Celtics Can Win...Even without Kevin Garnett

Alec McAfeeCorrespondent IMay 12, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 08:  Paul Pierce #34, Brian Scalabrine#44 and Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics walk onto the court against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 8, 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 Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Since arriving in Boston in late July 2007, Kevin Garnett has been the face of a resurrected franchise and the leader of one of the most storied organizations in all of sports.

Garnett was the vocal and emotional backbone of the Celtics during their historic playoff run last season and was guiding them to a similar fate this season...until a March 26 knee injury put him on the mend for the remainder of the year.

Many people wrote the Celtics off following the loss of their fallen commander. Bulls-without-Garnett">They were called an average team without him, a team that could not even get out of the first round. Even die hard C's fans like myself started to believe this pessimism when Bill Simmons began to wave the white flag BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS EVEN STARTED.

But a funny thing often happens to emotionally stingy teams when faced with powerful adversity like this. They overcome it.

Since the departure of KG, numerous so-called "role players" have stepped up to fill the void of tge 6'11" superstar.

Rajon Rondo has blossomed from a quirky point guard to one of the premier play-callers in the NBA.

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Glen Davis is averaging more than 15 points per game since Garnett went down and is coming off the biggest shot of his life—a game-winner last night vs. Orlando.

Kendrick Perkins has flourished as the go-to big man in the paint for the Celtics. He is averaging a double-double in the playoffs, including two double-digit rebound games against the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard.

Put growing youngsters like these around shining, established superstars like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and you have yourself a darn good ball club.

The key to the whole equation is that it's not only the glue guys who have accepted their roles on this team. Pierce and Allen still have the team mentality and the drive to become champions that willed them to the title last season.

Pierce still takes over fourth quarters and has embraced giving it his all on the defensive end.

Allen has learned not to force shots and has become the new "Mr. Big Shot" with his last-second heroics.

But simply having the individual pieces to a championship will not win you one, you need chemistry—enough chemistry to know that you're fighting for the same goal as your teammate diving for the loose ball on the other side of the court.

That is something that was never in question when the Big Ticket was roaming the middle, and with this collection of guys, it still isn't.