Are The Boston Celtics The Team To Beat?
The Boston Celtics entered the playoffs as the #4 seed and looking just a bit too old to get past the Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the NBA Finals. Some skeptics thought there was a strong possibility the Celtics could have been bounced by Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. But alas, here we are, one game away from the Boston Celtics sweeping the Orlando Magic and making a return trip to the NBA Finals.
Who honestly thought that the Celtics would be the the team to beat?
Earlier this month, Rasheed Wallace said this to the Boston Globe:
“I still believe, I have no doubts in what we’re capable of doing,” Wallace told the newspaper. “You’ve always got to believe. I haven’t given up on this team, I’m not a quitter.”
Mind you, this came after a 111-91 drubbing at the hands of the lowly Memphis Grizzlies and even Boston fans collectively rolled their eyes as the playoffs neared. These Celtics went 50-32, this is after many preseason predictions had them winning 60 games. ESPN had them ranked #12 in Hollinger’s season ending Power Rankings behind the likes of the Heat, Blazers, Jazz and Hawks. They were considered “creaky” and “old” and perhaps just not good enough to get past the second round of the playoffs.
And here we, Boston trounced the Heat 4-1 and then shocked everyone (except a select few, delusional Boston fans) as they simply outplayed the Cleveland Cavaliers and sent LeBron James to his “other” team to begin planning where he’ll end up playing next season. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Boston has completely obliterated the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals thus far after Orlando ran through both the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Bobcats as if they didn’t even exist.
If you saw it coming in this manner, I’ll call you a liar. I don’t think anybody saw Boston beating teams like they have. But a combination of being healthy at the right time and Rajon Rondo‘s absolute brilliance as a point guard emerging, has the Boston Celtics looking like the favorite heading into the NBA Finals. Even without Paul Pierce playing excellent basketball.
Obviously, a rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers is the NBA Finals everyone would like to see, considering that Boston shot down Nike’s dreams of a LeBron vs Kobe matchup. And if you really look at the matchups, you could say that Boston may cause the Lakers problems. The biggest problem for LA will be trying to stop Rajon Rondo. Derek Fisher is simply too old to be abused by Rondo. However, if Kobe Bryant is forced to defend Rondo, then Fisher will find his old legs fighting through screens as he’ll have to defend Ray Allen. It’s definitely a nightmare between the two guard positions for the Lakers.
If the Phoenix Suns manage to come back against the Lakers, they find themselves in a similar position as the Lakers. Steve Nash plays zero defense but problems also arise if Paul Pierce comes alive. Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins will give Amare and Robin Lopez fits every night. It is certainly not going to be a walk in the park.
The bigger question remaining is just how much do these Celtics have in their tank? They may be hot right now, but will the clock strike midnight and turn their champion carriage into a pumpkin? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, as of this very moment, the Boston Celtics appear to be the best team in the NBA Playoffs.