The games have not yet begun. Now is the time to be super-optimistic. Say it with me now: This team could make it to the playoffs this year. Come on, don't be a curmudgeon. Dream with me.
The East is weak and this team has some nice pieces in place. Right now the general consensus is that the Celtics are in the 12 - 13 range in the conference. So they'd have to leapfrog as many as 5 teams, including the Nets, Knicks, Pacers, Pistons and Magic. If you ask me, none of those teams seem locked in to the playoff picture. An injury here, a disappointing season there, and an opportunity could open up for a young upstart team like the Celtics.
I'm not the only one who thinks this way either.
It is not hard to find people working on the team side of the industry at large who believe the Celts could easily challenge for the eighth playoff position in the Eastern Conference. That is, of course, mainly a measure of how weak this side of the country’s teams is, but it is also because of what Ainge has collected. "They’ve got a lot of really good pieces there," one opposing evaluator said. "They just don’t have the kind of stars that you have to have to win big, and they’re weak in the middle. But I like a lot of what they’re doing there.
Now if you really want to get nuts, think about this. If the Celtics somehow win the Atlantic Division, they'd even be a 4 seed (winners of each Division are guaranteed a top 4 seed, regardless of overall record). The Raptors are the class of the division at this point, but they also kind of overachieved a bit last year (at least based on expectations headed into the season). Then it is just the aforementioned Nets, Knicks, and D-League Sixers.
I guess I'm showing my homer colors here, but I could see a team led by Rondo and a few career-year guys shocking the world and making it to the playoffs. How about you?