Boston’s NBA betting odds have taken a sharp dive since the beginning of the season, when many were predicting them to come out of the East once again and challenge for the NBA title. Now, the Celtics sit behind Chicago and Miami as the three seed, and a few people are picking them to lose in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against New York. Are we seeing the last stand of the Celtics?
General manager Danny Ainge took a huge risk by trading Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, and it is likely the move that cost the Celtics the season. That means Boston is depending on Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal to stay healthy, and we’ve seen that backfire with Shaq, while Jermaine is always a gamble and when he plays, he hasn’t been effective. Losing Robinson robbed the Celtics of bench scoring, and this piles pressure on the starters. And that’s just on the floor; Perkins and Robinson were well-liked in the dressing room and it’s still taking the Celtics time to get used to not having them around. Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green haven’t made an impact at all since coming to Boston, and coach Doc Rivers looks exasperated as to what to do with this squad.
We don’t think the Celtics will lose to the Knicks in the first round, as they still play defense well enough to keep New York quiet, and pride will also be a factor as we’re sure the Celtics have heard the rumors of their demise. However, we’re not certain that they’ll make it past the second round, where they will likely run into a Miami team that has homecourt advantage, and the Heat has also been empowered by a 23-point trouncing of the Celtics on the last weekend of the season. We don’t expect the Celtics to go down quietly, and we expect them to try and turn this into a wrestling match because they won’t be able to out-talent the Heat. But the midseason trade really put the Celtics behind the eight-ball, and we don’t see them coming back.