A couple of days ago, Rasheed Wallace -- pictured right having just escaped an island with his volleyball "Wilson" -- told the Connecticut Post that he thinks the Boston Celtics can match the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who won a record 72 games:
"Oh definitely. Definitely, playing with those three other guys, also combining that with the guys we have on the bench, I think we definitely can. Me personally, I think we can get that Bulls record. You know we have the talent for it. We have the will for it and…I think we have the defense for it.
"I really do feel that. That was a good team. They had some HOFs on there, but we have a few on this team, too."
This is an interesting position to take considering Wallace hasn't actually played a game yet with the Boston Celtics. Now I expect Boston to improve from where they were last year -- Rasheed gives them something off the bench, which they lacked since James Posey left for New Orleans. But it's too much to bank on Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Wallace and Rondo and Perkins to all stay healthy throughout the season.
And even if they are healthy, they are not the 1996 Bulls. In the NBA, you can only go as far as the best player on your team; the Bulls had the best player ever in '96 and they had the best team ever. That's not to say that this Boston team can't win in the high 60's. After all, the Dallas Mavericks won 67 games a few years ago, and I think we'd all agree that this Celtics team has a better roster than that Mavs team. But winning 72 is like going 16-0 in the NFL. You basically need to have a perfect season. In 1996, Chicago's only losses at home were a one-point defeat to the Charlotte Hornets and a one-point loss to the Pacers. Through 25 games they were 23-2; through 50 games they were 45-5; through 60 games they were 54-6. And the Bulls didn't have teams like the Magic and Cavaliers within their own conference to deal with -- the Bulls swept their toughest challenger, the Orlando Magic, in the Eastern Conference Finals.
So no, 72 is really unlikely. I will say this though. If any team is reaching 70, it's the Cleveland Cavaliers. No player has ever maximized the talent around him like LeBron James, who took that Cavs team to the finals in 2007 with a twig and a used gum wrapper as his supporting cast. Now they have Leon Powe, Shaquille O'Neal, and Anthony Parker -- and they were a 65-win team last year anyway. If Shaquille O'Neal isn't too old or too hurt, that Cavs team has a legitimate shot at reaching 70. Everyone else? Nah.