Blakely: Celts' title enhanced by Heat's failure

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Blakely: Celts' title enhanced by Heat's failure

By A. SherrodBlakely
CSNNE.com CelticsInsider
Follow@sherrodbcsn
If you ask any coach, player or NBA executive, they'll tell you without hesitation that it's a copy-cat league.

Whatever one team does successfully, you're bound to see a knock-off version of it coming to an arena near you.

The Miami Heat went all Super friends on us when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to take their talents to South Beach to join forces with Dwyane Wade. New York, not to be outdone, added Amar'e Stoudemire last summer and followed that up by adding Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups via trade -- a decent threesome, but definitely not apple-for-apple with the Heat's.

When you look at the struggles the Heat had in the Finals and the lack of cohesion we saw with the post-trade Knicks, it makes you appreciate what the Celtics did back in 2008 even more.

Adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a roster led by Paul Pierce immediately made the Celtics title contenders, but there were doubts -- plenty of them -- that it would work immediately.

Pierce has been at his best for years with the ball in his hands while everyone else cleared out.

He's a great scorer. Ask him, and he'll tell you as much.

Garnett and Allen had already established themselves as future Hall of Famers. And while it was clear both could still play at a high level, their best days in the NBA were behind them.

Throw in a couple of unproven youngsters (Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins), and a bench that had yet to establish an identity, and the '08 Celtics were essentially an older, more seasoned version of the Heat this past season.

It is that experience, maybe more than anything else, that helped the Celtics bring home Banner 17 while Miami will spend this summer licking its wounds from getting beat in the Finals by the Dallas Mavericks.

When you look at Boston's Big Three, all of them endured their share of bumps and bruises along the road to greatness.

Does anyone really feel that way about LeBron? or D-Wade? or Chris Bosh?

Let's be real.

All three were top-five picks in 2003, and immediately became the face of their respective franchises.

Of the trio, James has clearly lived the most charmed life of the bunch. He'll tell you as much.

Really.

When asked how he felt about so many NBA fans wanting to see him fail with the Heat, James responded, "At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."

For James, disappointment remains a central part of his real world when it comes to basketball.

He plotted out as best he could what it would take to win an NBA title, teaming up with a pair of superstars while being surrounded by a slew of underpaid role players who were all too eager to leave a few bucks on the table for a shot at what many thought would be the first of many title runs.

But they all soon discovered: This winning a championship thing? It ain't easy.

Fortunately for Boston's Big Three, they didn't have to experience the heartbreak of coming up short in the playoffs to realize how difficult winning a title could be.

Because of the seamless nature the C's went about bringing home Banner 17, others have since tried to do the same.

Add three superstars. Surround them by solid role players. Stir. Mix.

Let it simmer for 82 regular-season games, only to start cookin' come playoff time. And just like that, you got a title. Right?

But as the Mavericks proved in dispatching the Heat in six games, it takes more than three great players to win an NBA championship.

When it comes to championships, talent helps.

Having a talented team? Even better.

But the Heat have the right idea with three superstars as its centerpiece. Surrounding them with the right kind of talent to compliment their games is just as important. But when you look at champions, the one thing that often separates them from others is experience.

And when it comes to experience, there's no knock-off equivalent.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Hoiberg: If there’s a Game 7, Rondo highly unlikely to play

Hoiberg: If there’s a Game 7, Rondo highly unlikely to play

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls had already ruled Rajon Rondo out for tonight’s pivotal Game 6 matchup against the Celtics.
 
If the Bulls managed to win tonight and force a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Boston, Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said Rondo’s availability would still be highly unlikely.
 
The former Celtic suffered a fractured right thumb injury in Game 2 of this best-of-seven series and has not played since.
 
At the time of the injury, the Bulls had a 2-0 series lead with Boston bouncing back to win all three games since his absence.
 
When asked about what Rondo can do with his right hand, Hoiberg replied, “not much.”
 
Hoiberg added, “it’s pretty much the same. He still has a lot of soreness in that right hand, especially with everything he’s got going on with the torn ligament and the broken thumb. He’s just not able to do enough at this point.”
 
While his absence has certainly been felt on the floor, Rondo has been a steady focus of instruction and encouragement from the sideline.
 
