The Boston Celtics can’t seem to escape the injury bug as far as Rajon Rondo is concerned. The star guard will spend the first few weeks of the season on the shelf. Maybe he can stay healthy afterward but that’ll hurt their NBA odds – especially their regular season win total.
2014-15 Regular Season Total: 26.5
Why the Celtics Will Go Over the Number
The Celtics might not make the playoffs this season due to their rebuilding project, which is really a long-term effort, but they should be able to have some perspective about injured point guard Rajon Rondo, who will miss the first few weeks of this season due to an injury suffered last month. Rondo will miss plenty of games in November, but last year, he missed 52 of 82 regular season contests. That’s a ton. If Rondo can play 60 games this season, that would be double last season’s total, and if that’s the case, the Celtics can take some real steps forward. The over-under here is probably being set as low as it is because people aren’t convinced Rondo can stay healthy, and because they are completely unsure of how Rondo will be able to lift a lineup that no longer has guys such as Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce on it. Rondo is not a polished shooter, so people will say he can’t score when others on the Celtics are struggling. Yet, Rondo gets other players involved and puts them in good positions on the court. This is what he does, and that’s why Boston’s placement in the NBA in assists last year (22nd) will probably go up to 15 or thereabouts if Rondo has anything to say about it. This team was 23rd in steals. Rondo would generate another boost of at least eight or nine places in the NBA if he’s able to play 60 games. Boston was 27th in free throw attempts last season. If Rondo’s playing 60, that placement should get under 20, to a much more reasonable level.
Why the Celtics Will Stay Under the Number
Boston is so depleted on its roster when you get past Rondo, Jeff Green, and Brandon Bass. There’s a lot of veteran dead wood on this team, and the younger players are still working their way into pro basketball. Jared Sullinger isn’t quick enough yet, and Kelly Olynyk carried a moderate load of minutes. He’s a project. The Celtics were 24th in defensive rebounds last season. That points to a true lack of both quality and depth in the paint. Whatever answers coach Brad Stevens tried to find, he couldn’t, and that was a reflection of the pieces he was able to turn to during the season.
What’s also at issue with the Celtics is the arrival of rookie Marcus Smart. He’s extremely talented, but he’s very raw, and he likes to handle the ball. This will create problems with Rondo, and generate conflicts that might require a lot of time to be worked out. The Celtics could struggle through February before they find out how to play together.
In the end, Rondo should lift this team above the number, so take over with your NBA picks. However, that number won’t be higher than 32 or 33.
NBA Pick: Over 26.5