the Bird era was the ’85-’86 championship season. With a healthy Bill Walton coming off the bench, the Celtics rampaged to a franchise record 67 wins. Bird averaged nearly 26 points and 10 rebounds en route to his third straight MVP. The C’s went 50-1 at home in the regular season and playoffs, which remains an absurd record. Fellow Hall of Famers Kevin McHale (21 points, 8.1 rebounds) and Robert Parish (16 points, 9.5 rebounds) helped the C’s knock off the Rockets in six games in the Finals.

Though the Hondo years tend to be overlooked in team history, Havlicek’s Celtics won a pair of titles in the 1970s, including a classic Finals over the Phoenix Suns in 1976 that featured what many consider the greatest game ever played — the triple-overtime masterpiece marked by Gar Heard’s miracle buzzer-beater and Glenn McDonald’s late heroics.

The next great era was helmed by Pierce and the 2008 Celtics. The original super team included Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. All three stars agreed to let their individual numbers decline for the good of the team, and what a team. With none of the Big Three averaging even 20 a night, the Celtics focused on assembling the league’s best defense and they rode it all the way to a 4-2 victory over the Lakers in the Finals to hang banner 17.

We are now in the midst of the next great generation of Celtics basketball and for more reasons than one. Danny Ainge has constructed another team with a focus on defense. This is the perfect mix of youth and veteran leadership to push the young guys to the next level. Irving carried the offense after Gordon Hayward’s injury, averaging 24.4 points a night. Hayward’s impending return is cause for excitement.

He’s not the only reason for optimism. Jayson Tatum looks like a potential superstar after averaging over 18 a night in the playoffs. Fellow youngster Jaylen Brown was right there with him in the postseason, scoring 18 a night himself.

It’s easy to envision best-case scenarios: Brown as a Tracy McGrady/Vince Carter hybrid, Irving contending for MVP, Hayward being named Comeback Player of the Year, Tatum becoming a superstar, Terry Rozier as Sixth Man of the Year, Marcus Smart locking down Steph Curry in the Finals.

This might be the year they hang Banner 18.



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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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