Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce know that this season will be the toughest run through the Eastern Conference yet
As early as a month ago, my friend Sully and I are were discussing sports and the topic of the Boston Celtics came up. At the time, the post-Rondo success of the team was in a bit of a free-fall and despite the fact that they played admirably against the Miami Heat, the Celtics still came up losers.
We were discussing the potential playoff match-ups for the Boston Celtics when suddenly he said something rather shocking to me. In explaining where he wanted the Celtics to end up, Sully said he wanted to end up in the eight spot. The reasoning was this. If the Boston Celtics were going to win the Eastern Conference, they were going to have to go through the Miami Heat at some point. He would just rather our Celtics’ do it in the beginning, while the team was still fresh.
At the time, I was a little taken aback by the comment. Usually, the goal is to finish as high as possible in the conference in order to get better match-ups in order to get an easier path to the Finals. It had been fairly obvious for quite sometime that no matter how it was cut, the Boston Celtics run to the title would be their toughest one yet. They were not going to win the Atlantic division, they were going to finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and then we were going to have to go through a gauntlet of teams to reach the NBA Finals.
Unlike other sports leagues, however, the NBA is a true bracket style tournament. It does not reseed. Winning as a low seed does not guarantee a trip to visit another monster of in the conference. Look at the situation that came to Philly last season. They took down Chicago and instead of seeing Miami – something that would have befallen them in a reseeded they had an opportunity for an “easier” match-up against Boston. In the situation where the Celtics would be an eight seed this year, they would play Miami. Take down Miami, and its a match-up with the middle of the conference table. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. At some point to reach the Finals, the Celtics would have to beat Miami. It might as well have to get done as early as possible.
Instead, the Boston Celtics will face their toughest road through the Eastern Conference since Kevin Garnett joined the team. Starting tomorrow, the team takes on the New York Knicks. If they get by that, it’s a likely match-up with the Indiana Pacers followed by the hated Miami Heat. Those are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference, and the Boston Celtics will likely have to go through each of them in order to reach the NBA Finals. Without a doubt, it is their toughest track to the NBA title during this current era.
Don’t think for a second that scares these Boston Celtics. Nothing has before. Since Rondo went down, this team has found a new resolve in their goal for another championship. The fact that it is their toughest run isn’t anything for them.