Two years, two times the Celtics needed 7 games to get out of the first round. Does anyone really think this year will be a cakewalk? I thought so. We've still got a ways to go before then, and a number of teams could end up being the opponent. But why not take a look at the candidates and think about what kind of challenges each presents to us.
With the playoffs less than a month away, Doc Rivers finds himself checking — for scouting purposes — Charlotte, Miami, Toronto, and Milwaukee, since a first-round battle with any of them is possible. "I’m preparing now,’’ Rivers said. "I’m watching 5, 6, 7, 8. But I’m not watching where 1, 2, and 3 are or how far ahead. I never look. That’ll all shake itself out.’’
Charlotte - Pegged as an upset candidate by many pundits and bloggers like me. They've got youth, athleticism, and Larry Brown on their side. Still a bit inconsistent and the last time we played them marked the return of Gino to the big screen.
Miami - Never, ever count out a team led by someone as talented as D. Wade. With that said, they're focused on the summer more than the spring.
Toronto - Chris Bosh and not much else. Hedo hasn't been the impact player that they thought they were getting and there's not much more help there. Again, they are more worried about the summer, but unlike Miami they have no cap space and perhaps little hope of resigning their star player.
Milwaukee - Like Charlotte, they could be a problem. Bogut seems to own us and the last time we played them they won a playoff feeling close game. If Skiles can keep them focused, they're dangerous.
Chicago - Headed down the standings but still within reach of the playoffs. Really, you don't need to look any further than to last year to see how they might be a problem.
I think we can and should beat any of these teams in the first round, but some might take more games than others to do it. Lets just hope it doesn't go to the full 7 games again. If there ever was a team that needed an easy first round series, it is this one.