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Celtics forward Kevin Garnett knows the meaning of grit and toughness
This Celtics team has reached the pinnacle of NBA success as recently as 2008, and felt the bitter pain of defeat in two Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA Finals since then.
They've been beaten up, counted out and overlooked. Yet they approach every postseason with the grit and determination they've learned is necessary for ultimate success.
Despite consistent discredit from the media, Boston scrapes out victories every year that don't seem possible. They erase deficits, clamp down on defense late in games, and leave everything they have on the hardwood.
During the 2012 playoffs, everything the Celtics had in their arsenal was not enough to sneak past a surging Miami team. Once again the Heat turned away the challengers and once again the team will have a full offseason to mull over its loss.
The 2012-13 season represents the very last realistic stand of Celtics greats Pierce and Garnett. They will be laying it all on the line and in better shape than previous seasons when the playoffs roll around due to added bench depth.
Rajon Rondo is not to be overlooked. The young point guard conducts his offense as well as any in the game, averaging a league-high 11.7 assists per game in 2011-12. Doc has handed him the reins to the Celtics squad and Rondo appears ready to run.
Returning starter Brandon Bass will struggle to meet last year's numbers but also may be assisted by the returned presence of Jeff Green. The two (moreso Green) will need to become stronger defensively if Boston is to be able to contend with Miami.
2012-13 has an exciting feel to it. New superpowers have aligned around the league, including a new-look 76ers team that could give Boston trouble (consider Garnett trying to defend massive Andrew Bynum).
What the Celtics have lacked in the headlines, they've more than made up for in team chemistry and structure.
Doc Rivers and the Celtics will prove to be warriors once again and will be in the NBA Finals conversation in the spring.