Rewind back to last year. An ailing Celtics team was limping through the playoffs. Crippled by KG's knee injury, the Celtics managed to fight through a long and grueling first round series against the Bulls. A series that went 7 games - two of which went into overtime, one into double-overtime, and another into triple. Yet, the old and beat up Celtics survived the victor, leading to a head to head with the Orlando Magic in the semi-finals. The Celtics refused to go down easy but, go down they did. In Game 7 at the TD Garden, the Magic knocked the C's out of contention.
This didn't sit well with this Boston team. Paul Pierce had waited 10 years before getting his first ring; Ray Allen - 12, Garnett - 13. After finally winning a Championship in '08, this team would settle for no less. When interviewed by Gresh and Zolak on 98.5 the sports hub this morning, Stephen A. Smith brought up a great point about the Celtics attitude. As far as they were concerned, the trophy the Lakers took home last year belonged to the Boston Celtics. As big of a deal it was for the C's to knock out LeBron and the Cavaliers and possibly assassinate professional sports in Cleveland - the Celtics couldn't care less.
Paul Pierce said after Game 6, "I'm really not that proud of this because our goal was to win a championship. We didn't say we wanted to come into this year and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. Our goal is a championship". What the Celtics accomplished last night truly was an upset. They were facing the best team in the NBA with the (arguably) best player in the league. After losing Game 1, the Celtics historically had an 11.6% chance of winning the series. After that loss on May 1st, team's with home court advantage that had won Game 1 held an 114-15 record. Now, make that 117-16. However, this doesn't mean much to the team that pulled off this feat. Far more enticing to the Celtics is the chance to advance another step closer towards the NBA Finals.
Beginning on Sunday, the Celtics will have a chance to do that down in Florida. However, it's not going to be easy. The Celtics will again be without home court advantage and will have to try to steal it in the first two games - something Atlanta and Charlotte had failed to do. Both were swept by the Magic. Entering Game 1 against Boston, superstar Dwight Howard is averaging 11 rebounds a game and has blocked 31 shots. However, the player to watch on Orlando is point guard, Jameer Nelson, who gave the Hawks and Bobcats hell. Nelson is averaging 20.5 points per game and has 13 steals in the 8 games the Magic's played this post-season. Doc says he'll make sure his team is ready for the challenge, "I can guarantee you right now, they’re focused with their effort, and we’re going to get that".
As great as the Magic have been and as fearsome as they seem - to the Celtics, they're just in the way. Boston has unfinished business. Even beating Orlando won't be enough. As Pierce said, "You look at some teams that get moral victories for hanging around in a series or winning one series - not here in Boston. We get excited when we put that banner up". The only thing that could satisfy the Celtics is another championship. This year the team is healthy at the right time and they are set out to take what should have been theirs last year. In Game 5, when the Celtics blew the best team in the NBA out of the water at home, they shook the league. Not only did they expose LeBron, but they showed the world they aren't done being a contender yet. This team is championship bound. Let's pray the Lakers make the finals - they have our trophy.
Eastern Conference Finals Prediction:
Boston in 6
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) Michael Saver 5/14/2010 02:17:00 PM Tweet