Are the Boston Celtics the Favorite to Come out of the Eastern Conference?
The 2011-12 campaign for the Boston Celtics ended in dismay. After being up 3-2 heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the LeBron James-led Heat steamrolled the Celtics in the last two games of the series.
The last few minutes of Game 7, when Miami had basically booked their trip to the NBA Finals, were probably the most excruciating final minutes that I have ever watched as a Celtics, and a basketball fan.
Watching how drained the Boston players were, and how close they were to realizing their dream of reaching the NBA Finals was especially difficult.
You hate to see a series end that way, but the Heat deserved the victory.
LeBron James stepped up when he had to and proved that he was the best player in the game, even though he really did not need to.
With this being said, the Celtics were without three key players in this series: Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox.
All three would have made a great impact on the game and might have put the Celtics over the top.
The answer for me is a resounding no. Just a disclaimer, I am a Celtics fan.
People forget that the Heat also were without Chris Bosh, one of their key players, in this season's Conference Finals.
Bosh is not just a serviceable starter for Miami. He is not a fringe All-Star. This guy is one of the best power forwards in the league.
Don't get me wrong, Bosh is not on the level of Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge or Dirk Nowitzki. However, his inside-outside game is one of the reasons why the Heat were able to close out the Celtics.
Before Bosh returned full-time, Kevin Garnett was putting on a clinic, averaging 21.6 points and 10.8 rebounds.
Those numbers are not only All-Star-worthy, but they compare to the best 4's and 5's in the game.
After Bosh began playing full-time, Garnett's numbers dipped. In fact, he put up 13 points and 6 rebounds in Games 6 and 7.
Those are the numbers for an average starter.
I am not staying that Garnett is a top five big man, or a mediocre starter. I see him as somewhere in the middle, close to a fringe All-Star player.
However, Bosh made an impact in those games and cannot be taken lightly.
Another fact that is also completely disregarding is the fact that Dwyane Wade was hampered by a severe knee injury that will keep him out of the Olympics.
I do think the Celtics will be better with all of their additions, and have cemented themselves as a top-three team in the East.
This team will contend for a title, and might be Miami's biggest roadblock outside of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But, I would be hard-pressed to give the edge to a Celtics team that has just lost to the Heat for the second consecutive season
With all of this being said, the rivalry between the two franchises resumes opening day on October 30th.
Trust me, I can't wait.
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