Boston's Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen
From the middle of November through the end of December, 38 days to be exact, the Boston Celtics didn't lose a game, sweeping their way to 19 consecutive victories. The team's record on December 23 was 27-2.
"Best team ever" pursed the lips of sports talk hosts. Top of the hour SportsCenter features of the Celts latest conquest dominated ESPN. Seventy-three wins, which would eclipse the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls NBA record of 72, seemed very possible for the defending NBA Champions.
However, following the team's 19th straight win, team-leader in rebounds Kevin Garnett wasn't buying into the hype when he said, "Unless you win it all, it's pretty much steam in the air: You see it, and then it evaporates."
How prophetic of Garnett, especially with the evaporate bit, because Boston has been very average to not-so-good ever since. After a highly publicized loss to the L.A. Lakers during a Christmas Day rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals, the Celtics have face planted, going 4-7. They lost four straight in that stretch, including a crappy loss at Madison Square Garden to Mike D'Antoni's lowly New York Knicks and an embarrassing overtime setback against the Charlotte Bobcats.
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Now the alleged "best team ever" will play the Suns tonight. Granted, the Celtics do hold one of the league's best records and a dream starting five that includes team-leading scorer Paul Pierce, lights-out shooter Ray Allen, luminous force in the paint Garnett, breaking-ankles point guard Rajon Rondo, and 280-pound center Kendrick Perkins. (At the time of writing, Perkins was questionable for tonight's game because of a shoulder injury.)
Then there are the off-the-bench guys, such as ex-ASU hero Eddie House as well as power forwards Leon Powe and Glen Davis, all of whom tend to give the team strong minutes every game. (Another productive bench guy, shooting guard Tony Allen, is also iffy on account of a bum ankle.)
So what's working against the so-called dynasty? For one, the aforementioned downswing. Also, the Celts' road record, a mere 12-7, is so not intimidating. However, the Suns will need to bring their A-plus game because the fearsome trio of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen ain't nothing to eff with.
Are the Suns catching the Celtics at the right time? Check out the MLK Day match-up in Boston starting at 6 p.m. tonight. See. www.suns.com. National TV: TNT. Radio: KTAR 620-AM.