After completely renovating their bench this offseason, in ways most projected to be positive, the Boston Celtics stumbled from the gate to begin the 2012-13 season. They barely beat the Washington Wizards (twice), and failed in miserable fashion against the Bucks and Sixers.
The new pieces looked disjointed and lost, and adding to the team's ongoing offensive struggles was a defense that suddenly looked over matched against below average offensive firepower.
People began to wonder if this would finally be the year the Celtics fell from their perch as bona fide championship contenders. If the games of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would slide further than projected, and the much ballyhooed "Rajon Rondo for MVP" talk was vastly overblown.
Last night's loss to the Brooklyn Nets (without Rondo, on the road, and on the second night of a back to back) aside, here are five reasons why they're still legit contenders to rip the championship trophy from LeBron James' firm grasp this spring.