It's official. The Boston Celtics are going to finish with a 45-21 record in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 NBA season. You can count on it. This is the conclusion that I came to after reviewing the C's schedule, game-by-game, from start to finish.
The C's will start out with a win over the New York Knicks on Christmas Day, but will fall two days later to the Miami Heat (but really, what else is new?). After that, Boston will post a 'W' over the New Orleans Hornets to close out their season-opening road trip and crush the Detroit Pistons in its home opener on Friday, December 30
Then, the fun begins as Boston faces the Washington Wizards twice (they wil lose once in that home-and-home series on back-to-back nights) and the New Jersey Nets and Indiana Pacers after that. Skipping ahead a little bit, I have the C's at 14-7 after 21 games. So far, so good.
In February, the C's only face four particularly tough opponents - the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls. Boston's age likely won't mix well with a team like Oklahoma City or Chicago, and the reloaded Mavs (likely a loss) and Lakers (likely a close win) will prove to be tough tests.
Nothing much sticks out in March, save for a two-game road trip in Los Angeles where the C's face the Lakers and Clippers on back-to-back nights. In all likelihood, Boston will split that short road trip (beat Clippers, lose to Lakers).
In April, the Celtics have their lone back-to-back-to-back trio against the Raptors, Nets and Bobcats (they'll go 2-1 in that stretch). Boston also has difficult match-ups with the Bulls, Heat (twice), Hawks, Magic and Knicks as the regular season comes to a close.
Right now, I'll predict that the Celtics will make the playoffs (obviously) and will grab the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston will win its opening round against the Pacers in six games but will lose to the Heat or Bulls in the second round. Sound familiar? I wish I could predict something more, but I'm just going with what they give me.
Regardless of the actual outcome, we're looking at another fun season ahead. Go Celtics!