Resurgent Celtics Could be Biggest Story of 2010

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When the Cleveland Cavaliers were defeated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals earlier this month, you had to read the fine print to find out who the winning team was. In fact, with the hyperbolic chatter about the LeBron James dilemma flooding the basketball world like a high-magnitude tsunami, you would have been forgiven for forgetting that the playoffs were still going on at all.

But just to refresh everyone’s memory, the team that defeated the Cavaliers was a little club known as the Boston Celtics, who had gone 50 and 32 this year on the backs of star players Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Rasheed Wallace. The action-packed series was not completely one-sided in the Celtics’ favor, but they managed to negate James’s stellar performance, which included a triple-double in Game 6.

The crucial difference between the two teams was that, while none of the Celtics’ three leaders is of superstar caliber, they are all very solid players who work together well. The Cavs, on the other hand, just had James and a few supporting players.

Even as the Cavs went down in defeat, most of the coverage focused on James’s performances as well as his upcoming free agency. Lost in the shuffle was the inspiring performance by Boston, who over the last three years have overcome an extended drought to become one of the perennial favorites in the east. And while their 2010 record was not as lopsided as their records for the last two years, their performance in the playoffs so far speaks for itself.

And now that the Cavaliers are fading fast in the rearview mirror, the furor surrounding James only continues to intensify, even as the player himself makes a noble effort to deflect the spotlight until the playoffs are over.

As for the Celtics, they’re now facing the Orlando Magic in a series that they seem to be handling well, currently sitting at 3-1. Next, they’ll go against the Lakers or the Suns, who are duking it out in epic fashion on the West Coast.

So, next time you hear a report or read an article speculating on where James is going to end up, don’t forget the boys in white and green who handily put an end to James’s playoff chances once again. Only time will tell what’s going to happen to the Cavs, Celtics, James, and basketball in general over the coming year, but for now it’s the Celtics’ time to bask in the spotlight.

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