Life After Bird

After Larry Bird retired, the rest of the 90s were a great period of struggle for the Boston Celtics. Over the next 9 seasons, the Celtics only made the playoffs twice, and were outed in the first round in both appearances.

YEAR
WINS
LOSSES
RESULT
1992-93
48
34
4th in East, Lost in 1st Round
1993-94
32
50
10th in East, Missed Playoffs
1994-95
35
47
8th in East, Lost in 1st Round
1995-96
33
49
11th in East, Missed Playoffs
1996-97
15
67
15th in East, Missed Playoffs
1997-98
36
46
12th in East, Missed Playoffs
1998-99
19
31
12th in East, Missed Playoffs
1999-2000
35
47
10th in East, Missed Playoffs
2000-01
36
46
9th in East, Missed Playoffs

The Truth

In 1998, the Celtics drafted a kid out of Kansas that would be the core of the future of their franchise for years to come. Paul Pierce was selected 10th overall in the 1998 draft. A small forward with great shooting ability, Pierce didn't take long to adapt to the NBA style of play, rising among the top scoring players in the league. The Celtics achieved minimal playoff success in the early 2000s, highlighted by a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002, only to fall to the New Jersey Nets in 6 games. After being upset in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, the Celtics dipped back into turmoil, which was marred by a last place finish in 2007. But just when it looked like the Celtics needed to rebuild, their new manager Danny Ainge made two miraculous trades that saved Boston.

The Big 3 - Part 2

In the offseason of 2007, Danny Ainge dealt players and draft picks to the Seattle SuperSonics and Minnesota Timberwolves for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Although the Celtics had finished dead last in the Eastern Conference the previous year, there were high hopes and expectations for the next season. The challenge had been set forth, could the new Big 3 live up to the hype? The answer was a very resounding yes. That year, the Celtics pulled off the biggest single season turnaround in NBA history, winning 66 games. The Celtics met the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals yet again, led by their star Kobe Bryant and the one-two bigman punch of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The Celtics and Lakers fought in a back and forth series, but with the series headed back to Boston for Game 6 with the Celtics up 3-2, the Lakers title hopes were dashed by the Celtics in a 131-92 blowout win which brought Boston its first NBA Championship in 22 years. Boston's football and baseball teams had filled the void of championships in Boston earlier in the millenium, but it certainly felt right in the city for the Celtics to rejoin the championship celebration.

The Lakers would get their revenge in the 2010 Finals. After the Celtics made a surprise run to the Finals as the East's 4th seed. The Celtics took the Lakers to 7 games, but couldn't withstand L.A. in Game 7, falling 83-79 in a hard fought game. Over the next few years, the Celtics still made the playoffs, but those runs lacked the longevity of the two finals trips of 2008 and 2010. The Celtics did get within one win of another finals appearance in 2012, but fell short to the Miami Heat. Afetr a first round exit the next year, the Celtics went into full rebuilding mode, and all three members of the big 3 were claimed by other teams.

Today

To bring things to the present, over the last two years the Celtics have struggled to compete with much of the league. After ditching the veterans of their roster, the Celtics have relied on Rajon Rondo and other young talent to stay afloat. After finishing last season 25-57, and 12th in the East, the Celtics have started down a similar path this year. But the future looks bright, as the Celtics have many draft picks at their disposal over the next few years.