Don't look now, but the Boston Celtics are starting to catch a little national spotlight as the playoffs approach. In today's ESPN.com NBA 5-on-5, panelists were asked which current lower seed in the East is most likely to pull off an upset. The decision was unanimous:
* Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: I'm pretty sure we'll see "chalk" prevail in the Eastern Conference bracket this spring, but the Celtics have a history of siccing their defense on unsuspecting playoff opponents, so they've got a puncher's chance. I can't get on board with the Nets because they couldn't defend a blanket fort.
* Jim Cavan, KnickerBlogger: Boston. They've sputtered a bit lately, but the Celtics' combination of veteran moxie and cleverly bolstered depth makes them a first-round nightmare for just about anyone. The tempered playoff pace suits the C's perfectly, as does any whiff of Kevin Garnett farewell magic. Basically, I'm looking at a Celtics upset as a given.
* Curtis Harris, Hardwood Paroxysm: Boston. Rajon Rondo's out, Leandro Barbosa's gone and the team struggles offensively, but this club finds a way to surprise us every season. Much like Chicago, if the C's draw Miami or Indiana, I don't see any upset happening. However, a Paul Pierce series-clinching jumper from the left elbow at Madison Square Garden sounds highly plausible.
* Matt McHale, Bulls By The Horns: Boston. Maybe I'm a sucker who's feeling a little too much nostalgia, but I can't help but feel like Garnett and Pierce have one more strong playoff run left in them.
* Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Boston. Pierce doesn't always have it, but at his apex, he can still be the best offensive player in a series against every East team save for Miami or New York. And with Garnett nearing the end of his career, nobody should be shocked if he leads a short-term charge to push this defense toward its former heights.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5.