The Boston Celtics have been the model.
In 2008 they brought together a big three — Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen coming in to join Paul Pierce — and that first year they won a title. It was instant success, they were the team to beat in the NBA that season from day one.
Last year the big three in Miami struggled at the start of the season and while they hit a stride the fell short in the finals. This year the Clippers have put together a powerhouse lineup but of late they have struggled to defend consistently and play well at the ends of games.
Why was Boston different? Doc Rivers has a theory.
“One thing we had, that in my opinion is different than Miami and the Clippers, we had guys who were veterans,” Rivers said. “They already had their day, you know what I man? So from a coaching standpoint, at least with that group, it was easy to get them to buy in, to let go of some shots, to forfeit some minutes, and defending, being a team defense.
“When you have younger guys that’s not as easy. They think it’s going to last forever and the urgency is not there. We had a group that had a sense of urgency about them. I think Miami has that this year, you can see it in the way they play.”
He goes on to say he expects the Clippers to get it together, but that they really miss the veteran leadership on the court and in the locker room of Chauncey Billups.
The Heat look like a team that has learned its lesson and is ready to challenge for a title. The Clippers look like Oklahoma City did a year or tow ago — very talented, you can see a path to title contention, but they have to grow into that (and get a few key role players).
But it’s going to be very difficult for any team to match the instant success Boston had.