“He’s doing as much as he can,” said Chicago’s Dwyane Wade.
 
In the games Rondo has been out, Wade said that Rondo holds his play cards in his suit jacket.
 
“So I go over to him over there, look at the play cards,” Wade said. “He’s doing everything from a standpoint as a leader, that you can do when you’re not out there with your guys. He’s in the locker room. He’s the one screaming, getting guys ready because he wants to be out there. His blood is boiling that he can’t be out there, but he’s helping guys. He’s doing his job as a leader.”
 
In the two playoff games Rondo has played, the four-time All-Star has averaged a near triple-double with 11.5 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game.
 
Rondo isn’t the only key member of the Bulls who’s banged up.
 
Jimmy Butler, who scored a series-low 14 points in Chicago’s Game 5 loss, has been dealing with some knee soreness that doesn’t appear to be getting better anytime soon.
 
“He’s going to battle. That’s the one thing you know about Jimmy,” said Hoiberg who added that Butler did very little during the team’s morning shoot-around. “Jimmy is as well-conditioned as anybody in this game. He’s as big a competitor as anyone in this game. He does have soreness. There’s no denying that. But he’s going to continue to go out there and give everything he has.”
 
But at this point, that may not be enough for the Bulls in tonight’s elimination game.
 
They haven’t won a game in this series without Rondo who isn’t likely to play again this season, and their best player [Butler] is dealing with knee issues that we saw had a significant impact on his ability down the stretch in Game 5 [he took two shots in the fourth quarter and missed them both].
 
Regardless of what issues the Bulls might be dealing with, the Celtics know they can’t take tonight’s elimination game for granted.
 
“We just have to prepare to play the best that we've played yet,” said Celticscoach Brad Stevens. “That's the bottom line. I don't think there's a secret formula or magic to it. The magic's going to be in how you play. So our job is to prepare to play our best game that we've played yet.”

Does Bird’s departure put Celtics in better position for Paul George?

Does Bird’s departure put Celtics in better position for Paul George?

CHICAGO –  Larry Bird’s decision to walk away from the Indiana Pacers’ front office to become a consultant certainly sent shockwaves throughout the NBA landscape quickly.

And while it’s unclear exactly what it means to the Celtics and their pursuit this summer of Indiana All-Star Paul George, it does add an element of uncertainty as to the direction of the Pacers franchise.
 
At this point, that’s a good thing for the Celtics because Bird had made it clear both to the Celtics and to league sources that he was not interested in moving George anytime soon.
 
Of course, Indiana getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs may have eventually led Bird to soften his position if he, in fact, felt the Pacers were going to need to rebuild rather than re-tool.
 
And if you look at that team, the former seems to be a more likely scenario at this point, which could bode well for Boston.
 
But looking at the team Bird was going to have to re-make this summer, this move looks reminiscent to what the Celtics went through in 2013 when Danny Ainge traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and then-coach Doc Rivers made it clear that he did not want to start from scratch again.
 
Rivers had done that as the head coach of Orlando and did so with the Celtics prior to things coming together in 2008 when the franchise won its 17th NBA title.
 
Fast forward to the Pacers and Bird, who haven’t had that level of success since the Celtics legend took over the front office duties in Indiana.
 
The fact that he’s willing to remain a Pacers consultant speaks to his desire to still be in the game, which is what you would expect from one of the great competitors this league has ever seen.
 
And the naming of Kevin Pritchard to fill Bird’s role in the front office doesn’t hurt Boston, knowing Pritchard and Ainge have done deals with each other in the past when Pritchard was running the show in Portland.
 
Ultimately, it comes down to whether the Pacers have decided it’s time to move on from tweaking the roster and do what the Celtics did in 2013 and start over.
 
If they decide to go down that path, without question, the Celtics will be one of the first teams they have serious discussions with along those lines.
 
Teams that are looking to rebuild typically want draft picks and young veteran players – both of which the Celtics have more of than just about any team in the NBA.
 
And because most of the current Celtics have been involved in a winning culture, there are unspoken habits they bring to a franchise looking to re-establish its foundation.
 
For Boston, they land that much-coveted superstar that they desperately need to pair with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.
 
It sounds like a win-win for both franchises, right?