Boston Celtics: ESPN’s BPI reveals C’s as top NBA Finals challenger

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving /

Move over LeBron James, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics the best chance to dethrone the Warriors.

The best basketball player in the world has been given some extra motivation.  According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), it is the Boston Celtics, not the Cleveland Cavaliers who have the highest odds of beating the Golden State Warriors.

Of course, analytics don’t necessarily translate to what actually happens on the basketball court, but the predictions are enough to make any Celtics fan giddy.

What is the BPI?

According to ESPN Analytics writer Seth Walder, it is a forward-looking model that predicts the strength of each team’s offense, defense and overall performance.  Factors and elements included in the BPI include the game’s location, the strength of the two teams competing against one another and the rest differential.  As these are factors that can change during the course of the season, the preseason model should be taken with a grain of salt.

Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics /

In any event, according to the preseason BPI, the defending NBA champions have a whopping 57.9 percent chance to repeat in 2017.  With two Western Conference contenders (Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs) as their greatest challengers, the Celtics are the top Eastern Conference team given the best odds of winning it all.

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With a BPI rating of +4.9, the Celtics are projected to win 54.1 games and a 12.1 percent chance to win it all.  For a team only returning four players from its 2016-17 team, those numbers are not too shabby.

Star power and the coach

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With the addition of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics now have the super star power they didn’t have in previous seasons.  Those two, along with Al Horford and a trio of young high draft picks in Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum gives a coach like Brad Stevens some tremendous talent to work with.

In that respect, the BPI model may not be far off.  However, what it doesn’t measure is team chemistry.

As motivated and inspired as Irving and Hayward will be to make an impact in Boston, it will take this team some time to gel.  How quickly they do so will depend on just how good of a coach Stevens is.

Trader Danny

The BPI also doesn’t measure or predict the next move Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will make.  The man who has earned the nickname “trader Danny” still has enough assets to make another major move before or during the season that could change the complexion of the team yet again.

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In any event, it’s nice to see the Boston Celtics getting some respect.  They just have to completely earn it on the court with the 2017-18 NBA season gets underway next month.