Avery Bradley’s Improved Play Key to Celtics Rising Odds to Win NBA Championship

Avery Bradley's Improved Play Key to Celtics Rising Odds to Win NBA ChampionshipIf you asked any member of the Boston Celtics about their recent winning streak, he'd probably tell you that all that matters is the next game.

Don't concern yourself with the fact that the Celtics are holding opponents to just 37-percent shooting and 80 points per game, or that Rajon Rondo is consistently getting over 10 assists, or even that Paul Pierce was named the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week thanks to averaging 25 points per game. No. All that matters is the next game. We can't buy that.

We know that Pierce, Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are great players, but it's actually been Avery Bradley who's helped lock down wins recently. Bradley's played in more games than any other Celtic this season. And in the last week Bradley's shooting over 50 percent in the final five minutes, which has turned many close games into comfortable victories. For a guy averaging just over 18 minutes a night, he's doing a fine job helping his team — as long as he keeps shooting from inside the arc.

The fact is that success breeds success, and the Celtics have been very successful lately. With an extended winning streak in hand and three weeks left in the regular season, it's safe to start thinking playoffs for the C's.

Up until the final three games of the season, the Celtics will play back-to-back games with a set of three-in-a-row in mid April. Those three games will come against weaker teams, though, so there's a lot of wins to be had down the stretch.

Playoff Hopes Alive and Well for Surging Celtics

Washington and Charlotte have already been ousted from playoff contention, with Detroit, Toronto, New Jersey and Cleveland not far behind, leaving just one more team to fall under the playoff cut-line. And barring a dramatic collapse, it won't be the Celtics.

The C's playoff security doesn't mean they can't fall back down to a lower-seed and have to face the likes of Chicago or Miami in the first round. But that remains unlikely.

If Boston continues at their current pace, Doc Rivers and Co. will likely get either Orlando, Indiana or Atlanta in the first round. The Celtics still have games remaining against each of those teams, so each win will have huge payoffs as far as playoff positioning is concerned.

The Celtics currently have 22-1 odds of winning the NBA championship this season, a number they share with the Mavericks. Despite their relative positions in the standings, the Magic's odds are set at 35-1, the Pacers are at 40-1 and the Hawks are at 65-1.

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