ESPN Picks East Champs (C's Get 25% of Votes)

We beg to differ.

NBA Summer Forecast: Eastern Conference champs - ESPN

Boston Celtics (13 votes) Rajon Rondo emerged, for much of the playoffs, as Boston's best player. So what does that mean for a team formerly known as the Big Three? Here are three ways to see it:

1. The cup-runneth-over version of the story is that the Celtics now have a Big Four, and that Rondo will lead them back to the promised land.

2. The cup-half-full version is that while the Celtics have some issues to solve, they are still a very potent team just 15 months removed from winning it all. Sure, Celtics president Danny Ainge shopped Rondo and criticized him, and it emerged that Doc Rivers found him hard to coach. Sure, the C's need a healthy Kevin Garnett. Sure, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have trouble bringing it every night the way they used to. But add it all up, and factor in a bench bolstered by the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels, and the Celtics are ready to rock the East again, just as they did when they started 41-9 last season.

3. The leaky-cup version of the story is that, as dynamic as Rondo might be, it's all too telling that Boston needed him to play out of his mind to squeak past the 41-41 Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. In this version, KG is a 33-year-old with a bad knee, Allen is a 34-year-old shooting guard (a species not known for longevity) and Pierce is soon to be 32. What's more, Sheed will be 35 this month and isn't known for his commitment to conditioning or fitting in quietly. For 25 percent of our panel, the Celtics' cup runneth over. The other 75 percent disagree.

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