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Orlando Is Boston’s Toughest Challenge

Celtics Are Best Vs. Heat, Cavs and Lakers

by DRJ

The playoff version of the Celtics will always be best when facing teams
that have a superstar at their core. Why? Because guys like DWade,
Lebron and (to a slightly lesser extent) Kobe are just too good.


Yep… those guys are so good that they're IMPOSSIBLE to cover
one-on-one. And that leads to a critical component of the Celtics'
defensive posture. The true superstars are SO good, that EVERYBODY KNOWS
they can't be stopped one-on-one. Nobody even begins to question that
truth. (Not even The Truth… who might otherwise be so inclined.)

This certain knowledge means that the entire team knows that the only
way to stop the superstar – and by extension win the series – is for the
TEAM to stop him. This leads directly to tremendous cohesion on the
defensive end. That clockwork-like mechanism we've seen when the Cs
reach their most sublime level of defensive power comes most easily and
naturally when the team is facing a true superstar. There's no other
way to stop the guy
, they all know it, so NO ONE DREAMS of being the
hero, and EVERYONE works within the team framework – so that TOGETHER,
the superstar is stopped. This “forced teamwork” leads to not only the
containment of the superstar, but to all the benefits that the
Cs' inimitable defense brings to this team.

How important are those benefits? Well, as Doc and KG like to say – defense
is who they are
. So those benefits are CRITICALLY important.
Defensive cohesion = wins for this team.

Now what's happening in these playoffs in light of all this?

As it turned out, the Heat are the MOST superstar-centric team in the
NBA. Therefore, we could expect the Celtics to be best suited for
beating them. And they were. There could not have been a more
perfect 1st-round opponent
for the Cs to warm up with. Because face
it – while the Cs surely flipped a switch going into the playoffs, they
were NOT ready for prime time in the beginning. They needed to be
well-challenged in order to hone their skills for the later rounds – but
not so challenged that they would actually lose. The Heat were perfect
in that role.

Their next opponent just happened to be (arguably) the SECOND most
superstar-dependent team in the NBA. A lot tougher than the Heat, but
still highly dependent on ONE GUY. The Cs had to learn to TRULY come
together on D to stop Lebron… and they all knew it. And did it. So
again, the Cavs were arguably the perfect 2nd-round opponent for
the Celtics. Just good enough to really challenge them, but not good
enough to beat them.

But now, the Celtics' perfect playoff progression is ended. Now they
must take a quantum leap. (Note: The ideal 3rd-round opponent would have
been the Lakers: an excellent, well-rounded, multi-talented team, but
still superstar-dependent – albeit to a lower extent than the Cavs.)

Orlando does have a superstar at its center, but they are not nearly as
dependent on their guy as the Celtics' previous two opponents. (And
also, Orlando is not as dependent on Howard as the Lakers are on their

Against the Magic, the Celtics will not have the same external push (the
superstar challenge) toward strong team defense that they had playing
the Heat and Cavs, and would have vs. the Lakers. They have to come in knowing
and accepting
what needs to be done, in advance. The Celtics match
up well with Orlando, and the series will be a tough one, for
that reason – and because the Magic's inside-outside game is extremely
dangerous, and very hard to defend. The Celtics' defense will be
stretched further playing Orlando than in any other series.

Stretched, but not broken. They can do it… but they must never lose
focus on the team concept of defense, never stop working, never
take their foot off the gas pedal. When they get them down, the Cs must
step on their throats, hard. The Magic and their 3-point shooters are
too dangerous to EVER be toyed with.

The Celts have the best defense in basketball, when they play the way
they know they must. Their problems come when they lose focus. That's
when they lose their way, and sometimes the game. Keep that focus, win
the series.

So why have I not even mentioned offense? Because offense will
almost always come one way or the other. The Celtics have so many
weapons that they cannot all misfire at the same time. It happens
(usually when the refs interfere and/or the Cs give up… a la Cavs game
3), but it's rare. So offense will come; guys will step up. No need to
worry about it.

Which brings up a final interesting point. Of the teams left in the
playoffs, two have clear superstars (Lakers and Magic), and two do not
(Celtics and Suns). I'm hoping the Lakers come out of the West, because
I'd rather face a superstar team than one whose talents come at you from
many directions at once. (And besides, the Cs have LA's number.)

Of course, the opposite logic should also apply. The Lakers and Magic
should worry about having to face the Suns and Celtics… for the same
reason. But I doubt they know that. Or believe it.

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  • Tony Allen’s Lawyer

    You hit the nail on the head with the inside out game of the magic. Defensively, the three point shooting worries me the most. Offensively, I’m nervous about rondo’s ability to score in the paint. If he can finally get it done against Howard then the celts win this series easily. But he’s struggled in the past, especially last year in the playoffs. That puts more pressure on the big 3 to carry the team and pierce and allen have been consistently inconsistent.
    One final, albeit crazy thought; Doc has used scal in the past to lock down Rashard Lewis. Any chance he suits him up for this series? I can’t wait for tomorrow, I really don’t know what to expect. If rondo finds a way to score in the paint, i think the celts win the series. If not, it could be ugly.

