In 2009, the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics gave us the most exciting first round series in recent history. The Bulls almost took advantage of Boston being without superstar, Kevin Garnett…losing in Game 7.
Four years later, a key injury to Chicago may give that same good fortune to another playoff foe.
I’m not talking about the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently lead those Bulls 3-1…I’m referring to the Celtics.
It seems that the longer season this season has gone, the Celtics have just gotten more and more fortunate. One can honestly say that the Sixers choked their lead on the Atlantic Division more than Boston flat out took it from them.
Then, as the first round of the playoffs began, the C’s were matched up with the Hawks minus not only Al Horford inside but also his backup Zaza Pachulia (KG’s favorite sparring partner). To make things even sweeter for the C’s, Josh Smith is now limping around too…on a bad left knee. Doc Rivers‘ crew is taking advantage of this fortune, just one game away from advancing.
As the fourth seed, Boston would then play either the Un-Rosey Bulls or the In-experienced 76ers…..it’s enough to make Danny Ainge want to suit up. The Celtics have a much easier road to the Conference Finals than anyone would’ve thought back in January…even soothsayer Tommy Heinsohn.
Then it gets dicey…..
The Miami Heat would definitely be favored in a rematch against the Celtics…the list of strengths would be plentiful: athleticism, explosiveness, speed, quickness. But, experience would still be on the side of the guys in green. Also, with Ray Allen coming off the bench, you could argue that the Celtics are just as deep if not deeper than ‘The Heatles’.
Lastly, in a close game, you’d still have to take Boston. Their stars have learned how to play off of one another in crunchtime almost seamlessly…..you don’t know which one is going to kill you. Miami, as we saw in New York this past Sunday, still plays this ‘your turn my turn’ game late that allows the defense to lock-in on D and inevitably takes one Heat superstar out of the play. Wade and Bosh pick n’ roll while Lebron spots up…really Coach Spo?
Plus, rumor is that Ray Allen will consider the Heat this summer as a free agent. If he helps end Miami’s season early, Pat Riley will be salivating to get ‘Jesus’ down to South Beach.
It’s still a Keon Clark-long way to the NBA Finals…but the road seems to be a lot greener than anyone ever expected just a few months ago.