By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Let’s take a break from the fear and loathing of the news cycle and talk about something positive – the superb strategizing, discipline and execution of the Boston Celtics.

On paper, the Celtics seem unlikely candidates to be division winners, two games away from the conference finals. But they are.


They’re not the best shooting team in the playoffs, but they are second only to Golden State when it comes to passing.

They’re nowhere near one of the best rebounding teams, but they are one of the youngest.

They don’t have the most talented roster, but they know their roles and are exceptionally well-coached.

brad stevens Keller @ Large: An Inspirational Tale

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

And what the Celtics have done over their remarkable six-game playoff winning streak is maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

They always have at least three guys on the floor capable of hitting three-point shots. So when they pass the ball from side to side out by the three-point line over and over, it forces the other team to run themselves to death all game long trying to keep up, also pulling the other team’s taller players away from the basket, allowing the shorter Celtics to stay competitive with rebounding.

terry rozier Keller @ Large: An Inspirational Tale

Celtics guard Terry Rozier goes up for a layup in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

And voila – come the fourth quarter, the other team’s stars like John Wall and Jimmy Butler are gassed from all that running, and the Celtics’ quicker guards get their pick of drives to the basket or open jump shots.

ab butler Keller @ Large: An Inspirational Tale

Celtics guard Avery Bradley defense Bulls guard Jimmy Butler in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Brilliant coaching, smart players, a winning game plan. It’s a formula for success.

Look out Cleveland and Golden State.

And for the rest of us, it’s an inspirational tale of brains over brawn.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

  1. Good players and a great coach are what made the Celtics under Red Auerback a dominant and exciting team to watch. His retirement was well earned, but in the time of change where basketball began to turn into wrestling with a ball, it left the team without a driving force that could prolong the streak.

    I stopped watching basketball after Red left the floor.

    I have noticed recently that on occasions when I to see basketball — waiting for EuroSprort to put the cycline race live — that some of the matches are more tactical’ like Ra’d teams and less like a five-man team wrestling match on the Wrestling channel

    I have hopes for Basketball’s return, and I hope that some of today’s players are as great as the Cousyes, Birds, Russells, and Parishes that made the Celtic so much fun to watch. (Bird falling backward to the right of the foul line in a crowd of four or five. A hand holding the ball appears about waist-high. The hand flicks the ball upwards for a “nothing but net” two pointer.

    Awesome skills.

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