With the NBA regular season starting this week, the Boston Celtics are attempting to bounce back from their disappointing 2018-19 campaign. With an influx of new players and an exodus of old ones, there’s a lot of question marks about this year’s team. Here’s what experts predict for the Celtics this season.
While Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey predicts a 50-win season for the Celtics, he does so cautiously, with the departure of Al Horford being at the forefront of his concerns.
“Boston probably can’t replace his [Horford’s] contributions as a passer, shooter and defender with Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III. If it had a more suitable replacement inside, it could’ve earned more than one extra predicted win.”
While concern over the center position looms, Bailey still predicts the Celtics to finish third in the Eastern Conference this season behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
According to ESPN’s “panel of basketball experts,” the Celtics are primed for a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference, behind the 76ers and Bucks, with an expected record of 48-34. This same group of analysts also believe that Jayson Tatum could play in his first All-Star Game, with 68.2 percent of voters saying Tatum is the most likely candidate to be a first time All-Star in the Eastern Conference.
FiveThirty Eight used their new RAPTOR player rating system, a complex metric which can be described in more detail here, to determine the potential record for all thirty NBA teams. RAPTOR was not kind to the Celtics, giving them a predicted record of 45-37, which would put them fourth in the Eastern Conference behind the Bucks, 76ers, and Toronto Raptors.
They also used this metric to determine the Celtics odds at making the playoffs, which were relatively high at 89 percent, as well as their odds to win the NBA Finals, which were extraordinarily low at just two percent.
Brad Botkin presents a mixed bag for Celtics fans in his season prediction. On one hand, he predicts the Celtics will be a better team than last year, posting a 51-31 record. He attributes this bump in wins to the addition of point guard Kemba Walker.
“Kemba Walker is a stud. He’s going to come very close to canceling out whatever the Celtics lost on the court in [Kyrie] Irving, and he’s going to be worth even more in terms of the mood-change he should facilitate for this team.”
However, despite his praise for Walker and the Celtics, Botkin also predicted that the team will finish fourth in the conference, behind the Bucks, 76ers, and Indiana Pacers.
SB Nation’s Jeff Clark gave the Celtics a predicted record of 50-32, and because expectations aren’t as high as they were last season, Clark believes this team will at least be a fun team to watch.
“What we’ll be saying about Celtics at the end of the season is, ‘This team is a lot more fun than last year’s team was.’ Expectations were sky high in 2018 and the team fell on their collective faces. Expectations have been dialed way back in 2019 and there’s a clear path toward exceeding those expectations.”
A panel of eight analysts for The Atheltic predicted the final standings for the Eastern Conference this season. All eight predicted that the Celtics would finish behind at least the Bucks and 76ers, a common theme emerging from Eastern Conference standing predictions, but only five of the eight analysts believed the Celtics would finish as high as third place. One analyst, Sam Vecenie, predicted a fourth-place finish and two analysts, Joe Vardon and David Aldridge, predicted fifth-place finishes. None of the eight analysts believe the Celtics will reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Three writers for The Boston Globe all predicted third-place finishes for the Celtics this season. On the slightly more optimistic side, the Globe’s Gary Washburn predicts that the Celtics will reach the Eastern Conference Finals, but fall short to the Bucks.
“The Celtics figure out a way to edge the 76ers in the conference semifinals in an epic series while the Bucks coast against the Pacers. It’s a rematch of last year’s Bucks thumping of the Celtics,” Washburn wrote.