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Easily one of the most successful franchises in NBA history, the Boston Celtics never cease to put on a good show. The team is currently battling to remain a contender in the Eastern Conference while they rebuild without the services of veteran players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
In one stretch from 1959-1966, the Boston Celtics won eight consecutive NBA Championships. The title run is a record not only for the NBA, but for all professional sports in U.S history. The Championships of the 1950's and 60's were due in large part to the efforts of NBA and Celtic legends Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and coach Red Auerbach. It was during these 'golden years' that the intense rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics was born.
The Celtics had another run of dominance in the 1980's. Led by superstars Larry 'Legend' Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale the Boston Celtics went on to play in five NBA Finals, winning in 1981, 1984, and 1986. After the 1986 Championship, the franchise struggled for many seasons and endured some awful moments including the death of their first round draft pick in 1986, Len Bias, due to a cocaine overdose. In the 1996-1997 season, the Celtics had the worst record in the NBA and figured that they would at least be getting the number one pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, but instead it went to the San Antonio Spurs who would select Tim Duncan.
Similar feelings arose when the Celtics finished the 2006-2007 season with only 24 wins and were slotted for either the first or second picks of the 2007 NBA Draft. Again, the lottery did not go Boston’s way and they ended up with the overall fifth pick. General Manager Danny Ainge took action, trading the pick away for veteran shooting guard Ray Allen. He then pulled off a 7 for 1 player deal to land Kevin Garnett in Boston. The new additions joined Captain Paul Pierce to form the new 'Big Three.' Together the three longtime All-Stars led the revamped 2008 Celtics to a 66-16 regular season record and a long awaited franchise championship. Not only were the Celtics back on top, but they were competing in the finals against their historic rival Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic/Bird show-downs in the 1980's created one of the best rivalries in sports, and for the first time in 21 years the city was alive and ready again for another Celtics/Lakers classic. The Celtics put on a show in game six to seal the deal at the TD Garden, crushing the Lakers 131-92.
The 2009 Celtics seemed to be on the right track again for another chance at an NBA championship. They set a franchise record win streak at 19 games, and had the best season start in NBA history with a 27-2 record. After losing Garnett to knee problems, the Celtics slipped into second place four games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. The C's entered the playoffs without KG and battled with the Chicago Bulls in what could be recognized as one of the most competitive playoff series ever. In a series comprising a total of seven played overtimes, the Celtics managed to come out on top with a win in game seven 109-99. After a grueling set of games, the Celtics fell to the Orlando Magic in another seven-game series.
The 2010 C’s produced an injury filled 50-32 regular season record. Despite their difficulties keeping up for 82 games, they landed the #4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The group was collectively healthy by the start of the playoffs, where they proceeded to make a run back to the NBA Finals. They took the Lakers to seven games but couldn’t sustain the lead in the final minutes, giving Kobe Bryant and Co. their second consecutive title.
In the 2011-12 season the Celtics made it to the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They quickly beat out the Hawks then struggled against the Philadelphia 76ers but ultimately were victorious. The Miami Heat put them to the test in a back-and-forth seven-game series which the Heat ended up winning in game 7. Miami then went on to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals.
In the 2012 offseason, both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett became free agents and only six players remained with the Celtics under contract. In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph. Free agents Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green were re-signed. Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Jason Terry was also signed. The Celtics also acquired Courtney Lee and Darko Milicic. The "Big Three" era came to an end as Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the Celtics in the 2012-2013 season. They remained at about .500 throughout much of the year. Rajon Rondo suffered a partially torn ACL in late January and was forced to miss the rest of the season. The Celtics went 21-17 in his absence, and made the playoffs as a seven seed. They fell to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs in six games. The Celtics had an eventful 2013 off-season. They completed a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets and shipped off longtime captain Paul Pierce along with Kevin Garnett. In return, they received five players and three future first round draft picks. The Celtics also let Doc Rivers opt out of his contract as he signed a new deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers agreed to give the Celtics their 2015 first-round pick as compensation for Rivers. To replace Rivers, the Celtics hired Brad Stevens as their new head coach. The Celts will now look to rebuild, and hopefully they can make another run at the NBA finals in a few years.