How did much-hyped NBA trios perform in their opening nights together?

How did much-hyped NBA trios perform in their opening nights together?

Published Oct. 29, 2014 4:25 p.m. ET

They may not be willing to call it a "Big Three" but all eyes around the league will be on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the trio of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving Thursday night.

Cleveland's triumvirate is the latest in what has become a trend in NBA team building. As the Cavs get set to start their season against the Knicks, let's take a look back at how some of the much-ballyhooed trios fared in their debuts together.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

These three spurred the modern notion of a "Big Three" coming together with the Boston Celtics in the 2007 offseason. Pierce was already a Boston stalwart but the addition of the big man Garnett and sharpshooter Allen created a dynamic group.


In their first game together, they came out 20-point winners over the Washington Wizards in Boston. Garnett was the standout with a powerful 22-point, 20-rebound Celtics debut. Pierce was the game's leading scorer with 28 and Allen added 17 points on a trademark 5-5 night from the free-throw line.

The 2007-8 Celtics went on to win 66 games and defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh

Miami's trio took the "Big Three" to another level, as James decided to come to the Heat in his infamous "Decision" special and Bosh also came over as a free agent in that 2010 offseason.

Game one didn't go so for well for the "New Big Three" as traveled to Boston to take on the Celtics' "Old Big Three" and suffered an 88-80 loss. Boston got out of the gates fast and took a 15-point lead in to the half but Miami turned it up some in the third and fourth quarters.

James scored 31 points to lead all players but also turned the ball over eight times. Wade was kept to 13 points and had six turnovers of his own, combining with James to contribute 14 of the Heat's 17 turnovers on the night. Bosh ended up with eight points and eight boards.

The 2010-11 Heat reached the Finals but fell to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in six games.

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash

This one proves that the super-team philosophy can go awry. In the 2012 offseason, the Lakers snagged Nash in a sign-and-trade with the Suns, and then added Howard in a monster three-team summer deal.

Fitting, the Lakers lost their first game of the 2012 season a 99-91 home defeat at the hands of the Mavericks. Howard was putrid from the free-throw stripe, making just three of his 14 attempts, despite a 19-point, 10-rebound night. Bryant was the top scorer in the game with 22 points on 11-14 shooting. Nash though struggled to get down a new offense, scoring just seven points and contributing four assists.

Bryant, Nash and Howard failed to live up to expectations, reaching the playoffs as the seventh seed with a 45-37 record and then getting swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Moses Malone

Before the "Big Three" term ever really became a thing, the Sixers formed one of their own when the rookie Barkley joined veterans Dr. J and Moses Malone. The 76ers scored a double-digit win in their Oct. 26, 1984 opener at home against the Cavs. Malone led the way with 26 points and 19 rebounds, Erving added 12 points, four boards and three assists, while Barkley had 11 points to go with six rebounds in his first professional game.

You could also make an argument that Maurice Cheeks made up a fourth big piece of this squad, which ultimately lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.