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Saturday, May 12, 2012
Predictions: Experts unanimous for C's

By ESPNBoston.com

With the Celtics and 76ers set to square off in Boston starting Saturday (8 ET on TNT), we got quick picks from the series from our hoop experts. Over at ESPN.com, all 12 experts pick the Celtics.

Jackie MacMullan: Celtics in 6
Paul Pierce's balky knee is a concern, but an active backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley should minimize Philly's pressure -- and their transition opportunities.

Chris Forsberg: Celtics in 6
The 76ers gave Boston all sorts of headaches during the regular season and it's easy to envision them stealing a couple games this round (particularly when -- not if -- Boston gets careless with the ball and gives up easy points off turnovers). That said, this is the Celtics' series to lose. They've got home-court advantage and a chance to take early control, but injuries to Pierce (knee) and Ray Allen (ankle) could be X factors in how this all plays out, particularly having to go up against a young and athletic squad like Philadelphia. Boston might need to find more offense from unusual sources.

Peter May: Celtics in 5
Defense will prevail in this matchup of two offensively challenged teams, and no one is playing it any better these days than the Celtics.

Greg Payne: Celtics in 6
Don't expect this to be a fast-paced, run-and-gun kind of series. These are two very disciplined, defensive-oriented teams, and I'm not expecting either team to have an easy time scoring the ball. This will most likely turn into a grind-it-out type of series, and the Celtics have proven they can thrive in those grittier affairs. Ultimately, what will propel the Celtics into the Eastern Conference Finals will be their late-game scoring, assuming Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are able to perform through their respective injuries. While Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala will be viable options for Philly in the closing minutes, if these games stay tight down the stretch, the C's will have a significant edge if Pierce and Allen are fully functioning.