With 13 regular season games remaining, the Boston Celtics are mired in a four-game slump. If the past five months are any indication, that means they are about to win their next four games. If this season were a road, it would be a congested one-way street that has been ignored since 1968. In other words, it would be in Boston. Teams that linger around the .500 mark tend to have more ups and downs than the rest of the league, something Celtics fans have not been used to over the last five years. In all but one year of the KG-era (In Feb, 2009, he injured his knee and was out for the remainder of the season), the springtime found the Celtics dominating their competition and gearing up for the playoffs. In the past few weeks, the Celtics have been limping along, showing glimpses of their former selves (road wins at Utah and Indiana) and glimpses of their newer, more flawed self. The four straight losses have been tough to stomach. The lone bright spot being Jeff Green’s memorable performance in place of Garnett against Miami. Three straight road losses against solid competition; Saturday’s loss against a Gasol-less Memphis team included the absences of both Garnett and Courtney Lee.
The losses may loom large if it means the Celtics end up playing Indiana in a first-round match-up rather than the vulnerable New York Knicks. In the last few weeks, the Brooklyn Nets have been hot, launching themselves into the Atlantic race with their NYC rivals, but the Nets have a more grueling final 12-games and find themselves three games behind the Knicks in the loss column and time running out.
The Celtics and Knicks play tonight in Boston (TNT) and again on Sunday in New York. (update: Kevin Garnett’s foot injury will cause him to miss at least one week. Damn, optimism is tough to maintain this year. I refuse to give in to the doubts!). It’s time for the Celtics to gather themselves (update: without Garnett) and prepare for another playoff run. In order to provide some needed optimism, here are ten reasons why Boston will make it out of the first round of this year’s playoffs:
- Boston will most likely not be facing Miami in Round One. That designation will go to Milwaukee, who sits two games behind the Celtics in 8th place.
- Kevin Garnett will play 30-35 minutes in every playoff game. And he will be KG.
- Paul Pierce will play 35-40 minutes in every playoff game. And he will be Truthful.
- Though the Celtics match-up better with the Knicks, they have the road victory over Indiana in their back pocket, reminding the Pacers that they are not a typical 7th seed.
- Jeff Green will come through when he is needed most.
- Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee will give opposing ball-handlers ulcers.
- In his playoff debut, Jordan Crawford will find a groove and take over the second quarter of at least one playoff game.
- Whether it’s Indiana or New York, the home crowd will get tight when the Celtics defense turns the pressure up, and they will steal a road game.
- Jason Terry prefers the playoffs to the regular season, and will make more than one clutch shot.
- The final reason the Boston Celtics will advance to at least the second round of this year’s playoffs: because being the underdog is more fun.