Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/19/12
Not every team gets the honor of playing on Christmas Day, but the Boston Celtics do. This Tuesday the veteran Celtics will hit the road in a festive matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. Bet on the NBA tradition when the celebrating franchises pull out their limited-edition holiday jerseys at the Barclays Center. After a mediocre first two months, the Celtics have much to take care of if they want to hit the ground running in the New Year. Although they haven’t exactly fallen off the NBA betting radar (they still have 25-1 odds of winning the NBA championship), it’s evident that the Eastern Conference juggernaut that once struck fear in the league is no more. Can Rajon Rondo find a way to take the reins of the organization, putting his stamp on the franchise? It used to be the core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen guiding the club to NBA betting world supremacy, but Garnett and Pierce are seeing age takes its toll, and Allen isn’t with the franchise anymore. For the C’s to claw their way back to the top of the Eastern Conference, superstar Rondo will have to truly emerge as one of the league’s elite guards. Considering the 26-year-old’s track record — his ability to take over games single-handedly, the assist streak, etc. — that’s not out of the question. Lined up against the Nets in their pure green threads (seriously, look them up), the Celtics will be hungry to take a stand — not nibble-some-milk-and-cookies hungry. This will be full-on Christmas Day roast-beast-feast hungry. They have to be. With the window closing on the Boston core, after all, there’s more than a little pressure. For Brooklynites, the holiday matchup gives the mediocre roster an opportunity to leapfrog a predecessor. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams may not have launched the Nets to the level of dominance Mikhail Prokhorov had hoped when he aspired to assemble his super team this time last year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still boost their NBA odds with a win under the national spotlight. It won’t be easy for Boston to give its increasingly concerned fan base a gift worth unwrapping this Christmas, but don’t rule the old coots out just yet. With Rondo at the helm and veterans Garnett and Pierce available to oversee any potential playoff run, the Celtics may be ready for one last title strike.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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