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Boston Celtics Enter the Most Critical Stretch of the NBA Regular Season

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Are the Boston Celtics doing it again?

Is a team which was completely lifeless prior to the all-star game getting set to win the division and make a run in the playoffs?

The Celtics currently reside in the seventh seed of the western conference. With the Philadelphia 76ers playing at .500, with an 8-8 record, since the all-star break, the Celtics are also closing the gap in the Atlantic division.

Since the all-star break, the Celtics have a record of 13-5 which is the third best in the league. They are currently enjoying a three game winning streak ahead of facing the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.

The Celtics were 15-17 ahead of the all-star break playing like a team destined for mediocrity as it succumbed to the age and lack of depth on the roster. Therefore, some are starting to wonder if the Celtics are going to have a season like 2010.

In 2010, the Celtics limped through the regular season before battling their way to the finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics showed more life and athleticism in the playoffs and never had any depth issues with Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Glen Davis all playing crucial roles off the bench.

Unfortunately, the Celtics fell one game short losing to Phil Jackson's Lakers in Game 7.

Despite the fact that they lost that season, the Celtics showed a lot of life when nobody expected them to. Nobody saw the team reaching the finals during the regular season while none of the teams they faced in the playoffs saw the whirlwind that brushed them aside until the Finals.

This year, because the Celtics have started off the regular season in a similar tired and weary fashion, this recent run as fans hoping for another trip to the Finals, but only the most optimistic of fans can really believe that a run is on the cards.

Even though they have won 13 of the past 18 games, the Celtics aren't showing the dynamism and new lease of life which was emanate in 2010. They definitely do not have the same kind of depth. The Celtics have some solid pieces, with Greg Stiemsma, Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling contributing, but not as impactful as those they previously had.

Tony Allen was a lock down defender for the Celtics in 2010, while Nate Robinson could provide instant offense. Brandon Bass may be a better player than Glen Davis, but Davis' role was much smaller than Bass' which made him more valuable overall to the team because it creates greater depth.

The losses of Jermaine O'Neal, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox, all because of heart issues, severely limited what the Celtics could do this year.

Of the 13 victories, the Celtics have beaten only the Knicks, Rockets, Clippers, Hawks and Jazz who are playoff teams and only one of them, the Clippers, is in the top half of the playoff bracket right now.

The Celtics face a tough stretch of games over the coming weeks.

After they play the Timberwolves, the Celtics play the Heat, Spurs, Bulls, Pacers, 76ers and then the Heat again. This stretch is what will really determine whether the Celtics are going to be a contender in the playoffs or drop off into mediocrity.

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