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BOSTON (CBS) – Before the NBA season got underway, SI’s Ian Thomsen pegged the Celtics to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference.
For awhile, it looked like Thomsen gave the Celtics a little too much credit — though he did predict they would struggle early but finish strong. Now, the five spot may be a little low when it comes to the C’s final spot in the East.
“They could end up going higher. What I really thought was going to happen was they would struggle during the regular season and by the end of the year figure it out,” Thomsen told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday, adding he had to write an explanation to his pre-season prediction due to negative feedback. “I thought by the playoffs they could be the second-best team in the East after Miami, and that’s how they should be feeling. They should be looking ahead to the playoffs next month saying ‘we can beat anybody.’”
“I don’t think they’ll beat Miami in a seven-game series, but the Knicks, Nets and even the Pacers have been struggling lately. The Celtics should feel like they can beat anybody in the East – except for Miami.”
The Celtics nearly put and end to Miami’s win streak, but became the 23rd victim along the way after letting a fourth-quarter lead turn into a 105-103 loss.
But the Celtics proved they could stick with the Heat, even without Kevin Garnett — who sat out due to an illness and lingering groin issue.
“It defies all the negative stereotypes about the NBA, what the Celtics are and what they turned into,” said Thomsen. “You hear in other NBA cities and around the country that NBA players are selfish and don’t always try hard, that they save it for the playoffs. A lot of times it’s true, but it’s just different (in Boston).”
“They became who they are because they had that Big 3 plus Rondo. Pierce goes on the court last night and Ray Allen is on the other team, Rondo is out for the year and KG is home sick. Pierce was all by himself against a championship team that is better than last year, and the Celtics go out and think they can win, almost win,” he continued. “It’s a belief in a program, like you see in college basketball, but at a higher level. They have all the excuses, but really stand for something here.”
“Every year, one way or another, they catch people by surprise,” Thomsen said of the C’s.
Thomsen also touches on Jeff Green’s 43-point performance on Monday night, where the team’s success leaves Rajon Rondo, and if the Celtics can keep their string of success going after KG and Pierce retire: