BOSTON (CBS) — It’s still early in the season, but the Celtics have already surpassed many preseason expectations. They’re 7-12, which isn’t great, until you consider that some pundits and fans called for the team to have one of its worst seasons in franchise history.
Losing, they said, would have brought the opportunity for a great reward — a spot in the draft lottery and the chance to possibly draft Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Talk of such “tanking” for a lottery pick became commonplace prior to the season, but it was quieted a bit when the Celtics won four straight, including a road game in Miami.
Yet forward Jared Sullinger said Monday that he still hears “tanking” talk from outside the organization, and that it bothers him.
“A lot of guys expect us to just tank for Parker or Wiggins. I mean, y’all might as well throw that out the door. I don’t know why people keep talking about tanking,” Sullinger said when asked about the team possibly eyeing a playoff spot come the end of the year. “We’ve got competitors around here. We’re really not like that. We don’t care if Jeff [Green] averages 20 or I average 8; we just want to win. We just want to win and show everybody that y’all can kiss our butts about that tanking stuff.”
The Celtics currently sit a game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Yet the conference has just two teams (Miami, Indiana) with records better than .500, so there’s no reason to consider any team out of playoff contention this early in the season.