After the Boston Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett in the summer of 2007, a new era had begun in Beantown. The Celtics Big Four of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Garnett were an instant success, winning 66 regular season game en route to becoming the 2007-2008 NBA Champions. But since winning that title, the Celtics have been brutally cursed with injuries.
The Celtics had no championship hangover in the 2008-2009 season as they started the season off 29-2 and looked unstoppable. But then Kevin Garnett went down with a knee injury in February, forcing him to have surgery as he missed the entire postseason. The Celtics still fought hard though without Garnett and made it to the Conference Semifinals before losing to the Orlando Magic in seven games. Had Garnett remained healthy, the Celtics would have had a great chance to repeat as champions.
Kevin Garnett hobbled his way through the duration of the 2009-2010 regular season as the Celtics stumbled into the playoffs as the fourth seed. But the Celtics were able to upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Semifinals and then beat the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals. The Celtics then led the Los Angeles Lakers 3-2 in the NBA Finals before starting center Kendrick Perkins tore his ACL in Game 6 as the Celtics got blown out. The Celtics then lost a hard fought battle in Game 7, 83-79, as the team got pounded on the glass, getting outrebounded 53-40. If Perkins were healthy for that game, the Celtics rebounding issues would not have been as severe and the Celtics likely would have would have won the title.
Kendrick Perkins was not able to return to action until late January of the 2010-2011 season as he recovered from his ACL tear. Danny Ainge traded Perkins a month later to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade that both sides appear to have lost. If Perkins didn’t tear his ACL, the Celtics likely would have held on to him for the season and not relied on often-injured and aging centers Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal in the playoffs.
The 2011-2012 Celtics seemed destined to crumble from the start as top reserve Jeff Green was unable to pass his physical before the season as he needed to have heart surgery. Despite being under .500 at the all-star break, the Celtics managed to make a deep playoff run. But right before the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, they learned that shooting guard Avery Bradley had to undergo season-ending surgery to repair his separated left shoulder. The Celtics were huge underdogs against the Miami Heat as NBA experts expected the Heat to finish of the C’s in five games. Yet, the Celtics pushed the Heat to seven games and even led the series 3-2. Had Bradley been healthy for the series, I believe the Celtics would have defeated the Heat and advanced to what would have been their third Finals appearance in five years.
And now this year the injury bug has once again struck the Celtics tenaciously. The Celtics remained relatively healthy for the beginning of the year as Avery Bradley recovered from his shoulder surgery. When Bradley returned in early January, the Celtics were at full strength. But this past Sunday, word got out that Rajon Rondo would miss the entire season with an ACL tear, devastating the Celtics Nation. After Rondo’s injury, Doc Rivers vowed he would not quit on this team as he believed they were not finished just yet.
“Well, you can write the obituary. I’m not,” Rivers said. “You can go ahead. But I’m not. We won tonight, and so the way I look at it is: we’re going to stay in there. In my opinion, we’re going nowhere.”
After today’s news broke that rookie starting center Jared Sullinger will miss the remainder of the season to undergo back surgery, it is time to write that sad obituary for the 2012-2013 Celtics. After losing two starters in the past week, the Celtics appear doomed heading forward as once again the Celtics season has been ruined by injuries.
If Boston kept intact health wise over these past six years, we would be taking about another Celtics dynasty, but instead we are left here tonight in dismay as we ponder if this injury-riddled era in Boston has come to an end and whether or not we will soon have to say our goodbyes to Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.