Comparing the 2007-11 Celtics to the 2002-08 Pistons

[Note by MW: Good read from a DBB newcomer -- welcome aboard, DK50! Pay attention everyone: this is a great example of the type of FanPost that gets promoted to the front page.]

With all of the recent talk about the Celtics-Heat series being the “End of the Celtics Era,” I have begun to wonder whether this so-called “Era” is a bit overblown. As these playoffs went on, I wanted to see how their current run stacks up in comparison to the Pistons’ run from 02-07.

The comparisons are not apples-to-apples, as this Celtics team is not truly “over” yet, regardless of the outcome of the Heat series. Garnett, Allen, Rondo, and Pierce are all signed through next year, and figure to stay competitive for another year, again probably similar to out 07-08 team, which the Celtics beat in the Conference Finals. However, when the numbers are put side-to-side, you begin to wonder whether either the Celtics era was overrated or if the Pistons’ era was a bit underrated.

The stories of the teams is even comparable. Both teams were put together by GM’s brought back to run their former teams (Dumars, Ainge). Both teams have strong, defensive minded coaches (Carlisle, Brown, Rivers, Thibodeau). Throughout the playoffs, both battled a number of veteran-led teams (DET – Pacers, Spurs, Lakers, Celtics. BOS – Pistons, Lakers) and fought off the next generation of up-and-coming stars (both teams faced Howard, Wade, and James).

Both suffered injuries which lead to "what-if" scenarios (Billups in 07-08, Garnett in 08-09). Both had comparable benches of veterans many thought were finished (DET – McDyess, Hunter, Webber. BOS – Brown, R. Wallace, S. O’Neal, J. O’Neal, Cassell). Both struggled/are struggling with developing their future beyond their core four. Both even blew leads and lost a Game 7 in the Finals. Both teams struggled with motivation throughout the regular season, leading to criticism of both for "flipping the switch."

Looking historically and beyond the numbers, I don’t think anyone would dispute that the individual talent of the Celtics’ Big Four (Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rondo) exceeded the talent of the Pistons’ (Billups, Hamilton, B. Wallace, R. Wallace). There is no real dispute on that. However, the fact remains, (assuming Miami finishes Boston off at some point this series), that both teams each won 1 championship and made two Finals appearances, but the Pistons made six consecutive conference finals, while Boston only made two.

Again, I am aware the comparison and the amount of years is not perfect, but I just wanted to hear anyone else’s thoughts on comparing the two runs. It just seems to this Piston fan that Boston's run is looked at as "era of dominance," whereas our run is looked down upon. I'm sure that I am forgetting some info, so feel free to add on.


02-03 – 50-32. .610. Lost East (Nets)

03-04 – 54-28. .659. Won East. Won Finals. (Lakers)

04-05 – 54-28. .659. Won Division. Won East. Lost Finals (Spurs).

05-06 – 64-18. .78. Won Division. Lost East (Heat).

06-07 – 53-29. .646. Won Division. Lost East (Cavs).

07-08 – 59-23. .720. Won Division. Lost East (Celtics).

Total Wins: 334

Total Wins Per Year: 55.66

Total NBA Championship: 1

Total NBA Finals Appearances: 2

Total Conference Finals Appearances: 6

All NBA Appearances: 6 (B. Wallace 02, B. Wallace 03, B. Wallace 04, B. Wallace & Billups 05, Billups 06)

All Star Appearances: 12 (B. Wallace 02, B. Wallace 03, B. Wallace 04, B. Wallace, R. Wallace, Billups, Hamilton 05, Billups & Hamilton 06, Billups, Hamilton, R. Wallace 07)

Main Rivals: NJ (Kidd, Martin, Jefferson), LA (Kobe, Shaq), SA (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili), Pacers (Miller, Artest, O’Neal), Heat (Wade, O’Neal), Cavs (James), Magic (Howard), Celtics (Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rondo)


07-08 - 66-16. .80. Won Division. Won Finals (Lakers)

08-09 – 62-20. .756. Won Division. Lost Semi Finals (Magic.)

09-10 – 50-32. .610. Won Division. Lost Finals (Lakers).

10-11 – 56-26. .683. Won Division. Lost Semi Finals (Heat).

Total Wins: 234

Total Wins Per Year: 58.5

Total NBA Championship: 1

Total NBA Finals Appearances: 2

Total Conference Finals Appearances: 2

All NBA Appearances: 4 (Garnett, Pierce 07, Pierce 08, Pierce 09, ?????? 11)

All Star Appearances: 13 (Garnett, Pierce & Allen 07, Garnett, Allen & Pierce 08, Garnett, Pierce & Rondo 09, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rondo 10)

Main Rivals: Pistons (Billups, Hamilton, R. Wallace), Lakers (Bryant, Gasol, Odom), Magic (Howard), Cavs (James), Heat (Wade, Wade, James, Bosh)

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