As we welcome a new year, ESPN Boston writers have checked their crystal balls and are making some bold predictions. Here are three for the Celtics:
1. C'S GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER, MAKE PLAYOFF CHARGE: Despite a roller-coaster start to the 2012-13 campaign, the Celtics have too much talent to yo-yo their way through an entire 82-game campaign. Much like last season, expect the Celtics to find the right combinations, start playing better basketball, and (finally) take flight. That will culminate with a strong playoff run, where health will likely dictate just how far this team marches. The C's have played a lot of discouraging basketball over the first two months of the season, but they've got about four more months to get things right. All that talent and all the big-game experience makes Boston a dangerous team in the playoffs.
2. AN X-FACTOR EMERGES: One thing has been clear early in the 2012-13 campaign: The Big Three can't do this alone. Boston needs more support from its role players. Despite inconsistencies to this point, expect someone to make a leap and become this team's X-factor. Who will that be? The crystal ball isn't that clear. Maybe Avery Bradley returns to provide his familiar defense, but also elevates his all-around game to another level. Maybe Jeff Green or Courtney Lee finally puts it all together. Someone makes a jump and aids Boston's late-season charge.
3. SUMMER GETS INTERESTING: The Celtics will have as many as 11 players back next season, but that doesn't necessarily mean this won't be an intriguing offseason. Captain Paul Pierce is scheduled to make $15.3 million in the final year of a four-year extension, but only $5 million is guaranteed, leaving Boston a potential avenue to start a larger overhaul. Kevin Garnett will turn 37 in May, and you can't help but wonder if he'll play out all three years of the extension he inked this past offseason. Even if everybody hangs around, Boston will have an interesting offseason given that they are already committed to $71.5 million in salaries and will have to battle cap and increasing luxury-tax constraints.
Check out ESPN Boston's 13 predictions for 2013 by CLICKING HERE.