5-on-5: Will C's make playoffs?

If the last entry (John Hollinger's look at the Eastern Conference playoff race) gave you any concern about the Celtics' playoff chances, rest easy after all five of ESPN.com's experts voted today that Boston would make the postseason. A glimpse at their responses:

* Dan Feldman, Piston Powered: Fact. Their 3½-game lead, like I wrote above, means more than most acknowledge. It was probably foolish keeping the Big Three together past the trade deadline for the meager reward of a playoff berth, but at least the plan comes with the meager reward of a playoff berth.

* Brett Koremenos, Hoopspeak: Fact ... but barely. While they currently hold a 3½-game lead over the Bucks, the Celtics' schedule is much tougher than Milwaukee's and New York's the rest of the way. And, unlike those two teams, Boston has been very heavily reliant on its four stars to have success. Any injury problems, even if they result in less than a handful of missed games, could be enough to derail their playoff aspirations.

* Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Fact. Boston kept all its veterans and didn't sell on Rajon Rondo at the deadline. Given that and the team's three-game lead on the eight spot, the Celtics should be able to fight off father time for one more season and grab the seventh spot in the East.

* Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: Fact. If you watched Monday's execrable Celts-Hawks tilt, and even though the Celts are wafer-thin, Boston is still better than any other Eastern Conference team at executing plays at the ends of games. It's a painfully tired cliche, but these cats just know how to win. They'll be the seventh or eighth seed.

* Michael Wallace, ESPN.com: Fact. Being as though I just classified the Celtics -- if relatively healthy -- as a potentially dangerous team that could be a tough out, I've got them in. They have enough experience and talent to pull it together and get into the postseason tournament.

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