After loss, free agency could end Celtics era

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
4:18
PM ET
By Justin Page, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
The Boston Celtics fell short of the NBA Finals for the second straight season, bowing out to the Miami Heat in back-to-back seasons. With Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen entering free agency, is this the end of an era in Boston?

Possible players on the move
Garnett is an unrestricted free agent after making $21.2 million this season. He turned 36 last month, but was the key for the Celtics on both ends of the court this postseason.

In the 737 minutes he was on the court in the playoffs, the Celtics outscored opponents by 138 points. They were outscored by 118 points in the 238 minutes he was off the floor. That wasn’t a fluke, as the Celtics were +267 with Garnett on the floor during the regular season compared to -101 with him on the bench.

Allen is also an unrestricted free agent this summer and will turn 37 years old in July. He wasn’t as productive in the playoffs this year as he was the past four years. He averaged nearly 17 points in 39 minutes per game from 2008-11, but in 2012 those numbers declined by six points and five minutes.

Brandon Bass, who just finished his first season with the Celtics, has a $4 million player option for next season. Bass set career highs this season, averaging 32 minutes, 13 points and six rebounds per game.

Even if they have played their last game together, Paul Pierce, Garnett and Allen have already cemented their legacy in Boston. This is the fourth memorable era in Celtics history.

1957-69
Red Auerbach failed to make the NBA Finals during his first six years as head coach of the Celtics, but Bill Russell’s arrival for the 1956-57 season was the beginning of one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. The Celtics went on to capture 11 championships during Russell’s 13-year career.

1972-76
After Russell’s retirement in 1969, the Celtics missed the playoffs in 1970 and 1971, but it wasn’t long before they were back on top again.

John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, and Jo Jo White helped lead Boston to titles in 1974 and 1976. The Celtics also made it to the Conference Finals in 1972, 1973 and 1975.

1980-92
Boston was eliminated in the Conference Semifinals in 1977 and missed the playoffs entirely the next two seasons, but Larry Bird landed in Boston for the 1979-80 season and the rest was history.

The Celtics made five NBA Finals appearances and won three titles during Bird’s 13-year career, which ended in 1992 with a 4-games-to-3 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Semifinals.

2008-12
After experiencing a 21-season championship drought, Pierce, Garnett, and Allen guided the Celtics to a title during their first season together in 2008.

Garnett missed the playoffs the following year due to injury and the Celtics lost in the Conference Semifinals, but Boston made it back to the Finals in 2010, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in a hard-fought seven game series.

The Celtics couldn’t get by the Heat the last two seasons, losing in five games in the 2011 Conference Semifinals and coming up just short this year in the Conference Finals.

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