The Boston Celtics as of this writing are 45 and 12 and about to add Sam Cassell as the veteran PG. This is probably the only question mark the Celtics had going forth. Cassell has had championship experience with Olajowan and the Rockets. He always seemed to make the right play out there and made all the critical shots and never got rattled. Young Rondo is playing well, but his 1st foray into the playoffs will expose his lack of experience particulary against Chauncey Billups. I think getting Cassell will help that matchup problem.
The Celtics have a big game coming up Wednesday against the Pistons. I think this is the final matchup against our closest EC rival and likely opponent in the ECF. A win here gives the C's a 4 game cushion and the Season series victory as well as a slight psychological advantage going forward. This could be Cassells debut.
PJ Brown was added to shore up rebounding and defense. It is a nice addition but I don't think it will have much effect unless Powe, Davis, or Perkins are injured. If anything, it will make Pollard expendable. I wish we could trade Scalabrine with somebody after this season but he onlyhas two more years on his contract and he is relatively cheap insurance.
The Celtics have had a couple of rough stretches - In January against the Wizz and Charlotte and those 3 west coast games coming out of the All-star break. The team has limited their losing streaks and have been competitive in all but two losses (home loss to Charlotte and that brutal loss to Phoenix). Both times, they bounced back with five game winning streaks.
Anyways, tonight I will summarize the road to be taken to bring home #17 this June. The Celtics will be best served by clinching home court throughout the playoffs. I don't see anybody from the West threatening Detriot or Boston for best overall record this year if only because they will be knocking each other off trying to get into the field. They will all converge with 48 to 55 victories. Boston only has one more really tough stretch with the 4 games in Texas and New Orleans. Detriot has to play in Cleveland twice and has two more against Toronto plus two home games against San Antonio and Phoenix. I think Boston will finish at 64 wins while Detriot wins 62 times.
Expected seedings: 1. Boston 2. Detriot 3. Orlando 4. Cleveland 5. Washington 6. Toronto 7. Atlanta 8. Philadelphia ; I like Washington to finish strong with Gilbert Arenas coming back and Atlanta and Philadelphia to keep coming. I expect New Jersey to fade away. Indiana has O'Brien as HC, nuff said. Chicago, Milwaukee, and Charlotte are good enough to play spoilers but are longshots to make the playoffs. The other two teams simply stink and most be blown up. I'll bet Marion must really be kicking himself for refusing to go to Boston last summer. Look at him now.
OK here are the hypothetical playoff matchups for round 1 - Boston vs Philadelphia; Detriot vs Atlanta; Orlando vs Toronto; Cleveland vs Washington. I expect Boston and Detriot to advance quickly. The other two series will be toss-ups. I'll say that Orlando and Washington advance. Now the 2nd round gets interesting - Boston has had trouble with Gilbert Arenas and Washington a real physical team. Detriot vs Orlando will depend on how the Sheed vs Howard matchup goes. This will be a low scoring ugly series. Still I think Boston and Detriot come out and set up the series that decides the NBA championship. The Western Conference is so evenly matched that their playoffs are starting now and that will kill the survivor. Dallas took the Lakers to OT and 10th place Portland broke LA's winning streak.
This is pure speculation on my behalf as there is lots of basketball to be played and thinks change daily in the NBA. One thing is for certain. The best team will win the NBA championship because they have to survive a challenging 82 game schedule and win 4 best of seven series. The NBA rewards success whereas other leagues I won't mention here punish success and games get exposed for bad bounces and the fact that one loss eliminates you can come down to ONE LUCKY PLAY. In consideration of the luck factor in football, a Celtics championship in 2007 would very much reduce the disappointment of the Super Bowl XLII result of the Patriots.
So this is the introductory article of the 2008 Campaign for a 17th Celtics championship. Tomorrow we do roster analysis including the newest member Sam Cassell.