Boston Celtics' Playoff Road to Destiny?

Kevin SandersContributor IApril 15, 2009

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 08:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a shot against the San Antonio Spurs on February 8, 2009 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Spurs defeated the Celtics 105-99. 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)

The NBA postseason starts Saturday, and playoff seedings are still up for grabs going into the season finales tonight.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have already found out who they will meet playing in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs—the Detroit Pistons.

The Celtics and Magic have different stories.

These teams have clinched the second (Boston) and the third (Orlando) spot, but don't know who they will be playing in the first round.

Chicago will clinch the sixth seed with a win tonight over Toronto, or a Philadelphia loss to Cleveland. If the 76ers can beat the Cavs tonight and the Bulls lose, then the Sixers will be the sixth seed and play Orlando and the Bulls would play Boston.

With LeBron, Mo Williams, and Big Z not expected to be playing tonight against Philly, more pressure is put on the Bulls to beat the Raptors.

Boston would be better off playing Philadelphia rather than Chicago for a few reasons.

One, Boston defeated them last night 100-98 without the injured Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who was suspended by the league for elbowing Varejao in the game in Cleveland on Easter Sunday.

Two, against Philadelphia Doc can look to play Garnett to about 25 minutes a game to help him get back on track after missing 24 of 27 games.

Third, I see the 76ers as a very easy series, which Celtics will take in five games.

If Boston ends up playing Chicago, they will still take the series in five games, although Garnett will be playing more. The Celtics' bench can also look to carry the load when the starters are not on the court. Eddie House can shoot lights out, and Steph has been playing better as of late.

In the second round, it looks like Boston would be playing the Magic.  In this series the Celtics will need to be healthy to stop the very aggressive play of Dwight Howard. Kevin Garnett will need to be playing at his best if the Celtics have any chance in this series.

Boston is a very different team when K.G is on the court, and he will help them to beat the Magic in seven games. Orlando does have a great team, but they will not be able to keep up with Boston if Garnett is playing at his best.

Cleveland will be playing the winner of the Heat-Hawks series. With Dwayne Wade playing his best the Heat will be hard to beat, but the Hawks did take the Celtics to seven games last year in the playoffs with pretty much the same team.

If Josh Smith plays his best throughout, it will make it a very interesting series. But with Dwayne Wade carrying the weight for his team, the load may get too heavy for Smith to keep up.

The Hawks will win the series in seven games. They will move on to face the Cavs and will eventually lose in five games, due to the playing of potential MVP LeBron James and his team who can shoot lights out at any area on the court.

With that said, look to see a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals with Boston playing Cleveland—only this time the home-court will switch. In this series, the X-factor isn't LeBron, or the Big Three, or Mo Williams. The X-factor in this series is Boston PG Rajon Rondo.

If Rondo can carry the play of the team and slow the pace of the game down, and not turn the ball over, then the C's have a chance.  Also the bench of the Celtics needs to step-up play and keep the game reasonable for the starters. Same thing goes for the Cavs bench.

Another player to watch out for is Glen Davis, who has deepened his range.  He hit the 17- to 20-foor jumper, and also can play down low. He has stepped into the big man role since K.G went down.

If these scenarios play out, then Boston will win the series.  It will be a test to play the Cavs in Cleveland, but the team to beat is the defending World Champs—and that will give them the edge in the series.


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