Monday, June 30, 2008

We finally won our championship!!!

The first since internet blogging media era was developed.

A lot of hard work went into making this 2008 Celtics Championship possible. 8 years ago at the hieght of the Pitino dark ages, this was not thought to be possible. The owner, Paul "Thanksdad" Ga$ton was in it to make money for himself and to screw the loyal Celtics fans. He would not exceed the salary cap let alone (god forbid) pay a luxery tax. But he was not a shrewd businessman because he paid out some god awful contracts to god awful players recruited by god awful management. Honestly, go back and reread chapter two of Larry Bird's "On Playing and Coaching the Game I Love" on his experience with Ga$ton and More Losses Carr.

First Ga$ton had to sell the team. He sold it to a dedicated Celtics fan with a lot of money (or more possibly access to a lot of money). His name was Wyc Grousebeck. His managing partner Steve Paglicia knew Danny Ainge and hired him as basketball GM. He made Red Auerbach president again (that was taken away by Pitino). A good first step, but the Celtics lacked the talent needed to become a championship contender. Plus they had no cap room and an albatross of a contract with Vin Baker. Antione Walker was the ringleader of this outfit but he really was nothing special. He was a rah rah competitor type. Danny traded him off to Dallas a draft pick, Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, Chris Mills (expiring contract). Danny traded Eric Williams and Milt Palacio for Ricky Davis and drove Jim O'Brien to resign. Mark Blount had a career 40 games to lead the 36-46 juggernaut Celtics into the 8th seed and 4 game ass-kicking by Indiana. John Carroll's NBA coaching career was over.

Enter Doc Rivers. Ainge was a brilliant drafter - Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Kendrick Perkins, Tony Allen, Delonte West, Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe, to go along with RD, Blount, and Pierce. Ainge traded Mihm and one other to the Lakers for Gary Payton (last year of contract). Walker, somehow came back to Boston, after not fitting in with Dallas and Atlanta (gee I wonder why). We were all set to make a run at the finals, right? Wrong, our nemesis Indiana won again with a game 7 waxing on our HC.

In 2006, the Celtics couldn't get anything going with Blount, RD, Pierce, West, and Jefferson (out of shape and injured much of the season). RD, Blount, Justin Reed got traded to Minnesota for Wally Baby. That didn't help in the standings but Doc's sanity was saved.

Things had to get better in 2007, Right????? Well the Celtics lost 350 man games to injury and the season was completely lost. The Celtics were playing for lottery balls and the right to draft Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Surely in 2007 we would have one of the first two picks right????
Well the draft lottery was on May 22, 2007 which was my ex-wifes 50th birthday and she grew up in Portland. My three daughters were born in Seattle. So I knew the Celtics were going to get shafted and get the worst possible pick at 5 and have to draft the Chinese Nowitzki (Chinese Jerome Moiso???). Paul Pierce would get traded and lead his new team to championship, CORRECT?????

And, then Delonte, Wally, and #5 went to Seattle for Ray Allen and BBD on draft night. And a month later on our 5th anniversary get away, the Celtics traded Al J, GG, Gomes, Theo Ratliffe's contract, and god knows every draft pick until 2015 to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett.

Now I felt like I was at least back in the game. Posey, House, PJ Brown, Sam Cassall, and Pollard walked through that door. Rondo and Perkins became vital starters. Tony Allen, BBD, and Powe all played important roles. The Celtics went from a very poor 24 win team to the Route 66 team with the number one seed.

The playoffs proved to be difficult endeavor with a bad matchup in the 1st round against Atlanta who managed to hold HC three times but were not competive in Boston. Cleveland, though, gave Boston a fantastic match where Paul Pierce had the defining moment of his career in Game 7 that brought back memories of that Bird - Dominique show down 20 years earlier. As Boston led by one point in the final minute, there was a jump ball between Perkins and Z. Z had the tip and tapped it toward James when Pierce knocked it away and promptly dove after that ball and clutched in a crowd of Cleveland white shirts. There was The Moment of Truth! I thought this game could have decided the 2008 and I was right. Detriot, was a solid team all year and the past six really if you think about it. But between Ray Allen, KG, and Pierce, Boston wore them down and closed out with a major 4th Qtr beat down in Mo-town.......

