Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — A rematch is the easy box to place these NBA Finals in after the 2008 title chase won by the Celtics in six games.
Not exactly, warns the Prime Minister, who pointed out a major difference in the Celtics now compared to a two years ago.
Sure, that 2008 Celtics team was led by the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But the supporting cast was led by veterans Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown. They were the ones that provided the glue work that kept things together for the Celtics throughout the playoffs and particularly against the Lakers in the Finals.
Fast forward to Thursday night and ask yourself if you believed that Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen would play critical roles for a team trying to win a second NBA title in three years?
I know it sounds crazy. It sounded the same way when we started bouncing the idea around here at the hideout (prior to our Memorial Day grill-a-thon that will commence this afternoon or whenever the rain stops).
Viewed by most people (including most of us around here) as an elderly outfit that is swinging their sword for basically one last time, the Celtics have a decidedly different look when you strap on your BluBlockers and really study their moving parts.
They’ve certainly relied on their youngsters (Rajon Rondo is included in that group) during this Finals run. Robinson’s 13-point outburst in the first half of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals (below) was the difference in the Celtics leading at the half in a game that, had it gone any other way, might have cost them this opportunity to snag banner No. 18.
The Celtics have two veterans (Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley) I suspect will be called upon for major contributions in the Finals, so maybe we’ve seen the last of Robinson. And perhaps Tony Allen and Davis won’t need to perform any superhuman feats this time around.
But this idea that the Celtics are the Geritol Gang is pretty misguided.
They’ve had a steady flow of contributions from their youngsters this season. Whether that continues or not, remains to be seen. But you can be sure that Celtics coach Doc Rivers will push every button he can to get his team going.
Rivers was the one that promised Robinson when they traded for him that he’d help them win a playoff game at some point, a point he reiterated after that cosmic performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals:
“I told him I loved him, and I told him at some point it was going to happen for him,’’ Rivers said. “And it was all up to him to stay engaged. And he did. I get no credit out of this. Nate Robinson stayed focused in 30-straight-whatever games without playing, and stayed focused. And to me, that is more important than anything he’s done tonight.’’