Brad Stevens admits Celtics could be better than last year and still also be worse

OK, that's not exactly what Coach Stevens said (and the title is meant to be a little silly), but I think it sums up the point he was trying to make.  It's a topic I brought up last week when USA Today picked Boston to finish 10th in the East in 2015-16.

By all accounts, the Celtics should be an improved basketball team this season.  They have more talent, the young players are a year older and the key pieces have had more time to gel together.

But, the club didn't make any major moves and is probably just marginally better.  A slight upgrade won't necessarily translate to more wins or a higher playoff seed.  Squads like Indiana or Miami could easily have made greater advances and leapfrog Boston in the standings.

Via Mass Live's Jay King, Stevens said:

We have to play better than last year overall to make the playoffs again. The East is better. Teams that didn't make it really improved. We were as close to 12th as we were to fourth. So time will tell if we make the right strides. But if we take shortcuts or if we're not connected, we won't. So that's our job early on.

I can't imagine Stevens will allow his guys to get cocky, and my guess is the C's win about 45 games this season.  However, if they fail to climb in the standings (or possibly even regress), it may be more a reflection of others than themselves.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan