The Boston Celtics continue to defy logic. It happens every year. The team suffers what look to be crippling injuries, goes through stretches where it simply looks old and is consequently counted out by the masses.
Well, if you are in the majority of individuals who stuck a fork in this team once again this season, you made a big mistake...once again.
After getting off to a 14-17 start, the Celtics reeled off six consecutive wins to gain the attention of the NBA world. Avery Bradley returned after missing the first two months while recovering from shoulder surgery, Courtney Lee was gaining confidence and the entire ballclub was rolling.
Then, Boston slid.
The C's went on to drop six straight after their winning streak. And during that final defeat of the slide, a game in which they blew a 27-point lead to the Atlanta Hawks, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL.
Everyone figured that was it. There was no way the Celtics could possibly recover from that.
Boston went on another victory parade, this time ripping off seven straight wins, including a triumph over the Miami Heat at TD Garden. That was the first win of the run, and it was after that game that the squad learned of the situation with Rondo.
The streak also consisted of a triple-overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets—a barnburner that perhaps epitomized what the C's are all about: grit, toughness and a never-say-die attitude. Against the younger, sprier legs of the Nuggets, Kevin Garnett and Paul "The Truth" Pierce gutted it out and put together one of their most impressive performances of the 2012-13 campaign.
It was after that night that you just sensed that something special, something magical, was going on with this Celtics team. It had a similar feeling to Boston's overtime win over the Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals back in June. The unbreakable heart of a champion was still furiously beating, scoffing at anyone who surmised that the flatline was approaching.
When that seven-game win streak game to a close, Boston proceeded to piece together another string of wins after the All-Star break. After Friday night's gutsy overtime victory over the Hawks, the C's have now won five straight and are gradually moving up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
The Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks better be careful, because, as of the morning of March 9, they are only five games ahead of the Celtics in the loss column with about a month-and-a-half to go.
The indestructible will of this Boston team really is something else. But at the same time, it is something that we should never be surprised at. This is a ballclub that pundits and fans alike are always ready to euthanize at some point, only to see Doc Rivers' boys rise from the metaphorical dead and fight tooth and nail.
The C's are akin to a honey badger valiantly taking on a group of lions. They are like that monster in the horror movie that just keeps coming back no matter what you do to it. You can drive a stake through their heart, but nothing can kill them.
Some people feel that "heart" does not truly manifest itself in sports. They feel that you win games with skill and talent alone, that determination really does not play all that much of a factor.
Maybe these people should watch the Boston Celtics then.
Garnett and Pierce have been perpetually spurning father time. Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox have both battled back from heart surgery to become key contributors. Lee and Bradley play with so much intensity defensively that they are now starting to be known as "The Pitbulls." The intestinal fortitude of this squad never wavers, and that is a direct reflection on K.G., The Truth and Doc.
This Celtics team is an extraordinarily fun group to watch. It is playing with an impeccable swagger that we have become all too familiar with at this time of year.
The Celtics will growl and snarl in the face of Miami should the two clubs meet in the postseason, and they will make LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat team have to give it everything they have to beat them.
Buckle up, Beantown.
We may be on the verge of witnessing another magical playoff run.
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