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January 14, 2009

Celtics in good shape, but may not be good enough

1Just a week ago the Boston Celtics were in the middle of an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak in a much-improved Eastern Conference. Simultaneously, they were finally showing some vulnerability for the first time in the regular season over the past year-and-a-half.

Yet, Boone did not view that skid as nearly enough evidence that the defending NBA champion Celtics may be ripe for overtaking at the top of the league.

"Losing streaks like that happen," said Boone, a 6-foot-10 third-year forward from UConn. "There are stretches when you know you're not playing your best basketball. But they're a great, great team, and it's going to take a lot to beat them when they are playing right.

"They're still the Boston Celtics. It's fool's gold if you think they're falling off."

Boone's Nets were in Boston to take on the Celtics last night at TD Banknorth Garden in the final game of the first half of the season for the Celtics. Boone was proven right, as the Celtics were nearly flawless in a 118-86 victory.

The Celtics, who improved to 32-9, won their third straight. The game was over by the third quarter, as the C's pushed a 51-41 halftime lead to an 88-60 advantage entering the fourth.

It's no question that through the first 41 games of the season, the Celtics have to like where they stand - a pace of 64 wins.

"I feel good, we have a great record," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "At the beginning of the year if someone told me this is what our record would be, I wouldn't complain about it."

Boston isn't far off last year's pace, when it went 34-7 through the first 41 games, en route to a league-best 66-win season. However, it seems last year's Eastern Conference and this year's is a night-and-day comparison.

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