John Hollinger's computerized playoff odds are back for the 2011-12 season and the Celtics debut with a 59.5 percent chance of making the Eastern Conference playoffs. Reason to be concerned? ESPN.com asked five experts for their thoughts:
Fact or Fiction: The Celtics will make the playoffs.
Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com: Fact. In this Eastern Conference? The Celtics could run the ghost of Greg Kite out on the parquet in the frontcourt and still secure a spot.
Hayes Davenport, Celtics Hub: Fact. With their current roster, anyway. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are gradually playing off the rust, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are coming back from injury, and Doc Rivers won't be forced to start Sasha Pavlovic forever. Somehow they'd make the playoffs if the season ended today, and the signs point toward improvement. Of course, much of the current roster might not be around much longer.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Fact. Rather than being a top-three seed in the first round, Boston will be facing one, but they'll still make the playoffs. Look at teams 9 through 16 in the East -- Cleveland and Milwaukee are currently 9 and 10 -- and tell me which one you honestly think will end the season with a better record than Boston?
Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: Fiction. Danny Ainge should appreciate the one championship that fell into his lap and start calling a green clover a spade. Boston is going nowhere. Start the rebuild now.
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: Fact. As usual, the East is a mess at the bottom. A sub-.500 team will likely make it as a the No. 7 or 8-seed. I don't think one of those teams will be the Celtics, who will likely get healthy and put together a strong February or March and solidify a spot in the playoffs.
* Forsberg's take: We've said all along that there's little to no chance the Celtics miss the playoffs (though it is a bit frightening to see the "worst" column on Hollinger's playoff odds suggesting Boston could finish 17-49). I still think this team is a middle-to-low seed who would be well-served if it could line itself up with a favorable first-round matchup. The East is so atrocious overall, the Celtics can stumble their way to 30 wins (even if there's only one more Wizards game on the schedule).