The Boston Celtics are the most successful team in NBA history. This legendary team has won a record 17 championships since they were founded in 1946.
The Celtics dominated the league during the late 1950s all the way through the mid 80s winning a record 16 championships in the process. Players like Bill Russell, Larry Bird and John Havlicek created a basketball dynasty that will never be forgotten. These great players were guided by legendary coach and general manager Red Auerbach who won a total of 938 games in 16 glorious seasons.
Auerbach spent most of his career with Boston and was still an executive with the club until his death in 2006 at the age of 89.
After a 22 year drought Boston returned to the big stage to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals in 2008. The Celtics, led by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce beat the Lakers 4-2 in a pulsating series.
In the following year the Celtics lost a seven game series to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals - a defeat that sent a shockwave through the city. There was even a rumour that the current team would be broken up during the summer. Those rumours were unfounded and the original team, with a couple of minor changes, came back last year.
After a poor regular season the Celtics turned things around in the playoffs and made the NBA finals. They eventually lost the series 4-3 to their bitter rivals the Los Angeles Lakers after a titanic struggle. The Celtics led by 13 points at the half but were eventually worn down by a determined Laker offence.
During the summer Boston made a concerted effort to strengthen their bench for another crack at the title. Shaquille O'Neal, Delonte West and Jermaine O'Neal were three very shrewd signings made by President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge.
All the starters from last year have returned which is very good news for Boston. They have started the season is blistering form and lead the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-4.
In the past couple of seasons the Celtics have come up a little short when it mattered. They had every chance to beat the Lakers in Game 7 of the finals last year but their bench capitulated.
This year they have improved strength in depth and are playing with a tremendous amount of early season energy. Garnett has fully recovered from a nagging leg injury and is hungry for one more title before he retires.
I really think this team has a huge chance to win the NBA championship They are the complete package and I will be stunned if they do not make it to the Conference Finals at the very least.
The Celtics are currently priced at a generous 8.6 to win the championship - odds that compare favourably with the Miami Heat who are inexplicably trading at 3.65. The Celtics have already beaten the Heat twice so far this season and have looked the far better team. Make no mistake the Celtics are the team to beat this year.
By Nick Shiambouros
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