While it’s been a foregone conclusion for several weeks that the Boston Celtics would have a place in the 2013 NBA postseason, just where they’ll find themselves in the Eastern Conference bracket is still uncertain. Get NBA odds for the upcoming playoff push as the veteran C’s — with 28-1 odds of winning the championship — look to end the regular season with momentum.
In the absence of superstar point guard Rajon Rondo, the fact that Boston is still contending for home court in the first-round is a miracle in itself. Aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have seemingly turned back time to keep their franchise in contention at a key moment of conference transition.
Not only have basketball fans seen the Chicago Bulls falter slightly in the absence of Derrick Rose, but they’ve also witnessed a Brooklyn Nets franchise that hasn’t found its groove in the second half of the season and continues to fall apart. While the Nets have played admirably in their first season after relocating, they haven’t finished better than fourth in the Atlantic Division since 2009 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2007.
That means that while Celtics fans are pleased with a playoff berth in general, they haven’t given up hope of squeezing higher up the standings. Should Boston leapfrog Chicago and Brooklyn while keeping the Atlanta Hawks at bay, they could even be looking at home-court advantage.
Though hardly basement dwellers at any point over the course of the past half-decade, the Celtics were a bubble playoff team heading into the season — going into January, no less. Since then, however, they’ve re-established themselves as a force in the East.
It may not be enough to threaten the reigning champion Miami Heat should the squads meet in the postseason, nor perhaps even the New York Knicks, who sit ahead of them in their own division, but that’s not to say the 2012-13 campaign hasn’t been a resounding success by every other measure.
The C’s, though once a household name, have been beating NBA odds and defying expectations all season long. It’s not only Rondo who has been out with an injury, but standout rookie Jared Sullinger and the since-traded reserve Leandro Barbosa, as well. Even Jeff Green — a valuable contributing forward — has fought extensive health issues over the course of his career and hasn’t been entirely unimpeded until just recently.
Having shown such resilience since January, it’s getting harder and harder for critics to doubt what the C’s are capable of. Lest we forget, it was Kevin Garnett in the first place who told us that anything was possible.