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The Final Thirteen: Breaking Down The Home Stretch

 

This post is about predicting the last 13 games for the Celtics and Bulls. But first, a quick confession: At the beginning of the season, before I started writing for this site, I voted in a CelticsHub poll. It was about how many games the Celtics would win this season. Thousands of people voted, mostly for “50-55 games,” with “less than 50″ being the least popular answer by far. Only about 16 votes for “less than 50,” I think.

I was one of those 16 votes.

I thought one of the stars would break down and the others would start to show their age, and I was not optimistic that Shaq or Jermaine would contribute much. But now the C’s have won 50 games and I was wrong. I’ve already bought one of these.

It’s hands-free, so I can self-flagellate at home, at work, or even while writing this blog post right now! Can’t go wrong with four hours on a single charge, guys.

Now that I’ve established credibility as a great predictor, let’s do that for the end of the season: as of right now, the C’s and Bulls have identical records and 13 games remaining. Both have six at home and seven away. The C’s have four SEGABABAs (woof), and the Bulls have three. Several of the opponents are the same.

Let’s start with the C’s docket:

3/23 – Memphis: C’s should probably win this one, because Les Grizz are slipping a bit and just found out Rudy Gay isn’t coming back this season.
3/25 – Charlotte: Should win.
3/27 – @Minnesota: Should absolutely win.
3/28 – @Indiana: Should win, but might be the least likely because it’s a SEGABABA away.

So there’s the potential to reel off a six-game win streak, which would be great. I’ll predict one loss out of those four, though. So we’re at 3-1.

3/31 – @San Antonio: Could win, because Duncan’s probably still out and Popovich is resting his dogs for the playoffs. So is Doc Rivers, though.
4/1 – @Atlanta: The Hawks obviously could give two dookies about seeding, playoff durability, or winning basketball games. It’s a road SEGABABA (the second of four), but I just don’t think this team looks very good right now. Call this a likely win.
4/3 – Detroit: Win, probably.
4/5 – Philadelphia: Odds are that this game is going to remind us why we’re after the one-seed in the first place.

I bet the C’s drop either San Antonio or Philly. Another 3-1 stretch to put the C’s at 6-2. On to the final five.

4/7 – @Chicago: Wouldn’t it be crazy if the C’s and Bulls still had the same record at this point? I sort of bet Shaq comes back for this game. Toss-up, I guess.
4/8 – Washington: Win.
4/10 – @Miami: Not fun. This is actually the game I have the least faith in the C’s winning.
4/11 – @Washington: Thank god for these mopes. The only caveat is that both Wiz games are SEGABABAs coming off very, very good teams.
4/13 – Knicks: This is probably going to be a lazier game for the C’s than for the Knicks. Still, it could easily decide playoff seeding for as many as four teams.

That’s an interesting series of games. A double-decker Wiz sandwich on competitive bread. Still, I bet the C’s only take 3 out of those 5. It’s too much too late in the season. So that puts them at 9-4 in my predicted universe.

BEST POSSIBLE RECORD WITHIN STATISTICAL REASON: 11-2
MOST LIKELY RECORD: 9-4
WORST POSSIBLE RECORD: 5-8

Now, let’s compare that to the Bulls’s stretch schedule.

3/22 – @Atlanta
3/25 – Memphis
3/26 – @Milwaukee
3/28 – Philadelphia
3/30 – @Minnesota
4/1 – @Detroit
4/2 – Toronto
4/5 – Phoenix
4/7 – Boston
4/8 – @Cleveland
4/10 – @Orlando
4/12 – @New York
4/13 – New Jersey

Removing the opponents the B’s share with the C’s (Atlanta, Memphis, Philly, Minnesota, Detroit, and New York), and this schedule strikes me as a little easier than what the C’s are dealing with. They’re essentially trading San Antonio and Miami for Phoenix and Orlando, and that’s, you know, a great deal for the Bulls. So, with strength of schedule in mind:

BEST POSSIBLE RECORD WITHIN STATISTICAL CREDIBILITY: 12-1
MOST LIKELY RECORD: 10-3
WORST POSSIBLE RECORD: 6-7

I think the Bulls will win the East by one game. Now, we ask for the n-thousandth time: is it worth it, with Celtics injuring each other and bleeding all over the place and turning 39 years old, to fight through a stretch run for a top seed that probability suggests they’re not going to get?

  • someguyinsac

    I'm having trouble continuing to read this story, I can't stop laughing about your flagellator. :O

  • Morpheus

    I voted 50 or 55.

  • Morpheus

    Gotta take that number 1 seed in the East title. Detroit Pistons em.

  • Chris O

    I voted twice 55-60 and 60-65. I legit would have but them between 57-63 wins this season. The depth that added at every position preseason was immense (Centers, Shaq, JO, Perk, extra guards Delonte and Wafer with a healthy Quis). And my belief KG would be healtiehr and Rondo would be close to a top 10 player. I felt and still feel this is the best team we have had the past 4 years. They just don't care AS MUCH about the regular season and didn't have that Perfect Storm they did in 07-08. That year I thought they would win 57-64, and bet 3 different people they would win 57+ games.