Then it was on to the Los Angelos Lakers and that CBS song of spring of 20 years ago kept running through my head bringing back those famous Bird and Magic matchups. It was our obligation to deny Phil Jackson is 10th title as HC and preserve Red Auerbach's legacy. I felt the Lakers were not as strong defensively as what we already had faced. After that Game 2 scare, the Game 3 loss, and starting out in that 45-21 hole in Game 4 (during which there was a tornado warning in my area and reports of a brief touchdown five miles from home), I felt Red Auerbach get very angry as the rain, hail, and wind fell. Well, the Celtics came back to win 96-91 in the Tornadic Comeback Classic and I got to my luck TV set at Larry Bud's Tavern. Finally four nights later, I did my old 1980's ritual of eating a Super Bird at Denny's, hitting a large bucket of golf balls at the driving range, and then going up to Larry Buds for the clincher. I think I had the Victory Cigar in my mouth with four minutes left in the game.

So after twenty two years, which in my case is almost 1/2 a lifetime ago, the Celtics fans finally get their championship they long deserve. Congratulations to us for all the poor decisions, poor luck, and poor refereeing that was seemingly directed by David Stern to screw the Celtics. And the Curse of Len Bias got tamed after only 22 years.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

KG is not clutch?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!

Bill Simmons wrote for ESPN:

"It also wasn't a surprise. Garnett's crunch-time woes have been the dirty little secret of this storybook Celtics season. Sure, he saved the franchise and made the C's relevant again. He's also the reason they might not win the 2008 championship. Put simply, Garnett shrinks from pressure more times than he comes through. The NBA is a simple league to figure out: In a playoff series, the best player prevails unless his supporting cast is significantly inferior to the other team's. So when Boston's best player can't dominate close games against a quality opponent … um, that's a problem."

Well, lets explore that topic further. On Sunday, it was a moment of Truth. Paul Pierce was the man for Boston standing up to Lebron James, who has chance to be the greatest basketball player in NBA history. That was Pierce's biggest victory of his career (much bigger than that game 5 victory against Philadelphia in 2002 when he went off for 49 that night). So it was Pierce who stood out. My guess is that Garnett on Sunday deferred to Pierce and just support him on defense, rebounding, and passing. Garnett scored enough to keep the defenses honest.

Tonight, in Game 1 of the ECF, Garnett was the leading scorer and Sheed could do nothing about it. And in the 4th qtr, it was Garnett to Perkins and Garnett to Rondo for two critical Boston baskets to hold off Detriot. So Garnett is more effective as a FACILITATOR for the Celtics because he trusts his teammates. I think Simmons did not do his homework on Garnett in the playoffs and based his conclusions on a couple of poor performances in Atlanta and Cleveland.

If we want to question anybody here, it must be Ray Allen who really is in poor form right now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No excuses for this!!!!

Celtics have gone south on us again by poor shooting and lack of athletism. The Celtics are having a lot of trouble matching the Hawks energy level on the road and they are not making shots, not finishing at the rim and not getting much in the way of coaching adjustments in stopping Joe Johnson or Josh Childress.

A lot must change or this series will be lost and then ........ well I do not want to go there, period.

Can the Celtics respond to the Hawks apparent superior athleticism and confidence? Even if the Celtics win Game 5 Wednesday, this series will be far from over. I'm sure that Garnett and Ray Allen did not sign up with Boston to lose the 1st round of the playoffs.

I think Coach Doc is a fine coach (a radical change in opinion for those of you who know me and bother to read my diary) but he must be feeling a bit snake bit when it comes to playoff basketball.

I hope Perkins doesn't get a suspension for stepping on the court during the Za Za - KG altercation. That would force Baby and PJ to play more.

