That's NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens to your left. In 1972-73 he averaged 20.5 ppg, led the Celtics to a league-best 68-14 record and won NBA MVP. Why do we bring this up? Because the C's are officially off to their best start since '72-'73, and their latest win, a methodical 91-69 dismantling of the New Jersey Nets, has to stand as one of their most impressive to date. Impressive in the sense that a team that many had pegged as defensively suspect and dismally shallow had six players score in double figures and put on a defensive clinic against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Impressive in the sense that a team widely regarded as a trio of superstars and nothing more showed that every once in a while, they can win with all three superstars having sub-par nights, and with a trio this good "every once in a while" might be all it'll take. You can talk about how the Nets missed Vince Carter (they surely did), and you can talk about the fact that the 22-point margin was largely accumulated in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics looked like a top-flight team tonight in every way. The Denver blowout was a sight to behold; Simmons likened it to a blowout of the Suns back in '91 which, I admit, he has a much clearer recollection of than I do. Still, the Denver game was a laugher; everyone's gonna get one of those every now and again. This was different: it was a two-point game at halftime, and then the C's just pulled away with ruthless precision and confidence. They looked great, which isn't to say they haven't looked great all year, but this was a different sort of great, the sort that makes you sleep a little easier and with a smile on your face.
By the way, in case you were wondering, the 1972-73 C's didn't actually win the title: the Knicks did, their last Finals win to date, which again brings things back to the Knicks around here. The C's won the next year, though, and then two years after that as well. I'm not so confident of that window this time around, personally, but wow, do we ever have ourselves a team.