Goodbye to the Old, Hello to the New: Five Reasons Not to Discount the Celtics

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 13:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a shot in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Cavaliers 94-85.  NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It's been rather hard to find time to discuss the Boston Celtics, what with LeBron James hogging most if not all of the headlines.  But believe it or not, the playoffs are still currently going on, even though you wouldn't know it due to ESPN's round the clock coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thursday night brought joy for many fans.  For those who didn't like LeBron James and were tired of hearing the Michael Jordan comparison, watching LeBron James lose was perhaps was the single greatest moment of the 2010 season.

However, aside from silly opinions and bias toward certain players, the Boston Celtics managed to put forward an argument that seemed almost well and truly extinguished two months ago.

Yes, the Boston Celtics beat the Cavaliers, and Doc Rivers' men left loyal Bostonians thinking "Anything is possibleeeeeee!" as the Celtics once again drove their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now that the story has been well established, it's time to look toward Sunday in what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated events in sports since Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley.

Boston are in town, and Orlando are hosting.  But who will win this historic matchup, and how many games will we be fortunate to witness come two days' time?

Well, some fans feel that Orlando's undefeated streak in the playoffs leaves them strong favorites to upset the brawlin' Beantown boys. 

I guess there is no real arguing with the way Dwight Howard and Vince Carter are playing, and I think I speak for everyone in saying that it would be more than touching to see Vince Carter finally get that gold ring he deserves.

But with this said, surely we can't discount the Boston Celtics?  I mean they are former champions, and their confidence is as high as Lindsay Lohan's tab at the local liquor store right about now.

So what makes the Boston Celtics so special?  Well I think I can sum it up in five fairly easy-to-understand points.


5. The Confidence Factor

Yes, the confidence factor is back in Boston, and it's about time, too.  Things are clicking on the floor, and funnily enough, it isn't just the Big 3 who are posting points on the board. 

Boston has also experienced major success from the likes of Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Tony Allen, all of whom have had mediocre regular season campaigns. 

Not only was it fundamental for Boston to start functioning as a team unit, it has also led to the confidence skyrocketing in the locker room, and as a result has left fans eagerly expecting more.

The other confidence factor has come from Doc Rivers, as the hot seat was beginning to warm up toward the end of the regular season, but now that his starters and replacements are coming up better than expected, Doc seems to be the 2008 coach of old.

Beating a team like Cleveland hasn't just energized the crowd, it has also energized the entire team.  Boston successfully silenced LeBron and the Cavs on more than one occasion, and unless you are Lakers fan, this looks great for the Boston Celtics.


4. The Ability To Finish Games

At times in Game 6, the Cavaliers edged ever so close to once again regaining the lead.  Hell, they even took a one-point lead in the third quarter, but it was quickly cancelled out down the other end of the floor.

At times during the regular season, the Celtics had immense trouble closing out games.  Huge leads were established, but somehow even the poorest of teams would find a way to at least make the margin respectable.

In case you missed ESPN's Wired yesterday, you missed quite a barrage of shouting from Doc Rivers to his team.  Boston were up by a considerable margin, but the point was reinforced that the Celtics needed to function as a team, and simply close the game out.

Did they do that?  You bet your sweet bippy they did, and although LeBron hit a few clutch threes that left all Celtic fans biting their nails, Boston managed to stabilize the temporarily rocking boat.


3. Defense, Defense, Defense!

Boston's defense had been poor at times during the series against Miami, especially when star players such as Dwyane Wade got going.  At times in the series against Cleveland Boston's was rattled, and you only have to refer to game 3 to notice that.

However now it seems that Boston's defense is back to it's 08 ways, and even though Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Glen Davis are racking up more fouls than necessary, they have been successful in keeping offensive powerhouse teams out of rhythm.

For the fans, a foul-savvy game is a boring one.  But it is one that keeps players such as LeBron out of sync, and manages to emphasize the importance just that added bit more. 

Boston will be tested against Orlando no doubt, but if the Celtic defense plays like they did in Games 4 to 6 against Cleveland, then Dwight may find it tough going.


2. The Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett Factor

I don't think I even have to state how impressive these two guys have been. 

Hanging high on my bedroom wall next to me is a poster stating "It's on me" and above it is Kevin Garnett. 

Well if it is on KG, he's done a damn good job of delivering.  It seems whenever Garnett is pressured by a defender, he simply spins around and takes a calm and collective shot that always results in two points.

As for Rajon Rondo, his jump shot has improved immensely and his penetration to the boards has been more than just impressive.  He has carved the Cavaliers defense to shreds, and unless a defender steps in front of him, nine times out of ten he will make an incredible finish.

Boston will need these two guys to be at their very best against Orlando, and Kevin Garnett's motivation will be needed.


1. The Ability To Weather The Storm

This is the factor I was most impressed about when watching Boston.  In Game 5 against Cleveland the Cavaliers were rolling in the first quarter, but for once Boston didn't panic and hit the abort button.

Instead, they simply stuck it out and delivered the ball to ole' reliable Ray Allen and made some points happen down the other end.

Now I know what your thinking "Orlando is a totally different team to Cleveland," and although that is totally right, Boston's ability to stop the bleeding has kept them alive in the playoffs.

Some of this could be credited to Doc Rivers, while a lot of it is credited to just overall experience.  Boston has the leaders to weather a situation, and the veteran presence is what makes this happen.



There's no doubt in anybody's mind Boston will be tested against Orlando.  Both teams pack a punch, and when it comes down to who is the favorite, Orlando have the upper hand.

The Boston Celtics though don't seem to be worried by this at all.  It almost seems they are comfortable with the underdog role, and embrace being underestimated and under-credited.

Orlando are a different team, but so are the Boston Celtics.  Pumped, rejuvenated, and ready for action, anyone who writes the Celtics off in four games can't be taken seriously.


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