We are now in the home stretch of the 2012-13 campaign, and this is when the Boston Celtics tend to shine.
With the playoffs looming, the Celtics must start turning on the jets, so they are playing their best basketball heading into the dance. Of course, Boston doesn't necessarily want to go all out, as they must conserve enough energy to last in the postseason, but they will make sure to do enough to rise in the standings.
All of those bad losses the C's have had up until this point must be forgotten. All of those fourth quarters where the Celtics missed opportunities to win games must go by the wayside. It's March, and this is the time of year where Boston knows exactly what to do.
The gritty win the C's just had against the Utah Jazz is just a taste of what is to come.
Expect a big month out of these boys.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of Feb. 27, 2013.
The Celtics will be extremely well-rested for this game. They will enter this matchup against the Warriors with four days rest. Golden State, on the other hand, will only have one day off after having just played a back-to-back.
The Warriors allow 101.5 points per game, so Boston's offense should be able to go to work. With Andrew Bogut out, Kevin Garnett will have a big game against the Dubs' frontcourt. The C's will essentially lead for the entire night, and the game will basically be over early in the fourth quarter.
For some reason, the Philadelphia 76ers always play the Celtics tough. Boston has gone 1-2 against its division foe thus far, but the C's will make it 2-2 after the final meeting of the season between the two ballclubs.
Just like against Golden State, the C's will come into contest with fresh legs, as they will have four days in between games. Against Philadelphia's lackluster front line, that should be all Garnett needs to have an absolute field day.
The 76ers have been struggling as much as anyone, and that will continue against the Celtics.
This is going to be an extremely tough game.
It will be a back-to-back for the Celtics while the Indiana Pacers will come in on three days rest. Add in the fact that the Pacers have been virtually unbeatable at home this season, currently 24-5, and this just seems like a loss for Boston.
Let's also not forget that the C's absolutely smacked Indiana the last time these two teams played, so Roy Hibbert and the boys will be looking for some payback.
This will be a close one all the way through, but the Celtics will ultimately run out of gas at the end.
Just the sight of an Atlanta Hawks jersey will send the Celtics into nausea. Not because the Hawks are all that good, but because they are the team Rajon Rondo tore his ACL against during that fateful meltdown in Atlanta in January.
That being said, Boston is the better team, and being at home, it should win the game. It won't be easy, though. Al Horford has been playing incredible basketball, and, you know, Josh Smith still does play for this team.
All things considered, the C's win thanks to a great effort from top-to-bottom.
The first time these two teams faced off this season, the Celtics came out on top at TD Garden. Playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road will be an entirely different beast, however, and it just seems hard to imagine sweeping Kevin Durant's squad.
Boston will fight the entire way and will have a chance to win it late in the game, but Durant and Russell Westbrook will ultimately prove too much for the C's this time around.
Regardless, there is no shame in losing to the Thunder, especially away from home.
The last time the Celtics played the Charlotte Bobcats, it was a night after a triple-overtime win against the Denver Nuggets. Not surprisingly, Boston had little to nothing left at the end, and the Bobcats pulled off the upset.
This time around, the C's will have a day off in between, and they will be sure to turn the tables on Charlotte from last time. Paul Pierce and Jeff Green will both have big games on the road.
The Celtics will lead this one wire-to-wire, and it won't even be close.
This will be the second half of a back-to-back, and the Toronto Raptors are no pushover anymore. That means that the Celtics could be in for a bit of a fight in this one. They will be playing at TD Garden, however, and it's hard to envision them dropping a home game to the Raptors this late in the season.
The key will certainly be containing Rudy Gay, and that may be a bit difficult with Pierce likely playing on tired legs given he just played the night before. That is why it is so important for Boston to blow out the Bobcats, as it will give Doc Rivers a chance to rest his veterans in the second half of that game.
If this game were in Toronto, the C's could very well be looking at a loss, but it isn't. The Celtics win and move to six games over the .500 mark for the first time all season.
This final meeting with the Bobcats could potentially be a trap game with the Miami Heat looming two days later, but with three days of rest coming in, it's hard to imagine the Celtics dropping this home game to the worst team in the league.
Also, as mentioned in the previous slide, let's remember that by this point of the season, Boston is really going to want to start kicking it into gear with the playoffs a month away. Garnett and company are not going to let Charlotte stand in the way of that.
The C's win big.