  • Bold prediction.. C’s in 5. Orlando is too dependent on outside shooting and Dwight can’t handle when he is not allowed to manhandle/travel on his defender. I would argue that the magic do depend as much on their superstar but at the defensive end. If he’s forced into foul trouble the C’s can attack at will. Gortat aint got shit. Key matchup is Rondo v. Nelson

  • Sean

    what does “to a slightly lesser extent kobe” means?

  • Joey

    The Lakers are 3-1 against the Celtics in the past 2 seasons and would be 4-0 if Kobe would’ve played. How do the Celtics have their number?

  • Alex

    Because we whooped their ass in the Finals 2008. Regular season means shit.

  • DRJ

    Exactly. What we knew, and the world is now finding out.

  • DRJ

    That one was a bit obtuse, I admit. I meant that the Lakers are less dependent on their superstar Kobe than the Heat and Cavs are on theirs. I.e., the Lakers have the best TEAM of the three. So though Kobe is a great player, his team does not totally depend on him, as is the case in Miami and Cleveland.
    Nevertheless, I worry much less about the Lakers than the Magic. I believe we can take LA… we’ve proven it before, and nothing has changed in LA’s favor since 08. If anything, the Cs are even BETTER equipped now to beat LA (though Posey was terrific in the 08 series, for sure).
    Orlando is the key test for the Celtics this season. The toughest challenge.
    Now watch em sweep………..lol 🙂

  • PureBoston

    I think you have a good point here. Basically what you are saying is that, besides Boston, Orlando is the best TEAM out there. They have a lot of good players and not one superstar type player.
    The Lakers are close to being good playing as a TEAM yet Kobe is still the superstar distraction who tends to ruin that TEAM defense and offense concept to get the wins.
    When healthy and playing as a team on both sides of tha ball, the Celts are the best TEAM in the league and can’t be beat because of that.
    Defense(team defense at that)still wins Championships and who knows and plays it better than the Celtics?

  • zippittyay

    Kendrick Perkins is Howard’s worst nightmare. He can’t shoot over him very well and he can’t get around him. If the rest of the Celtic defenders can stay in front of their assignments, Orlando will have a very tough time scoring. With KG now healthy, I see another stunning and even more dominating upset. Rondo will be penetrating and dishing all day long. Cs in 4 or 5.


    Allen inconsistent?? Not really – he’s been great lately….agree about everything else though…


    I think that’s a bit simplistic. Nelson is a much improved and more confident player, it’s not easy staying in front of Vince Carter. I agree Perk has to play Howard 1-1 for us to have our best chance…
    Rondo has a much tougher task this time round than he did without a big stopper like Howard to cut down his driving options – his decisions near the rim could be the key to the whole series for us.
    Carter needs to be stuck on his ass inside the first 10 minutes and he’ll wuss out. He’s not mentally tough and we are…we need him to know he won’t be sailing in to the hoop for any easy jams…he’ll be smashed and sent to the line and he’ll have to earn his points shooting over Pierce…

  • Sean

    thank you for explaining it.
    I think the celtics and lakers are playing their best basketball right now, more so celtics because they have been tested by the cavs and came up triumph, magic and have had a very easy playoff thus far, therefore we cant gauge them right now as to how good they are playing, although they have been dominant, but still they played good teams not great teams to be in the conf. finals.
    I would say the celtics best test will be against the lakers, who are the defending champions and they have improved since 2008, their rebounding, and defense has been one of the best and its a different team this season, more of a half court then a running team.
    Hopefully we will see a Celtic Lakers Final, that would be one hell of a series, and between the two best teams in the NBA, both will fight it out, play with heart, and props to both the teams for the way they play. It will be one heck of a series.
    No one will have the advantage, Lakers might have home court as of now but we all know what happened between celtics and cavs, so i would say homecourt wont matter.
    I think the celtics will beat the magic, they are too experienced and also healthy to get beat by them this time. KG, PP, Allen, and Sheed have way too much experience for them and the X-factor the best point guard by far in the NBA Rondo will be too much to handle for the magic, i think this would end in 5 or maximum 6 games.
    Lakers on the other hand will have a little tougher series as the Suns love to run and the lakers a banged up from Kobe to Bynum to Artest, but i would say lakers will take it in 6.
    And for the finals i have no predictions based on the playoffs so far lakers and celtics both are playing amazing ball, the best teams in the NBA with real experience and real heart.
    Therefore may the best team win in the FINALS.
    by the way im a lakers fan.

  • DRJ

    I understood that (your last sentence) from your original question. Good luck vs. Phoenix, and let’s meet in the Finals.

