Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NBA Gives Celtics Regular Season, Playoff Bye

Rivers: Next goal is a bye thru The Finals

New York, NY (Oct. 31) - The NBA, eager to embrace the Boston Celtics once again as championship contenders, have given the team a bye thru the 82-game regular season and the first three rounds of the playoffs.

"Their appearance in the league finals is a given," NBA spokesman Eric Green said yesterday in announcing the unprecendented move. "They added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Paul Pierce. They're a shoo-in. This just makes official what everyone believes to be true, anyway."

Under the arrangement, every one of the other 29 teams in the league will play each other, but will concede every Celtics game on their schedule as a loss. The Western Conference playoffs will continue as normal, with the conference champ set to take on the Celtics in June for the NBA Title.

"We're very pleased that the league has recognized the Boston Celtics, once again, as a bona fide championship team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Once we acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, it was pretty obvious, at least to us, that we would win the East. This move just validates that opinion."

The Celtics have been the darlings of the pundits since bringing Allen and Garnett on board. Momentum for their eventual coronation has been building up momentum even since before training camps opened.

New Celtic Kevin Garnett will appear in his first NBA Finals in June

Even other Eastern Conference teams seemed resigned to the league's decision.

"Actually, it's a weight off our shoulders," Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, worrying about how we were going to stop the new-look Celtics. Now we can play our schedule without any pressure to win."

"Good for them," New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said of his team's rival. "When I was with the Pistons, the Celtics were always the team to beat. It's cool to have that feeling again."

When it was pointed out to Thomas that the arrangement meant there was no way his Knicks could beat the Celtics out for Eastern supremacy, Thomas let loose with an expletive-filled tirade and groped a couple of female reporters -- though he was careful not to call them "bitches."

The arrangement also means Rivers will have a more-than-ample seven months to prepare for the Celtics' opponents in the NBA Finals.

"I'll practice them light at first, then after the holidays we'll step it up," Rivers said of his planned itinerary. "Sometime around March we'll have two-a-days. I suspect that the time off will give us plenty of time to get guys healthy."

The break until June, Rivers added, means that the Celtics will have time to acquire one more high-profile player to put his team "well over the top."

"We're in the Finals," Rivers said. "Our next goal is to win them. Adding another big-name player will almost assure us a bye thru the Finals, as well.

"I'm confident."

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