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NBA Playoffs 2012 Predictions: Boston Celtics and Teams Too Old to Succeed

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Kevin Garnett #5, Ray Allen #20 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics react in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers on January 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 87-74. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Thad NovakCorrespondent IApril 8, 2012

Experience can go a long way in postseason play in any sport, but there is such a thing as too much experience. The grind of the NBA playoffs takes its toll on every team and players with too many miles on their legs can go from “wily veteran” to “old and slow” in a single Russell Westbrook fast break.

This trio of teams is in the greatest danger of getting knocked out of the postseason by sheer inability to keep up:

 

Boston Celtics

One of the thinnest playoff teams in the league a year ago, Boston hasn’t added much depth for 2012. The Celtics will go eight deep at the most in postseason play and four of those (including the three leading scorers on the roster) are 33 or older.

The Celtics’ chances aren’t helped much by a potential first-round matchup with the fleet-footed Hawks, who will test Boston’s willingness to run at every opportunity. None of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce is the player he once was and in a playoff series against a deeper opponent, they’re going to show it even more than they’ve done in the regular season.

 

San Antonio Spurs

Last spring’s biggest upset victims after falling to the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, the Spurs are in line for another top seed this year. Even with youngsters such as Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard playing bigger roles, though, San Antonio’s fortunes will turn on the performance of declining stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 27:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on March 27, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Spurs defeated the Suns 107-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

At 34, the injury-plagued Ginobili has been limping through one of the worst seasons of his career (12.3 points and a career-low 0.8 steals a night), while Duncan failed to make the All-Star roster for the first time since 1999. The Spurs may not get bounced in the opening round again, but their championship window with Duncan as their leader has closed.

 

Dallas Mavericks

In 56 games, the Mavericks have suffered as many losses as they did in 82 games last year. The defending champs suffered heavy free-agent losses and the patchwork of veterans they brought in as replacements have made an old team older.

Dirk Nowitzki is still going strong at 33, but 38-year-old Jason Kidd is averaging career lows of 5.9 points and 5.2 assists a night. Jason Terry (34) and Vince Carter (35) are being counted on for major scoring output and when their legs start to tire, Dallas will have few options for putting points on the board.

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