  • Double P Reppin the B

    I do think the Magic are going to be a real test, but I have to say if we make it past the Magic the Lakers are going to be the toughest test. lakers are just flat out better than the Magic and the Cavaliers. and I don’t think we “have their number” to be honest. It would be one hell of a finals matchup and I am looking forward to it!
    I think we take game one tomorrow and put the magic in their place. I know they are the “hottest” team in the league but I just don’t respect them as a legitimate contender and I don’t think without Hedo they have the mental toughness

  • Double P Reppin the B

    It’s so unbelievable to me. I was just on ESPN reading and every single article is picking the Celtics to get whooped and the Magic to plow right through us. Does anybody affiliated with ESPN have any clue what so ever about playoff grit and experience?? Boggles my mind

  • mikey

    espn is 100% worthless.
    they should get a new sports network.

  • mikey

    I think besides the Celtics, the Magic are the best team in the NBA.
    However if the Magic played the Lakers I would probably say the Lakers win.
    Teams choke against the Lakers. The Jazz choked, the Nuggets, Dallas etc., didn’t even get there.
    I really don’t think that the Lakers are that great this year because besides their Big 6, Farmer and Shannon and that’s about it. The rest of the team is scrubs.
    But teams seem to underachieve against the Lakers, while overacheiving against the Celtics.
    I don’t know what it is, but the past 3 years, every team except for the Celtics has just plain choked against the Lakers.
    So while I do think Orlando is the best besides Boston, I sill don’t know if they can beat the Lakers.
    I really hope the Suns win becuase a Celtics/Suns Finals would be so much fun.
    And even this Celtics/Magic series will be fun. No ref complaining because the league hates both teams.
    Anyway you heard it here first.
    Game 5 Boston Celtics 128 Los Angeles Lakers 88
    ITS ALL OVER!!!!

  • DRJ

    Didn’t a couple of their guys pick the Cs? Thought I read that somewhere… too lazy to even go over there.
    But I’m telling the true truth when I say that it makes me happy to hear that people are still disrespecting the Cs. They eat that kind of stuff up. I would HATE to be the favorite. Hate it. MUCH rather be the underdog. So… so far so good.
    And when we get to the Finals, if it’s LA, I got a feeling most “experts” will AGAIN pick LA. Man… that would be just too delicious.


    I thought Legler and someone else picked us. Kenny Smith has us in 6….
    I think most teams don’t have the experience of beating this lakers team. We do. I don’t buy the Jazz choking against them. Deron Williams didn’t show up and Boozer was flat out overmatched height wise. He tried his ass off but at 6 9 he couldn’t get past Gasol and Odom and Bynum. We have the height to do that and the experience to pas the ball for open shots…
    Anyway – bring on Orlando – can’t wait for game one….

  • Shawn-cvd

    Kenny Smith call the C’s a leaky wall. When you plug up one leak another springs forth and then when you plug that leak with say your finger another two leaks spring out. When I heard Kenny give that analogy I knew he was on the wagon…
    Magic have now chance if Celtics continue this rise. If the C’s are peaking or plateauing then it comes down to how well the Magic play. The good guys in 6 sound about right to me.

  • Lakers are far from a one man team, only when Kobe decides hes going to chuck are they.
    2 seasons ago we had the easiest time with the Pistons in our playoff run, certainly no one man team…and the Magic? do have that one superstar as good or better then Lebron or wade, imo…in other ways..Dwight HOWARD, but they’re more well balanced

  • This is a good thing, not a bad thing
    believe it or not, these celtics relish in the underdog role, and get lazY and overconfident as favorites

  • DRJ

    10 years ago, in the 2000 Olympics, Vinsanity jumped OVER 7’2″ Frederic Weis, the French center, for a thunderous dunk. Afterwards, the exuberant Carter bumped chests and celebrated with a young, skinny kid wearing #10… and “Garnett” on his back.
    …in case you were wondering.

  • DRJ
  • Offensive Foul> fending off with left hand (and getting a vertical boost)

  • Double P Reppin the B

    Yeah that was really why I say the Lakers are going to be the toughest test, the Magic are one hell of a team but when I think of Lakers vs Magic I would fully expect the Lakers to handle them like they did last year. and I also think the Magic are going to be easier to handle than the Lakers, for the main reason that the Lakers have the championship heart that the Celtics do, and the Magic don’t IMO

  • larry

    isn’t it funny, the only place you can get an honest discussion between basketball fans is on red’s army.?you get every thing..stats, coaches view,players view..and then you get espn’s so called experts..mashburn..or barkley..two players who have actually played the game.!all they do is pick the favorites.!!and they are usually wrong.!!it seems we on red’s army are the ones picking the celtics because we think they are the better team, not because we hate the magic..i could never understand why there is so much hate for the celtics.


    Hey TTR – how u like KG??? Didn’t think you’d show up after the Cavs series – he is SO DONE…right?? schmuk

  • me not showing up certainly has nothing to do with the emergence of really good play out of Garnett – Ive actually been busy, and Ive always liked KG, and am as happy as anyone hes getting it going, i was wrong about him being “done” although he still isnt the same player he once was, hes coming around and makes his definite impact