The Boston Celtics made were an immediate success from the moment Kevin Garnett arrived. Not only did the presences of Garnett and Ray Allen make Paul Pierce’s job easier, it also helped him become an even more efficient player, as Pierce upped his shooting percentages and became a lock-down defensive force in assistant coach Tom Thibodeau’s brilliant defensive schemes.
The Celtics won 66 games in 07-08 season, a 42-game turnaround from the season before. However, as smooth as the regular season was, the playoffs were anything but. The eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks forced the Celtics into a Game 7 in Boston, and the Cleveland Cavaliers followed suit.
Game 7 Infamy & Finals MVP
The Hawks didn’t have LeBron James, but the Cavs certainly did.
The additions of Garnett and Allen – coupled with the supporting performances from Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, James Posey, Eddie House and more – played an instrumental role in Boston’s 08′ title banner.
Yet, without Pierce the Celtics would not have been in any sort of position to contend. His Finals MVP Trophy was a culmination of his ups and downs, and was a triumph of magnificent proportions.
Injuries & Game 7 Disappointment
The 09′ Celtics were rolling when Kevin Garnett went up for an alley-oop in Utah. Garnett would proceed to miss the entire season and playoffs, as a Celtics team with clear aspirations of winning back-to-back titles was suddenly out in the second round against Orlando.
The Celtics would grind the following season with Garnett back in the mix. A veteran-led Celtics team would take down LeBron James one more time, before meeting the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals yet again. Instead of a Game 7 triumph, the Celtics found heartbreak in this one, losing Game 7 in LA.
Although the Celtics and Pierce would nearly find themselves in the NBA Finals once more – in 2012 – it was clear that the run was close to being over. Danny Ainge certainly felt that it was, and would be forced to do the unthinkable and trade Pierce.