Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Frances WhiteAnalyst IIMay 15, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 14:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics sets up the offense in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on May 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The evolution of the green has the rest of the NBA taking notice, after all they were all but written off by the supposed expert NBA analysts.  The lone voice of dissent was Skip Bayless of ESPN; he has been shouting their praises all season long and even he was ridiculed. Now it seems like he was right after all.

You have all heard it already, they were the over the hill gang that had lost their way. Rasheed Wallace's ennui made it seem like Danny Ainge and the Big Three had made a colossal mistake in signing the versatile big man.  But he showed up in two of the six games the Celtics played in the semi-finals against LeBron James and his crew.

The oft injured and maligned Tony Allen who proclaimed himself a better player than James Posey has stepped up.   His foot speed is the key to his defensive prowess.  He too had a few double digit scoring games off the bench. Because of his ability to run the floor, Rajon Rondo seems to thrive even more.

Glen 'Big Baby' Davis can have an offensive explosion at any given time.  When Kevin Garnett got suspended for Game Two in the first round, he responded with 23 points. The Miami Heat had no answer for this hefty, nimble foot, burly forward.  He has a decent midrange jumper and is learning to give the game just what it needs.

All three of the aforementioned have championship experience; the lone exception might be Tony Allen.  He was injured for most of the Celtics 2008 championship run. It would be a mistake to take him lightly though because he now understands to do what he does best.  Play defense and attack the rim.

The "Big Three" as I alluded to in a previous article about Paul Pierce, were having issues with Rondo's remarkable growth.  Garnett has even been surprised at this wunderkind who has a basketball IQ of a wily veteran. 

Rondo has not let any of this go to his head, because he knows he won't get the credit he deserves until he gets another championship ring with KG, Pierce and Ray Allen as his mates on the court.  The media placed an asterisk on his first championship run because of the presence of those future Hall-Of-Famers.

He has the perfect teammates who keep telling him all the individual stuff is great but it is the rings that will keep his name alive in the annals of basketball.  It looks like he is listening and it is translating well on and off the court.

I say all this because once again the Boston Celtics, the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA are not really getting the respect they deserve.  Their Captain, Paul Pierce has been maligned for his perceived disappearing act during the playoffs.  Yet we easily forget that the great Larry Bird averaged only 15 points a game during his championship runs.

You see, neither Pierce nor Bird had to put that type of pressure on themselves in order for their teams to succeed.  They both realize that it takes a whole team to get the gold ball.

Boston finds itself where everyone in the organization thought they would be, still vying for a championship. They get the opportunity when they face the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Magic have improved and are looking to erase the bitterness of last year’s defeat by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals on their home court. They have a plethora of three point shooters like the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The only difference being they have the man-child Dwight Howard protecting the gates of the Magic kingdom.  

Orlando won the regular season match up and added Vince Carter to give them a proven scorer who can attack the basket. They believe they have the tools to make it past the Celtics.  A healthy and productive Jameer Nelson gives them a fighting chance. 

Their story is eerily similar to the now deposed Cleveland Cavaliers, the outcome of the games were decidedly closer.  It comes down to the Celtic experience and a young point guard in Rondo who has been playing at an MVP level so far. 

It may take all seven games, but I believe the Celtics will win it in seven.