The Boston Celtics have been the underdog ever since they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a road loss on Jan. 9. Although injured, it's been often ignored by fans that the two losses to Orlando were nothing to worry about.
The Celtics, however, are not to be underestimated. In fact, no team that is the defending champion should be underestimated by anybody.
Kevin Garnett is not somebody to toy with. Garnett, who has been injured off and on since February, should be very fresh for the playoffs when you take into consideration all the rest that he has had.
Garnett is the leader of the Celtics, but mostly on the defensive end. Viewed as one of the greatest defensive players of all time, he gives the Celtics a feeling of security, a feeling that you're not alone defending your assignment, especially knowing that he's right behind you.
Not only does Garnett anchor the Celtics defense in numerous ways, he keeps locker-room egos in check. He makes sure the team stays close, along with good friend and coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers is one man who will not let the Celtics fail. Viewed mainly because of his enormous success transforming the Celtics into a close team, he can work magic when it comes to chemistry. Rivers is also very good during timeouts.
If the players run the play like they're supposed to, the outcome rarely ever disappoints Rivers or Celtics fans watching the game.
Rivers can steer his team away from panic, even though it might be the most hectic time during the game.
In game one of the Finals, when Paul Pierce went to the locker room, Rivers assured his team that "this is what we're built for!" Sure enough, Boston held strong until the star came back, and the Celtics ended up coming out with a win after a spectacular return from Pierce.
During halftime of game four during the Finals against the Lakers, Rivers told his team that they need to take it two points at a time, don't rush things, and play good, conservative defense (this was when the Celtics were down 24 points). The C's slowly but surely whittled away the lead, and eventually won the game in the end.
Rivers also runs a team that can deal with injuries.
For a long stretch, the Celtics were without KG for many games as I said. But not only KG, Rajon Rondo has been on/off injured for a while, Tony Allen is out until the playoffs, Leon Powe is out until April, Glen Davis missed a few games himself, Brian Scalabrine has suffered three concussions, and even Ray Allen has missed a game.
And this wasn't spread out, it was all in one point of time. However the Celtics stood strong, and will continue to hold out until it's over.
KG is still not fully recovered, Rajon Rondo said his ankles feel like "they're 42 years old," and Scalabrine, TA, and Powe are all still out. Plus on top of that, Ray Allen and Pierce have had to carry the Celtics throughout all this, and both seem to be exhausted.
They never fail to perform, though.
I mean, this is unbelievable. During the Heat game, the Celtics had a nine-man roster, and at one point in the game, they put the 6'6" Billy Walker at power forward. Are you starting to see it?
Yet with all this happening, the Celtics still manage to remain a top five team. By the time the playoffs come, they hope to have most if not all players back. When healthy, as I've said many times before, the Celtics are a top two team in the league, if not the best.
Not only that, one of the main reasons for the Celtics being the underdog is: "Well, they already won a championship, so they're not hungry for it anymore." Wrong. When you talk to many champions, they says they're even more hungry the next year, to get the next championship, and the next ring, and the next title.
Plus, wouldn't the Celtics be hungry to prove everyone wrong? For the second year in a row, many ignorant fans continue to put down the defending champs. Especially after it looks like the Cavs have basically clinched the first seed.
You see, that only fuels them. That only makes them want it MORE.
It makes KG get migraines because he wants the games to start (so he can go beast against the opposing team). It only makes Pierce say, "I'm going to go work on my defense."
It only makes Ray Allen say "Give me the ball. I want to take over." It only makes Rajon Rondo want to become even quicker. Glen "Big Baby" Davis to become even stronger. Leon Powe to recover even faster.
Eddie House ever sharper. Doc Rivers even better at coaching strategies. Billy Walker and Stephon Marbury want to prove themselves. Mikki Moore become more energetic. It only makes them want to become better than they already are.
Because defending champs should never be doubted.
Because the Boston Celtics WILL win the 2009 NBA championship.