Grab bag: How many games will the Celtics win?

Grab bag: How many games will the Celtics win?
August 21, 2013, 9:30 am
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Celtics players are no different than most of their NBA brethren, spending these last few weeks prior to training camp returning to their respective cities while gearing up to meet various goals and expectations for the upcoming season.

The goals of this latest edition of the Green Team are no different than their predecessors: They want to win as many games as they can -- period.

But the expectations both from within and from the outside, are different.

No longer can the C's frown upon a 45-win season or a second round playoff exit.

If that's where they stand when the 2013-2014 season is over, there's a very good chance that Brad Stevens will have to clear some space on the mantle for his Coach of the Year trophy and Rajon Rondo will be a top-five finisher in the league MVP race.

Celtics Nation would love to see the season play out in that fashion.

But knowing who they have now relative to who they have had in recent years, has created a much more subdued, gloomier outlook on this season.

So as we dig into our social media grab bag this week,  well ... let's hear from @jonnyrube who asks, "will the Celtics win 25 games this year?"

The answer to that is pretty easy: No.

The Celtics will not win 25 games this year.

Chins off the floor, people. They'll win more.

As big a drop as this Celtics team will take compared to what we've seen since the 2008 title squad, this crew has too much talent to hit rock bottom which truthfully would be a 25-win season.

There are too many teams (Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte, to name a few) that will stink more than the Celtics this season. Winning 50 games is a pipe dream, but this squad should surpass the 30-win plateau.

Heading into the final month of the season sniffing at having a .500 record and a likely playoff berth that would come with such an accomplishment isn't that far fetched, either.

Of course a lot of things would have to break right for the Celtics to have that kind of success. Namely, they'll need a healthy Rajon Rondo.

He is the one Celtic who is more than just a talented player. Rondo is a four-time All-Star who has an advantage over his opponent just about every time he steps on the floor.

And let's not forget that he has proven himself to be a true game-changing, difference-maker when the stakes seem to be at their apex.

Of course he has done this in a vacuum in which he was surrounded by Hall of Famers Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen who are all gone now.

And then there's that torn ACL injury he suffered in January and wasn't operated on until the middle of February. Bouncing back in a timely fashion and regaining his pre-injury form isn't a sure thing.

But if there's something Rondo has taught all of us during his time in Boston, it's this: Regardless of the circumstances surrounding him, you can never, ever count him out.

@KenCrites wants to know, "Where do you think (Kelly) Olynyk will get most of his minutes this year, PF or C?"

Olynyk is a legit 7-footer, but that doesn't mean you can slot him in at the center position.

He is part of a new generation of NBA big men who tend to be more effective facing the basket rather than a tradition back-to-the-rim baller.

During summer league play in Orlando in July, the Celtics' first-round pick showcased a well-rounded game that included nice low post moves along with a solid face-up game.

But it was quite noticeable that his lack of overall strength will make him a liability at the center position if he is asked to play it for an extended period of time.

That's why the bulk of his minutes are likely to come at power forward which in this current state of the NBA, consists of players who are basically lengthy small forward-types that should make for better potential matchups for Olynyk.

Now there will be times when the C's will go extra small and Olynyk may indeed find himself manning the middle. But you can count on those times being few and far between this season.

Best-case scenario for the C's is for Olynyk to continue developing the skills he has already displayed, and gradually expand his game and his overall strength to where he can someday become a player that the Celtics feel equally confident can play both power forward and center if needed.

And what would a mailbag be without at least one trade-related question, right?

@joshdcaredeo wants to know, "Are the C's still looking to trade Wallace and/or Humphries?"

The Celtics don't exactly have the "For Trade" signs on Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, but it's no secret that both players remain available.

That said, both are expected to be with the Celtics when the season begins.

Teams want to see if Wallace simply had a bad year last season, or whether his game has fallen off as far as many fear.

Remember, the 31-year-old plays a high energy, seemingly reckless brand of basketball (hence his nickname "Crash") that can wear out the best-conditioned athletes over time.

That decline coupled with a contract that has more than $30 million still owed to him over the next three years, makes him someone that will have to play well early on in order to have any significant trade market value.

And if he's playing that well, the Celtics will have to then think long and hard about moving him.

Considering how motivated they are to avoid becoming a repeat luxury tax offender, moving Wallace for an expiring contract or a player with fewer years, may be too enticing a deal for the Celtics to pass up regardless of how well Wallace might be playing or the fact that his contract contains a $1 million All-Star incentive that's unlikely to be met.

As for Humphries, there's no sense of urgency or necessity to move him. He's in the final year of a deal that pays $12 million a season. You can bet Humphries will be motivated to play his way into another lucrative deal.

Meanwhile, Humphries gives the Celtics a proven veteran who can rebound at a high level given enough minutes on the floor.

The 28-year-old has had two seasons in which he averaged a double-double scoring and rebounding. Those are the only two seasons (2011 and 2012) he averaged more than 27 minutes played per game.

Coincidence? Nope.

A rebounder. An expiring contract. A player who is experienced, but still relatively young.

For a team that's rebuilding, those are the kind of players you want on your roster heading into training camp where the faces are different while the primary goal -- to win as many games as possible -- remains the same.