One Big Three stands in way of the other

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One Big Three stands in way of the other

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI For years, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were hell-bent on breaking through the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

That meant getting past the Detroit Pistons, a perennial NBA power in the early-to-mid 2000s that frequently ended the Cavaliers' season.

Dwyane Wade had similar struggles with the Pistons during that time period as well.

Now teammates with the Heat, both see the Boston Celtics in a similar light on the eve of today's Game 1 second-round matchup.

"They ended all our seasons," James said. "We decided to join forces, Like Captain Planet."

Indeed, Wade and James, along with Chris Bosh from Toronto, have been the most talked-about trio of players since, well, Boston's Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces in 2007.

The Celtics' Big Three had their ups and downs in that first year, but those trials and tribulations paid off with Banner 17.

Celtics players from that team understand exactly what the Heat is looking to do right now.

"Even with the players we had, it wasn't easy breaking through," Boston forward Glen Davis told CSNNE.com recently. "But when you break through, you know it. Everybody knows. Then it becomes about staying on top."

And that brings us to today's game, one that features a team that has already achieved great success - Boston - against a Miami Heat team that is expected to win it all this year - just months after coming together.

From a championship-like celebration before the season started, to all the talk about winning multiple championships, the pressure to bring home the Heat's second NBA title has been on from the very beginning.

As much as Miami players embrace that role, they understand that it's not going to be easy.

And if they are to in fact do it, it'll have to include dethroning an aging - but still very dangerous - Celtics team.

"At some point, if they're healthy and they play well, for you to get to the top, you will have to go through them," Miami's Zydrunas Ilgauskas told CSNNE.com. "At some point, you're going to run into them. That's OK. You want to beat the best to be the best. We wouldn't have it any other way."

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

Thomas says NBA 2K wouldn't accept Cousins trade, NBA 2K confirms it wouldn't

Thomas says NBA 2K wouldn't accept Cousins trade, NBA 2K confirms it wouldn't

The Kings have not exactly been celebrated as geniuses since news of Sunday’s DeMarcus Cousins trade broke. 

The deal, which sent Buddy Hield, a top-three-protected 2017 first-round pick, a 2017 second-rounder, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to Sacramento for Cousins and Omri Casspi, has been widely mocked for how little the Kings fetched for the All-Star center. In handing out trades for the deal, SI gave the Pelicans an A and the Kings an F.

One team that could have easily beaten New Orleans’ offer was the Celtics, who seemingly did not participate in Sunday’s trade talks. On Monday, Isaiah Thomas tweeted his thoughts on the trade: 

Just as good as Thomas’ tweet was the fact that NBA 2K confirmed that it would not allow the trade to happen. 

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.