Can the Celtics close it out?

Can the Celtics close it out?
May 8, 2012, 10:48 pm
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Tonight in Atlanta, the Celtics have a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

At times this season, that accomplishment alone felt nearly impossible, and was seen by some, if not all of us, as a best case scenario for a suddenly deteriorated team.

These days, we look at the second round as the tip of the iceberg. Even if the C's still aren't a super serious threat to bring home Banner 18, they're sure going to put up a fight. And there's not a team in this conference, or the entire league, who would feel comfortable drawing Boston in a seven-game series.

But, before we can talk about the second round, the Celtics have to get there. Which brings us back to tonight, to Boston's close out game against a Hawks team that's just asking for a beating.

Win or lose, the C's will still be in a great position to eventually advance, but as I said earlier today, the time is now to deliver the death blow.

However, looking back on this team's history, finding the killer instinct might not be so easy.

Believe it or not, since this core got together in the summer of 2007, the Celtics are a surprising 8-11 in close out situations.

They've gone into 19 games with a chance to close things out, and 58 percent of the time, they've come up short.

More often than not, the C's had built a big enough cushion to absorb the loss and bounce back to take care of business, and like I said, it's fair to assume that that's what will happen if KG and Co. blow this chance tonight.

But from here on out, they'll be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity to end things early and earn some well-deserved (and much-needed) rest.

The ball goes up 8.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine