2024 Celtics aren’t more dominant than 2008 team


“You guys are underrating our path. Our path was much tougher.”

Brian Scalabrine noted that the 2008 Celtics had a tougher road to the NBA Finals. Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics are well on their way to establishing themselves as one of the most dominant teams in Boston sports history.

After posting 64 wins during the regular season, the Celtics carved a swath through the rest of the Eastern Conference during playoff action — sporting a 12-2 record against the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers. 

After sweeping the Pacers on Monday, Boston became the first NBA team since the 2017 Warriors and 2017 Cavaliers to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals with two losses or fewer. 

Of course, Boston still needs to seal the deal and best either the Mavericks or Timberwolves in the upcoming NBA Finals to stake their claim as one of the best teams in this city’s storied sporting history. 

But if Boston ends up lifting Banner 18 to the Garden rafters, is there a legitimate case to be made that this roster is more dominant than the 66-win Celtics team that won the title in 2008?

Celtics TV analyst and 2008 champion Brian Scalabrine doesn’t believe so, citing the path that the 2024 Celtics took to get to the NBA Finals and the road his teammates trudged through during their title run.

“I don’t think so,” Scalabrine said Wednesday during a radio spot on WEEI’s “Jones and Mego”. “I think people looked at the Atlanta Hawks [Boston’s 2008 first-round matchup] and they misjudged the Hawks at that time. Like the Hawks had Al Horford as a rookie, they had Mike Bibby, Josh Smith is coming into his own. They had a real rough start to the season, I think they won (37 games) that year, but they were much better than that. They shouldn’t have took us to seven. We should have got one when we were down there. But you gotta remember, we dominated them at home. Like we won by 25.

“Then we faced LeBron James. Everyone remembers that seven-game series. Then the Detroit Pistons were healthy and whole, and we had to go on the road to win and we beat them in six. And the Lakers — I heard you guys talking about the Lakers weren’t that good. I kind of agree with that. They weren’t as good as they were in ’09 and 2010.”

The Celtics have taken care of business so far this postseason, but they have benefitted from some favorable matchups out of the gate.

In their three series victories, the Celtics didn’t have to deal with some of their opponents’ top players for extended stretches, including Jimmy Butler (Heat), Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers), and Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers). 

Of course, the “path” taken by NBA champions isn’t exactly a strong barometer of a team’s legacy — with the 2022-23 Nuggets beating a 42-win Timberwolves team, 45-win Suns team, 43-win Lakers roster, and a 44-win Heat squad en route to their championship. 

Even if the Celtics have benefited in their matchups against a few banged-up teams in the East, besting either the 50-win Mavericks or the 56-win Timberwolves will be a strong statement on basketball’s highest stage. 

“When you look at like 20-point wins and stuff like that, for sure, [the 2024 Celtics] have more of a dominant run, but I just think our path was much harder,” Scalabrine said. “I don’t know. I hate doing that, because it makes me sound like I’m old, like one of these old players on a podcast just complaining about how good we were. I don’t want to come across like that. But you guys are underrating our path. Our path was much tougher.”

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