Everyone seems to be touting the East as dominated by Detroit, Indiana, and now Miami. And they have every right to, given last year's performance. However, as any stock analyst would tell you, past performance is never a guarantee for future success. I'm not saying that the C's are "getting no respect." They haven't done anything to earn it. I'm just saying that people are counting the Celtics out, and I feel a rant coming on.
Marc Stein gives his abreviated power rankings, leaving Boston completely out of the discussion.
Unless Detroit comes down with Rasheeditis, the Pistons will be solid at worst. Indiana is deep, deep, deep. As much as I'm skeptical of Steven Jackson being the missing piece to their puzzle, they are still a force to be reckoned with. Miami has Shaq and Wade and whatever else they can put around them (Good enough for 2nd or 3rd). Then I'm tempted to put Cleveland next. Even without Boozer, they are putting solid people around LeBron and he's ready to start carrying teams to the playoffs.
After that, as far as I'm concerned, it’s all up in the air. The Nets are back to where they are more comfortable, rebuilding mode. Milwaukee seemed to play above their heads last year, but could very well grow into a solid team. On the other hand, New Orleans always underachieves. (editor's note: New Orleans is in fact in the West now. Sorry, I must have been tired when I wrote this.) New York is going for broke, and if it doesn't all fall right, could really be broken by Christmas. Philly found a perfect coach to keep them at their standard level of 'just good enough to make the playoffs.' I'm not taking Toronto seriously anytime soon. Washington should be better than they were, but I tend to think that every year. Ditto for Chicago. Orlando has nowhere but up to go, but isn't built to win now. As much as we'll miss Brandon Hunter, he likely won't be in a position to "come back and haunt us" anytime soon. The Cats are mostly kittens right now.
So where does that leave the Celtics? I'm not entirely sure. If Doc can actually implement an up-tempo style, utilize the potentially deep bench, and everyone stays healthy (looking at you Raef), things could really go well for the Celtics this year. I could see them landing as high as the 4th seed.
On the other hand, if Davis lives down to his reputation, if our younger players are still a year or two away, if Paul can’t shake his slump, then things could sour quickly. In fact, its not out of the realm of possibility that the team could wind up in the lottery. Its not likely, but it could happen.
Still, I’m not making any predictions. In part because Danny’s not done yet. At least I hope not. Despite my dreams of 12-deep, we really do need to make a trade. Once again, I think anything could happen. We have assets that other teams would like to acquire. So a sizable package deal is not a far off thought. Or we could be content splitting the Mid-Level between a couple of free agents and trading extra bodies for future draft picks. Right now my only preference is that he holds onto Yogi Stewart till the trade deadline, where someone will want him for cap room going into the offseason.
All in all, it has been so quiet that one has to wonder what Danny is really up to. He didn’t even make a deal on draft night, which qualified as the biggest shock of the night for me. His track record shows that he won’t be quiet for long.
Whatever he does, it will likely have a major impact on where we end up come playoff time. The East isn’t as weak as it once was, but it’s still anybody’s game. Some are already saying that Al Jefferson will be good before anyone thought possible. Maybe the same could be said for the Celtics.