This is an extremely hard game to predict, just like every Celtics/Miami Heat matchup. The two teams split their first two meetings of the season, the Heat winning in Miami on opening night and Boston winning at home in Ray Allen's return to TD Garden on Jan. 27. Of course, that was the same day the C's found out they would be without Rondo for the remainder of the year.
My thinking right from the start of the season was that these two rivals would split their four meetings this year and would trade wins back and forth. Based on that, Miami wins this one.
It will be a typical Celtics/Heat nail-biter that comes right down to the final minute, but Erik Spoelstra's group with make a couple of more plays than Boston down the stretch.
Don't worry. The C's will get the game in Miami on Apr. 12.
The New Orleans Hornets were the team that ended the Celtics' first big-winning streak of the season, stealing a game at TD Garden and sending Boston spiraling into a six-game skid.
The C's will be looking to atone for that loss, and they will do so here. Guys like Courtney Lee and Jason Terry will provide the club with a big lift, and by the end of the third quarter, the Celtics will be ahead rather comfortably.
Again, by this point it will be late in the year, and the Celtics own the latter stages of the season.
You have to figure that at some point, the Celtics are just going to play a bad game, and this meeting with the Dallas Mavericks certainly looks ripe for one of those types of performances.
First of all, Boston may very well be looking ahead to its matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies the following night. Second of all, the Mavericks will undoubtedly be the more desperate team, as, unlike the C's, they aren't battling for seeding; they are battling to go to the playoffs, period.
If this game were at TD Garden, the feeling would be that the Celtics pull it out, but it's in Dallas, and Dirk Nowitzki will certainly do everything he can to keep his team in the postseason picture. It will be one of those nights where Boston blows opportunities down the stretch by settling for too many jump shots.
Right after you were crucifying the Celtics for losing to the Mavericks in a game they could have won, the men in green will turn around and turn in a gutsy performance to beat the Grizzlies in Memphis.
The feeling of this game will be very similar to the one the C's just played in Utah against the Jazz. That win was considered by many to be one of the best of the year, and this one will follow in the same vein. K.G. will hold his own up front against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and Pierce will turn back the clock to put on one of his vintage Truth displays to lead the Celtics to a win.
It's matchups like this that prepare you for the grind of a playoff run, and nobody knows that better than Garnett, Pierce, and Doc.
W, 112-109 - OT
Remember last year in March when the Celtics outlasted the Knicks in overtime at TD Garden? The game where Pierce hit that game-tying three at the end of regulation and Rondo put up 18 points, 20 assists, and 17 rebounds?
Well, this game is going to have that same feeling.
Obviously, Rondo won't be there to record yet another historical stat line, but K.G. and The Truth will be foaming at the mouth to pay New York back for the previous meeting between these two ballclubs in Boston.
This is also the type of environment where Terry shines. Late in the year, big game, a message waiting to be sent. Expect The Jet to have a huge night and to drain some huge shots, particularly in overtime when he will hit an enormous three-pointer that will nearly tear the roof off of the building.
This has "trap game" written all over it. After a potentially huge and emotionally draining win against the Knicks, the Celtics will have to make sure they don't overlook the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After all, the last time Boston went to Cleveland, Kyrie Irving killed the C's down the stretch, and the Cavs handed the Celtics a very bad loss. The Cavaliers' record may not be all that impressive, but make no mistake: they can beat you on any given night, especially if Irving is at the top of his game.
This will be a tooth-and-nails fight all the way through, but the more experienced Boston squad will come out on top.
And the Hawks come back to town.
This will be one of those games where the Celtics build a double-digit lead in the third quarter and then nearly give it all back late in the fourth. Atlanta will threaten as Jeff Teague will make plays at the point guard position and Horford will be hitting big shots down low, but the comeback will fall short.
Boston gets the win and takes the season series over the Hawks 3-1.
With the victory, the C's move to 10 games over .500.
Can't expect the Celtics to win at Madison Square Garden twice, right?
The Knicks will use a barrage of three-balls to down Boston in this one much like they did in the final meeting between the two squads last season. Generally, the trifecta tends to fall a lot more when you are at home than when you are on the road, so expect guys like Steve Novak and J.R. Smith to get it going.
This will mark the final battle of the season between these long-time rivals, and it may very well not be the last time they play in 2013. They could certainly meet in the playoffs.
The C's end March with a loss, but not before doing some major damage in the Eastern Conference.