The Celtics Cream-Puff Schedule: Cause for an Asterisk?

I smell an asterisk controversy brewing.

Boston Celtics critics seemed to have found a fall-back position, something they can resort to as a balm to calm their angst, if, calamity of calamities, the green happens to win title number 17 this year.

The Celtics, it seems, have taken the easy road to the championship.

They played in the East, beat up on inferior teams, piled up the wins, and only had to exert themselves a few times against the West. Contrast the Celtics season with Western Conference elite teams that had to play a schedule chock-full of teams gunning for at least 50 wins.

Sound familiar, Skip Bayless?

The Celtics aren’t a great team, seems to be the conclusion reached by the critics, just a good team that took advantage of a cream-puff schedule, while the real elite teams in the Western Conference wore each other down, enabling the Celtics to stomp over them in the regular season and then in the Finals, again assuming a title is in the works.

So if the Cs do win it all, banner 17 should be marked by an asterisk that denotes “WEAK SCHEDULE.”

I’m not buying this garbage, even if ESPN's Skip Bayless is selling it at half the price.

The Los Angeles Lakers won 5 titles in the 1980s, and year-after-year they played in what everyone agreed was the weaker conference. Take 1985 NBA season for example. The Western Conference was comprised of 12 teams, and only five teams had a record above .500. One of those teams, of course, was the Lakers, which left four teams the Lakers had to play with winning records.

Only one of those teams won 50 games, and of the other three, one team was one win better than .500. So for the rest of the season, the Lakers feasted off teams with losing records. They played 24 games against Pacific Division teams with losing records, and fifteen games against Midwestern Division teams with .500 or worst records.

Throw in 12 more games against Eastern Conference teams with losing records, and that means the Lakers played 51 out of 82 games against bad teams. The Lakers only won a total of 62 regular-season games that season, but they did win the championship.

As I look through the NBA record book, I’m struck by the absence of an asterisk next to the Lakers title that year, or any other title they won in the 80s after building up a gaudy regular season won-loss record against inferior competition.

Now try and explain to me why this year’s Celtics, if they are fortunate enough to win the title, don’t deserve the same respect now that those Lakers’ teams got back then and still get today?

I will note, in closing, that today there are 15 teams in the West. The 2007-08 Celtics played each of them twice, and won 25 and lost 5. That's an .833 winning percentage against the so-called superior conference. The Celtics are 12-2 against the top seven teams in the West, for an even more impressive .857 winning percentage.

So cough it up. Give this team some respect. If not now, then in June.


Mark said...

Um, the Celtics are 25-5 against the "elite" Western Conference and 34-10 against the East. I guess the "cream puff" theory is out the window.

Lex said...


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