Post-game Reactions

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.

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Zach Lowe

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  • The Celtics going to win 62 games.we have a better brench this year.

  • Jay P

    I don’t disagree with the ESPN “Experts” there’s reason to temper any expectations going into the year, given what happened last year.

    But here’s the thing, Boston lost a lot of those games last year because of a complete inability to give any minutes to the starters. The bench was bad last year, real bad. At the age of the starters, there’s going to be games where they just don’t have it, injuries are nagging, or their just tired. Those are the games you need the bench to pick you up (see: Game 4 of the finals) and if you don’t have that well… you lose to the Nets.

    So on that basis alone, given how much this bench he re-tooled, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic. Face it, Rasheed Wallace during the regular season was awful, actually he defined a new meaning of the word awful. Fans were clamoring for Shelden Williams to take his minutes toward the end of the season, Shelden Freaking Williams.

    So substitute Shaq as backup Center, and you should see a huge difference. Shaq also gives the bench a reliable option when the shots aren’t falling. Oh and you also have Robinson for a full year, Davis not coming off injury and finally looking like he’s getting that shot back, Daniels in a contract year and playing desperately to prove he’s worth more than the minimum next year, Wafer with a chip on his shoulder and trying to prove the Greece thing was a fluke and he belongs in this league.

    Um, ya, I’m feeling pretty confident in that bench being a HELL of a lot better than last year. Starters minutes won’t change, Doc will be playing the same game. Save their legs, get them healthy, the regular season record lies entirely on the play of the bench. And in that regard, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic when they have what very easily could be, the deepest second unit in Basketball.

  • NC

    Seems pretty fair to me. The East definitely improved. That you can’t argue. The Celtics may or may not have improved.

    Predicting the regular season to go about as well as last year makes perfect sense.

  • JP

    Regular Season doesn”t really matter to this team, I’m thinking around 48-54 wins sounds about right

  • Fifty-ish wins sounds about right to me. Hopefully Doc will stick to his strategy from last season, but maybe find a way to get the rooks some PT in the middle of the season so they can be ready to contribute if needed in the playoffs. Bradley especially, he’s going to be needed.

  • bostonfanaManiac

    then they should not have done it by predicted wins and losses. they should have done it like power rankings. look at the teams and rank them by talent and players and benchplay and additions in the offseason not some predicted win total when we all know boston will spank orlando and give miami a run for its money.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    the predictions are solid. only thing i would change is to put the bucks higher – people still sleeping on them.

    the second season will be very different though….i’ll put my money on the bulls, bucks and celtics in the playoffs…..hawks, magic and heat will flame out.

    note: my new pet peeve is sports writers still referring to how dominant and tough the west is. sh*t done changed. the power has shifted. lakers & okc are the only legit contenders out there anymore.

  • Perry

    But can we rely on a national panel of True Hoop experts to give us insightful, thoughtful analysis when it comes to assessing a local team?
    They’re definitely capable of forming opinions and sharing innuendos floating around the country’s newsroom’s, but a national over/under consensus? Who really cares? I don’t give much thought to wins and losses when this roster is not entirely set.

    Unless a rash of injuries break out it’s likely the Celts will win the Atlantic by a comfortable margin … hence, secure at least a 4 seed. But I don’t think they can replicate the same template again, and they know it. This will be a different season than the one which saw them play in an apathetic state for the second half of the season. There’s a lot of motivation that may factor into wins and losses.

    1- They are the underdog, and will relish the role as we all witnessed in the playoffs.
    2- Game 7 of the Finals left a sour taste in their mouth.
    3- Quis has a defined role as the SF backup.
    4- Nate knows the system.
    5- JO and Shaq understand they will be 4th or 5th options.

    I agree with Zach’s ‘glass half full’ theory; 55 wins is certainly attainable if Rondo can shoot 40%, and none of the key guys suffer injuries that would keep them away for more than 5 games. I don’t see chemistry being a problem in a Doc Rivers’ locker room.

    It looks like we may go into the season riding Sheed’s contract, and they still must solve the gapping hole at the wing. If they can manage anything better than Hughes, and pocket Sheed’s contract for the trade deadline I feel it puts them in the same waters as the Heat and Lakers … no matter what JVG says. Am I wrong?

  • Ross in Maine

    Zach, yes, relax, enjoy the summer! Don’t take “our” comments too seriously, for, you see, I think most of us serious Celtics fans have two opinions. First, our tempered conservative one that we’d put money on (Celtics to win at least 48 games) and second, our optimistic fan-hearted one that I often blog with, Celts will win 55+ games. Now, on the surface, this may seem like an unimportant discussion of bored-in-August NBA fans.
    Not so.
    As the Hub and ‘Hubbers’ declared all last year: we were better than our record in the regular season, even though all the experts did NOT think so. This coming year will be no different for the same reason: we have even more elite aging vets, whose soul focus is a ring, not exerting themselves to beat the Nets. The Celts have proven that they can win when it counts and they can win on the road. The coaching staff will be conservative, the vets, complacent. Factor in an extremely tough East and out pops a number like 48.
    Now, throw in an outstanding bench on paper, stir in some fire and improvement from Nate, Baby and a proving year for Daniels and one or two rookies and here comes the heart call: Celts will battle and run with Miami for most of the year, hauling in 55+ wins. I may not take that number to Vegas, but I’ll sure publish it!

  • dj

    Well, it’s certainly in the ballpark, but I think 51 is a little low. IF we stay reasonably healthy, I would expect at least a 55-win season if not higher.

