The Celtics have championship aspirations for the first time since Larry Bird retired. It has been 21 years since our last banner was hung from the rafters but until Larry Legend retired, there was always hope we could pull out another championship.
I have been thinking about that last championship team that featured the original Big Three and how different, yet similar the two teams are. That team won 67 games and went 40-1 at home. They lost their first game and then won the next 8 games and lost the 10th game so that like this year's edition they were 14-2 after the first 16 games. Their only loss at home that year was the 20th game of the season. They lost to the Portland Trailblazers who finished the season at 40-42. This year's Celtics are working to establish that kind of home court advantage with victories in their first 9 home games.
That last championship season, Bird won his third consecutive MVP award and Bill Walton won the 6th Man award. At this point of the season, Kevin Garnett is being considered one of the top candidates for the 6th man award and Paul Pierce has been also mentioned. And after winning two game winners already this season, Ray Allen should also be considered. I doubt we will have any candidates for 6th man. James Posey contributes enough to win it, but he isn't always first off the bench. Doc doesn't have a set 6th man and sometimes brings Posey in first, sometimes House and sometimes other players.
In 1986, the starting five averaged 18.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 34 minutes per game. This year's version of the Celtics are averaging 15.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 34.4 minutes per game. The original Big Three averaged 35 minutes per game. The New Big Three is averaging 37.9 minutes per game.
The last Championship team averaged 114.1 points per game while allowing 104.7 points per game, a differential of 9.4 points. They weren't exactly a defensive juggernaut, but could stop teams when they needed to and definitely had the firepower to outscore just about any team in the league. This year's team is averaging 100.9 points while allowing 87.4 points, a differential of 13.5 points. This year's team is developing a defensive personality and even when they aren't shooting well, are able to shut down the opposing team.
The salaries of our starting five this season add up to a whopping $61,963,327. Back in 1985-86, the salaries of the starting five was a grand total of $4,832,500. In other words, the entire starting five including Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge made just over what Perk is making this season.
It will be hard not to compare these two teams as the season wears on. After 16 games, they had identical records. Both started out undefeated at home through the first 9 games. Both teams include a "Big Three" of all stars. The difference would be that other two fifths of the starting five in 1986 were stars in their own right while this year's other two starters are unproven and still learning. Dennis Johnson had already won a championship in Seattle and was a veteran at the point. Rajon Rondo is a second year player who is very talented, but lacking in experience.
Could this be the year that we finally get that 17th banner? The team that won the last banner got off to an identical start as this year's team. Both teams were 14-2 after 16 games and both teams were undefeated at home after 16 games. It is something worth keeping an eye on. Green 17.