What needs to happen for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and crew to make one last run at a title:
Avery Bradley (7.5 ppg) has more than shown that he can be an upper-echelon guard on an upper-echelon team in the NBA this season. The Celtics were one of the better teams in the league since the All-Star break, in large part due to the eye-popping play of the second year man out of Texas.
But make no mistake, the Celts will need the currently-banged-up Ray Allen to play at least 20 minutes a game this postseason if they even wanted to entertain thoughts about bringing home Banner 18.
Bring on the Heat
Mike Miller has not worked out. Shane Battier is a shell of his former self and all the positive energy he brings to a locker room has been negated by sub-par play in the 2011-12 season.
Rajon Rondo has the ability to dominate Mario Chalmers.
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A healthy Mickael Pietrus could contain LeBron James in spurts.
The Celtics were 2-1 against the Heat, discounting the game this past Tuesday in which both teams rested key players, this season.
In other words, Boston is a strong candidate to knock of Miami. The problem is, it will likely meet the Bulls in the semi-finals.
The Celtics were 1-3 against Chicago this season and the lone victory came when the Bulls came to Boston in February without reigning MVP Derrick Rose.
Rondo, Rondo, Rondo
We've been hearing this since the 2008-09 season: the Celtics will only go as far as Rajon Rondo will take them. Well, we really mean it this time.
He was famously injured in Game 3 of the semi-finals against Miami last year, but it seemed as though the Heat were ready to dismantle the Celtics in that series anyway.
In Game 1 of last year's Miami series (a 99-90 loss), a healthy Rondo scored just 8 points and had just seven assists. The Celtics were shot after that game.
Inconsistency has long defined Rondo's game. Given the high standards, the C's point guard has set, it shouldn't be out of the question to expect a double-double each and every game this postseason. In fact, if that does not happen, the Celtics will have zero shot at Banner 18.
Playoffs start Saturday
Miami, Chicago and Oklahoma City will open play in the NBA playoffs tomorrow, as will Indiana and Orlando, who meet as the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds in the East, respectively.In the West, No. 1 seeded San Antonio will play No. 8 Utah on Sunday. The Lakers are also expected to start postseason play on Sunday.
L.A.'s Kobe Bryant sat out last night's regular season finale against Sacramento, meaning that Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant won the league's scoring title at 28.03 ppg.
Celts-Hawks matchup to watch
With Al Horford unavailable for the Hawks in this series, expect to see a Kevin Garnett-Zaza Pachulia "elbows and flops remix" throughout.
The two famously tangled in the 2008 Celtics-Hawks first round series, which went seven games. Since then things have been consistently chippy between KG and the Georgian big man. The C's were 2-1 against Atlanta this season.
The series will begin this Sunday, time to be announced.