Summer Forecast: Starting at the end
August, 12, 2014
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
AP Photo/Charles KrupaOur Summer Forecast series launched Monday with our panel examining Boston's win-loss record for the 2014-15 season. Springboarding off that, we asked our experts today: How will Boston's season end?
Our panel was given four options: (1) Deep playoff run (i.e., second round or beyond); (2) Early playoff exit (first-round loss); (3) Competitive, but miss playoffs (finish in spots 9-12 in East); (4) Tankville (bottom three in East).
The results? Our 14 responding voters were split exactly in half: Seven chose Tankville, seven chose competitive but miss the playoffs. The panel seemed to agree on one thing: Boston is not a playoff team as currently constructed.
The guess from this writer? After pegging Boston to shuffle up towards 30 wins, I voted in the "competitive but miss playoffs" category. The real question here is whether Boston will be closer to those teams that just miss the playoffs in the East, or closer to the basement.
In ESPN's national summer forecast, our experts predicted a pretty sizable dip at the bottom of the East standings, and it starts with Boston. The Celtics finished 12th in the voting at 28 projected wins, but that's five games behind Detroit at No. 11. The poll suggests that Boston, Orlando, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia will remain huddled at the bottom of the East standings.
You can make the case then that, even at 12th in the East, Boston would be part of Tankville. But the guess here is that Boston wins enough games to hover closer to those that fade from playoff contention late than the surefire high lottery teams.
Read on as our panel explains how they voted:
Michael Pina, CelticsHub (Competitive)
The Celtics will be a more cohesive basketball team next season, and they have a star on board. The Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Orlando Magic will be worse.
Kevin O'Connor, CelticsBlog (Tankville)
If Boston is struggling in February and a strong offer comes for Rajon Rondo, how can Danny Ainge not accept? I’m not convinced that Rondo will walk if he hits the market, but can Boston take that risk? I hate calling it “tanking,” but if the Celtics are having another bad season, Rondo will probably be traded. That means the end of the season will be ugly, just like it was in 2014.
Jay O., Red's Army (Competitive)
They have some nice pieces but unless the young guys suddenly turn into star players they'll still struggle but won't be abysmal.
Padraic O'Connor, CelticsLife.com (Tankville)
It won’t be for lack of trying, but the 2014-15 Celtics will finish in the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They’ve got a roster built to compete, but not to win. Without signing another top-tier free agent to pair with Rondo, the Celtics lack the firepower to make a run for the playoffs. If Ainge finds a home for Brandon Bass, Rondo, and Jeff Green the Celtics will be re-signing their lease in Tankville. If not, they’ll probably still finish out of playoff contention.
Julian Edlow, WEEI.com (Competitive)
Although the East is still not as competitive as the West, the conference absolutely improved from where it was last season. The Celtics will be able to compete on a nightly basis, but 32 wins will not land them a playoff spot. Failing to land a star (like Kevin Love) means Ainge has to go all in on the 2015 offseason –- with many preparatory moves along the way in 2014-15. Prepare for another lottery appearance.
Mark Vandeusen, CelticsLife (Tankville)
Barring any surprising mega-deals, everything the Celtics have done so far this offseason points towards going for a major overhaul next summer. With that in mind, it only makes sense to yet again sink towards the bottom of the conference standings. One thing is for sure though, it won't be a Sixer-esque tank job.
Jeff Clark, CelticsBlog (Competitive)
While the record will be better than it was this year, they are still too inexperienced to sneak into the playoffs, even in the weak East.
Cory Prescott, CLNS Radio (Tankville)
The Eastern Conference was historically bad last season, but has improved steadfastly since the Spurs won the title. I consider the Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Wizards, and the Hornets/Bobcats locks to make the playoffs, along with teams such as the Raptors, Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, and Pacers to be around the bottom half of the playoff tree. Are the Celtics really better than a team like the Pistons right now? With Rondo gone, absolutely not. Philly may have a lock on the worst record, but Boston’s infusion of youth this season will put them in contention for the bottom three.
Bill Sy, CelticsBlog (Competitive)
You can pencila few Eastern Conference teams into the playoffs: Cleveland, Chicago, Washington, Toronto, Miami, and Brooklyn. That leaves two spots for Indiana, Charlotte, Atlanta, New York, and Detroit. Boston could finish better than a couple of those teams, but I doubt they leapfrog four of them.
Jon Duke, Celtics Stuff Live (Tankville)
It's going to be ugly.
Also voting: Tom Westerholm, CelticsHub (Tankville); Brian Robb, CelticsHub (Competitive), KWAPT, Red's Army (Tankville).
Your turn: We invite you join the conversation. Sound off in the comments about how you think the Celtics' 2014-15 season will end.
(Chris Forsberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ESPNForsberg. Hop HERE to submit a question for his Celtics Mailbag.)