Last night’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals brought back some memories of a game I try to forget on a daily basis: Super Bowl XLII. For those of you who may not remember, the Giants played the game of their lives and defeated a Patriots team that hadn’t lost a game that season. It’s not the fact that both Boston teams lost that brought back those 2007 memories, but how the Celtics lost that made me think of that fateful Super Bowl. Last night was the first time this postseason where the core of the Celtics finally showed their age, and simply ran out of gas and couldn’t slow a surging Lakers team. The Celts had a late lead in the fourth quarter but couldn’t match the intensity of L.A. when they turned it on to take back a lead they hadn’t seen since the first half. The Celtics are now faced with the reality that they are going to have to integrate more youth into the team, and may lose Ray Allen. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are also heading to the finish line.
How does that relate to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII?
The Pats’ explosive offense finally came alive against a winded Giants’ defense that had pummeled them all game to take a late lead. With the score 14-10, the Giants’ offense took the field and went 83 yards in 12 plays to score the go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left. The Patriots’ defense had multiple opportunities to get the Giants off the field and make a stop, and be it a key completion or a miracle helmet catch, the defense just couldn’t get it done. As the Giants worked their way down the field, my father said aloud what I was thinking: the Pats’ D looked old. The offense all season had provided big cushions for the defense. Now, with the game on the line, the veteran defense that had won 3 Super Bowls just seemed to run out of gas.
The Pats are currently in the midst of what the Celtics have in their not-too-distant future: a large influx of youth. Last year, the Pats made 12 picks in the draft, and all are still currently on the team. The Patriots also made 12 picks this year. If all of those players make the final cut, 24 of the 53 players on the roster will be first- or second-year players. That’s an amazing turnover in the roster in such a short amount of time. Nearly half of the roster could be new, youthful players. The Celts have a decent crop of youth and a fantastic young player to build around in Rajon Rondo. Two new eras of players are on the horizon here in New England. Let’s hope the new generation is as good as the previous one.