So, Are The Celtics Legit Contenders Now?

Will the Heat be looking up at us again?

Taken in a vaccum, the Celtics demolishing of the Heat would indicate that the Celtics are back to being a force to be reckoned with. Add in the 7-1 record over the last 8 games and things are looking pretty rosy lately. But are they legit title contenders or are they just having a good run?

The Point Forward " Posts Monday Musings: Burning questions for final stretch of regular season "

The Celtics obviously have a lot to do with this. They have been the league’s best defensive team over the last half-decade. Coaches and players have left, but the basic principles remain, and Kevin Garnett is still around to anchor them. But no team has ever defended at this level over a large sample size, and offenses figure to do better against Boston over a seven-game series with a day off between each game.

That’s where another piece of bad news comes in: Boston’s offense, even during this fantastic stretch, has remained as shaky as ever. It has averaged only 99.6 points per 100 posssessions, just a notch above its horrid season-long average and a mark that would rank about 23rd in the league. That the Celtics have kept their offense afloat without Ray Allen’s floor-spacing is encouraging, and if his return from an ankle injury bumps up the team’s scoring further, the Celtics will be dangerous.

But in the big picture, the Celtics look the same as ever: like an elite defensive team that can scare Miami or Chicago, but probably can’t score enough to beat them four times in seven games.

The Celtics have a very difficult stretch coming up, so they may just come back down to Earth sooner rather than later. With that said, they've been very contrarian this year. They were supposed to be one of those veteran teams that comes in an gels right away despite the lockout. They were supposed to feast on an easy early season schedule. They were supposed to struggle on the West coast trip and against the tougher competition. If anything they've done just the opposite of all that, so who knows what they'll do next?

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