In spite of the Celtics standing last in the Atlantic Division with a 3-6 record, the door is wide open in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland and Orlando have gotten off to a good start with 7 and 6 wins respectively. Both of these teams should continue to play well. LeBron won't settle for less from his team and Orlando has a talented young team and Howard should help them to continue winning. However, an injury to either star could plummet these teams quickly since they depend very heavily on their stars.
Everyone else is having their own struggles and leaving the door open for the Celtics to make a move. Philadelphia, NY, Atlanta and Indiana all have 4 wins. And you know that Philadelphia will slip eventually as they already have a problem with Webber requesting a trade. Iverson can't hold up for the entire season playing the way he has to begin the season, shouldering the entire load for the team. New York will eventually self destruct... for no other reason than they are the Knicks and Isaiah is their coach. I don't expect Atlanta to continue playing well over the season. Indiana doesn't seem to have the heart to win. O'Neal and Carlisle having heated discussions, players who aren't living up to expectations, this team is heading for a rebuild if ever one was.
Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Washington and Miami all have 3 wins. While this is the tier that I expect to eventually rise to the top, right now, they are right there with the Celtics. All of these teams have strong rosters and should pull away, but currently, because of injuries and other problems, they are struggling, leaving the door open for the Celtics to stay with them.
So, in spite of a 3-6 start, the Celtics are still right in the middle of the mix in the Eastern Conference. Add this to the fact that we have seen some improvement in each of the Celtics games so far. We are also seeing improvement in individual performances including Perk, Powe, Green, Telfair, Rondo, and West. Al was also improving and becoming that player that we always knew he could be, and I expect him to pick up right where he left off when he comes back to the team. And the biggest reason for hope is that they seem to have discovered defense.
I fully expect the team to continue to improve, in spite of having Doc as a coach. We are not far behind the pack right now. Some of the teams that got off to a good start will slow down. Others, like the Celtics are going to pull it together and play strong down the stretch. The door is wide open for the Celtics to make a run. Now if they can just win 3 in a row, we will take a huge step forward.