Category Archives: Boston Celtics

A follow up on the Celtics, Lakers, and what only the 2007 Mavericks have done to them

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I think I made my new Twitter avatar?

The first related post can be found here.

Nearly four months ago (!!!), both the Celtics and Lakers came into the season with very average expectations, even the possibility each could contend for a top-3 pick in this summer’s draft. Only in 1994 had both teams come close to such an occasion, when Larry Bird was two seasons into retirement and one season before a brief comeback by Magic Johnson.

But even during that season, no team accomplished the near-impossible feat of winning more games than the Celtics and Lakers combined. It’s only happened once, back in 2007 when the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games to Los Angeles’ (41-41) and Boston’s (24-58) combined 65.

It’s difficult enough to say one team could win more than any random two combined, let alone two of the most storied franchises, but right now the current chances are as good as ever. Below is table with teams with either more wins than the Celtics and Lakers combined or within reach.

 

The Lakers (18-35) are on their last legs with a depleted roster missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and even Nick Young and others while Boston (19-35) has won four of their last six, but are 6-17 in 2014 overall. The trade deadline also looms with an outside chance each franchise parts with key players, either the Lakers with Pau Gasol or the Celtics with Rajon Rondo. They also have other tradable pieces and, of course, the chance to acquire more lottery balls.

Another similar, weird accomplishment came in 1997 when the Clippers won more than the Celtics and Spurs. Maybe one day we’ll look back at 2014 when a few teams won more than the Celtics and Lakers, which is incredible in itself as both are bound to reload through the draft and free agency, but we could also say the same about a team winning more than the collective total of two teams like the Pelicans and 76ers.

Revisiting Boston’s odds to win the Atlantic

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Paul Keleher | Flickr

About a month before the season, LVH SuperBook at Las Vegas released their 2013-14 NBA Division odds as well as over/under win totals for each team.

While the win totals provide for plenty of discussion five weeks into the season, betting the correct side of the over/unders yields only so much of a return on the initial investment (unless you can do a parlay). Going far against the odds when picking division winners, however, could mean loads of winnings if everything comes to place. Let’s take a look at the one division where that could most likely happen: the Atlantic.

Once again, odds are according to LVH SuperBook:

Brooklyn Nets: 4-7

New York Knicks: 3-2

Toronto Raptors: 10-1

Boston Celtics: 60-1

Philadelphia 76ers: 500-1

Boston currently holds a three-game lead over Brooklyn and New York. That’s nothing at this point, especially when Boston’s goals this season are likely different from the two favorites coming into the season, but it makes you wonder if anyone put a wager on the Celtics’ hopes in the Atlantic as a joke (ahem, Bill Simmons?) then recently started following it closer than expected because you never know.

Currently, John Hollinger’s odds of the Celtics winning the Atlantic are 62.4 percent, something I don’t agree with since it doesn’t seem to take into account recent transactions and how much of an impact the 2014 Draft has on certain teams. Toronto, for instance, has a 63.2 percent chance of making the playoffs (26.5 percent to win the division).

I’ll bet against that when they just traded Rudy Gay, which is addition by subtraction but still; Toronto will make another move soon. Kyle Lowry seems to be the latest Raptor on the block, but we could see more players shipped in the near future. The same could be said for Boston, but probably not until they get a feel for what the team is like with Rajon Rondo.

The odds are sure to change after this week. Boston plays at Brooklyn tonight and hosts New York on Friday, the latter in an eight-game stretch where seven are at home. We might even see Boston on top of the Atlantic for the rest of December, one of the bigger surprises this season probably to both fans and those who bet in their favor.

Also, if you were wondering, Portland was 10-1 to win the Northwest.

The Celtics, the Lakers, and what only the 2007 Mavericks have done to them

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Mediocrity has been a rarity for two of the NBA’s most storied franchises: the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Their accomplishments have been discussed several times such as the 33 championships, 52 Finals appearances overall, and over 6,000 regular season victories between the two.

Only once in over 60 years have both teams either missed the playoffs or finished below .500 in the same season. That was in 1994, just the second season since Larry Bird’s retirement and two seasons before a brief comeback by Magic Johnson. It’s a rude awakening when I normally think of that decade ending only yesterday.

The 2006-07 season was the last time both teams came in with average expectations. The Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant, Smush Parker, and Kwame Brown finished 41-41. Paul Pierce, Al Jefferson, a rookie named Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics limped to the finish line at 24-58, winning only 12 of their final 50 games. Their slump might’ve had something to do with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant being near-locks as 2007 NBA Draft participants. (For more 2007 nostalgia, check out a post I devoted to that entire year.)

2007 didn’t join 1994 where both teams missed the playoffs or finished below .500, but something else funky happened in the regular season and for the very first time in league history: A team won more games than the Celtics and Lakers combined.

That team was the Dallas Mavericks.

If not for the title run in 2011, mentioning the 2007 version of Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks might sting more than compliment. Even then, it’s worth noting there’s some degree of difficulty for a random team to win more than two other random ones, let alone the Celtics and Lakers. Last season, the two worst teams in the NBA last season, the Magic and Bobcats, combined for 41 wins. The 10th and 11th worst teams, Toronto and Portland, combined for 67. That 2007 Mavericks team is the last to match such an amount.

The likelihood of catching both the Celtics and the Lakers in underwhelming seasons and winning more than both of them combined speaks for itself. Dallas accomplished something nobody had done before despite opportunities for teams in the mid-90s, 2005, and 2006 to be the first to do so. Maybe Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of 1993 and 1994 would’ve been the first, but that’s just one of several coulda-shoulda-wouldas with Jordan’s first retirement.

The mid-2010s may bring another opportunity for a team to join the likes of the ’07 Mavericks for multiple reasons: injuries to the Celtics and Lakers’ franchise cornerstones in 2013, a haul of very average players for each team, both conferences being more beefed up at the top, and the tankapalooza that will lead up to 2014 NBA Draft. The window to win more than the Celtics and Lakers combined could close after this season if A) the Lakers make a huge splash in free agency like they intend and B) Boston rebuilds successfully through a loaded draft.

For now, the chance is there.

Hopefully joining the ’07 Mavericks in a rare regular season feat doesn’t come with their playoff disappointment as well. If anything crazy happens, however, teams that win more games than the Celtics and Lakers combined in a single season win a championship four years later. 100 percent of the time.

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