As you’ve probably noticed, a panel of 93 ESPN writers and contributors made predictions for the 2011 season, and those predictions included win totals for all 30 teams. Those 93 contributors predicted, on average, that the C’s would win 51 games and finish 3rd in the Eastern Conference behind the Heat (61 wins) and the Magic (56).
And then the righteous outrage began. In its blurb about the predictions, CelticsBlog noted they came from 93 ESPN “experts,” making a point to put the term in quotation marks.
Then the commenters weighed in:
• “I”m surprised they even have us in playoff contention.”
• “Glad to see ‘experts’ in quotes.”
• “What a bunch of geeks….sitting around making predictions that they don’t have to live with.”
• “ESPN=Extra Stupid Predictions Non-Stop”
• “Business as usual. Just more hype for the Chosen 3.”
• “Bullcrap. They didn’t think we’d beat Cleveland last year, or ORLANDO. Lol.”
And here’s where I tell you all the obvious reasons why this loud minority is missing the point.
Some folks might have forgotten, but the Celtics finished last season 50-32 before turning things on in the playoffs. The ESPN predictions published today, in which I participated as one of the 93 contributors (or “experts”), applied only to the regular season.
I would love to hear why it is so outlandish for a group of basketball writers to predict an aging team would finish next season with one more win than they recorded last season.
Again: The poll published today asked for a predicted regular-season win total. It says nothing about a playoff prediction, and as a slight majority of the commenters on CelticsBlog noted, it is perfectly reasonable to predict the C’s will again proceed through the regular season prioritizing health and rest over win total. Why wouldn’t they? They did it last year and got to the Finals, and all they’ve done since is make an old team even older while the Eastern Conference has improved at the top and in the middle.
The C’s will lack a sense of urgency. Doc will limit minutes for the veteran players. Older guys will get hurt and miss games. These things will happen.
For the record, I pencilled in the Celtics for 49 wins in the ESPN poll. I am generally a pessimist, and I’d peg Boston’s likely win range somewhere between 48 and 53 wins. If things go right—if KG’s knee indeed feels better, if Rajon Rondo continues improving, if Glen Davis has a career season, etc.—the C’s could easily crack 55 wins.
But don’t tell me that 93 people are “experts” or “geeks” or biased promoters of the Miami Heat simply because they predict, collectively, that an aging Celtics team will go 51-31 next season. About two-dozen TrueHoop Network writers contributed to the poll, and all but one of them writes for a blog that focuses on a team that is not called the Miami Heat.
I have no clue whether the C’s will win 49 games or 60 games or 52 games next season, but I know for sure that 51 is a perfectly reasonable guess.
And if they get 16 in the playoffs? Then we’ll forget the regular-season number pretty fast.
So relax, and enjoy the summer.