I don't have a crystal ball, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Here are some of my own predictions on how next year will pan out. I'm not always right, but I'm always sure!
1. January will be a rough month for wins.
There are 17 games in January, including a West Coast trip against 5 of the better teams in the league. Facing OKC twice without Russell Westbrook helps, but they're no pushovers with Durant running around. It will be very interesting to see where the Nets and Knicks are at the end of the month. Will they continue the downward spiral or will something finally click with them? Regardless, if we walk out of this month with 7 or more wins, I'll consider it a good month.
2. Rondo returns in early February.
Watching Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant (among others) return from injury only to get re-injured again, I think Rajon Rondo is fully justified in taking his time and getting his body and mind right before committing to getting back on the court. That said, he's a competitor and you can be he'd love to be out there now if he thought he was ready. Give him another month and see how things stand there. If you want to pin me down on a date, I'll say Feb. 2nd against Orlando.
I don't think it will be much different than the one that was rumored to be the best offer (Bass, Lee, a protected pick). Maybe it does boil down to the protection on the Clippers 2015 pick. The C's would want as much protection on it as possible (say top 20) while the Rockets wouldn't want any protection on it. Maybe Ainge decides that Doc and the Clippers are going to be a top team again next year and he's fine making it just lottery protected. I don't think that suitors are just going to start bumping up their bids for Asik unless another contender gets an injury and needs a big man at all costs.
Bonus: I don't see any other big trades for the Celtics happening at the deadline, which means Rondo goes nowhere (despite being in approximately 100 more rumors).
4. The Celtics finish strong, but just miss the playoffs.
I could see a team with Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sullinger, and Asik having a few winning streaks in them. I also tend to think that one of the Raptors, Knicks, or Nets is also going to have a run or two in them and take the Atlantic. Basically, as bad as the East is this year, I can't imagine that 5 of the 8 playoff teams will have records below .500 the way they would if the season ended now. There will be a regression to the mean and I think the Celtics are already about at their projected batting average.
5. The Celtics won't win the Lottery, but will do pretty good in the draft anyway.
Let's face it, the odds of winning the lottery are low even for the teams with the worst records. If we are putting all our hope in that, we're setting ourselves up for failure. With that said, a lot of good can happen when you've got two picks in a deep draft class and a GM that has made a career out of finding gems in the middle to late part of the draft (for every Melo there's been a Sullinger). Either the C's will come out of it with a couple of quality prospects or they'll be used in a trade or two to bring back good value going forward.
Bonus: Paul Pierce signs in the offseason for the veteran minimum to finish out his career as a Celtic.
At least that's how I see it going down. Share your own predictions in the comments below.
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