So after reading several Fanposts about how the Celtics are "too good" to tank, I've decided to write my own discouraging this myth. I was going to comment several times, but I thought this might be more efficient. So let's discuss weather or not the Celtics are "bad enough" this upcoming season.
Firstly, let's begin with a caveat that I think we as Celtics fans all need to own up to. Injuries. We have to accept this as fans, the core of our teams as it stand now, is injury riddled or indeed has a storied history of injuries. Lets look at a breakdown of our "core" players, and there total games played over the past two seasons, out of a possible 163 games.
Rondo - 91
Bradley - 114
Green - 81
Sullinger - 45 (out of 81 posiible)
Lee - 136
So that's a total of 467 played out of a possible 733. That means on a whole, our core players have played 64% of games over the past two years, and that's not including playoff games. So chances are, that if we allow the past two years to create a framework for us to look towards the future with, then it would appear that we can expect at least one of our core players to be out every other game.
I won't argue that it's a sure thing that the Celtics are going to miss core players again next season, but it appears likely. Also given the fact that Rondo and Sully will start the season coming off of injury, it would appear the Celtics won't be 100% throughout the season.
Now understanding this, lets address weather or not the Celtics are "too good" to tank. I think that's the wrong question. I think the real question should be, are the Celtics good enough to be a playoff team? It may sound the same, but there is a difference. No one "tanks" outright in the league, some teams just aren't as good and end up losing a lot. Even when this happens, the players are still playing to win, they're just not good enough to do so. This is what I see the Celtics doing, so are the Celtics a playoff team?
Well I think everyone agrees that Miami, Indiana, Brooklyn, Chicago, and the Knicks are probably playoff bound. The Knicks may be the only team that's questionable on this list, but they've still got Felton and Melo, JR as a sixth man, and newly acquired Bargs as a stretch four. New York will get a playoff seed imo, even if it's not as high as last season.
Next on the list comes Atlanta, Detroit, Toronto, and Charlotte. Atlanta lost Josh Smith, but added Paul Milsap, that's pretty much a lateral move, I'd expect them to be about the same. Detroit added Josh Smith, and while crowding their frontcourt, Detroit is poised to get better. With veteran Billups coming back and tweener Knight looking to develop, I think the Pistons are capable of a playoff push this season, maybe 6th even. Toronto could be something this season. With a full season of Gay, Lowery, and their young center the Raptors could make some noise. Charlotte is a bit of a stretch maybe, but with the addition of Al Jefferson along with their young core, I think the Bobcats could make a push. I think they're certainly better than last years Bucks.
Below this tier of teams we have Cleveland, Washington, and Boston. All three of these teams are mid-rebuild, and have solid pieces. Its tough to say who has the edge in this category and it's possible that one of these teams makes the playoffs, but that could be wishful thinking. Out of the three, my money would be on Cleveland.
In the bottom tier of teams in the East, we have Orlando, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Milly is just a mess right now, and I don't know what their going to do. Philly looks like they're attempting to do poorly, but they've got some pieces for the future. As for Orlando, they're in the middle of a rebuild, and while trending upward, they're a few years away.
Looking at this Boston seems below the average of the Eastern Conference, and that's before we factor in our injuries. To me this makes just too strong a case against Boston cracking into the playoffs. While they'll be fun to watch this upcoming season, I think we'll struggle to win 35 games this season. It's just my opinion, but I don't see the Celtics making the playoffs. I could even see us being a bottom five team in the conference, and I fully expect us to be bottom 10 in the league. We've got good pieces, I just don't know that they'll all gel this season. A new coach, two core players coming off of injury, a first time first scoring option, etc. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
So there's my thoughts, I look forward to yours, let me know and as always if you liked the post be sure to rec ; )