Insider: Hollinger's Celtics prediction

In an InsiderInsider piece, ESPN.com's John Hollinger offers his season prediction for the Boston Celtics, pegging the Green for a 48-34 finish (first in the Atlantic, third in the Eastern Conference). A sampling of his analysis:

The good news, however, is that the added offense, especially from Terry, should take some of the strain off Garnett, Pierce and Rondo. The former two players struggle to create easy looks in one-on-one situations, and while Rondo can be a dynamite set-up man, his own inability to score makes it hard to use him as the focal point.

Thus, the likes of Terry, Lee, Sullinger and Green will add more options for Boston offensively, particularly when the second unit comes in. (Boston's bench was pitiful offensively last season.) There isn't a pure point guard in the bunch and that may cause some strains, but Boston is likely to improve on its 24th-place standing of last season … particularly if some of the new guys try for offensive boards.

Overall, then, Boston is poised to end up right back where it was last season. With no daunting power in the East beyond Miami, the race for the second position in the conference is there for the taking. I have the Celtics projected in a tight pack with several other teams, so they could easily finish as low as sixth or seventh or as high as second. But given their recent track record, nobody will count them out in the playoffs regardless of where they're seeded.

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