When Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen suit up at the All-Star game tonight in Los Angeles, they’ll represent one of the signature moments in recent Pistons history: when Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace were all named to the 2006 All-Star Game.
Now, I don’t mean to compare the groups to suggest that, talent-wise, I think the Pistons foursome was the more talented. Three of Boston’s four are sure-bet Hall of Famers and the fourth, Rondo, could get to that level someday. The Pistons had four nice players, but other than Ben Wallace and maybe Billups, I don’t think any of them will merit serious Hall consideration.
The point is just to show how similar this version of the Celtics is to those 2000s Pistons teams. Both teams won a title. Both teams lost a hard-fought seven game series in a Finals appearance. Both teams staked their reputations on absolutely suffocating defense. Boston won’t match Detroit’s sustained success of six straight Conference Finals appearances, but the Celtics have been there three of the last four seasons and are heavily favored to get back there again this season.
And like the Pistons, they’ve done it with a veteran core that, if they don’t win a title this year, will inevitably face the same questions the Pistons did — keep the team intact because of the unprecedented chemistry and yearly success or retool before the aging process slams the window shut?
In tonight’s game, like in 2006 when Pistons coach Flip Saunders took advantage of the opportunity to put all four Pistons in the game at the same time, Celtics coach Doc Rivers also will have that option. Hopefully, it gives Pistons fans to reminisce over a truly great moment in the team’s history and reflect on the fact that it wasn’t all that long ago. The second half of this season offers little hope, but it’s still great to be a fan of one of the best franchises in the NBA.