CelticsBlog Round Table: Expect the last 22 games of the regular season

Bill C: In our review of our pre-season predictions, I set the benchmark at 50 wins and am sticking with it. They will have to go 16-6 with the 10th easiest league standings. This means splitting four matches against Warriors, Jazz, and Grizzlies (x2) and capturing at least one or two out of five games of Bucks, Heat, Bulls and Nets with plenty of room to maneuver. And remember this:

Boston could benefit from its competitors in the conference beating each other. I imagine if they get that far, they at least host the first round series in April.

Jack Simon: It may sound optimistic, but the 16-6 record (50-win season) feels right. And to be honest, there is a good chance of winning more than that. They have some tough matches coming up after the break, but there’s plenty of competition against mixed sub-par opponents as well. When factoring in trap games and snap wins (both ends of the spectrum for this year’s Celtics), 14-18 wins seem right depending on how they play. I will sit in the middle of these two numbers. And as much as that puts them in order, it’s hard to tell. They will most likely be around the four-seeded, but it can put them as high as two and possibly as high as six. East is close to that.

Kim Clement USA Today Sports

Keith Smith: I predicted 48 wins before the season. To reach that number, the Celtics will have to go 14-8 over their last 22 games. It sounds very possible at this 52-win pace over the course of an entire season. If Boston didn’t take a lot of weird and bad losses, it would be a good fit for the season. one key? Get off to a good start out of the break. A trip looms on the West Coast in mid-March. If Boston can get to that swing 7-2 or so, they’ll have a great shot at the strong end.

One last thing: The schedule wraps up by the end of the road in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Memphis. But who knows what teams will play at this point? These matches look tough today, but could feature teams resting for the post-season.

Neil EyreAssuming good health, the Celtics will continue their prolific play and finish the season 16-6. Their 50-32 record will likely earn them a third or fourth rating. The All-Star schedule begins after three away games against Brooklyn, Detroit and Indiana. The non-Durant/Kyrie Nets shouldn’t be a problem, they’re getting revenge on the Pistons after last week’s loss, and the Pacers’ new still swinging game shouldn’t be a problem.

Boston has a four-game Wild West Tour in mid-March with two easy games (Sacramento and Oak Sea) and two hard games (Golden State and Denver). They finished the season with a three-game road trip against the playoff lockers – Chicago, Milwaukee, and Memphis and those teams are likely to rest their players. Their remaining schedule is supposed to be on the stricter side, but I think this team is hitting their groove and they won’t slow down. The Celtics will finish the season with the highest defensive ranking in the league as well.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

Kirby Lee USA Today Sports

Tim Chiles: Even with the race in the Eastern District being tough, I think the Celtics have a chance of closing this season with 50 wins. In 2022, the Celtics scored 17-7 in 24 games, and with 22 games remaining, there is a real possibility of a shutdown with the same force.

It’s by no means a picnic, as there are some tougher competitions against Atlanta, Brooklyn (twice), Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, Memphis (twice), Miami, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Utah. On the other hand, Boston will also have softer confrontations with Detroit (twice), Indiana (twice), Charlotte, Minnesota, Sacramento and Washington.

What it will end up with is how healthy Boston is and how they react after losing that trap game to Detroit before the break, which I’m not personally concerned about. If Robert Williams and Marcus Smart come back just fine after the All-Star break, I see no reason why this team can’t pick up where they left off. I don’t think they reached their peak either.

Mike Denon: Prior to opening night, 50 wins felt like a nice, achievable run, which put the Celtics in probably third or fourth in the East. However, since they didn’t start the season well, the new drop here is a little lower at 48 wins and probably Season 5 (maybe 4). The C’s must win 8 of the 10 remaining home games and split the last 12 on the road. That would be a 14-8 result, putting them at 48-34 (58.5%) for the season, and 14 games over 0.500 – something most of us would have gladly signed up for after December.

One factor that could help Boston move up the rankings is that teams above them will eliminate each other: The Bulls and Bucks face each other three more times, and the Caves and Sixers do the same. Most of all, the Celts need to stay ahead of the Nets and Raptors to avoid falling back into the risky playing category. Prepare for two games with Brooklyn (away on February 24, at home on March 6) and a visit to Toronto (March 28). Wherever they end up in the standings, the main thing is for the Celtics to play their best in the post-season, where anything can happen.

Bobby Manning: The Celtics surprised me before the break and showed they could take a big loss in their rotation, when Robert Williams sat third and Boston beat 76 players in historic fashion last week. Two appetizers? That dropped the Celtics down to the level of the Detroit Pistons, for at least one night.

Ime Udoka, Jayson Tatum, and others continue to emphasize that full health is key to Boston’s transformation. If so, I’m still worried about what the health of Smart and Williams III might dictate after the break. Odoka said he didn’t think the injury, a sprained ankle and calf, would be long-term concerns, but the same was said for the hamstring that Jaylene Brown injured earlier in the season.

Fortunately, if full health is in order, the Celtics can go on to cut wins across the season, starting with the Nets unlikely to play Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, and Kyrie Irving at home. And from there Detroit, Indiana and the Hawks come home again. Let’s say Boston sweeps this stretch of matches, knocking down Grizzlies and Hornets matches, defeating the Nets and Pistons at home, then falling to the Mavs, then splitting the West Coast trip, cracking six straight games against Utah, Minnesota, Toronto, Miami, Indiana and Washington ( possible with health), then go 1-2 on a road trip to close out the year, bringing the Celtics to 15-7.

If that number drops by two or three games in the wrong direction due to injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I’m optimistic about the final stage and the defensive strategy the Celtics are implementing with Robert Williams third away from the ball he’s opposing teams seem unable to resolve. There is a world where there are many players in and out of the squad as Boston plays near the .500 slot that we saw earlier in the year. If they are healthy, I see no reason why this group should not storm to the finish line, with only 2-5 matches remaining very tough, three of those coming at the tail end, while the rest can become a factor. The Celtics have benefited from injuries and somewhat conflicting absences in their recent career and projects will continue in the early and late parts of their remaining schedule. This group may be sitting at the center of the court when the regular season ends.