I just came across this Metro article, comparing the 1986 Celtics with the 2008 Celtics. Granted, its insanely early (I feel like I’m jinxing this year’s team by even acknowledging the comparison, but that pressure falls on author Bruce Allen – not me) to do something like this, but what the hell. I still firmly believe the ’86 Celtics were the greatest team in the history of the NBA. Had they beat the Lakers instead of the Rockets in the finals that year (remember that Ralph Sampson buzzer-beater?), I would have more company. Allen compares the starters for each team along with the bench. Here’s a sample:
Kevin Garnett vs. Kevin McHale
This could be the most intriguing matchup — two of the game’s all-time best at this position going head-to-head. They actually play a pretty similar game as well, both with strong post-up games and the mid-range jumpers to go with it. Garnett gets the edge in athleticism, but remember — in his prime, McHale was athletic enough that the Celtics could put him on the opponent’s small forward, leaving Larry Bird to cover the slower and bigger power forwards. Both are outstanding shot blockers, and cover up for their teammates’ mistakes. These guys would go all-out at each other, and it’s really hard to see either having an edge on the other.
Edge — Push
The ’86 team wins three matchups; Bird over Pierce, Parish over Perkins, DJ over Rondo. While the ’08 team wins two; Ray Allen over Ainge, and overall bench play. The McHale vs Garnett matchup is the only push. I agree with Allen on this one, but I’m sure some of our younger readers won’t. Here’s hoping we can have this debate again come June.