No. 1 The Boston Celtics
“The minute I heard Kobe [Bryant] say he had one more ring than Shaq, I said to Danny [Ainge], ‘Let’s go get Shaq,’ and it happened.”
-Wys Grousbeck, principal owner Boston Celtics, on acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal
There’s a reason why Doc Rivers continues to gripe about how his team would have won the O’Brien last year if it weren’t for the injury to Kendrick Perkins, and it’s not because he loves living in the past. It’s partly because he may be right. Of course, if Andrew Bynum had been healthy during the ’08 Finals—well, we can go on all day over this.
The bottom line is the Lakers get to hang banner No. 16 on opening night and the Celtics get to find out how their aging O’Neal’s match-up against the presumed No. 1 team in the East. What the Lakers have to contend with now is a Celtics team revamped to fit the model of—you guessed it—themselves.
The Celtics have sought out to salvage whatever small window of opportunity they have at securing another ring for the “Big Three,” by taking a page out of Mitch Kupchak’s book on general management. Get lenghtier.
Don’t think for one second that Kevin Garnett and Co. aren’t harnessing the sting of losing to the Lakers last June as motivation for the upcoming season. If they can stay healthy, they’ll continue to be a pain in the Lakers’ side.