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Dan Shaughnessy

How do you spell ‘belief’? S-h-a-u-g-h-n-e-s-s-y

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / May 30, 2010

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Wyc Grousbeck accepted the trophy from Dave Cowens, hoisted it with both arms, and repeated the mantra of all winners of the last 40 years . . .

“Nobody believed in this team,’’ said the Celtics owner.

Au contraire, Mr. Moneybags.

I believed in these Celtics when “nobody believed.’’ And I can prove it.

Before shamelessly wading deeper into this pool of indulgence and self-congratulation, let’s get something straight: I am almost always wrong about these things. I said there was no way the Red Sox were going to win the World Series after they lost Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. I said the Patriots would win the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. I bought stock in Tweeter and Circuit City. I said David Ortiz was done. I predicted “Gigli’’ would win best picture. I delayed getting a cellphone because I thought it was a fad that would fade over time.

But I saw this Celtic run coming back in March when things looked hopeless. And it’s all in print.

Boston Globe, March 16: “Everybody around here is simply too negative. Not me. I still believe. I don’t care if the Celtics are 2-9 against the Cavaliers, Magic, and Hawks. Seeing them lose at home to the New Jersey Nets doesn’t discourage me. Getting whupped by the Grizz by 20 at the Garden is OK. Sometimes you’ve just got to see the glass as half-full. This is one of those times . . . Count me in. Put me on the Big Green Bus. I believe.’’

Here’s another unusually upbeat entry from the last day of the regular season (published April 15): “This group was ready for the playoffs on Oct. 27. The regular season was little more than a nuisance and they made sure we all knew it. The Celtics went through the motions for 82 games with one goal in mind: Be healthy in the playoffs . . . it’s all OK. As long as they peak in the playoffs . . . Going through the motions through the holidays was just fine with me. I just wanted to see Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen still running the floor in April. So here we are. And they’re all healthy . . . They’ll beat Cleveland . . . I’m taking the Celtics over the Heat, then again over the mighty Cavaliers.’’

Oh, and two days ago, when the region prepared for Bruins Redux before Game 6, I submitted, “The Celtics are going to win tonight . . . they are better. And they will end this tonight.’’

It wasn’t easy being a Celtic believer in those dark days of March and April. Cedric Maxwell called me a fool. ESPN’s Jim Rome rolled his eyes and called me a Celtic honk. E-mails from Cleveland were vicious.

But it was still easy to believe. Doc Rivers kept saying, “I like our team.’’ Danny Ainge said, “I don’t feel there’s a team that our players feel we can’t beat.’’

It always made sense. The 2010 Celtics have the same five starters as the 2008 Celtics. Rajon Rondo is twice the player he was in 2008. Rivers is a better coach and has maneuvered his roster masterfully, developing a deep, experienced bench that perfectly complements his starting five.

Seconds after winning Game 6 Friday night, Rivers reminded us that this starting five never has lost a playoff series (7-0 and counting).

“That stretch the last month, we formed a game plan and I thought it was the right plan,’’ said the coach. “Obviously it didn’t look right because we were losing games, but the guys were resting and conditioning, and I thought that was the only chance we had.

“There were no guarantees, but we had a chance healthy. So my gamble was let’s take health. So we lost some games, but we got healthy.’’

And now they are in the Finals. And they are going to be underdogs, just as they were vs. Cleveland and Orlando.

I say they win the championship. This is the last roundup for these guys. The three-year window of the Big Three is about to close. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll all still be here, healthy, in any future season.

So this is it. Celtics win banner No. 18.

I haven’t felt this good about a pick since I bet the house on the Bruins in Game 7.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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