Don’t count the Boston Celtics out in the Eastern Conference

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The Boston Celtics have beaten the Eastern Conference favorite Miami Heat twice in the span of 10 days and have sent a message that is loud and clear to the rest of the NBA; don’t count us out yet.

After starting the first half of the lockout shortened season with a 15-17 record, the Boston Celtics have turned things around and are now one of the hottest teams in the league.  Since the all-star weekend, Boston has posted 18 wins to only seven losses giving them the third best record in the NBA since the break behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls.  As the NBA playoffs approach, Celtic fans have to be wondering if their team can return to the Finals.  The answer to that question is yes and here is why.

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As mentioned previously two of Boston’s wins during the second half of the season have come against the Miami Heat.  Losers of 5 of their last 10, the Heat are slumping and steadily losing ground on the Eastern conference leading Bulls.  If the Heat can’t pull things together prior to the playoffs, an early exit may be in order for LeBron James and company.

The Bulls have problems of their own.  Despite having the best record in the NBA, defending league MVP Derrick Rose has been sidelined with nagging injuries throughout the season.  Rose has missed 23 of Chicago’s 58 games this season.  Although the Bulls have stood tall above the rest of the league in his absence, his presence will be a must in the later playoff rounds.  Chicago has been great during the regular season but don’t expect them to go deep in the playoffs without a healthy No. 1.

So with the Heat slumping and the Bulls hurting the way to the NBA Finals could be paved for the Celtics.  Doc Rivers has done an exceptional job with this team and should make some noise in the Coach of the Year balloting.  Kevin Garnett has been playing like the KJ of yesteryear while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen remain very solid.  Throw Rajon Rondo in the fold, who is capable of exploding at any time, and the Celtics still have a very formidable lineup that has gotten hot at the right time.

The key for Boston throughout the playoffs will be to keep the series’ short and avoid game seven’s.  Shorter series’ equates to more rest and a fresher Boston team will be a dangerous one; especially if the Heat and Bulls aren’t playing up to par.

If the Celtics can advance through the East and get to the Finals it will make the third appearance for their Big three.  After beating the Los Angeles Lakers and then losing to them two years later, Boston appears hungry for a return trip and the opportunity to bring home the organization’s 18th title.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @Da_Bear_Truth

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