In fairness, the Celtics played better but had trouble making shots for two critical stretches and once again Atlanta made their shots. The 4th quarter was awful for Boston. A ten point lead turned into another horrible set back. Celtics simply lacked good plays on both ends of the court and this does not bode well for future series. Again, I have to wonder what is going on here and what is holding the Celtics back from breaking through on the road. Are they mentally soft? I don't believe so because they won three straight games in Texas. I think Doc is having trouble with adjustments or it is something worse - the Celtics are not in good health and nobody bothered to the media.

I'm confused and worried now.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What was that?????

OK, I have been hearing that the Celtics have been a bit sloppy the past month and perhaps tonight it caught up with them. Atlanta flat out kicked our ass tonight and that is really all that needs to be said here.

As I said on CSL postgame tonight, the Celtics were not much good in any phase of the game. They did not guard the perimeter, they did not hustle back on defense, they did not share the ball on offense (at least not as well as Atlanta), they shot the ball very poorly, they played passively, were smaller and slower than the Hawks.

Doc was very upset with the Celtics tonight and for good reason. More importantly, he must make some adjustments..... and perhaps plan to use Posey, House, Powe and BBD as the 4 backups. Heck I would use Tony Allen over Sam Cassell for defensive pressure.

The Celtics appeared to never get untracked in the 2nd half. Perhaps the delay due to the clocks threw them off for the night. I had hoped for a 4 game finish to save energy for the later rounds. But this cluster foul-up of a game might be the bad game the Celtics needed to get them going again and play at the Texas road trip level again.

Congratulations to Atlanta, and it sucks to be you Monday and Wednesday. Bye Bye and thanks for letting me vent tonight JB, Jughead, and Duke.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Games One and Two vs Atlanta

Boston has taken care of business at the TD Banknorth so far. They are clearly superior to the Atlanta Hawks at every position. Atlanta tries to hang in there by being physical helping to disrupt the Celtics. That foul in the 1st qtr by Josh Smith on Paul Pierce was BUSH LEAGUE. That should have been an F1 foul. The Celtics continued to punish the Hawks at both ends of the court in all phases of the game.

Tonight, Bibby was wirebrushed hard by the Celtics fans and deservedly so. He is being thoroughly outplayed by 2nd year sensation Rajon Rondo who is a rapidly rising star in this league. Atlanta was better off with Acie Law IV running the point. Perhaps Coach Woodson should consider starting Acie Law IV in Games 3 and 4.

The Hawks have athletic forwards - Josh Smith and Al Horford and a nice SG in Joe Johnson in their SL. They have Zaza Pachulia coming off the bench who can be effective. Perhaps they can give the Celtics trouble in Atlanta but I sincerely doubt they will win a game and make it back to Boston for a game Five. Atlanta pretty much brought everything they had to the table to try to win the game and snatch HCA from the Celtics. The NBA playoffs tell you what kind of team you have. Boston is clearly better in talent, experience, desire, and in poise than Atlanta. Atlanta is a nice team for the future but they should consider trading Mike Bibby this offseason.

The Celtics are doing a great job at hustling and giving up few easy baskets or even uncontested jump shots. Basically, this was a low stress game from the middle of the third quarter and on. I don't even think the lead was ever below 15 in the final frame. After Saturday's game, I will probably talk about the same thing as tonight. I notice there is less to talk about when the Celtics meet expectations and play well in accomplishing their goals. This is the playoffs and that means one game at a time and this blog will cover each game until a 17th Championship is won.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Exhibition Season II is here

The Celtics have gotten to the 60 win plateau for the first time since 1986, I believe. Everytime they get to 60 wins, they win the championship with the exception of 1973 when Havlicek seperated his shoulder against the Knicks. I don't see this team losing either of the 1st two rounds. In fact, I see them going 4-0, 4-0 against the likes of Atlanta and Philly/Cleveland/Washington. Detriot in the third round is when the playoffs get interesting for Boston but I think the Celtics are a better team than Detriot. That leaves the finals with the Western Conference survivor. And Boston has beaten everyone at least once rather badly so they would have the psychological advantage in a potential NBA finals.

