#1: No Rondo
Everyone who once suggested that the Celtics were better without Rondo should be forced, for one year, to wear hats and shirts that quote that absurd theory. Rondo has been especially good in the playoffs, and his ability to run the offense was a stabilizing factor that would have prevented some of the runs that the Knicks went on in this series. Losing Rondo lost this series.
This is an old team. Small bumps and bruises become nagging injuries. Pierce and Garnett didn't have enough gas in their tanks to play 40 minutes of great basketball every night. And it won't be any better next season. If they come back next season.
#3: No Depth
When the Celtics won in 2008 they had a good supporting cast for The Big Three. When they made other deep playoff runs, they had guys who could score, guys who could play defense. This year they had no random 25+ point nights from Ray Allen. They had Avery Bradley in a role he's not suited for (again, the Rondo injury). In Game 6, only Jason Terry scored points off the bench. When Pierce and KG needed the most support, they received the least.
It might be difficult for the most optimistic Celtics fans to realize, but this team just wasn't that good. It was old, it wasn't deep, and even with a healthy Rondo I don't think the Celtics would be a match for the Heat. Not in a 7 game series. The C's were 41-40. They nearly pulled off an historic comeback in Game 6, but they lost this series in Game 1 when they scored 8 points in the 4th quarter. They lost this series in Game 2 when they scored 23 in the second half.
And now we enter a period of uncertainty for the C's. Rondo will be back. But what kind of team will be back with him? Pierce and Garnett can still play, however they can't be the centerpieces of this team anymore. And in the NBA, unless Rondo can become pals with other great players who decide to come here, or the Celtics get a #1 overall pick, it is very difficult to rebuild.
This might be the end of a mini-era for the Celtics.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa