The Boston Celtics will have surprised a lot of NBA insiders if they come within striking distance of the NBA Finals.
NBA general managers ranked the Celtics third in the Eastern Conference, according to the results of the annual survey of leading basketball executives NBA.com published Thursday. GMs ranked the Milwaukee Bucks first, with the Philadelphia 76ers coming in second by a slim margin and the Celtics trailing them by some distance.
The Celtics garnered 17 percent of the total points in a ranked voting-system — in which a first-place vote is worth four points, a third-place vote worth three and so on. Although no NBA GM ranked the Celtics first in the Eastern Conference, they received 17 percent of the second-place votes, 52 percent of the third-place votes and 18 percent of the fourth-place votes.
NBA GMs’ expectations for the Celtics have fallen dramatically since last season when 90 percent of the executives picked Boston to win the Eastern Conference. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 49-33 record, fourth-best in the East, and exited the playoffs in the second round after losing to the Bucks.
After such a spectacular failure to meet expectations last season, it makes sense why NBA GMs aren’t as high on Boston’s prospects for success ahead of the new campaign.