Who would have thought that the unveiling of KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as teammates would have lead to the dominance that we have seen this season. I have been looking at some of the predictions that were made at the beginning of the season and not many people predicted this kind of turn around for the Celtics. I went back to the previews that were posted on CelticsBlog. There were 6 different previews presented: Jeff at CelticsBlog made this prediction:
I’m predicting 50 wins for this team because I believe they'll either have trouble meshing early on or hit a rough patch somewhere in the middle of the season. That will be where the true character of this team shines through. On the other hand, if they hit on all cylinders and stay in good health they could get up to 55 or even 60 wins.
Predicted Record: 49-33 That's a huge turn around from last season and a rare display of rational thought from me. I fought the urge to predict a 50+ win season. Call it the Doc Rivers effect.
Red's Army agreed with Green Bandwagon with a 49-33 prediction.
Predicted Record: 49-33 Why won’t I go 50? Basically, I’m going to give them a little wiggle room for getting to know each other. I think they can win up to 55 games… but I’m playing it cautious when I consider the “Doc Factor” and the potential for early struggles. Maybe I’m also a bit gunshy after making a huge prediction last year. So shoot me. I’d rather be wrong when they go over my prediction.
Celtics 24/7 was a bit more optimistic:
Boston will go 52-30, and overcome early chemistry issues.
And our very own Loyalist predicted 50-32 (at least) here on LOY's Place.
Boston is as close to a lock for number 1 in the East as you can get. Detroit is still a force. Cleveland was the ultimate underdog and it still remains to be seen if they can repeat the past season performance. Chicago is also among the top EC teams, while Miami seems to have fallen sharply. Perk has to be able to be prove he is a legit Bigman as well as Rondo who is still unproven at Point. However, all things considered, I predict Boston silencing a lot of critics. Predicted Record: 50-30 (at least)
After looking at the predictions from the blogs that cover the Celtics, I was curious as to what the national media predicted for the Celtics. First, I looked at the GM survey on NBA.com. When asked which team will win the Eastern Conference, 25.9% of the GM's predicted the Celtics, 25.9% predicted the Pistons and surprisingly, 22.2% predicted the Bulls and 14.8% predicted the Heat. As surprising as the Celtics were in a positive way, the Bulls and Heat were surprising in a negative way.
Next, I checked out an NBA.com preview that listed the picks of the experts. Out of their 9 experts, only 2 predicted the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference. 5 picked the Bulls, 1 picked the Pistons and 1 picked the Cavaliers. Here are a sampling from the comments section:
Nets’ depth reigns supreme over The Big Three. (John Hareas)
I like Chicago to get out of the East because I just don't see Boston coming together that quickly and the Bulls' young talent is just starting to come into their own. (Dave McMenamin)
The Celtics will easily be the most improved team, but they'll need another year together and another year under Rajon Rondo's belt before they can win the East. Still, 47-50 wins should be enough to earn KG his second MVP. (John Schuhmann)
On ESPN, John Hollinger's preview has the Celtics at 3rd in the East and 1st in the Atlantic. He predicts the Bulls to finish 55-27, the Cavs to finish 54-28 and the Celtics 51-31. Here is what he had to say about the Celtics:
Despite my doubts as to whether the new trio of Allen, Pierce and Garnett has enough help to have a realistic shot at winning the East, they should win the division easily and cruise into Round 2 of the playoffs.
You'll keep saying Boston doesn't have nearly enough around its new big three to go far ... and I'll keep responding by saying that this ain't 1987. In today's East, you can get to the Finals without a Bill Walton or Scott Wedman off the bench.
The worst of the predictions came from Chris Sheridan who said that the Celtics would be 2nd in the Atlantic and 6th in the East. Ric Bucher wasn't much better, predicting the Celtics 2nd in the Atlantic and 5th in the East and he added this little tidbit:
The Kool-aid remains untouched in this corner. Playoff team, yes. Title contender? Everybody has evidently forgotten how much depth and transition D divide the haves and have-nots in the postseason. They're about to be reminded.
Chad Ford picked the Celtics to win the Atlantic and place 2nd in the East, but he has this to say about them.
The C's will not only be successful, they'll be really fun to watch. If KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce all stay healthy they'll be playing (and possibly beating) the Pistons in the conference finals. But if one (or more) of that trio goes down, it will get ugly.
I think the Celtics proved him wrong in that KG went down for 9 games and the Celtics were 7-2 without him. Ray Allen spent some time on the IL and the Celtics still played well. With all 3 out, the Celtics won in a blowout against the Bobcats. I think the bench is much better than anyone ever expected.
Jon Barry picked the Celtics 1st in the Atlantic and 2nd in the East. He had this to say about them:
Expectations are NBA Finals or bust, but I don't think they have the team to win it. With Ray Allen and KG, this will be the team to beat in the East. Big questions: point guard and bench.
Questions have been answered in the positive. Rondo has exceeded expectations and the bench has proved to be much stronger than anyone expected them to be.
Jemele Hill predicted the Celtics to win the Atlantic but come in 3rd in the East and had these comments about them:
I love the big three, but I'm not convinced the Celts will win the East the first time out with their new toys. Can't overlook the thin bench or that it will take time for the trio to blend (See: Iverson, Allen and Anthony, Carmelo).
Even Bill Simmons, who loves the Celtics picked them 3rd in the East with a record of 49-33 behind Chicago and Detroit. He didn't predict all the records that this team would set, but he did predict a couple of records for them:
The Celtics break the records for "most amount of time the bench guys stood up clapping and cheering during an 82-game season" and "most times the other four guys immediately ran over to pick up a teammate who got knocked down."
Yes, it seems as though not many people saw the success of this Celtics team coming. Most of the experts didn't give the Celtics much chance of winning the East. And for the most part people predicted somewhere around 50 wins, feeling that if they doubled their wins from last season it would be quite a feat. This brings me to my own prediction for this season that I wrote for Hoopsblogging. Here is what I predicted for the Celtics.
The biggest area of improvement for this team is going to be on the defensive end. Last season, the Celtics were ranked near the bottom in every defensive category. We couldn’t get stops when needed and that was often the difference in games.
I project the record to be 60-22 this season which will be the biggest turn around since Red Auerbach drafted one Larry Joe Bird. Celtic Pride is back in Boston.
Little did I know that as optimistic as I was before the season, the Celtics would even exceed my expectations. I came a lot closer than most of the experts with my 60-22 prediction, but I have to admit that I predicted 49 wins for last season's team also. Drinking all that koolaid is finally paying off.