Saturday, May 3, 2008

The seemingly invincible Boston Celtics have shown a weakness

When you really think about it, the playoffs are truly the NBA’s second season.

Seeding really just equates to home court advantage, as all sixteen teams records are the same 0-0.

Some teams see it that way. Others just follow the proverbial script.

Enter the match up between the first seed Boston Celtics and the eighth seed Atlanta Hawks.

The Boston Celtics (66-16) are the NBA’s most prolific team this year—breezing through the regular season and finished as the top dog (along with the highly coveted home court advantage throughout the playoffs). Their match up with the Atlanta Hawks was projected to be a laugher—a sweep. But after the Hawks won all of their home games and clearly diverted from the “script,” the Celtics are in the fight of their lives and “adlibbing” from here on out.

If not for quirky NBA Eastern and Western Conference Playoff format, the Atlanta Hawks (37-45) really don’t have any business being in the NBA Playoffs (especially with a team like the Golden State Warriors that finished with a 48–34 record and still didn’t make the playoffs). But here they are and they are showing that they belong after sending the Celtics to their third loss in a week to even their best-of-seven first round series at three-a-piece.

What are these highflying Hawks doing right?

Well, they are attacking the basket strong on offense. Going for offensive rebounds. And most importantly, they are running.


The kink in the vaunted Boston Celtics defense has been exposed.

Don’t get me wrong, the Celtics play a great brand of basketball, but I believe that they haven’t been in enough of these situations wherein they play the same team over-and-over again. A team—these eighth seed Atlanta Hawks—that have had some medium of success over them.

I’ve always wondered if the bench of the Celtics would be good enough this year to lend a helping hand to “The Big Three” of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen.

So far, it’s been sketchy.

The Boston Celtics are 27-0 lifetime whenever they have lead 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.

The Atlanta Hawks have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Come game seven, their records will be 0-0.

Can these Hawks become only the fourth team since 1994 to upset a first seed?


It could happen.

Just ask Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks.


•Only three eighth seeded teams have managed to win a series versus a first seed: These are the 1994 Denver Nuggets when they finished off the George Karl led Seattle SuperSonics in six games; the underdog New York Knicks that went on to the 1999 NBA Finals after they eliminated the Miami Heat (3-2) in the first round; and most recently, last year’s feel good team—the Golden State Warriors who trumpeted the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in their 2007 First Round Western Conference match up.

•With their win over the 67-15 Dallas Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors also became the first eighth seed to beat a first seed in the best-of-seven format.

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