The Boston Celtics haven't sniffed an NBA title in over 20 years and still there are some mighty jealous and bitter "experts" out there who as much as they hyped them in the pre-season, refuse to give them any respect after what they've done thus far into the 2007-08 NBA regular season. Usually I'm of the opinion that one must accomplish something before we're ready to annoint them a legendary team or a Hall of Fame player, but in this case I dare somebody to tell me the Celtics aren't for real. If you'd like to argue San Antonio, Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix are as good or better that's fine, just know that Boston is more than worthy of being in the conversation when it comes to the league's best.
The Celts are an NBA best 26-3, tied with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls as far as being on pace for what for them was a final record of 72-10 including an NBA Championship. In a way those two teams have quite a bit in common in their makeup and the criticisms levied upon them.
1.) They're too top heavy and old and have no bench: The Bulls had their "big three" of over 30 all-stars in Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. The Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. The Bulls actually did have some pretty decent role guys like Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, Luc Longley and Randy Brown. While the Celtics have guys like Rajon Rondo, Eddie House, James Posey and Kendrick Perkins.
2.) They don't play anybody and would never measure up to the great teams of the past: While those Bulls may not have had the kind of competition that teams of say the 1980's NBA did, like the Celtics, Lakers, 76ers, Pistons, TrailBlazers, Rockets etc. However they did have Jordan and they did win 72 games through no fault of their own. The same can be said of these current Celtics. Critics saying the C's schedule has been too soft and home heavy in the early going. First off there's only about 5-6 teams in the entire league considered to be elite contenders and everyone knew the Eastern Conference already stunk right off the bat. It's not the Celts fault that the Bulls, Heat and Knicks have been total flops, that the Nets got old and the Cavs are an exposed one man show. Everybody keeps on trying to bring the Celtics down at every turn and they're just plain misguided.
What more can I say about the Celtics who have already eclipsed their season win total of a year ago (24) with 26 wins? They've already won more games at home than last year with a 14-1 mark this season and on the road they're 12-2. They also lead their division by 11 games at this point.
Against teams that were in the playoffs last season, their record is 18-2. However people still knocked them for not beating the elite of the West or winning out West. Well I guess beating the Nuggets at home by 26, the Lakers at home by 13 and Warriors by 23 doesn't matter. Nor did their current West Coast jaunt, where they went 4-0 with quality wins over the Jazz and Lakers once again. The Celts have also had winning streaks this season of 9, 8 are currently on a 6 game run to date and have yet to lose back to back games this season.
Their three loses all came down to the wire as well. They lost in Orlando with a chance to win on a last second three-point attempt by Pierce. In Cleveland they lost when Allen astonishingly missed two free-throws in the closing seconds. And they more than held their own against the Pistons at home for three plus quarters and rallied at the end before Chauncey Billups was fouled and iced the game with 0.1 remaining.
Certainly there's still quite aways to go in this NBA season, but the C's can only be judged on the cards they've been dealt and what they've accomplished thus far. To disrespect that would be like saying the Pats season means nothing at 16-0 before they've even had a chance to play a playoff game. The Celtics deserve better than the snide commentary of pundits thus far.