  • Batman

    Hayes you negative man
    I say we're going undefeated all the way
    NOTE IT!

    • Tom W

      Haha. +1 DDL reference showing up on Celticshub.

      • Batman

        DDL for life

  • Reggieness

    I really don't get this whole debate about how hard to try for the top seed. You try to win games; end of story. Let's say Doc shaves five minutes a game off of each starters' minutes: am I really supposed to believe that 50 or 60 fewer minutes of competitive basketball, over a three week stretch, is going to have some miracle effect on anyone's game? These guys are professional basketball players: you play them like you have all season, and try to win as many games as possible. The whole "we want to be healthy" song is just an ex post facto rationalization of the possibility of failure. Obviously, OBVIOUSLY you want the number 1 seed — you're talking about the difference between a scrub team and a squad that could give the Celtics serious trouble in the first round, and then about the difference between Miami and Orlando in the second round — HUGE differences. Plus, you're talking about home court advantage in a possible conference finals, and quite possibly home court advantage in an NBA Finals. Those are advantages worth doing everything in your power to get. Now, the C's may not be able to do it, anyway — the Bulls' schedule is easier — but let's stow the talk about not trying.

  • kricky

    I think your analysis is spot on. We fall short 1-2 games, which is amazing considering all these damned injuries.

    That sets us up to face Knicks in round one or Indiana (if the 'bockers continue to stumble).

    I like our chances vs both. I think the 'bockers will get rattled and collapse if they lose one more close game to us like they did the last 2 at MSG.

    I would NOT want to see Philly in RD 1.

    • KBA

      yea no Philly please…
      even if we end up behind the bulls, hopefully our record is better than the lakers in case we meet them in the finals…. only a half game ahead of them right now

  • dslack

    1. I agree that home-court would be nice.

    But…

    2. I think last year proved how unimportant home-court advantage is. The Celtics beat higher-seeded Cleveland and Orlando without home-court advantage. In the Finals, the Celtics had 3 of the first 5 games in Boston and went to LA up 3-2. Then, they lost their starting center and lost the series — but still nearly had a chance to win it, and were up by until 7 minutes remained in the game. I think losing Perk was much more costly than not having home-court. To see why, consider two alternatives:
    (a) They don't have home-court, so they return to LA up 3-2 just like last year, but they also don't lose Perk.
    (b) They do have home-court, so they play 3 of the first 5 in LA, they return to Boston down 3-2, and they DO they lose Perk early in game 6.

    I'd much rather have situation (a). Do they lose both game 6 and game 7 with a healthy squad? They could, but I think they'd have a decent chance. On the flip side, do they sweep games 6 and 7 without Perk, even if the games are in Boston? They could, but I think there's hardly any chance.

    • Chris O

      you forgot scenario c.) In which they go home up 3-2 with games 6 and 7 in Boston, both without Perk. That would b the scenario based SOLELY on changing home court.

    • David

      dslack, I agree if we had Perk in Game 7 last year, the outcome would have been different. And I also think that even without Perk, if Game 7 had been in Boston, we would have won too. But here's the deal: we don't have Perk this year, and I think almost everyone agrees this makes us more vulnerable. So if we don't have Perk and we end up not getting home court advantage (through at least the conference finals), I think we might be in big trouble (if any series goes to a Game 7). So this makes home court all the more important, given our deficiencies. We gotta fight for it. Like I said, the East is more competitive this year. We can't expect to run through everyone, like we did last year. We need that #1 seed, baby!

  • talesofJP

    Hoping we end up with Indy in round 1. Might not be better for us to face Orlando, it might be better to face the Heat, as Orlando now has a HUGE advantage down low. Still I think we at the very least make it to the ECF

  • guest

    I really hope the C's go on a big win streak with these last two games because the more I watch Chicago the more I get nervous and start to doubt their ability to beat them without home court advantage.

  • hdavenport

    First Bulls win appears to be in the books. Remember when the Hawks played really hard?

    • kricky

      2008 Playoffs Rd 1?

  • roundo5000

    gotta stay positive the cs could still be #1

  • Tom W

    I'll be at the game on 3/27! I'm so stoked. Just felt like sharing, haha.

    • David

      Tom W, I'll be at the game on Sunday too. I'm interested to see how KG will be received.

  • kricky

    Maybe #2 would actually be better as long as we end up with a better record than LA. Who would you rather face in RD 2: The Heat or Orlando? Heat are a better team but Orlando poses some match up problems now that we don't have Perk.

    • Mike

      Yeah I watched the fakers-suns game and its ridiculous how many calls they got in the OTs (especially kobe…) any bump would automatically be a foul, they would go over the back in offensive rebounds and no call whatsoever. Though the suns could've and should've won that game, all I'm saying is if game 7 in the finals is in their court you know where the calls are gonna go to… so it would be nice if we could get HCA

      • Chris O

        Over the back is similar to carrying and traveling, rarely enforced and often enforced inconsistently and in an aggravating manner!

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