We’re running with the ESPN Boston wolves over the next couple of weeks, tackling burning questions on the coming season.
Today, I took an early crack at predicting how next season will end:
Danny Ainge has done a remarkable job refashioning his roster to hang with Miami, Boston’s probable repeat opponent in next year’s Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics can now reliably single-cover Dwayne Wade with multiple defenders; field any number of younger, quicker lineups; and, with the return of Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and potential first-year contributions from Jared Sullinger, they’ve got actual NBA-quality bigs coming off the bench instead of the D-League talent littering last year’s roster.
I’d lean towards the Heat toppling Boston again because their weapons-grade small lineups are so difficult to neutralize and LeBron James found a new level of terrifying last season, but two of their best four players are injury risks. I’m uneasy about Ray Allen’s ankles and downright cynical about Dwayne Wade’s prospective health 100 games into next season. Boston has similar concerns with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but Wade, in particular, carries a heavier burden because Miami isn’t blessed with Boston’s depth. So, I’ll take the Celtics to advance to the Finals in seven thrilling games. That’s where their luck runs out against either a wisened Oklahoma City squad or the newly (and annoyingly) potent Lakers.
Hit the link for additional responses from the other panelists.