Boston Celtics: 5 Rivals Teams That Are Still a Threat

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2012

Boston Celtics: 5 Rivals Teams That Are Still a Threat

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    The Boston Celtics have a legitimate chance at capturing their 18th NBA title this year. Their roster is stacked with both talent and experience, and there are really no glaring weaknesses on the ballclub.

    That being said, there are still teams the Celtics do not match up particularly well against. They may be better than said teams, but they may struggle to beat them because, let's face it, the game is all about matchups.

    Of course, Boston isn't the only squad that could face problems against certain teams. Every ballclub has its kryptonite, and it's a matter of whether or not a team can overcome it that will determine whether or not it can win a title.

    Here are five teams that could represent that potential "kryptonite" for the C's.

Indiana Pacers

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    The Indiana Pacers may not be championship material, but they always seem to give the Celtics issues.

    That has a lot to do with the Pacers' frontcourt depth, as Boston has struggled against bigger teams ever since the Kendrick Perkins trade.

    Indiana presents the likes of Roy Hibbert, David West, Ian Mahinmi, and Tyler Hansbrough up front, and those four have the ability to run Kevin Garnett and the rest of the C's' big men ragged.

    Hibbert's sheer size (7'2", 280 lbs) will likely force Doc Rivers' hand in digging deeper into his bench and bring out guys like Jason Collins and Darko Milicic.

    Opponents like Hibbert are the reason the Celtics signed Collins and Milicic in the first place. Both are good post defenders, and they should provide Garnett with some much needed aid down low.

    Boston should be able to beat Indiana in a seven-game series, but it would not be easy.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Thanks to Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers are one of the only teams--if not the only team--in the league that Rajon Rondo can play against and not be the clear-cut best point guard on the floor.

    So, right there, an advantage that the Celtics usually have is rendered moot.

    As far as the rest of the Clippers' lineup goes, they have the goods to give Boston plenty of issues.

    It all starts up front, as DeAndre Jordan is a poor man's Tyson Chandler who can hinder Garnett's production down low.

    You then have pesky wing defenders like Caron Butler and Matt Barnes who can limit Paul Pierce, and Eric Bledsoe can also harass Rondo off the bench.

    Much like with the Pacers, the chances are that the C's would beat Los Angeles in a seven-game series.

    However, there is a very strong possibility that a potential series between these two teams would go the distance, and any missteps by the Celtics could end up losing it.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Size, size, size.

    The Memphis Grizzlies have plenty of it, and it's not like they're just throwing big bodies out there.

    They're throwing big bodies who can play out there, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph comprising one of the deadliest frontcourt duos in the league.

    It doesn't just stop at those two, either.

    The Grizzlies also have the likes of Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur (when he gets healthy) coming off the pine, so their production won't suffer too much if Gasol and/or Randolph are off the floor.

    Additionally, Memphis has arguably the game's best perimeter defender in Tony Allen, an old friend who can make life very difficult for Pierce.

    The Celtics should want nothing to do with the Grizzlies, a team that may very well be the most underrated ballclub in the entire NBA.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Even with the trade of James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder remain a viable title threat. Plus, it's not like Kevin Martin is some slouch, either.

    After all, this is a guy who was viewed as one of the league's most prolific scorers not too long ago.

    Much in the same vein as the other threats listed, the Thunder come with a lot of size up front that could give the Celtics some trouble.

    Perkins and Serge Ibaka make up arguably the best defensive frontcourt in the game, and Nick Collison gives Scott Brooks a very solid big off the bench.

    Not just that, but Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the types of players that tend to give Boston fits.

    Perhaps the C's are now better equipped to deal with explosive players such as those two, but that doesn't mean they still aren't a handful to defend.

    Oklahoma City may no longer have its Big Three, but it is still a dangerous ballclub.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Slow start or not, the Los Angeles Lakers are still easily one of the most talented and versatile teams in the league, and they certainly have the NBA best frontcourt with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

    The Celtics will be in for all they handle against the Lakers' fearsome duo inside, and it's very likely that this is the team they will face should they get to the finals.

    What makes Los Angeles so tough is not solely the skill of its big men.

    It's the fact that it has a lethal inside-out game, as Howard and Gasol have Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to work with on the perimeter. It's basically a game of pick your poison with this squad.

    L.A. may have started out its season with more turmoil than anything else, but you can bet on new coach Mike D'Antoni's group straightening things out and reasserting itself as a Western Conference power.

    It's only a matter of time.