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Boston Celtics Come Alive

Many had the left the Boston Celtics dead in the water at the beginning of the season. They were too old, Paul Pierce’s best days were long behind him, and superstar point guard Rajon Rondo was simply too inconsistent to take this team to the promised land. However, championships aren’t won or lost in January, and the Celtics have done this before. This is an older, veteran team, one that knows how to round into shape when it needs to. The Celtics currently sit at 20-17 and are only four games back from the slumping Knicks in the Atlantic Division. They appear primed for another classic Boston mid- to late-season surge. They have won six in a row, and in the last game, a 100-89 win over the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, Rajon Rondo found his rhythm in a big way, netting a triple-double.

“I’m getting a little bit older, so the younger guys are coming in and I may have a mark on my back being an older guy,” Rondo said. “I made a couple All-Stars, but I’m a target every night and I just want to go out there and defend what I do best, which is run the show. I made a lot of lucky shots tonight.”

Many expected Rajon Rondo to dominate the league this season; he was an early MVP favorite, and the no-brainer pick to assume the mantle of leading this Celtics team. However, there have been some hiccups along the way; Rondo has gotten into several on-court scuffles, and was suspended again for bumping an official. After his shockingly slow start, the ageless Paul Pierce has bounced back to once again lead the team in scoring ,and Kevin Garnett is still a defensive force. However, if this team is going to make any kind of serious playoff push, they’re going to need Rajon Rondo to play at an elite level.

“He controlled the game from the start,” said Boston’s Courtney Lee of Rondo’s triple-double. “He came out aggressive, he was getting to the hole, he was finishing layups, pressuring the ball. So he set the tempo early.”

With the return of Avery Bradley and the ever-stingy D of Courtney Lee, the Celtics could easily continue their hot and winning ways. Even rookie Jared Sullinger is contributing big minutes and playing solid defense, as well as doing his part on the boards.

“Our pulling in defensively, our group, that’s the biggest change I think we’ve made, where we’ve improved. Instead of guys hugging up on their man, I think we’ve finally figured out to shrink the floor,” Rivers said. “It’s taken a lot of games to get there, but I think we’re there.”

All in all, Boston seems to have righted the ship, and Rondo couldn’t be happier to see it happen.

“Our spirits are better, obviously,” he said. “It’s not fun losing. And since we’ve been winning, our locker room has been a little bit more relaxed, not so tense. Guys are smiling again and joking. So it’s back to where we’ve been from the start. We lost a couple games. We never got down, we just tightened up a little bit in the locker room. But I wanted to be the guy that just tried to get us back as far as how we play. We play loose, we might smile out there on the floor sometimes — well, I don’t, but some of my teammates do. Guys like Courtney, he loves to smile, Jeff [Green] as well. Just get that swag back, and I think we’ve done that the last couple games.”

The Celtics are currently 5-1 favorites to win the Atlantic and 20-1 favorites to win the East, and if they can stay healthy and Rondo can continue to improve his offensive game, there’s a good chance both could happen. If you want to take a flyer NBA future bet or if you’re just a Boston homer, those would be two solid bets to place on the Celts.

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