The Boys in Bean-Town are Back in the Title Chase
The Celtics' first round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks was far from a walk in the park, but it did show that the C's are a motivated and dangerous playoff contender.
Let's take a look at some of the factors involved in Boston's success.
Garnett has never lost his appetite to be a champion
One thing we've learned in the first round: Don't give KG any extra motivation.
After Atlanta Hawks co-owner Mike Gearon Jr. called the entire Celtics squad "old," he had the audacity to follow that up by saying KG is "the dirtiest guy in the league."
Garnett responded to Gearon's comments by scoring 28 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and three steals in Game 6, effectively eliminating the Atlanta Hawks.
One reason why people like Gearon may think Garnett is one of the dirtiest players in the league is because he is one of the greatest competitors in the game today. Garnett plays with an old-school tenacity that you just don't see too often nowadays, and his insatiable will to win may come off as a bit too much at times.
Unfortunately for Gearon and all the other anti-KG fans of the world, it doesn't look like this attitude is going to change for the soon-to-be 36 year old. Garnett's fiery competitiveness is what has made the future hall of famer so effective and is what continues to fuel him and this Celtics team this postseason.
The Celtics are unwilling to submit to what the world believes them to be
The "aging" Celtics were two games under .500 with a 15-17 record and struggling to remain in the playoff picture in late February. Every sports analyst in America was accusing the Big Three of being done and simultaneously writing off the C's, but the team never fed into any of it.
Boston finished its season on a 24-10 record and re-established itself as a contender in the East.
That type of doubt is exactly what this Celtics team has thrived off of and continues to use as motivation as they go deeper into the playoffs.
The realization that this may be the Big Three's last great playoff run is also a source of inspiration for Boston.
Rivers still knows how to get his team motivated
Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics have been a match made in heaven—so much so that Rivers can't seem to get away, even when he thinks he should retire.
There's something about a late-game huddle with Doc Rivers in the middle and the Big Three listening intently that gives me chills. Rivers has a way of getting each one of his players to buy into what he has to say, even if it's the most generic cliche in the world.
It's hard to think that any other coach in the league could keep an older group of guys so motivated and hungry to keep winning.
Rivers new found desire to keep coaching seems to have directly reflected his players' desire to be champions again.
Paul Pierce has been as solid as ever
To be completely honest, I've never been a big Paul Pierce fan. After being carried off of the floor like someone who had committed an act of valor overseas and subsequently loaded into a wheelchair in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, only to return to the game within a few minutes, well it'd be hard to say I didn't lose some respect for "The Truth."
Shakespearean acting aside, Pierce has been a revelation in this year's playoffs.
After losing Rondo in Game 2 due to a bone-headed suspension, Pierce single-handedly put the C's on his back via a 36-point performance, including scoring 11 of the Celtics' final 17 points and helping to fend off the Hawks.
Pierce is quietly putting together a hall of fame career, and if he can somehow return to the promised land (a.k.a. the NBA Finals) once again, he may solidify himself as one of the greatest wing players of all time.
Rondo has been able to dish the ball at will
Rondo will seemingly always be one of the more underrated point guards in the league as long as the Big Three remain together, but so what? He'll just keep racking up the stats.
Upon his return from a one game suspension in Game 3 against the Hawks, Rondo had another astonishing game, recording a triple-double along with four steals.
Though Rondo has always been a great distributor with KG, Allen and Pierce, the additions of Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley have opened up two more choice offensive options, and have made spreading the ball that much easier for Rondo.
With a great point guard, a revamped veteran group, and a talented young offensive duo, the Celtics look a lot fresher than people thought they could possibly be in the 2012 Playoffs.
Don't be surprised if they keep the momentum going.