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ESPN rates the Boston Celtics as the 16th best team to defeat the Golden State Warriors. It is not only ridiculous. It is insulting. The Bucks, Nuggets, Jazz, Hornets and Pelicans are all ahead of us. I am amazed we beat out the Nets. What perverted scheme was employed to come up with this list? In the past 10 years we have a 9-10 win-loss record against the Dubs. For the past two seasons we are even at two and two, with Boston winning both games in Golden State. One of the two losses at Boston was a double-overtime affair.



First of all, it needs to be noted that Kevin Durant played in only one of these games, a loss by Boston (104-88). Is that why our rating is so low? One game? The GS starters in that game were Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia. Boston started Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. For Boston, Al Horford and Jae Crowder were out. I am sure GS sorely missed Damian Jones and Anderson Verejao. All four players did not play.

In the double-overtime loss in Boston (2015-16 season), the Celts started Bradley, Thomas, Johnson, Crowder and Jared Sullinger. Golden State started Curry, Green, Ian Clark, Brandon Rush and Andrew Bogut. Thompson was out with an injury but Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli and Shaun Livingston all played big minutes off the bench and contributed a total of 37 points and 25 rebounds. In the two wins, the Celtics starters were Thomas/Bradley/Horford/Crowder/Johnson for one and Thomas/Sullinger/Bradley/Johnson and Evan Turner for the other.

ESPN rated us at #16? That's a joke, right.

So I still don't get it. I thought these ratings were for this season. So let's take a look at the Warrior's projected lineup at the end of the upcoming season's playoff games. That would be Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Iguodala. Ours is uncertain, but it may be Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Horford, Gordon Hayward and either Marcus Morris or Terry Rozier, depending on the health, fit and progress of these two players. There would also be a possibility of that fifth starter being Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or another Celt that surprises us in the regular season.

You have now seen the numbers and players. I believe ESPN used that single game in Boston, with Golden State having their full, current crew on the floor, as the major determinant for the ratings. The final score was 104 to 88 in favor of GS. The Warriors had everybody and we still did not have Al, Kyrie or Gordon. And we still have Terry Rozier who played very well in that game. He played 25.32 minutes and had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He shot 3-5 from the field, 2-3 on three-pointers and 3-4 from the foul line. I think Terry would be a key against Golden State, as would Marcus Smart. Here is MassLive's Tom Westerholm on five teams ahead of Boston and his thoughts on the Celtics:

8. Oklahoma City Thunder: This seems low!

10. Miami Heat: The team that chased (and didn't get) the star free agent who signed with the Celtics?

13. Utah Jazz: The team that lost its star free agent to the Celtics?

14. Charlotte Hornets: Hmm.

15. New Orleans Pelicans: Hmmmm.

Still, the Celtics have reason to believe they could at least push Golden State. The team is made up of switchable players who can guard multiple positions -- a must against a potent Warriors offense. They also have Irving, who has proven deep into the playoffs that he can burn even the Warriors' stifling defense when his team needs a bucket.

The Warriors are (and should be) heavily favored against just about every team, but the Celtics have players that make life difficult on paper. We will see whether that proves true.

So there you have it. I honestly can not see many fans of any team believing the Celts should be at #16 on this list. I am sure that the Hmmmm's by Westerholm for Charlotte and New Orleans signify disbelief. And the Thunder at number eight does seem low, as he indicated. I believe the CelticsLife mailbag will be full once this article goes up. A lot of our readers are skeptical of some ESPN polls and ratings. ESPN used real plus-minus (RPM) values to determine these ratings. The results alone may indicate that this mathematical exercise should be abandoned. Hmmmm?

Photo credit: Winslow Townson/AP Photo

Tom Lane 10/11/2017 01:22:00 PM Edit
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