Who Has a Better Shot at the Postseason: Lakers or Celtics
Thirty-three NBA titles. Six future hall-of-famers. The greatest rivalry in NBA history.
The two most storied franchises in NBA history have only missed the playoffs in the same year once (1993-1994), and yet, here we are a little more than half way through the 2012-2013 season, with the Celtics barely holding onto 8th place and the Lakers struggling to stay in 10th.
Paul Pierce has been playing the worst basketball of his career, missing the All-Star game for the first time since 2007. Rajon Rondo, who literally generates everything for the Celtics offensively, is now out for the season with a torn ACL. Kevin Garnett, the team’s only true big man, can’t log too many more than 30 minute games. This leaves a struggling Pierce, Jason Terry, and a group of mediocre veterans to save the C’s season and hold on to that 8th seed.
Luckily for the Celtics, their struggles have been out-shined by those of the Lakers, who SportsCenter has turned into a bigger laughing stock than well, the New York Jets. Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol have all missed time, but there is really no good excuse for the team to be under .500 with that much talent. Highlights of the Lakers’ season include: firing their coach after 5 games, not hiring Phil Jackson, the complete misuse of Pau Gasol, Mike D’Antoni absolutely running the Lakers’ old legs into the ground, and Kobe Bryant calling out Dwight Howard…twice… (Oh, and Kobe got a Twitter, which is actually pretty sweet). The team costs a fortune, and now must fight tooth and nail to steal the 7th or 8th seed from Utah; not exactly the plan Mitch Kupchak had in mind when he brought together four hall-of-famers.
The Eastern Conference is down right awful. I’m talking even worse than Tony Romo in a big time game, and we all know how bad that is. The 8th place Celtics hold a 3-game lead over the 9th place Sixers, who this offseason via a three-way trade ended up swapping Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum who has still not played a game. Switch Louis Williams for Nick Young (Williams is much better), get rid of Elton Brand, and you’re looking at 76ers team that lost three of their best four players, and still only sit three games back of the Celtics, with Andrew Bynum set to return sometime near the all-star break. The more I write, the less positive it gets, but it is worth noting the other two teams competing for the bottom two spots are the Bucks and the Pistons. If the Celtics can’t beat out one of them, Red Auerbach will be rolling over in his grave and Danny Ainge will probably need to blow up the team in the offseason. One last actual positive note for the Celtics: in the last three 82 game seasons, the Eastern Conference eighth seed had records of 37-45, 41-41, and 39-43.
Well, the Lakers can’t play much worse, right? A big win against the Thunder last week should give the team some momentum, and the #CountOnKobe hash tag has people believing the Mamba can turn this thing around. The schedule isn’t too daunting either. Over the rest of the season, the Lakers only have one more game against the Heat, Spurs, and Thunder, and two against the Clippers. They also get the Suns and Timberwolves twice, and still get to face the Wizards, Bobcats, Raptors and Magic one more time each. The Lakers biggest feat will be overcoming their awful start, which may have been bad enough to make the 7 seed their ceiling, which ultimately means a first round massacre from the Thunder or Spurs.
Ultimately, I see the Lakers getting in and the Celtics going home (barring a blockbuster deal for either team).