Predicting an NBA team's record is nearly impossible, but it's even more difficult to project the 2013 season for the Boston Celtics. With so many uncertainties surrounding the team, it's conceivable that they could have the worst record, yet they could also have enough vitality to sneak into the playoffs.
After an underwhelming performance in the preseason, many Celtics fans are feeling glum. The offense lacked synchronicity, the team-defense was nonexistent, and it's honestly just hard adjusting to a Celtics' team without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on it.
But with the season set to begin on Wednesday night, it's time to officially move on. I asked our CelticsBlog.com team of writers what they think the Boston Celtics' record will be this year, and it will come as no surprise that our panel projected Boston to finish under .500. Our eight forecasters predict that the Celtics will go 31-51 this year, meaning they will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 season.
Let's take a look at what each writer predicted and their explanations. We'll start with our highest and lowest projections:
With so many new players and a new coaching staff, the team is still trying to develop chemistry and learn the system. I don't think they will be as bad as some think they will be, but I don't think they will be contenders either.
Kevin O'Connor: 23-59
Don't be fooled by my low win total, because I think this roster has a lot of competitive talent. With Brad Stevens at the helm, and plenty of players willing to play hard, I expect a lot of close games going into the fourth quarter. But that doesn't usually translate into wins for young teams like this one; that's just the way it is in the NBA. It's also worth mentioning that the Eastern Conference is much stronger than it was in prior years. There are plenty of talented teams, which means there will be very few "easy" nights. I think it'll be a fun season to watch this team if you like high-speed basketball and don't mind seeing the losses pile up. Hopefully it's all for the best if the Celtics are able to draft some talented players.
FLCeltsFan was our only writer to project the Celtics to finish above .500, which would mean they'd surpass last year's win total of 41. I had the lowest total of 23, which some readers may believe is still too many. Our next handful of respondents all think the win total hinges on the return of Rajon Rondo.
Jeff Clark: 30-52
30 - It is a nice round number that signifies "not in the playoffs but not historically bad." I think the first couple months are going to be rough without Rondo and with a tough early season schedule. Things could pick up in the middle of the year, then after the trade deadline... well, anything could happen. That could be a positive or a negative but I don't think we're making the playoffs this year.
Jay Asser: 34-48
It's going to be a rocky season with a slow start as Brad Stevens figures out which rotations and lineup work best. Don't expect many wins until Rondo returns but when he does, I expect it to jolt Boston to a relatively small winning stretch. After the honeymoon wears off, the struggles will continue with the team having a hard time finding ways to score all season.
Jack Jemsek: 25-57
It all depends on when Rajon Rondo comes back. What was left of the Big Three last year, minus injuries, only mustered 41 wins, we are now looking at something decidedly south of that. Will it be in the low 20s or the low 30s . . . that is the range we can expect. The over/under is 27.5 wins, which is right smack in the middle of that range. My prediction? 25 wins.
Tim MacLean: 33-49
The number of wins the Boston Celtics pick up in 2013-14 will ultimately depend on when Rajon Rondo returns from the ACL injury that effectively ended his season last year. The longer the All-Star point guard is sidelined, the worse off this Celtics team will be. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm in no way insinuating that the difference between the Celtics winning and losing games is Rondo and only Rondo. Games aren't won or lost by a single player in today's NBA. It takes a collective effort from every man on a respective roster to claim victory in a league made up of the world's best basketball players. However, it would be silly to assume that getting Rondo back in the mix will be of little significance. This is a guy that is arguably the best facilitator in the Association and he provides the Celtics with something very few can replace. That said, it will be interesting to see what he can do in Brad Stevens sort of "just go out there and make something happen" offense. If he returns with plenty of games left on the calendar then he'll surely thrive in a system such as this. At the end of the day, I'd give this team a ceiling of 38 wins with a basement of 23.
I agree that Rajon Rondo's return could influence the record, but how much, really? The only significant difference I can see is if he comes back in early December or late February, for the better or worse, respectively. Any date between then, I can't see much of a difference because of the matchups. The Celtics have an extremely difficult schedule in January, with games that will likely end up as losses with or without Rondo. The same can be said for many of the games in December. It's not until March or April when the schedule begins to lighten up. In any case, our final two writers both predicted similar records; though not all is lost with such low win totals.
Alex Skillin: 29-53
I'd love to say the Celtics will make a run at a .500 record and a potential playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but I just don't see it happening. There isn't much depth or experience on this team (especially without Rondo), and considering many believe Danny Ainge will look to trade away some key parts by February, this Celtics roster could be even weaker by the end of the season.
Josh Zavadil: 30-52
I hate predictions. I hate predicting how bad my favorite team will be even more than I hate predictions. But I have this awful feeling that the Celtics will somehow win more games than they should and will put themselves in an area that won't bode well for them winning the top pick in the upcoming draft. Then again, who knows? This team is going to struggle to score. Who's gonna bear that burden this season? Will it be Jeff Green? If so, is he ready for that task? I don't know. I'm actually crying while typing this stream of thoughts. At least Jordan Crawford will provide some laughs.
Despite the low expectations, I hope it's a fun year no matter what record the Boston Celtics have. This team has a lot of young talent, and a new coach eager to make his mark in the NBA. The assets are there for this team to compete in the future, so this is just year one in a new era of Celtics history. Enjoy it!
What record do you think the Boston Celtics will have this season? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comment section below!