Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/21/14
With Eastern Conference opposition on their heels, the Boston Celtics will look to gear up for the final playoff stretch. Postseason positioning will be up for grabs in a Friday night matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. The veteran C’s know that they have their work cut out for them if they want to continue to beat the NBA odds — especially against a team that’s fast become one of the iconic franchise’s newest rivals. On the heels of a decent showing against Western Conference opponents, the Celtics are in a comfortable position in the East. While they’ll face some competition from bubble teams over the course of the final month of the season, their sights will be set on advancing farther up the bracket, not simply staying put. According to Bovada’s NBA oddsmakers, the Celtics have 30-1 odds of winning the NBA championship. The Hawks, in contrast, have 75-1 odds on those same NBA futures. With Josh Smith now locked in for the rest of the 2012-13 season, though, Atlanta could make one final push in the conference. Given the star’s looming free agency, and the fact that he was nearly dealt at the trade deadline, their next opportunity to do so may be a long time coming. All that means is that Smith and the Hawks will be all the more anxious to make short work of Boston when they get the chance. Atlanta did, after all, lose to the Celtics in the first round of last year’s postseason. With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the Beantown charge, don’t think that the matchup will be a walk in the park. In 2008, the first time the two teams met in the postseason, it was the young-and-gun Hawks that pushed the then-dominant Celtics to seven games. Since then, age has been more on Atlanta’s side than it has been on Boston’s. Still, after news of Rajon Rondo’s season-ending injury the Celtics were nearly written off altogether — to the point where general manager Danny Ainge was even considering how he might disband the once-proud contender. That Garnett and Pierce have re-energized the franchise and defied the NBA odds is a testament to this team’s character. Bet on the NBA at Bovada.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jamaal Charles admits he hid concussion symptoms

Kobe Bryant on ESPN article: ‘I just kind of roll with it’

Georgia releases statement about Todd Gurley's status

Michigan QB talks about racist messages he receives

Giants dethrone Royals in Game 1 of World Series

Devils winger sends zinger about nasty facial cuts

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Wife of Royals pitcher leaves World Series ticket as tip

Report: Chandler Jones to miss a month with hip injury

Lance Briggs left Bears' locker room to avoid the fighting

Could the Seahawks have gotten more for Percy Harvin?

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Favre delays Lambeau return due to Bart Starr’s health

Mo’ne Davis' Chevy commercial won't affect amateur status

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas forces OT, stares down Mayweather

10 bold predictions for Week 8 of NFL season

WATCH: Arkansas St. RB scores improbable touchdown

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1 loss at World Series

Matt Flynn had a blast at Pearl Jam concert

Report: Back injury could end Nathan Horton's career

Report: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups E – H

PHOTO: Fans place Manning’s 509 football in Hall of Fame

Jets sign Jeremy Kerley to $16M 4-year extension

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report

Cowboys release Michael Sam

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge'

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Ben Roethlisberger rips media

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.