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NBA Playoff Predictions 2011: Will the Boston Celtics Make Another Finals Run?

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10:  Rajon Rondo #9  of the Boston Celtics looks on during a game against the Miami Heat  at American Airlines Arena on April 10, 2011 in Miami, 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Casey CrailCorrespondent IApril 12, 2011

After a subpar 2009-10 regular season, the Boston Celtics made a legendary run to the NBA Finals.

No one thought the Celtics had a chance by the time the playoffs came around, but Rajon Rondo sparked a turnaround midway through the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Though the run ended without a championship, the "Big Three" proved they still had some mileage in the tank.

Some even speculate that, had Kendrick Perkins not gone down, the Celtics would have prevailed in game seven against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Without Perkins to contend with, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum led the Lakers to a dominant rebounding margin in the series. Playing Kevin Garnett at center and Glen Davis at power forward might have made the lineup too small.

Fast forward one year, and Boston is in preparation for a tough series with the New York Knicks.

Kendrick Perkins is out of the situation entirely after a shocking trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With the banged-up duo of Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal left to platoon at center, durability is a major concern.

If either were to go down in any series, it is hard to imagine Nenad Krstic stepping in to potentially defend the likes of Dwight Howard or Bynum.

However, on the bright side, both O'Neals spent a majority of the season resting up for the playoffs, so they should be fresh.

The bench will be a huge factor for the Celtics, who may have the most depth of any NBA team.

However, ultimately the play of Rondo could again be the key to another run.

The Big Three will pull their own weight. But if Rondo continues to struggle like he has the past few games, Boston is in serious trouble.

There is no doubt that the Celtics have the talent, depth, coaching and chemistry to make another run.

If the O'Neal combo can avoid injury and if Rondo can play at the caliber that led to last year's run, there is no reason consecutive trips to the NBA Finals isn't possible.

The road won't be easy. The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic are the obvious powers in this season's Eastern Conference. However, the New York Knicks and Philadelphia Sixers have a chance to be dangerous, too.

It is obviously easier said then done, but the Boston Celtics could be poised for the 2011 NBA Finals.

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