The squad finished 25-57 last year, tied with the Utah Jazz for the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Despite the poor record, there were some positives to take away from the season.
Rajon Rondo returned from a knee injury to perform well, averaging 11.7 points and 9.8 assists in 30 games. If he had enough games to qualify, he would have ranked second in the NBA in assists.
Additionally, young players like Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger took big strides to be productive on both ends of the court.
If these players continue to improve, the Celtics will see a lot more success on the court. Rookies Marcus Smart and James Young should both provide an immediate boost to the rotation in their first year, while Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton could be valuable after coming over in a three-way trade.
Head coach Brad Stevens will have his hands full as he tries to make the playoffs, but a strong season is not out of the question for this rebuilding squad.
With the upcoming season's schedule announced on NBA.com, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the year.
Celtics vs. New York Knicks, Dec. 5
Any time you have a sports team from New York facing another one from Boston, it is going to be entertaining. Whether it is the Yankees against the Red Sox, the Rangers versus the Bruins or the Celtics versus the Knicks, the fans will get up for any New York-Boston rivalry.
Even though both historic franchises struggled this past season, they should each be better in 2014-15, especially with Carmelo Anthony returning to New York.
Additionally, the Knicks brought in Phil Jackson as team president, something that will only add fuel to the fire. Celtics president Rich Gotham explained to HuffPost Live, via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com:
It'll just give us one more reason to not like the Knicks. In Boston we like to have good reasons to not like the New York teams, particularly the Knicks, if you're the Celtics.
Phil, he's the guy who is the challenger to Red Auerbach's record for most titles won as a coach, so bring it on. Give us a little more fuel for the rivalry. I don't want to say anything about the people who are there now, but having a guy like Phil around, it's all good fun for us, because he's one of our nemeses.
The two teams will likely be on the brink of the playoffs this season, and every game between them will be highly competitive.
This will also be a huge test for new Knicks head coach Derek Fisher, so fans can expect the stakes to be even higher between these two teams looking to get the upper hand.
Celtics vs. Washington Wizards, Dec. 7
However, the Washington Wizards will be right in contention with one of the best young rosters in the league. John Wall and Bradley Beal create an exciting backcourt while veterans like Marcin Gortat make the team as good as anyone in the league.
This will make any matchup with the Wizards a thrilling battle to watch.
Beyond that, the backcourt competition will be something to keep an eye on. Smart was impressive during the Summer League, according to Jay King of MassLive.com:
Watching him go head-to-head against Wall and Beal alongside Rondo and Bradley will be a telling moment in the young career of the rookie guard.
Finally, the Wizards made a notable addition this summer, which impressed Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio:
Championship Odds and Season Prediction
No one is giving the Celtics much of a chance at winning the NBA championship this season. According to OddsShark.com, the squad is given 100-1 odds of taking home the title.
Only six teams have worse championship odds before the start of the 2014-15 season.
Winning is important, but the goal for the season might be a bit lower than raising the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Stevens discussed the challenge with balancing winning against developing players, via Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:
I mean, everything’s better when you win. The plane ride’s better, the food tastes better, everything. And losing is miserable. There’s no two ways around it. But at the same time, it is also fun to see progress. You can’t always see it day-to-day. You can’t always measure it day-to-day. But you can feel it when it’s happening, and when you take a step back and watch, I feel like we’re making good strides.
The good news is that the talent is there to succeed. If Stevens can continue to get the most out of all of his players, the group can at least challenge for a playoff spot.
Unfortunately, the lack of experience will prevent the squad for getting one of the top-eight spots in an improving Eastern Conference. It will be an improved year, but the team will fall short of the postseason once again.
Predicted Record: 36-46
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