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The Hoop Doctors

Do You Believe in the Boston Celtics?

May 28, 2012 – Dan Favale

The Celtics are too old, too inconsistent, too easy to exploit and simply not athletic enough. That’s what we’ve heard all season, but should we accept it?

Boston and Miami will tip-off their Eastern Conference Finals matchup Monday night, in what will be another chance for LeBron James to salvage his postseason image and a last stand for the Celtics.

Boston has to come to grips with the fact that this is indeed their last chance to win a title with their core four constructed the way it is. Rajon Rondo will be around next season, Paul Pierce is at least under contract, but both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are unrestricted free agents.

But does it really matter if this is the last stand or not? After all, the Celtics are being pitted against the Heat, a team who they have won three straight against, but a team who eliminated them from the playoffs in five games last year nonetheless.

Even without Chris Bosh, Miami is incredibly dangerous. James and Dwyane Wade can combine for 80-plus points on any given night and can each defend all five positions on the floor.

It’s scary, borderline disheartening for opponents, but it’s the truth. This is what Boston is up against—a younger, faster, more athletic squad who can only be beaten by themselves.

But is all hope lost?

We can harp on the three games that the Celtics won during the regular season, but in reality, they mean very little. Both James and Wade have a history of disinterest when nothing valuable is at stake. This time around, however, a trip to the finals is at stake, so you can bet they’ll be at the top of their game.

Yet there’s something we cannot neglect to acknowledge. The Celtics weren’t supposed to make it this far. They weren’t supposed to win their division and they weren’t supposed to post a 24-10 record after the All-Star break.

But they did, they have. There’s something almost magical about their last stand. It took them seven games to to eliminate what was supposedly an inferior 76ers team, but they still did it.

As Boston has shown time and time again, it’s not always about crushing your opponent or even looking good en route to a win. It’s about just winning, finding a way to snag a victory at all costs.

And that’s what the Celtics are good at it, keeping games ugly with stingy defense and a clock-managing offense. It limits the opportunities of their opponents and keeps them within striking distance even on a night when their struggling.

The Celtics can beat the Heat, we’ve seen them do it before. But this is different, this is the postseason version of Miami that Boston has yet to get the best of.

This is a new regime vs. an old regime, then being pitted against now.

And while sheer logic suggests the Celtics are all but done, they’re no ordinary underdog. They don’t just have a chip on their shoulder, but a sense of bitter reminiscence. Boston knows this its last chance to win with this team and enhance an already legendary resume.

The Celtics are hungry, perhaps even desperate, to usher out the current era with a bang; they won’t go down without a fight.

And when this much is at stake, and the will to win is this high, you have to believe.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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