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NBA Playoffs Preview: Can the Celtics Win It All?

Apr 26, 2012 09:57PM ● By Erin Frisch

NBA Playoffs Celtics Preview

How good are the Celtics? That was the question on everyone’s mind when this season began on Christmas Day.

Would the experience and wisdom of the Celtics three superstars allow the team to make one more run at a World Championship? Or would years of turned ankles and knocked knees take their toll? Early in the season, the latter seemed to be the most likely outcome.

The Celtics started the season like a jalopy—sputtering and wheezing. It wasn’t pretty, and the team’s play had many people wondering if they’d even make the NBA Playoffs. They started 0–3 and languished under .500 for most of the first third of the season.

But on New Year’s Eve, the Celts made it to .500 with a win against Cleveland. They played .500 basketball for the next third of the season before announcing to the world that they were a legitimate contender by running off five decisive wins in a row. The streak was punctuated by a drubbing of the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves in Kevin Garnett’s latest, always-emotional return to the land of 10,000 NBA losses, a place he called home for more than a decade.

Since then, the Celtics have established themselves as an elite team in the Eastern Conference. In fact, they might be the smart choice to make it all the way through the NBA Playoffs and take home the championship. Here are five reasons why.

Experience The Celtics are only four years removed from winning a World Championship. Sure, some of their key players are gone, but the majority of the team has been through the physical and mental grind that is the NBA Playoffs. And they’ve won it all.

They’ve also lost it all—losing to the Lakers in 2009–10, which might be even more important in helping them win the NBA Playoffs this year. The Celtics’ core players have taken the charges and elbows to the head. They’ve pushed as hard as they could only to come up short. And they don’t want to feel that disappointment (and pain) again—especially when they know this could be their last chance.

Sometimes, the experience a team gains from losing—especially a veteran team—is more important than what it gains from winning. This is the case with the Celtics.

Defense Anyone who’s watched the NBA Playoffs knows that it’s the defense, not the offense, that will take you to the Promised Land. And no one knows this better than the Celtics.

On the perimeter, Ray Allen, even at his advanced age, defends nearly as well as any shooting guard in the league. Inside, Kevin Garnett can still find the fire in his belly to be a beast, able to shut down the top power forwards in the league.

Star Power Sure, everyone talks about LeBron and Wade in Miami and Howard in Orlando. But it wasn’t long ago when KG, Allen, and Pierce were considered the best players in the East. Their title run was so recent, in fact, that they are still considered stars. And in the NBA Playoffs, star power matters. Younger players wilt, and referees swallow their whistles around star players.

Rajon Rondo Rondo has been the Celtics “not so secret weapon” this season. He leads the league in assists per game and has the ability to get his teammates involved in the offense. When Rondo is on point, he is very difficult to defend and is someone that the Celtics have come to rely on to inject energy into their offense. With several great playoff performances in his young career, he is poised to lead the team forward come playoff time. The Mystique Miami has Wade and LeBron. Oklahoma City has Durant and Westwood. The Lakers have Kobe. But Boston has the mystique. The franchise is one of the most storied in the league’s history. The Garden, while not what it once was, is still home to all those banners and an intimidating place to play. And the fans turn into wild animals come playoff time.

How good are the Celtics? Give us your predictions...

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