The Boston Celtics entered the 2016-2017 season with high expectations after a very prolific summer haul. Not only did they add an All-Star talent in Al Horford, but they also secured a very promising piece for the future in rookie Jaylen Brown.
However, injuries to Horford and the team’s swiss army knife, Jae Crowder, have held back the Celtics’ ideal progress. They now find themselves in a crazily tight position battle in the Eastern Conference wherein the second all the way down to the eighth seed are only separated by a few games.
As Boston battled their way sans major rotation players, the presence of their “small big three” kept their heads above water. The triumvirate of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart gives the team a unique source of pride and inspiration because, outside of the boxscore, these three players perfectly exemplify the Celtics’ character that’s been built under the guidance of Brad Stevens.
Wise. Hard-nosed. Prideful.
In a way, one can liken this trio to the fabled Chicago Bulls Big Three of the 90s. BUT before discounting what was just mentioned, let us be clear first. This is not a comparison based on effectiveness and production because there will be no conversation whatsoever if that was the case.
Rather, this is about the characters and the role that they play in their respective teams.
Similar to Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas is the top scorer, playmaker, and leader of his team. The 5’9” point guard has never let his height get in the way of his success, and he has always maintained an incredibly feisty demeanor on the court.
Scottie Pippen’s role as the ball hawker and lockdown defender is being played by Avery Bradley, pestering opponents through 94 feet.
While Dennis Rodman’s enforcer-grade toughness and smashmouth play can be seen from the bulldog that is Marcus Smart. He gets in the head of opponents and has never had any problems backing up his mates whenever needed.
All three of these guards exhibit toughness that when viewed collectively, stands out above every backcourt threesome in the NBA.
Sure, Thomas, Bradley, and Smart aren’t exactly the Celtics’ Big Three, but so far, they have carried the Beantown team for most of what has been played in the young season. And for that, they deserve huge credit.