11/11/2015 04:36:00 PM
After last night's win over the Bucks, the Celtics moved to 3-3 on the young season, which got me thinking. Is this the record we thought they would have through their first six games? What does the rest of November look like? How does the rest of the schedule compare? Given the strength of their opponents this month, how many games should they win?
These are all questions I set out to answer and here is what I found:
THE PRESEASON OUTLOOK ON THEIR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER SCHEDULE
This is the most favorable stretch of 18 games on their schedule. Consider this: (1) 11 at home; and (2) four against the Nets and 76ers, who they only play a combined eight times all year, which means they play the two worst teams in the NBA as many times during their first 18 games as they do their final 64.
My preseason prediction through OCT/NOV: 11-7
THE FIRST SIX GAMES
In terms of this being a favorable, the Celtics only had to play two away from home. They also got to play against the winless 76ers. With that being said, with regard to the other five teams they played, four made the playoffs last year and the one that did not, the Indiana Pacers, have Paul George back. Moreover, that game was in Indiana and Boston was without Marcus Smart.
My preseason prediction through 6 games: 4-2
Actual record through 6 games: 3-3
REST OF NOVEMBER SCHEDULE
Including tonight's rematch with the Pacers, Boston will play 12 more times this month and six will be in Boston. Also, the combined record of the teams they face over the next 12 games is currently 41-51. Therefore, the Celtics must be prepared to take advantage of this portion of their schedule.
Given the fact the Celtics play better at home, the team should want the more difficult opponents to come to Boston. Unfortunately, while the combined record of the home opponents is 17-31, the record of the road opponents is 24-20.
Furthermore, the Celtics have three more games this month with the Nets and 76ers, who have a combined 0-14 record this season. Given the fact there is more talent over in the Western Conference, it is also helpful they only play the West three more times in November: Mavericks, Thunder and Rockets.
The one negative about the next 12 games is the fact four will on the end of a back-to-back, starting tonight against the Pacers. However, the one versus Indiana is favorable because it is being played in Boston and they have played only one game over the last five days.
Their second back-to-back will be on the road against the Thunder and then Rockets. This is easily the most difficult portion of their November schedule.
The third is at home against the winless 76ers. This should not be an issue.
The last one is also on the road with the Heat followed by the Magic. Although two tough opponents, Orlando and Miami will not involve much travel in-between. Also, the Magic game, which is the front end of the back-to-back, starts earlier than normal at 6:00 p.m. EST.
The Remaining November Games:
1. Pacers - November 11 - This seems like the perfect spot for the Celtics. Although it is the end of a back-to-back, they have only played once in the last five days. With the Pacers defeating Boston in a close game last week, it is easy to imagine the Celtics coming out tonight with a little more energy and motivation. Plus, are the Pacers for real? While they are 4-4, they are also one of only six teams in the Eastern Conference with a negative point-differential.
2. Hawks - November 13 - The Hawks are playing the Pelicans at home tonight, in which case we can assume they will be entering Friday at 8-2. This will also be the Celtics third game in four nights. However, the Celtics matched up very well last year with the Hawks.
3. at Thunder - November 15 - By the time of this game, the Celtics will have played two of their eight games away from home. As the front-end of a tough back-to-back swing through the Southwest, this is definitely the one you have to steal if you are Boston. Doing so may be easier if Kevin Durant is unable to play, as he had to leave last night's game against the Wizards with an injury.
4. at Rockets - November 16 - Houston is currently on a four-game winning streak and have three winnable ones between now and this matchup. Assuming they win all of them, the Celtics are going to get a confident Rockets bunch. That only makes the task of winning this game after playing in Oklahoma City the night before much harder.
5. Mavericks - November 18 - The Celtics return home for a very winnable game. Although a tough out in recent years, Dallas has taken a step back. Coming off what will likely have been two difficult games out West, one has to think Boston finds a way to get a win here.
6. Brooklyn - November 20 - Nets are 0-7.
7. at Brooklyn - November 22 - Did I mention the Nets are 0-7?
8. at Hawks - November 24 - Second time these two teams will meet in a matter of weeks. Always a difficult game, but will be even harder on the road. Have to wonder if the teams will split their two games, with the Celtics and Hawks protecting their home-court.
9. 76ers - November 25 - 76ers are 0-7.
10. Wizards - November 27 - I will admit to being a little concerned about the Wizards playing with an extra gear on this night given what the Celtics did to them on their home floor last week, but this is still one Boston should win.
11. at Magic - November 29 - Orlando is 2-4 this season, but has played the most difficult schedule in the NBA. The Celtics also seem to have trouble with this game every year. Remember that game at the end of last season? With a game the next night in Miami, this is one they need to find a way to win.
12. at Heat - November 30 - Miami looks really good so far this season. Not the worst back-to-back geographically, but the Magic can wear a team out and the Heat will be well-rested having had two nights off.
With four games against the two worst teams in the NBA over the first 18 games of the season, the Celtics must take advantage of this stretch.
Considering the basketball gods are handing the Celtics wins in 4 of the 18, anything less than 11-7 would be a major disappointment. In fact, with only four more against them over the final 64 games, Boston should really find a way to finish the month with 12 wins. To do so, they would have to go 8-6 in their non-BK/PHI games.
As of this evening, they have played five and won two, which means they need to 6-3 against the Pacers, Hawks, Thunder, Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks, Wizards, Magic and Heat. It would not be wise to waste this early portion of their schedule. Should be an interesting 20 days.
Question for the Readers: What do you all think? How many wins is Boston going to finish November with? Does it matter?
11/11/2015 04:36:00 PM