Are the Boston Celtics really THAT good?

Believe it or not, as good as the Celtics have played, that’s a tough question to answer.

Sure, on the surface the Celtics look absolutely unbeatable and have folks in “beantown” dreaming of a title trifecta (with the Cs in basketball potentially joining the New England Patriots in football and Boston Red Sox in baseball as World Champions). Led by the new “big three”, Pierce, Allen and Garnett, Boston has racked up an out-of-this-world 18-2 record and, to steal a line from Stuart Scott is beating down on teams like they stole something. And it’s not like the games are close, as they’re beating opponents by a league-leading margin of 13.8 points per game. At their current pace the Celtics would win 74 games, blowing by the Chicago Bulls record of 72 – possibly establishing their legacy as one of the greatest teams ever. It would seem then that the obvious answer to our opening question would be, “Hell yeah, Bawston is wicked good! Order the Guiness and plan the paraaide route!”

The only problem in all of this is that the Celtics haven’t really played anybody significant yet.

They haven’t played the Detroit Pistons, the perennially “forgotten” Eastern Conference powerhouse. They haven’t had to face the World Champion San Antonio Spurs. Perhaps Duncan and company would have something to say about that title celebration being planned in Boston. They also haven’t played many of the other teams, mostly in the Western Conference, sporting solid records themselves. They haven’t faced the New Orleans Hornets, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the Utah Jazz or the Phoenix Suns. Of course, it can be said that the blame for the Celtics relatively cupcake 20-game run should fall on the NBA schedule-makers, but the fact remains that Boston is an untested team.

The combined record of all the teams that the Celtics have played so far this season – teams with names like Hawks, Nets, Pacers, Heat, Bobcats, Knicks, 76ers, Bulls, Kings, etc. – is 162-181, adding up to a less-than-stellar .472 winning percentage. That’s certainly not anything close to a murder’s row of opponents that the Los Angeles Lakers have been facing, for example.

Not that the Celtics are only getting their fill of cup-cakes, they do have a couple of quality wins. Boston did blow out the Denver Nuggets by a score of 119-93 and the Golden State Warriors 105-82. Though, it can be argued that both the Nuggets and Warriors have been anything but consistent so far this season. And, the Cs did beat the aforementioned Lakers 107-94. But, they also lost to the Orlando Magic when Dwight Howard and company were red hot and came up short against the Cleveland Cavaliers before Lebron James went out with his injury. So really, fact is that Golden State, Denver, Los Angeles and perhaps Toronto Raptors are the only decent teams the Celtics have defeated all year.

So, it’s easy to argue that the jury is still very much out on the Boston Celtics.

The good news, for those looking to gauge the Celtics true greatness and place among the NBA elite is that they won’t have to wait long to formulate a verdict. Boston plays the Detroit Pistons, broadcast on the four-letter sports network, on December 19. Then, it’s a home game against the Orlando Magic on December 23. And after that begins a 3-game string against tough Western Conference opponents, including back-to-back games against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers on the road, followed by a home game against the Houston Rockets.

Of course, the Celtics schedule wasn’t going to remain docile for too long. And, sure enough, after a string of open-book quizzes, the Celtics are finally going to face the big mid-term exams. By mid-January then, we should have a clearer, high-definition picture on whether the Boston Celtics are really THAT good.

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