Their 14-10 record going into Thursday night?s game has them one game behind Orlando, but a healthy three games ahead of Milwaukee.
Do they have a chance to win it all this year?
Check out Bovada’s current odds to win the 2012 NBA Championship:
Miami Heat 7/4
Oklahoma City Thunder 9/2
Chicago Bulls 5/1
L.A. Lakers 9/1
L.A. Clippers 12/1
Dallas Mavericks 18/1
San Antonio Spurs 22/1
Boston Celtics 25/1
As teams gaze out to the final stretch run of the shortened season, the standings will become more and more important. With big wins against teams like Toronto and Cleveland recently, the Celtics are proving that they are better than they seemed in the first few weeks, and they?ll need to continue beating the teams they should be beating as the season continues.
As part of Boston?s recent success, Paul Pierce was named the Eastern Conference?s Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 5.
Pierce Passes Bird
Pierce scored 15 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night, surpassing Larry Bird for second on Boston?s all-time leading scorers list and 28th on the NBA?s all-time list. Bird scored 21,791 points in his career — all with Boston. Pierce is now behind just John Havlicek, who totaled 26,395 points in a Celtics uniform.
Bird is Boston?s all-time leader in points per game with 24.3. Pierce is second on that list, averaging 22.1 points per game. If he can stay healthy and remain wearing Irish green, it?s possible that the 34-year-old Pierce could pass Havlicek sometime in the next four or five seasons.
For Bird supporters, you can at least take solace knowing that Larry scored his 21,791 points in 897 games. Pierce had to play in 985 career games before reaching the historic number.
Rondo returns from injury
Rajon Rondo missed more than two weeks with a wrist injury, but returned last Friday against the Knicks and then played on Sunday against the Grizzlies. Rondo played 34 and 35 minutes, respectively, but only managed point totals of five and seven in the two games.
Rondo is primarily acting as a contributor to Pierce and Ray Allen right now. He had a season-high 14 assists in the Memphis game. Boston will depend on Rondo to maintain his strong defensive game but boost his point totals. He only has three double-doubles and one triple-double this season.
The schedule ahead
The Celtics are currently in the middle of a stretch of games where they?ll play seven of eight at home. The comfort of their own beds is nice, but they still have tough games against the likes of the Lakers and Bulls, split up by contests against the Raptors and Pistons. Boston remains among the favorites to win the championship according to the NBA futures at the Bovada Sportsbook.
This way of thinking is strengthened by the fact that the Celtics are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league.
Going into Thursday night?s game against Los Angeles, Boston had won five in a row and nine of ten. However, they?ll be challenged with a two-week road trip beginning next week that will see them travel to places like Chicago and Oklahoma City, currently the top seeds in their respective conferences.