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Hollinger: The Celtics are a Tier B contender

Chuck - Red's Army December 22, 2011 Uncategorized 9 Comments

ESPN's John Hollinger ranks the Celtics 3rd in the East in his season forecast:

It's amusing that the same Celtics fans who wanted Jeff Green tarred and feathered last spring now think they're hosed because he's out for the season. It's a loss, but he's a backup small forward and they can do other things with their lineups to mostly cover his absence. As long as they can avoid playing Sasha Pavlovic in an actual game, they'll be fine.

The more worrying problem for Boston is the grueling nature of the schedule, which will be magnified for the Celtics because of their age and mediocre bench. The theft of Brandon Bass from Orlando should help, and I suspect they'll get a lot more from Jermaine O'Neal than they did last season. Still, this team tied for 17th in offensive efficiency in 2010-11 and should be mediocre again; Boston is counting on its defense being at or near the top of the league to keep it in contention.

Perhaps it will be, but the combination of age, schedule and coaching staff defections (Tom Thibodeau left two years ago and Lawrence Frank this past offseason) might cause some slippage. All of Boston's bench players are good defenders except offseason pickup Chris Wilcox, but the C's still will have great difficulty retaining their No. 2 ranking in defensive efficiency.

Here's one other bummer for Boston: There are no games before Christmas this year. Over the past four seasons, the Celtics were a ridiculous 94-14 (.870) before Santa's arrival and a much more pedestrian 140-80 (.636) afterward.

In the big picture, the Celtics shape up for this season as Mavericks East: They're a Tier B contender, but rather than ride their veterans slowly down the tubes, they've built around short-term contracts and given themselves an opportunity to completely reshape the roster after the season. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are the only rotation players with contracts for next year, presuming Bass opts out, and Boston will have more than $20 million in cap space and two first-round picks next summer. 

I don't think the Celtics are hosed w/o Jeff Green, but if you refuse to believe he's a valuable piece of the bench than you are crazy. His absence will hurt this team.

How can the Celtics have a mediocre offense when they led the league in FG%? 

As for the schedule, it's going to impact every team. Old and young. While I'm not thrilled with the Celtics bench, I'm not sure it's mediocre. The problem with the Celtics bench last year was that it fell apart. Shaq, Delonte and Marquis Daniels missed a ton of games. This group can contribute, if the bodies stay in tact.

Hollinger has Miami and Chicago ahead of Boston. I can't argue with that. 

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/the_bantam the_bantam

    I must be biased. Is Pavlovic really that bad? He isn’t going to compete for 6th man awards but I think he is more than serviceable.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/sondler Jerry Sondler

    Between the brutal schedule…age…loss of Green…weakness at center.
    I`ll be stunned if they can finish 33-33.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/paulmkane2001 Paulmkane2001

    It’s nice to see that someone is at least willing to entertain some realism, even if this goes too far. We just can’t say right now how well this team will do. They could have a brilliant season. It could be a train wreck.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/paulmkane2001 Paulmkane2001

    The problem with the Celtics offense is that they have turned into a jump shooting team that doesn’t hit the offensive glass, and that constantly slows the game down. As a result, their excellent shooting doesn’t translate to as many points as it should. I’m not saying that they should suddenly turn into a running team that constantly hangs out under the offensive board. I’m saying that they need to rebound on offense a bit more, while varying the pace quite a bit more. If they combine this with their typically strong ball movement and shooting, they could be terrific.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p011571d4119a970b Lex

    28 to 32 wins

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01157053529f970b zippittyay

    40 -26

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rtcoaster Shawncvd

    impossible unless injury bug hits hard.
    Boston will have home court in first round this year.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/sondler Jerry Sondler

    I`m betting on “train wreck”!
    -Twenty {20} times they`ll play back-to-back games
    -First 8 games of the season will be played in an 12 day span
    -They`ll play 11 games between April 4-18 {2 weeks}
    From the moment they traded Perkins {along with Shaq going down}, the Celtics became strictly a “finesse” team.
    Those jump shots better fall…No hope of getting second shots.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/david116 David

    Just curious… where do you guys rate Hollinger as a NBA analyst?
    Tier C non-contender
    I don’t know how the dude has a job… to be truthful. If he was a stockbroker… fired.