The Boston Celtics were mentioned frequently in the annual NBA GM Survey.
The NBA released the results of its annual GM Survey on Wednesday. The survey polls NBA general managers to gauge their attitudes about the best players, coaches, teams, and offseason moves. Unsurprisingly, the Boston Celtics featured prominently in the survey results.
These results matter. You could argue, very reasonably, that nobody knows the league as well as its GMs. General fan polls are fun, but not typically meaningful. The GM poll, on the other hand, is valuable both as a barometer of the general feeling among league executives, and as a predictive tool.
Here are some thoughts and highlights from the survey results for Boston Celtics fans, broken up into five sections.
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The Golden State Warriors unsurprisingly ran away with the championship vote. A whopping 87 percent of GMs picked the Warriors to win the NBA finals. The Houston Rockets tied with the Boston Celtics at 7 percent of the vote.
Last year, the Warriors had 93 percent of the vote, with the Cleveland Cavaliers earning the other 7 percent.
So GMs aren’t exactly brimming with confidence about the Celtics winning the championship. If my math checks out, then this means 26/30 NBA GMs picked the Warriors, two picked Houston, and two picked Boston. But Celtics fans have to be at least a bit encouraged that their team has entered such an exclusive conversation.
More encouraging is the fact that GMs have overwhelmingly selected Boston to at least make the Finals. When asked about the best team in the East (which this survey seems to conflate with ‘who will make it to the finals’), 90 percent picked the Celtics and 10 percent picked the Toronto Raptors. In somewhat of a surprise, none picked the Philadelphia 76ers to win the conference. The overwhelming majority of voters placed them in the 2-3 range.
The bottom line for Celtics fans is that, according to NBA GMs, they’re in a two-team race to the conference throne and are overwhelming favorites to win the race.
Last year, 86 percent picked the Cavaliers to win the East, 10 percent picked the Celtics, and 3 percent picked the Washington Wizards. It’s interesting that nobody picked the Raptors a year ago; throughout the season, there was a sizable chunk of the fanbase that foresaw a Raptors Finals berth (a narrative aided in part by Cleveland’s consistent turmoil).
On the other side of the league, 90 percent picked the Warriors to win the West, and 10 percent picked the Rockets. Last season, 97 percent picked the Warriors. That dip isn’t that big, but it’s noteworthy that at least a few GMs think Golden State’s run at the top could reach an end this year. That matters for the Celtics; Golden State and Houston play radically different brands of basketball, and matching up with one instead of the other is a big deal. While the Warriors would no doubt be favored in any match-up, the Boston Celtics might actually be favored in a match-up with Houston.