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Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat: Last Stand Would be Fitting End to Big Three Era

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"The Big Three."

At different times of the past few years that term has meant something different. When the Boston Celtics originally brought together their three stars, they were dubbed "The Big Three" with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the team to a championship in 2008.

Since before last season however, "The Big Three" has referred to the trio of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Lebron James in Miami. Pat Riley brought together the three superstars in the hope of winning multiple championships, they failed in their first attempt but did ease past the 'old' big three in the playoffs.

The Celtics couldn't keep up with the Heat last year and were beaten 4-1 in the Conference Semi-Finals.

After last night's overtime victory for the Celtics in Boston, the two teams are tied at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only have the Celtics already done a better job this year against the Heat, winning two games, their performances on the court have been significantly better this year also.

Fittingly, the Celtics are competing better with the Heat this year because of their superstars.

At different points this year, the Celtics have relied heavily on Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce to carry them through the season, while Ray Allen's health, coupled with the emergence of Avery Bradley, landed him on the bench.

Last night, the Celtics relied on each member of the old Big Three and Rajon Rondo. Rondo was not originally part of the superstar cast when the original Big Three came together, but now he is the team's most important player as he has proven himself to be an elite talent at the point guard position.

While he doesn't always play to his potential, this series has been a showcase for Rondo to prove his doubters wrong. There is no other point guard in the NBA who can take over a game as well as Rondo. Chris Paul may be more consistent and better on the offensive side of the ball when both are at their best, but Paul cannot rebound like Rondo or defend as well.

Rondo has never been a big scorer for the Celtics, his game revolves around facilitating his teammates, but he is adjusting as the team around him changes. In this series he has shown off the ability to hit outside shots as well as attack the rim.

Rondo was never part of the Big Three, but he has been a pivotal figure in the Big Three era in Boston.

Without Rondo, the Celtics wouldn't be in the position they are in right now. Without his teammates, Rondo wouldn't be the player he is today. The Celtics Big Three carried Rondo when he was a developing point guard, so it is fitting that he is somewhat carrying them as they are declining.

There is no doubt that the Celtics' Big Three is in decline, none of the trio are the marquee players they once were in their respective primes, but they are still playing phenomenal basketball.

Kevin Garnett has reinvented himself as the team's starting center, but he continues to play the same style that made him a perennial all-star. Garnett's defense has been amazing during this series and the whole integrity of the team suffers when he isn't on the court. His leadership and tenacity is unmatched even as he edges closer and closer to retirement.

Paul Pierce hasn't reinvented himself at all. Throughout this series Pierce has played aggressive basketball on the defensive end of the court, which has got him in foul trouble at times, while also being a key scorer. In three of the team's four games he has scored at least 21 points.

Ray Allen is living up to the stereotype that will represent his career after he is gone. Allen has limped through these playoffs but not once has he looked for an excuse or way out. That is the epitome of Ray Allen's career. He may be remembered as the greatest three point shooter of all-time, but that shooting ability was a result of incessant practice and focus. Allen is only able to play at this stage because of how well he takes care of his body, that fitness has prolonged his career and allowed him to overcome his ankle issues as of late.

The Celtics performances in this series have been systematic of what you have come to expect of the Big Three Era. It's not just the three main players all playing to their strengths, but also Rajon Rondo and even Doc Rivers, who has easily outcoached Erik Spoelstra throughout this series, who are finishing off the era of the Celtics' Big Three the way it is meant to be finished off.

It's been six years since the original Big Three came together, if the Miami Heat's copy is still in tact in six years it will be an achievement, not least still competing for a place in the NBA Finals.

For Boston Celtics and New England Patriots tweets, follow @ICSportsCentral

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