The next two weeks of the NBA season will be spent getting confidence going with Sam Cassell and PJ Brown and Doc Rivers will establish a nine man rotation. Tony Allen will be getting more PT to see if he has anything to offer. He was a gifted athlete but his knee injuries have caused him to lose confidence on drives to the basket. He can get after it on the defensive end pretty good and makes some good passes off his drives. He makes too many dumb turnovers.

My best guess is the Celtics will lose against Charlotte and Milwaukee and win the last five games to get to 65 wins and HCA throughout the 2008 playoffs. Doc Rivers will then get his 1st playoff series win (and his 2nd, 3rd, and hopefully 4th) this year.

I guess Doc Rivers has shut this critic up for a long while.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Celtics send a message to Phoenix tonight

By administering a twenty point second half beatdown, the Celtics took to Phoenix all over the court by making all the hustle plays that were not made in those 4th qtrs of the last two games.

The Celtics must continue this high level of energy and I think they will be successful at bringing home the long awaited 17th title. I would like nothing better than to do it in Phoenix, the city that denied the Patriots their undefeated season. If I can't be in the Phoenix arena, then I would like to be at the Vine Tavern, drinking a Sammy's and smoking a Red Auerbach victory cigar afterward to bring joy to the Patriots fans who were so cruelly denied a 4th Super Bowl.

That and winning it for the Sonics fans who unfortunately are going to lose their team to Oklahoma City. Might as well root for a fellow green team and for Ray Allen as well. I certainly have a lot to be thankful to Seattle for.

I also want to win this as a big FU to David Stern who has systematically screwed the Celtics time and again since the 1980's. We know what these friggin New York lawyers are all about. We know the lottery is fixed. Well David Stern, Ole Red will get his revenge on or about Father's Day, 2008. Puff Puff Puff to you David Stern.

I hope we stick it to Phoenix, but doing it in front of Jack Nicholson, who can't handle the truth would be a hoot. Or go into San ANtonio and reverse the curse of Tim Duncan.

What about that work by KG against Amare tonight!!!!! Wasn't that special???? If you missed it, watch SC three times. ANd buy the victory CD at the end of the season.

How about that hustle by Powe and BBD, making Shaq look old and slow. And hats off to Perkins for standing strong and taking advantage of his opportunities.

Datoni loses his composure when things don't go his way, and he looked thoroughly lost trying to make adjustments to the Celtics on slaughts early in the 4th.

For Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire is the face of the franchise along with Steve Nash and their pick and roll type games broke down the Celtics for a while in the 2nd qtr to a 62% FG by halftime yet the game was tied 57-57. Then came the 60-40 beatdown so this little slump of back to back lousy 4th quarters ended quickly.

Oh and the Lepracahn has sliced Texas into 6 pieces this year. He just had too many barbecue ribs and black beans while feasting on Texas and forgot to save room for some Cajun Shrimp and rice plus a Philly Cheesesteak.

The magic number to clinch the best record is down to 7. April competition figures to offer little resistance to the Celtics.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The 50 win milestone has been reached

This has not happened since 1992 or Larry Bird's last season as a player. As I remembered, the Celtics had Bird, Parish, McHale, Reggie Lewis, and Dee Brown with Pinckney, and others coming off the bench. A nice team but they lost to Cleveland in Seven that year. A series of very poor drafts after the death of Len Bias would doom the Celtics to irrelevency for a long time.

Now with KG, PP, RA, RR, KP, JP, EH, TA, LP, BBD, PJ, and ET this team looks like a #1 NBA seed. I would say they have a chance to run the table after the Texas trip in two weeks and finish with about 67 wins. They dispatched a Philly team who had been playing well (They did beat Phoenix rather badly there - something we failed to accomplish) with relative ease. Perkins has shored up the middle and emerged as a solid force in the paint. The Celtics will continue their winning streak against Seattle and I expect them to win out until that upcoming 5 game road trip. Every night is a new star stepping up and contributing. That is what the great teams feature and the Celtics certainly have it going this year.

