On December 8th during the producation of Pardon the Interuption, when Wilbon and Kornheiser were playing the percentages game, Tony Reali asked the two hosts what percent chance the Celtics had of making it to Christmas without losing a game. Wilbon said 40% and Kornheiser 60%, but both explained that the tough stretch for Boston would come when during a three game streak they faced the Hornets and Jazz at home and then went on the road to Atlanta. They added that If the C's could get by those teams successfully, then they would have a 100% chance of winning their next three games against Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.
According to the PTI crew, chalk the Celtics up as 27-2.
Although the upcoming three games won't challenge Boston as much as the previos trio, they shouldn't necissarily be a cake walk either. Yes all three are at home against teams that currently have a losing record, but here's what we're looking at for matchups:
12-19 vs. Chicago: The Bulls, for the second straight year are underachieving. Two years ago they were seen as a positive example of what patience and player development could do; draft well, don't spend on big-time stars, and you'll be successful. Well, it's not working so well anymore. Yes, the Celtics should win this game, but if Ben Gordon shoots out of his mind (which he is capable of doing), Derrick Rose controls the offense, and Tyrus Thomas can somehow contain KG (unlikely, but who knows) the Bulls can make a game of it.
12-21 vs. New York: This is a totally different team than the Celtics saw a month ago in Madison Square Garden. The additions of Al Harrington and Tim Thomas give the Knicks a legitimate inside game that can match up with Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnet, not to mention that Chris Duhon has become well adjusted to the Knicks offense and is thriving. The name of the game is going to be score early and often. New York has 8 players (7 discounting the retired Cutino Mobley) who average double figures in scoring and the boys from the Big Apple were close to out dueling the Lakers two nights ago (losing 114-116). Don't be surprised if the Knicks make it close in a shootout.
12-23 vs. Philadelphia: After signing Elton Brand in the offseason to compliment Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, The now 11-14 76ers were supposed to give the C's a run for their money in the Atlantic Division. With Philly already 12.5 games back and Brand sidelined with a dislocated shoulder the Sixers are fading fast. Boston beat the 76ers soundly in Philly 102-78 in November, now, playing at home in a tune-up game for a Christmas day matchup with the Lakers, and with the Sixers' best player wearing street clothes with his arm in a sling, I would expect the Celts to take this one by at least 20. What could make this a close game is if Boston uncharacteristically looks past the struggling Sixers to LA and somehow get caught with their pants down. Far fetched, but I've heard of stranger things.
While the Celtics don't have to go on the road and play in a brutal atmosphere like Atlanta (PA announcer starting all the cheers was really tacky), or go up against the NBA's best pointguard like New Orleans, the three upcoming Eastern Conference matchups shouldn't be complete blowouts. Hopefully Boston can give their fans a 20 game win streak for Christmas.