Boston Celtics Not Done Yet: Why Boston Can Still Repeat As Champs

Dan HartelContributor IApril 14, 2009

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 6: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers battles Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden on March 6, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics won 105-94. 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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After the thorough routing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers gave to the Boston Celtics this Easter Sunday, many fans officially made up their mind as to who the dominant team in the Eastern Conference, as well as the NBA, is.

107-76 is not a pretty score, no matter who you are playing, and the Celtics of new looked like the Celtics from five years ago.

That being said, the Celtics are far from being out of a championship race and a potential repeat of the 07-08 season. Injuries have plagued the Celtics nearly all season, yet despite this they have managed a 60-20 record (currently third best in the NBA.).

Kevin Garnett, reigning defensive player of the year, has missed 23 games this season, the majority of which stem from a strained right knee. The Celtics have also announced Garnett will not play in the last two regular season games, targeting his return date as this Saturday, the first game of the playoffs.

Leon Powe, who could return for tonight's game against the Sixers, has missed 11 straight games. Glen Davis, Tony Allen, and Brian Scalabrine have all missed chunks of time this season as well.

Despite the injuries, everyone, with the exception of Scalabrine, is expected to be ready to go come playoff time. The Celtics will play 7-12 games before any meeting of the Celtics and Cavs, allowing time for the players to adjust to their minutes and the role they have to fill.

Granted, the playoffs are not the best time for this to happen, but the Celtics have been scraping out wins for the last couple of weeks, so there is no reason for them to stop now.

The Celtics real advantage is in their bench. When they are healthy, the Celtics can, and most likely will during the playoffs, run at least a 10-man rotation, with Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Mikki Moore, Stephon Marbury, and Eddie House coming off of the bench.

Tony Allen can provide good minutes from the bench as well. Before thumb surgery sidelined him for a good portion of the season, he led the bench in minutes. Allen plays good defense and can drive to the basket well on offense.

We all know Marbury, or "Starbury" if you will. Marbury is a former all-star guard who will get to match up against the opposing teams’ second point guard in the playoffs, and will most definitely have the advantage in experience and skill.

Davis has been invaluable to the Celtics of late, filling the role of Kevin Garnett in the starting lineup. In 16 games as a starter this year Davis has posted an average of 12.6 PPG and 5.6 REB.

He has gained confidence in his jump shot, and he can pull up from about 18 feet. Davis also possesses some of the best footwork among forwards in the game today. He is a true scrapper with long rebounding ability and a desire to get every loose ball within a 10-mile radius of the arena he happens to be in.

His quickness and power make up for what he lacks in height (6-9), and allows him to get around his man and get position even when he's up against seven footers.

House is probably the second best pure shooter on the team, behind only future Hall of Famer Ray Allen. This year he is shooting 44 percent from behind the line, and posting even better numbers since the All-Star break: 50 percent in February, 47 percent in March, and 55 percent in April all from behind the arc.

Moore has added a shot-blocking and low-post threat that the Celtics previously lacked from their bench, as well as a good 17-foot jump shot that can be used off the pick and roll, baseline pass, or kick out.

And once Powe returns, he will continue to do what he had done before: a little bit of everything.

There are also those who think home court advantage will automatically determine the Cavs’ and Celtics’ matchup in the conference finals if they get there. The Cavaliers are well on their way to tying the best home record in a season—40-1. But in a seven-game series, it only takes one upset for the Celtics to get a fourth win on the road.

Let's not forget the Celtics have already shown they can beat the best. On March 6 they defeated the Cavaliers 105-94 at home. The only reason the game was even this close was because James was 9-12 from the free throw line, the exact line as the entire Celtics team combined.  

Whomever you favor to win, don't count the Celtics out.


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