While some have pondered whether the Celtics might be too competitive for their own rebuilding good, ESPN Insider Tom Haberstroh offers a sobering take on Boston's contender status while ranking all 15 Eastern Conference teams as they currently stand. Boston lands at No. 13 (thirteen!?) nestled snuggly behind last season's East cellar-dwellers in the Orlando Magic and one spot ahead of the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. From Insider:
As is, the Celtics figure to be in the running for not just the league's worst defense, but I struggle to see how they score enough to fight their way into the playoff picture. Remember, this was the 20th-ranked team in offensive efficiency last season, and that was with Pierce, Garnett, a healthy Rajon Rondo and Terry. Who's their No. 1 scoring option next season? Jeff Green? Yikes.
And three of the five responders in a 5-on-5 about the East suggest Boston will endure the biggest drop during the 2013-14 season:
Feldman: Boston Celtics. The Celtics weren't particularly good last season, but the strong wills of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and a little coaxing from Doc Rivers pushed them to a winning record. With its two most impactful players from a season ago now in Brooklyn, Rivers in Los Angeles, Rajon Rondo not yet healthy and Brad Stevens learning on the job, Boston is bound to tumble.
Gutierrez: Celtics. The actual fall in the standings won't feel as significant as the fall from contention. No matter where the Celtics finished in the standings, as long as Rivers, Garnett and Pierce were anchoring, that team could make a deep playoff run. Now, they might still be a playoff team. But most agree they'd be better off losing lots of games. That's quite a fall.
Schmidt: Celtics, by design. Images say so much more than words, so while the Celtics will never admit to tanking, we'll see the sad-faced news conferences and lopsided scoreboards and know the real truth. Bad on purpose -- thanks, NBA!