LOS ANGELES – Who dug you guys up?

A funny thing happened to the Boston Celtics on the way to their eternal rest.

Just before the funeral procession reached the cemetery, someone looked inside the hearse and found the decedent was alive!

Now it’s like one of those New Orleans funerals with the band breaking into “Dixieland” and everyone strutting their way home, but with the guests of honor, the Celtics, in the lead.

I actually love the Celtics, although I’m not sure it shows, judging by some of my e-mail from New England (Dear Hater, get a life, watch what we do to those hot dogs you cover, etc.).

Still, by March I had given up any chance of seeing them in the finals, leading to some regrettable choices of words (ancient, tottering, history, Dead Celtics Walking).

Not that there’s a long list of people who kept the faith, or any list.

No one gave them a chance after their 27-27 closing rush, which began at Christmas, including home losses to the Nets and Wizards.
That’s n-o o-n-e, including the Celtics, themselves.

No amount of experience or professionalism could change what seemed the facts.

After months of hearing their season would start in April, as the Celtics circled the drain, the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan, decades-long keeper of the flame, gave up the ghost.

“There wasn’t much we could point to that said they could do it,” Ryan said from Boston. “It just didn’t look possible.
“Count me among those highly skeptical. I said, ‘They’ll probably beat Miami and that will be it.’ ”

In the unbelievable part, the real turnaround didn’t even happen until the end, in Games 5-6 vs. Cleveland and 1-2-3 vs. Orlando.
As expected, the Celtics took out one-man-band Miami in the first round.

They then split the first four against Cleveland with LeBron James signaling he was hurt, playing left-handed as much as right, scoring a total of 46 points in his team’s losses in Games 2 and 4 before disappearing in the pivotal Game 5, when he shot 3 for 14.

With a healthy LeBron, the Cavaliers sweep the Celtics, General Manager Danny Ainge is about to clean house and Rivers is getting on with the rest of his life.

To that point, the Celtics were living and dying with their whirling dervish, Rajon Rondo, the best NBA player ever who passes up open 15-footers.

Paul Pierce was 32 going on 90, scoring 13-14-11-9 in the first four games against Cleveland, shooting 32 percent.
Since then, he’s been Paul Pierce and look who’s back!

This is a team that started 71-10 before Christmas in three seasons with Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, before age and injuries became factors.

If they’re not all the way back, with the explosive Rondo, the underrated Kendrick Perkins and whatever it is that Rasheed Wallace is, it’s close enough to concern the Lakers.

Miraculous as the Celtics revival is, they earned it with their undying ferocity and commitment, as opposed to our L.A. hot dogs, who leave wake-up calls for April, or, like last spring, later.

Unlike the Celtics of yore, they’ve been humility, itself. Of course, Rivers played most of his career in Atlanta, where one could learn humility, as opposed to Boston.

Christmas is coming early for the Lakers, Celtics, ABC and the NBA.

Welcome home, Celtics.

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