Boston Celtics: NBA Playoff Preview

By Ryan Heckman
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have had a rough go at it this season. With huge injuries to point guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa, along with rookie Fab Melo going out for the year, they have had to come together as a team led by veterans and get the job done.

Heading into the NBA Playoffs, they will have a tough task in the first round. At the moment, they will face off against either the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, depending on how things shake out. As of right now, the Celtics are holding down the seventh seed in the East.

Against either team in the first round, as would be the case throughout the playoffs for the Celtics, they are going to need to get huge production from their three savvy veterans with a multitude of playoff experience. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry have seen it all. They know what it takes to win a championship. They’ve been around long enough to know how to win in the postseason.

Garnett has turned back the clock at times this year, proving he can still play at a high level. With the matchups against either David West and Roy Hibbert or Tyson Chandler, he’s going to have to play that way on both ends of the court. Against Chandler, it will be imperative for Garnett to go offensively so that he can draw Chandler away from the paint by threatening with his mid-range jumpers. With West and Hibbert, it will be along the same lines, except he will have to defend West a little more than the other two guys due to his offensive abilities.

Pierce could give fans quite the show if he is matched up against Carmelo Anthony. It would be a gritty battle between to tenured veterans. Against Indiana, Pierce would most likely match up against the younger and more athletic Paul George. Both matchups could be interesting for Pierce as Anthony and George have exceptional ability at scoring baskets.

If the Celtics end up playing Indiana, a weakness for Boston is going to be the play of Avery Bradley going up against the breakout point guard George Hill. Hill has played well since joining the Pacers and would have an advantage going up against the less-tenured Bradley. The one thing that Bradley can do to salvage his matchup would be to play the stingy defense he has the ability to do. If it ends up being New York, Bradley would be more suited for guarding the less athletic Raymond Felton.

The X-Factor for the Celtics is going to be Jason Terry‘s ability to come in and knock down big time shots. Throughout his career, that’s what he’s made a living on. Terry has the confidence to take the biggest shots at the most crucial moments and the accuracy to knock them down.

Above all else, head coach Doc Rivers will have his team ready to play. If they indeed move on past the first round to the likes of the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls, Rivers will make a series of it no matter what. His knowledge and ability to motivate a team is invaluable. When in doubt, make sure not to doubt Garnett or Pierce. They understand their career is close to ending and they will do anything for another shot at a ring.

Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NBA contributor for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google

Would?Wikipedia: “Would?” is a single by Alice in Chains.

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