For all of the talk about how the Boston Celtics are not prepared to go on a second consecutive run to the NBA finals with a veteran team that has struggled down the stretch, perhaps somebody should take a quick look back at what happened to last year’s team. The Celtics went .500 over the final couple of months of the season behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic in the Eastern conference standings, but came alive to push the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games before conceding the NBA championship in the finals. The pressure will be on the Lakers to three-peat, but it won’t happen after the improvements that Boston has made.
Gone is Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In his place is Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Jeff Green, and Nenad Krstic. As much as Perkins was a key contributor to that Celtics’ team, the presence of both O’Neal centers as well as Krstic provides more experience and depth, and simple math outlines it as three big bodies compared to one. Kevin Garnett returns as focused and determined as he has ever been, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis has made strides in his game off the bench. The star guard tandem in Boston has become a star trio with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo all capable of handling the rock with the game on the line, and with Green to help provide that extra spark off the bench the Celtics are scary. The Lakers haven’t done enough to match the improvements that Boston has made, and after watching the Celtics push Los Angeles to seven games a year ago, this has to be their sports betting year to win it all.