Tuesday, May 26, 2020

ESPN projected Boston at #2 last season also. They finished 4th.

I am still not sure ESPN has any affection for the Boston Celtics, but they did put Boston in second place to finish in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are surrounded by the Milwaukee Bucks in first place and the Philadelphia 76’ers in third spot.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton bases the predictions on a mathematical scheme referred to as Real Plus/Minus (RPM). Pelton rationalizes that the loss of Al Horford and Aron Baynes would put a damper on the Celtics defensive capabilities (and I agree), but the guys in green have enough defensive wings to create just enough havoc with opponents (per ESPN’s Kevin Pelton):

2. Boston Celtics
Average wins: 47.4
Playoffs: 95%

The Celtics are one of four teams projected by RPM to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, something they quietly pulled off last season despite underperforming expectations. With the departures of Aron Baynes and Al Horford, defense could be the greater challenge, but Boston has strong defenders on the perimeter, led by NBA All-Defensive first-team pick Marcus Smart.

So, what were ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus predictions last season – you may ask. Same as this year – second in the East. Well, we know Boston finished fourth in the East, so even mathematical predictions can be wrong. We know the Eastern Conference is up for grabs this season, so I will accept second place. But we all know that the Bucks season is absolutely locked in to Giannis Antetokounpo. Is the NBA season here yet??

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel and @_Celtics_Center

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