Originally written on New England Sports React  |  Last updated 11/12/14

In order for the Celtics to make it deep into the playoffs, bench player-turned-starter Avery Bradley will need to continue his consistently strong play on both sides of the ball.

This is it.  The fat lady is preparing backstage.  The crowd is restless, knowing the inevitability that awaits.  The Boston Celtics’ title chances are becoming slimmer as the years go by and the Big Three get older, Banner 18 slipping farther and farther from the realm of possibility.  However, this season some divine intervention has seemed to come into play.

Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics’ starting center at the beginning of the season, suffered another knee injury that sidelined him indefinitely.  Once Chris Wilcox also suffered a season-ending injury due to a heart condition (Jeff Green, anyone?), head coach Doc Rivers was forced to mix-up the lineup which had been struggling and seemed beyond their playing days (as far as the veterans on the team go).  No problem; enter KG into the center position with Brandon Bass replacing him at the power forward.  Following their worst loss of the season in Philadelphia against the 76ers, a 32-point blowout after which Wilcox learned of his ill fate.  After that game, the C’s were one game over .500 at 20-19.  They finished at 39-27, going 19-8 following the center’s injury.

Now that could just be a simple coincidence, but it seems to me as if the injuries to the two centers ignited a fire under the team and brought them closer together.  The early season struggles with chemistry that the team now seem all but a distant memory, the C’s on the verge of a first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks.  They aren’t injury-free entering the series, however, shooting guard Ray Allen having been kept out of the line-up with a sore right ankle for the past two weeks.  Having gotten a cortisone shot in the ankle, there’s still a chance that he could play in the playoffs; it won’t be any time soon, though.  Enter Avery Bradley, the point guard who left college after playing just a year due to the confidence he had in his abilities.  Bradley averaged 7.6 points per game for the season, but while filling in for the injured Allen the past few weeks he has averaged double figures including multiple 20-point games.  Due to his hot play, the team has gotten a mental lift, having gone 14-6 since Allen’s last game March 22nd at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Besides these divine circumstances, another one entered the spiritual auror surrounding this Celtics postseason run.  It came in the form of a torn ACL in the left knee of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.  With Rose the league MVP last season, and the Bulls a likely second-round match-up should the C’s get past the Hawks, it would seem that the stars are aligning for Boston.  Do I like their chances?  Yes!  Does Paul Pierce like their chances; what do you think?  “We’re not here to talk about history,” Pierce said on an ESPN spot.  “We’re here to keep makin’ it.”  If those words don’t send chills down your spine, you’re not a true Celtics fan.  I know Red Auerbach heard those words.  He’s probably preparing to pick out his favorite stogie.

-Ryan Hartley

Thought this highlight video of the Core Four was pretty cool, so I decided to throw it on here.  Check it out:




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