The Celtics are going to the finals this year, I believe and they have an excellent chance to win the 17th Championship.

And look what Shawn Marion turned down and he ended up traded to a team with Blount and RD on it. BWAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHAH!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Celtics defend Homecourt Tonight

They passed the test with flying colors. Celtics managed to outplay the Pistons in all phases of the game.

Here was my key to the Celtics victory. They were able to work the ball inside better than the Pistons as this link will attest to: Notice how the Celtics had far more assists, FG, and a far higher FG% than the Pistons. The game was played at the Pistons tempo and the Celtics still won this handily.

Garnett scored 31 and punished his matchup (Rasheed Wallace or Antonio McDyess) regularly.
Perkins garnered 20 boards with many of them in contested and had 10 points from well executed pick and rolls plus inside passing. Perkins benefitted but also worked for inside position. Rondo won his matchup against Billups in a huge growth game. He also abused Hamilton by blowing by him and got the dunk and flagrant on Maxiel.

Detriot made two runs mostly with Rajon Rondo, Perk, and KG on the bench.

Speaking of benches - Baby came in with a nice outing of 7 points, 4 rebs, an assist and a steal. Boston's bench outscored the Pistons bench 15-5.

Billups was 14 of 15 from the FT line after 3 qtrs and got no FTA in the decisive 4th qtr. He threw down Rondo on an offensive possestion.

The crowd sounded really energetic tonight - something that I expect will grow as time wears on.

Celtics have a tougher remaining schedule due to their Texas road trip. Detriot has games against Cleveland which may be problematic.

Boston has clinched a playoff spot in the 1st week of March. I would venture to say that has not happened since the 1980's this early in the season. I think Boston's magic number to clinch the Atlantic is 8. I suspect this will happen on the Texas trip.

The Celtics are developing into one of the better defensive teams out there.

Big day today - March 5, 2008 - Lunchtime Update

Celtics vs Pistons - at TD Banknorth Garden - Boston, MA.

This one is for the old schoolers who remember those legendary battles with Bill Laimbeer (I called him f---face), Rodman, and Little Lord Fauntleroy.

This renewal of the rivalry has compelling matchups as well:

KG vs the Sheed
Baby/Powe/PJ Brown vs Jason Maxiel (nice fantasy find for me)
Teyshawn vs PP
Rip vs Ray
Billups vs Rondo

Both have deep benches and neither coach is afraid to use them.

Both games this year have been close and the road team has been 2-0.

Winner of this game has a psychological advantage heading toward a potential ECF showdown.

This is a significant milepost on the Celtic Championship Trail of 2008.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Today - we embark on an adventure not taken since 1987

The Boston Celtics as of this writing are 45 and 12 and about to add Sam Cassell as the veteran PG. This is probably the only question mark the Celtics had going forth. Cassell has had championship experience with Olajowan and the Rockets. He always seemed to make the right play out there and made all the critical shots and never got rattled. Young Rondo is playing well, but his 1st foray into the playoffs will expose his lack of experience particulary against Chauncey Billups. I think getting Cassell will help that matchup problem.

The Celtics have a big game coming up Wednesday against the Pistons. I think this is the final matchup against our closest EC rival and likely opponent in the ECF. A win here gives the C's a 4 game cushion and the Season series victory as well as a slight psychological advantage going forward. This could be Cassells debut.

PJ Brown was added to shore up rebounding and defense. It is a nice addition but I don't think it will have much effect unless Powe, Davis, or Perkins are injured. If anything, it will make Pollard expendable. I wish we could trade Scalabrine with somebody after this season but he onlyhas two more years on his contract and he is relatively cheap insurance.

The Celtics have had a couple of rough stretches - In January against the Wizz and Charlotte and those 3 west coast games coming out of the All-star break. The team has limited their losing streaks and have been competitive in all but two losses (home loss to Charlotte and that brutal loss to Phoenix). Both times, they bounced back with five game winning streaks.