    The thing is, despite taking an attitude of ‘playoffs first, regular season second’, you can’t give too much away during the season. Yes, I know the Celtics proved they don’t need home court to win but I would still like to see a higher seed come April. Some will disagree, I’m sure, but I think we actually snuck up on our playoff opponents last year. They figured since we limped to the regular season finish line AND they had home court, that we would fold. Next spring, I think opponents might be a little more focused remembering our incredible run. We can’t just live off memories of this run.

    Also, at times last year Doc would go long stretches of games without using key members of the roster. I would like to see him trust his bench more and let them get confident and comfortable in the offense. I think Daniels is going to surprise some people with a good bounce-back year, and Nate should be even more of a spark….IF given the minutes. Shaq is Shaq and will definitely be a plus in a reserve role, and I really have high hopes for Luke. I know there are only so many minutes to go around, but I’d like to see him get enough of them to see what he’s capable of in real league play.

  • complexity

    I’d be shocked if we don’t win more games than last year. Rivers isn’t going to let that happen again besides if the big 3 really break down.

  • Rich

    51 wins seems generous to me. Everyone is looking at the SLIGHT improvement of Boston (yes, Shaq is only a slight improvement people) as reason to say this team wins more games….yet you are totally missing the boat that the East as a whole is a lot more tough. 48 wins.

  • I thought it’s was a little low. But I see your point. Last year our guys missed a whole bunch of games due to injury. Baby kg daniels…list goes on. I think I’m just optimistic about kgs knee and that Nate and glens game will have improoved. I see shaq and JO as solid guys who fill a need well. I would really like too see us get back to making “home court”…. HOME COURT!!! ya know? Now that We are one need away from finnishing up our roster I along with Celtic nation are anxious! Let the battle begin!

  • Jeff

    The so called “Experts” are taking into account the factors they may feel are relevant in order to get a picture of the future which is still unclear to them or anyone else.

    I don’t resent these guys for their predictions, however I do scoff at them.

    They picked MIA to win 61 games. CLE won that many last year. Do they really think Lebron, Wade and Bosh won’t win more?

    Last Year
    CLE=61 MIA=47 TOR=40
    All those guys essentially won those by themselves practically, yet you think they won’t win more collectively?

    Flawed due to biaism. Each of those writers have biaisms and it shows in one way or another.

    Also, no writer wants to go too far out on a limb and say someone could win 68 or 70, that’s why every year you get the top teams winning 58 or 60.

    As for the C’s last year to start the season the C’s went 27-2 or something.

    That was with:
    Trade rumors of Ray and Rajon flying
    KG recovering from injury
    No Davis
    Eddie at the point and now we have Nate
    Quis in some Frankenstein-ish PG/SG/SF role
    Shelden Williams (No further explanation needed)
    Sheed out of shape and not caring
    No first round draft pick and a second round guy who didn’t fit.

    Now we have:
    KG healthy
    Rondo and Ray not going anywhere and Rondo is better as well
    JO who DOES care during the regular season
    Davis AND Goddy who have different styles and will both be able to contribute
    Quis in a defined role
    Nate at the Point
    Erden, who’s better than Shelden before he even steps on the floor
    Wafer who may be insanely good or maybe not so great but will give offense regardless
    Sheed’s contract in tow for a wing upgrade
    A first rounder in Bradley who will see garbage time and grow
    Oh and one more little thing…we have Shaq.

    2001 Shaq or 38 year old Shaq…it doesn’t matter, he’ll be better than any of the other BACKUP Centers the C’s have had.

    So yes while not that far fetched to say a team that won 50 last year will win 51 this year, the “Experts” ought to look a little deeper at the picture from last year vs. this year cuz the roster is WAY deeper this year…older or not.

  • For the record, I picked Miami to win 68 games.

  • dslack

    Celtics went 23-5 at the start of last year. 27-2 was 2 years ago.

  • dslack

    I was really surprised the average Miami prediction was 61. I’d guess 70.

  • One last thing. Too address the belief that the east is so much better than last year…..the good teAms got better….the and the bad teams are still bad. Clevland isn’t a playoff team anymore and Miami allready was. Newyork might be a little better but not at all scary. The bucks are a question mark, the bulls are a little better. Orlando was already a beast….the Bobs are still the bobs. Atl is the same as it ever was just more strapped for cash cuz they overpaid JOE. Look The east is the same in the regular season as it was last year. The playoffs will be a whole other story.

  • I don’t see Miami winning 70 games. Their lineup has huge holes!
    No bigs, Eddie house and mile miller are your scary shooters? Yeah….not so much. Chalmers doesn’t even have a job on the floor anymore…he won’t hardly touch the rock… Not with lbj and Wade on the court. I just can’t see how that roster is winning anything more than the celtics. Stars can only win so many games. But now what I want to see is the lakers predictions. Are the lakers predicted to win more than the heat?

  • Anthony

    i think that 51 wins is a reasonable guess. The only problem I have with that is that the C’s won 50 last year being one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. With the additions of Shaq and Jermaine it looks as though we have addressed that need. To me, we have a MUCH better team than last year. We have space eaters and shot blockers galore. The C’s have been this big since Parrish and Walton! If I had to make a legit prediction on win totals, (I’m also assuming that with the addition of the glass gobblers the C’s will be able to rest starters in the fourth quarter because of the amount of blowouts the C’s are going to amass) the C’s should be able to win 58-62 games, finishing a close second to Miami’s 60-66. Good luck to everyone, its going to be a awesome season!

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