When the Boston Celtics take the floor for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they will be doing so (A) as consensus underdogs for the first time in three years and (B) without home-court advantage for the first time in three years.
Which begs the following: Will this also be the last time we see the new Big Three together?
Regardless of what happens in the series, the times they are indeed a-changin' in Celtic Nation. Ray Allen will become a free agent. Doc Rivers may decide he's had enough. Paul Pierce could become a free agent if he opts out of his current deal. Tony Allen, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels also will be free agents along with Brian Scalabrine, Michael Finley and Shelden Williams. Daniels and Robinson were supposed to be key reserves, but Rivers clearly has lost faith in both of them and their futures in Boston look dim.
The only players with firm commitments for 2010-11 are Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis and, ahem, Rasheed Wallace.
Is this the beginning of the end for Rivers and the Big Three? Will they be just a memory -- albeit a pleasant one for most -- in just two weeks' time? We know this much: The parties may go their separate ways this summer but starting Saturday, they are still together and, they say, as determined and motivated as ever. We'll have to see if that's enough to keep them together a little while longer.
Click HERE to read the full story.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell covers the Cowboys' defense, Rob Gronkowski's impact, Darrelle Revis' performance last season, the Giants' talent level and the outlook for the Cardinals.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Keith Law talk about the Tigers' acquisition of Joakim Soria and whether it's wise to trade within the division. Plus, Matt Gelb on the Phillies' plans.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Marc Topkin about the Rays' plans with David Price. Plus, Jayson Stark on Price and the rest of the trade market as the trading deadline looms over MLB.
Play Podcast Patriots QB Tom Brady talks about donating to The V Foundation for Cancer Research and more.
Play Podcast FOX's Joe Buck discusses his memories of Derek Jeter, Jeter's final season, the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox and the rosters for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
Play Podcast ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst weighs in on the Heat's reaction to LeBron James' departure, James' mindset regarding free agency, whether the Cavaliers should pursue Kevin Love and more.