Anyways, tonight I will summarize the road to be taken to bring home #17 this June. The Celtics will be best served by clinching home court throughout the playoffs. I don't see anybody from the West threatening Detriot or Boston for best overall record this year if only because they will be knocking each other off trying to get into the field. They will all converge with 48 to 55 victories. Boston only has one more really tough stretch with the 4 games in Texas and New Orleans. Detriot has to play in Cleveland twice and has two more against Toronto plus two home games against San Antonio and Phoenix. I think Boston will finish at 64 wins while Detriot wins 62 times.

Expected seedings: 1. Boston 2. Detriot 3. Orlando 4. Cleveland 5. Washington 6. Toronto 7. Atlanta 8. Philadelphia ; I like Washington to finish strong with Gilbert Arenas coming back and Atlanta and Philadelphia to keep coming. I expect New Jersey to fade away. Indiana has O'Brien as HC, nuff said. Chicago, Milwaukee, and Charlotte are good enough to play spoilers but are longshots to make the playoffs. The other two teams simply stink and most be blown up. I'll bet Marion must really be kicking himself for refusing to go to Boston last summer. Look at him now.

OK here are the hypothetical playoff matchups for round 1 - Boston vs Philadelphia; Detriot vs Atlanta; Orlando vs Toronto; Cleveland vs Washington. I expect Boston and Detriot to advance quickly. The other two series will be toss-ups. I'll say that Orlando and Washington advance. Now the 2nd round gets interesting - Boston has had trouble with Gilbert Arenas and Washington a real physical team. Detriot vs Orlando will depend on how the Sheed vs Howard matchup goes. This will be a low scoring ugly series. Still I think Boston and Detriot come out and set up the series that decides the NBA championship. The Western Conference is so evenly matched that their playoffs are starting now and that will kill the survivor. Dallas took the Lakers to OT and 10th place Portland broke LA's winning streak.

This is pure speculation on my behalf as there is lots of basketball to be played and thinks change daily in the NBA. One thing is for certain. The best team will win the NBA championship because they have to survive a challenging 82 game schedule and win 4 best of seven series. The NBA rewards success whereas other leagues I won't mention here punish success and games get exposed for bad bounces and the fact that one loss eliminates you can come down to ONE LUCKY PLAY. In consideration of the luck factor in football, a Celtics championship in 2007 would very much reduce the disappointment of the Super Bowl XLII result of the Patriots.

So this is the introductory article of the 2008 Campaign for a 17th Celtics championship. Tomorrow we do roster analysis including the newest member Sam Cassell.

Monday, February 4, 2008

It's over and it is time to move onto the Celtics

Last night hurt me more than anything. I'm sure it hurt many of you Celtics fans whose 1st team is likely to be the New England Patriots. We all hurt when a Boston team loses especially to a New York team. But congratulations to the Giants and Tom Coughlin for pulling off an outstanding victory - one I'm sure that the sports historians will talk about two centuries from now if the American sporting tradition is still around. I can sit here and blame fukda media but I am not going to do that.

The Celtics had some rough spots but I have noticed that they are able to compete effectively without Kevin Garnett in the line-up. They are 2-1 with one of the wins against a fine Dallas team. Orlando came up with a buzzer beater from All-star snub Hedo Terkoglu (The roster number of 12 means there will be at least three snubs). Maybe Doc should invite Hedo and rest Garnett. The defense is strong and the increased use of Leon Powe has given Boston a rebounding presence. The Celtics are getting by at the point guard as Rondo is an emerging star in this league. Time is certainly on his side.

So my advice to you hungover Patriot fans wating for spring training to start is to watch the Celtics for a few weeks and see why they have the best record in the NBA. Maybe keep watching them and enjoy a playoff campaign where a true champion emerges because the winner is required to win a best 4 out of 7 series against 4 quality opponents. The nature of the NFL is that some games are decided by lucky plays and the Giants last night got three lucky plays and benefitted from one bad Belichick coaching decision by benching Gostkowski on a potential 50 yard FG attempt to give the Patriots a 10-3 lead in the 3rd.

OK enough football talk, it doesn't matter and I'm moving onto the Boston Celtics.