Are the Celtics the worst team in the NBA? ESPN’s Chad Ford ranks them as such so far. Ford has Boston No. 1 on his latest Tank Rank, which lists teams in order of their tanking capabilities this season in an effort to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery and a potential shot at Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, who makes his collegiate debut Friday.
The good news for Boston, which already has lost to three teams that had losing records last season — Toronto, Milwaukee and Detroit — is that it will face two very beatable teams in Utah on Wednesday night at TD Garden and at Orlando on Friday. The Jazz (250-1) and Magic (500-1) are two of only six teams with longer NBA title odds at Bovada than the Celtics (200-1). Then comes the bad news: The Celtics take a visit to Miami (21-10 title favorite) on Saturday night.
The Jazz (0-3) are one of two winless teams in the Western Conference, and Wednesday’s game will be the second of a back-to-back for them after visiting Brooklyn on Tuesday. Utah has some good young players like Gordon Hayward, leading scorer Alec Burks and big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Former Michigan star Trey Burke was one of the Rookie of the Year betting favorites before he fractured a finger and had surgery. He has yet to play and won’t this week.
Utah is most definitely in tank mode this season, taking on the bloated contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush from Golden State this offseason for draft picks. That gave the Warriors the cap room to sign Andre Iguodala. Biedrins and Rush haven’t played a minute yet for Utah. All three players’ contracts will be up after this season, so Utah could be a player in free agency. Boston swept Utah last season, although both games were close. The Jazz haven’t beaten the Celtics since 2010.
As for Orlando, the Magic have the 3-2 betting favorite for Rookie of the Year in Victor Oladipo. The No. 2 overall pick out of Indiana is off to a solid start, averaging 13.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in four games. Orlando routed Brooklyn on Sunday in Jason Kidd‘s coaching debut with the Nets. Orlando has one of the NBA’s best young centers as well in Nikola Vucevic, one of the players the team received in the Dwight Howard multiteam trade last offseason. He’s averaging 14.8 points and 11.3 rebounds.
The Magic are playing without two starters, former Celtic Glen Davis and Tobias Harris, who was acquired last season from Milwaukee in the JJ Redick trade. “Big Baby” has been out since January after breaking a bone in his foot, but he’s close to returning. The Magic would love to deal Davis before the February trade deadline. Harris has yet to play this season due to a sprained ankle, and he’s not close to returning.
Miami surprisingly already has lost two games. LeBron James is averaging 23.3 points, and he hasn’t averaged less than 26.7 in a season since his rookie year. Former Celtic Ray Allen averaged 15.8 points against Boston last season, his third most against any club.