2000-2001: The Two Twenty-something Stars Take Over; O'Brien Takes
Over For Pitino
Led by two twenty-year old stars, Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce,
they both finish the 2000-2001 season averaging over twenty+ points per game.
What a way to start a new century, as Pierce leads the Green and White with a
25.3 points per game average (his career-best and 8th-best in the NBA) and Walker
supported his teammate following up with an average of 23.4 points per contest
(11th-best in the league). Pierce was also the lone Celtics player to start and
play in all 82 games; however Walker started and played in every game he appeared
(81). He missed his first game since 5/1/99 to attend a funeral, snapping a streak
of 129 consecutive games played.
Pierce became the first Celtics player
to score 2,000 points (2,071) since Larry Bird (2,275) completed the feat in the
1987-88 season. He also set a team record for free throws attempted in a season
(738), eclipsing the mark set by Cedric Maxwell (716) in the 1978-79 campaign.
For the month of March, Pierce received league-wide recognition being named the
NBA Player of the Month, averaging 30.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and
1.60 steals for the month.
Walker set the team record for three-point field
goals made (221) and attempted (603) in a season, as well as leading the entire
NBA in both categories. The Celtics co-captain was the only player in the league
to finish in the top 20 in points (23.4), rebounds (8.9), assists (5.5) and steals
(1.70) per game. He finished first on the team and ranked third in the NBA in
minutes per game (41.9).
The dynamic duo of Pierce and Walker combined
to average 48.7 points per game, second to only the Los Angeles Lakers tandem
of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, who combined to average 57.2 points per outing.
On January 8th, Jim O'Brien was named Interim Head Coach succeeding Rick
Pitino (who had resigned). The record stood at 12-22 when O'Brien took the helm.
but after he recorded his first NBA victory on January 10th, O'Brien led the Green
and White to a .500 record over the last 48 games of the season. With this all-around
success, O'Brien was named Head Coach on April 24th, making him just the 14th
man to hold the prestigious title in team history.
Celtics post first 40-win season in a decade; Pierce and Walker Continue to Dominate
The Celtics, under the direction of Head Coach Jim O'Brien, posted the
team's first 40-win season (49-33) since the 1991-92 campaign when Chris Ford
lead the Green and White to 51-31 record. With a 22-19 road record, it marked
the team's winningest road campaign since the 1989-90 season, a team that also
won 22 games. The year also featured Boston making a strong return to the NBA
Playoffs (first time since the 1994-95 season) and posting a 9-7 slate, before
bowing to the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals. A key trade with
the Phoenix Suns on February 20th, in which Boston received Rodney Rogers and
Tony Delk in exchange for Randy Brown, Joe Johnson, Milt Palacio and a conditional
2002 first round draft pick, helped propel the Celtics season down the stretch
As has been the case in the previous few seasons, the co-captains
Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker led Boston. Pierce, the only player to start and
appear in all 82 games, became the first Celtic in team history to finish as the
league leader in total points scored (2,144). He also became the first Celtics
player since Larry Bird to score 2,000 points in consecutive seasons (Bird tallied
2,000 points four straight years from 1985-88).
Walker, who started and
appeared in 81 games (missed one game due to injury), finished the season as one
of only four players in the NBA to average 20+ points (22.1), 7+ rebounds (8.0)
and 5+ assists (5.0). For the second consecutive year, he led the league in three-pointers
made (222) and attempted (645). Walker and Pierce were deservingly named the NBA's
Eastern Conference Co-Players of the Month for January. Both players also represented
Boston on the NBA's Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
This team also boasted
two important traits. The Celtics ranked fifth in the league in fewest turnovers
per game, less than 14 times per game. In fact, the Celtics finished with the
fewest turnovers (1,114) of any Celtics team since 1973-74. The other fact was
this team finished the year first in the NBA in steals per game (9.67).
New Ownership, Pierce and Walker Both Average 20+ Points Per Game For Third Straight
Season and Team Returns To Post-Season Play
As the calendar made the turn
from 2002 to 2003, the Boston Celtics franchise received new ownership. Boston
Basketball Partners L.L.C., led by H. Irving Grousbeck, Wycliffe Grousbeck, Steve
Pagliuca, Robert Epstein, David Epstein, and John Svenson completed the purchase
of the team from Paul Gaston on December 31, 2002. Gaston had owned the team since
1992. The new ownership became the first local owners since 1964, when Walter
Brown owned the legendary organization until his death.
