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The Celtics Big Three: Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin GarnettMIAMI -- Did the Big Three era end Saturday in Miami? No one seemed ready to make a call one way or the other for the Boston Celtics after Saturday's Game 7 loss to the Heat ended the 2011-12 season.
"I don't know," said coach Doc Rivers. "Obviously, we're all smart... I think we're going to wait and see what happens with free agency and all that stuff. I honest to gosh hadn't thought much about it, other than the draft... Other than that, I've given zero thought to the whole thing. (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny (Ainge) has talked to me a couple of times recently. I probably didn't hear much. We'll find that out later. I just want to stick with this group, if it's a couple more days, a couple more weeks, or whatever. I just want to stick with them."
After five seasons together in Boston, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are both unrestricted free agents this summer. Paul Pierce is signed for two more years (the final year is only partially guaranteed), though Boston still has its amnesty clause available if it wanted to really blow things up this summer (it could also explore trading Pierce in the offseason).
Garnett left Saturday night without talking to reporters. Allen said ankle surgery is his top priority before he starts worrying about his future (though he noted he "still a lot of basketball left in my legs.") Pierce seemed open to the idea of keeping the core together, but the last thing he said before departing was, "If not, it's been a tremendous run."
Rivers was asked to reflect on the Big Three era and said he only wished he could see how it all would have played out if everyone had stayed healthy. Each of Boston's last four postseasons -- to varying degrees -- were influenced by injuries after winning a world title in their first year together in 2008.
"I wish we could have had healthy runs," said Rivers. "This team won a title; got to another one (in 2010), a Game 7 (vs. the Lakers), where they had a shot to win. We got to the Eastern Conference finals and one game away on the road (this year vs. the Heat), banged up. So I don't know -- because of really Kevin's (knee) injury (in 2009), I don't know if we could have gotten any more out of the group. I would have loved to have seen this team in this whole stretch where Kevin was injury-free.
"But you don't get do-overs. Everybody has injuries. Not just us. Chicago, (Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau) is sitting at home right now thinking, 'No Rose.' It's part of the luck of it. But great group, great team group. I know everybody will look at the Big Three individually -- Kevin, Ray and Paul. I'm never going to look at them individually, I'm going to look at them as a group collective. They all gave up seven-plus shots each. They gave up minutes. I asked them to play defense and move the ball, and they all did it, and they're willing to do it for the better of the team. So I think that's what we should focus on, how much they gave up to try to win. That's what I'll remember most about them."