BOSTON (CBS) — The hopes are high for the revamped Boston Celtics, but with the Warriors still a super team, most feel it’s a little too much to expect a team with 11 new players to go out and win an NBA Championship in their first season together.
But some ESPN projections have Celtics fans shouting, “So you’re telling us there’s a chance?!?” on Wednesday.
ESPN’s preseason Basketball Power Index (BPI) is leaning heavily towards a Golden State Warriors repeat, giving Steph Curry, Kevin Durant (and his Twitter accounts) and company a 57.9 percent chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next summer. Join the club, right?
The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs sit behind the Warriors in the BPI system, but it’s the new look Celtics who have the second-best chance at winning it all next year. ESPN is giving the Celtics a 12.1 percent chance of fulfilling those Banner 18 dreams that have filled the heads of green teamers ever since Gordon Hayward signed on the dotted line and Kyrie Irving came to Boston in a blockbuster swap with the Cavaliers.
Boston’s BPI rating is +4.9, fourth-best in the NBA behind the Warriors, Rocket and Spurs. Despite that, the C’s are the second-most-likely to win the Finals because they are in the East.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are sixth in BPI (+3.8) and have the fifth-best chance to win it all, at 6.4 percent. The Celtics and Cavs have a 55.8 percent and 27.9 percent chance, respectively, to be the No. 1 seed in the East.
A Celtics-Warriors NBA Finals is EPSN’s most likely matchup, coming in at 25 percent.
It goes without saying that a lot can happen between now and June, and “projections” are a heck of a lot different what happens when guys actually put on their uniforms and hit the hardwood. But those around the league are extremely high on the Celtics heading into the season, with Boston’s expected win total at 54.1 according to ESPN’s BPI . It’s the second-highest in the NBA after the Warriors’ 63.1 projected victories. The Cavaliers sit at 51.8 projected wins.
Those are some pretty lofty expectations, ones the Celtics should be able to live up to after Danny Ainge spent the summer trying to build a legit title contender. But it’s going to take some time for their completely revamped roster to mesh, which could hurt their win total, and while finishing in the NBA’s Final Four should be the floor for their expectations, going to the Finals won’t be an easy path by any stretch with LeBron James still in a Cavaliers uniform.
The hype around the Celtics is very real, and the best news is it won’t be hype for much longer. Training camp tips off next week, with opening night against the Cavaliers less than a month away. We’re inching closer and closer to the Celtics trying to turn these lofty expectations into a reality.