For the third consecutive
season, co-captains Paul Pierce (25.9 points per game) and Antoine Walker (20.1
points per game) average more than 20 points per outing and led the team to their
second straight 40+-win season (44-38). It marked the first time the Celtics have
won 40 or more games in consecutive seasons in a decade (since 1991-92 and 1992-93
seasons). Despite the scoring heroics of both players, playing time added up as
Walker logged 3,235 minutes (41.5 per game-4th highest in the NBA) and Pierce
played in 3,096 minutes (an average of 39.2 per game). Pierce became just the
second Celtics player to record three straight 2,000-point seasons (2,048); Larry
Bird recorded four straight from 1984-87. Pierce and Walker combined for 47.6%
of the team's points in 2002-03 and both players were named the NBA's Eastern
Conference Player of Week on two different occasions during the regular season.
The co-captains were both named to the NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Pierce
ranked first in the NBA and broke the franchise record in free throws made and
attempted, shooting 604-for-753 (80.2%) and he was a member of the United States
2002 World Championship team.
The Celtics ranked 4th in the NBA in steals
per game with an average of 8.78 per contest, while they took care of the basketball,
ranking 7th in turnovers per game (13.99 per game). The Celtics used the three-point
line to their advantage as well, leading the NBA in three point field goals made
and attempted, shooting 719-for-2, 155 (.33.4%). The 2002-03 Celtics now hold
the NBA record for three's attempted in a season, as they surpassed the Dallas
Mavericks 2,039 treys attempted in the 1995-96 season.
The Green and White
were one of sixteen teams to make the NBA Playoffs. Boston defeated the Indiana
Pacers in the First Round however were stopped, for the second consecutive year,
by the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Danny Ainge returns, key trades bring new faces, O'Brien steps down
Celtics were busy battling the New Jersey Nets in the 2003 NBA Eastern Conference
Semifinals when, on May 9, the announcement was made that former Celtics great
Danny Ainge would return to the Green and White as the Executive Director of Basketball
Operations. Ainge, a key member of the Celtics 1984 and 1986 World Championship
teams, jumped right into his role on Draft Night when he traded draft rights to
acquire guard Marcus Banks and high school standout center Kendrick Perkins.
the 2003-04 Celtics were grinding through the double sessions in Training Camp
preparing for the upcoming 82-game regular season slate, a major move change the
makeup of the team on October 20th. The team acquired center Raef LaFrentz, forward
Chris Mills, guard Jiri Welsch and a 2004 First Round draft choice from the Dallas
Mavericks, in exchange for Tony Delk and co-captain and seven-year Celtics star
Antoine Walker. Two months later, on December 15th, the team acquired veterans
Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm and Michael Stewart (and a Second Round draft choice)
from the Cleveland Cavaliers, in exchange for veterans Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown
and Eric Williams.
The win-loss record hovered around the .500 mark for
a good part of the first half of the season but on January 27th the team had to
make another adjustment. Head Coach Jim O'Brien stepped down and Assistant Coach
John Carroll was named the Interim Head Coach. Carroll and the C's would compile
a 14-22 record over the final three months of the campaign, which included another
trade just before the trading deadline, on February 19th. The Celtics acquired
veteran guard Chuck Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, a 2004 First Round draft choice and
cash from the Detroit Pistons, in exchange for Mike James and Chris Mills.
the final 21 games, Davis slid comfortably into the 6th man role averaging 16.7
points while shooting 52.5% from the field and 45.0% from three-point territory.
Co-captain and iron man Paul Pierce became the first Celtic since Larry Bird (1983-87)
to post four consecutive seasons of 3,000+ minutes (with 3,099). Pierce also became
the fastest Celtic to ever score 10,000 points when he accomplished the feat in
his 431st career game, surpassing Bird who scored his 10,000th point in his 436th
career game. Center Mark Blount finished the season strong, posting a career-high
19 double-double games and finishing runner-up to Shaquille O'Neal in Field Goal
Percentage for the NBA (shooting 56.6%). The Celtics made their third consecutive
playoff appearance, bowing out to the Indiana Pacers in the first round.