Setting the over/under on wins for the 2013-2014 Boston Celtics
Rondo's return date puts it all in the balance.
If you'd like to make a bet in Vegas on what the Celtics record will be this year, the current over/under is listed at 27.5 wins. Ouch. Recently the folks at Yahoo! Ball Don't Lie predicted Boston to finish at 16-66. Wow. For a frame of reference, the worst record in the entire league last season was Orlando's 20-62. I can't imagine this year's C's can possibly be that bad.
Even if Rajon Rondo comes back much later than expected, Jeff Green rarely shows us the good Jeff Green, Avery Bradley doesn't develop offensively, the new guys all underachieve, and the team suffers a variety of other injuries, I'd still predict the worst case scenario to be around 22-60.
But let's say the opposite happens: Rondo doesn't miss much time, Green, Bradley, and Jared Sullinger all improve, and everybody else stays healthy and lives up to or exceeds expectations, I'd expect the best case scenario to land at roughly 40-42.
Splitting the difference between those two, I'll set the over/under for wins this year at 31. Granted the 1-6 preseason so far (with the single victory being over a Knicks team that left its starters at home) is less than encouraging, as are Gerald Wallace's and Green's remarks that Boston is being out-hustled. One of the main reasons I believe the Celtics will win more games than most people do is the potential for Brad Stevens to get his players to work harder than their opponents. There are a lot of contests over the course of a season that are won by effort rather than talent. But if that's not happening, all bets are off.
Still, the season ticket holding fan in me can't help but be an optimist. I'm going to assume that Rondo is ready to go (and performing at at All-Star caliber level) by mid-December. For my own personal prediction I'll take the best case scenario, then scale it back by five for extra games they may drop in the first month and a half before Rondo returns. My guess is Boston will finish this year with a 35-47 record.