Pretty good depth … Celtics should have a long rotation with bench players that are not significantly worse than the starters … They will be a tough, physical squad with players like Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson or Marcus Smart roaming the court … Perimeter defense should be pretty strong … Well-coached team that plays with effort and unselfishness.
And under weaknesses:
No stars … Starting five is not that scary … In terms of offensive firepower, they are pretty average … Not much intimidation down low … Opponents shot very good percentages around the rim vs. the Celtics in 2014-15 … They are still too young … Talent-wise they are not in a position to compete with the best in the East at this point.
All in all, very reasonable observations. The predictions, however, are a bit out of left field:
3rd in the Atlantic Division / 10th in the Eastern Conference.
While I disagree, there is some logic to pegging Boston No. 10 in the East. Mass Live's Tom Westeholm explains:
Boston could make the playoffs, but NBA success isn't necessarily linear — 7th + decent offseason doesn't automatically mean improved seed.
And while I don't see that being the case, it is a definite possibility. But third in the Atlantic Division? Where did that come from? Assuming the Raptors win it, who is going to finish second?
There's really no good option besides the Celtics. The Sixers and Knicks won a combined 35 games in 2014-15 and neither figures to be much improved this season. The Nets snagged the No. 8 seed in the playoffs behind Boston year, but they should be a lot worse in 2015-16. That's it, there aren't any other choices.
HoopsHype's Sixers preview picks them last in the division, so the mysterious overachieving second-place team is either New York or Brooklyn (previews not out yet).