Doc Rivers and company will need to ensure that the Beantown veterans are well rested and healthy enough to compete with New York’s big guns. Their odds of winning the NBA championship, after all, go only so far as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are able to take them.
The best news that Celtics fans were hoping to hear this spring has already come and gone: As the No. 7 seed (and not eighth), they’ll avoid suiting up against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the first round. The Heat have an overwhelming 5-7 shot at winning a second consecutive title, while Boston has just 60-1 odds.
New York has 14-1 odds of winning the NBA championship, but the Knicks have yet to prove they’re capable of a deep postseason run with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire leading the show.
The Celtics will be doing everything in their power to push into the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Boston has made it beyond the first round of the playoffs in each of the past five NBA seasons.
There’s no denying that the franchise’s window for winning another title is closing, but the fact that the Celtics have even clinched a playoff berth proves that this team is capable of beating expectations. In a seven-game series against what will fast become a rival, anything is possible.
Rivers has been cautious with both Garnett and Pierce in the final month of the regular season, nursing injuries and managing minutes as carefully as general manager Danny Ainge could hope for. Should that result in a fresh duo taking the court for Game 1, the Knicks (or whomever) will have their work cut out for them.
It may be a long time coming before the C’s are considered favorites on the NBA money line once again, but considering some of the other matchups that are shaping up in the East, this could be one where an upset is a distinct possibility.
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