Saturday, March 23, 2013

NEW!! GreenHeadz Wrap-Up

As the one or two of you who frequent this site might possibly have realized (keep hangin' in there, Mom & Dad!), a couple of tiny, nearly imperceptible shifts have taken place over the first hundred posts of this here GreenHeadz blog. The first and more obvious of these "shifts" would be that I no longer post every day as most of the more-than-one-person-writer blogs do. This a natural by-product of the site's next subtle alteration -- I don't do traditional recaps anymore, either. Part of my decision to dunk the recaps was, admittedly, due to time constraints that can best be summed up in a monologue. Ferris? A little help?



The other reason is that everybody and their next-door neighbor's plumber's accountant's sons do recaps and, with few exceptions, they're most often either of the usual rote, boring glorified box score-type or they just give you insights that you've already heard the Tommy Heinshon's of the broadcast world deliver during the game that's being recapped. And you, loyal readers, deserve better than last night's canned coverage, right? No? Okay!

In any case, what this new section, "GreenHeadz: It's A Wrap" aims to deliver is a unique perspective based on an assessment of a collection of games rather than a game-to-game rehash. And, if you'd like to catch action clips from each game, you can click the links for NBA.com video recaps.

I hope you enjoy this first edition, and even if you don't, I can always come over and rake the yard to make up for it (right, Mom & Dad?).

Ahem...

So...have these past eight games have been a crazy cluster or what?

Well, get ready, Peeps...we're about to do this "ye-olde serial recap" style:

 
When last we saw our heroes, they marched into Oklahoma City with a five-game win streak in tow, hoping to slay the giants of the West once more, as they did on November 23rd. Alas, a win was not to be, though the team played valiantly in the 79-91 loss. The weary and disappointed Men of Boston then wandered aimlessly into the lair of the Charlotte Bobcats and were mauled sufficiently, bringing their new streak to two losses and fouling the air behind them as they made for home.

Upon arrival to their familiar confines, they found the Dainty Dinosaurs from the Province of Toronto waiting to be joined by the Green at the table for a spot of tea. Instead, the Men of Boston transformed into the Green Goblins of Causeway St. and kicked the table over on the Raptors, trouncing them to the tune of 24 points (112-88) and spilling tea everywhere. The Goblins continued their rampage against their next opponent, exacting revenge from the Bobcats for even daring to slink into the home of the Goblins after showing them such inhospitality in Charlotte.

The Celtics had blazed a path through two of the lesser-lights in the Land of the Association of National Basketball, but still, they yearned for the opportunity to test their mettle once again against the iron of the League.

Enter the Heat of Miami and their Goliath, Sir LeBrawn.

The battle was joined at Boston's Garden and the inhabitants fought like a team of Emerald Davids, armed with enough stones to fell Team Goliath. The combatants scratched and clawed each other with the Davids gaining the upper hand on several occasions, and a Green Knight rising above all others in an attempt to level the greatest team in the land. Sir Jeff Green launched a barrage against LeBrawn and his Heat scoring 43 points with a series of whirling, slashing shooting attacks that LeBrawn could barely answer. But, answer he did, with 37 points
of his own and, though the two
teams rested at a standstill as the time for the contest had nearly run its course, LeBrawn levitated magically and sent a wish skyward that was answered with the final basket of the night. The Davids would fell no giant on this night and the Heat were allowed to escape their fate for the 23rd time in as many straight games, this time with only two points separating the victors from the defeated.

Possibly dejected, perhaps tired, the Green traveled to the City of New Orleans to trifle with Hornets. Though clearly the superior participants, the Green were unable to grow distance between their foes and consequently, the battle would hinge on a single second and a single shot. For the second time in two contests, the Celtics would fall in a joust that could as easily have fallen to their side of the ledger.

Sadly, the road grew no less treacherous as the Men of Boston arrived deep in the heart of Texas to face the Mavericks of Dallas, a collection of ornery fighters once defeated in this very season by the Celtics of Boston. The thrill of a victory twice would be nice, thought the Celtics. Though one of the Green warriors would carry an ember of fight onto the floor of his former home, the Celtics of Boston found themselves locked in mortal combat, woefully outgunned by the un-guardable Sir Dirk of Nowitzki and Sir Brandan of Wright. Alas, that spark which had been dimmed in their battle with LeBrawn and the Heat of Miami and eluded them in their struggles against the Hornets remained dormant, and the Men of Boston were sent in search of that flame that once burned brightly in honor of their fallen field general, Sir Rajon of Rondo.

The Green next entered the den of the bold bears of Memphis, a formidable pack of Grizzlies even without their most massive bear, Marc de Gasol. Enhancing their troubles was the absence of their own ferocious beast, His Highness KG and tenacious combatant Sir Lee of Courtney. As one might expect, the Boston battlers found themselves at the mercy of the fangs and claws of their opponents as they were mauled for much of the game. They would kindle a fire, however, stoked by the pride and indomitability of their Greatest Green Knight Sir Pierce, who lofted his mates on his broad shoulders and scored 26 as the Celtics of Boston stormed back from a deficit of 21 points, nearly absconding with the contest but falling at last by four and completing their road quest with nothing but dust and frustration to show.

The Celtics now stand before the Crossroads -- the precipice beneath them, the heavens above them -- notched firmly between the bottom portion of the race for Playoffs and mere games distant from the upper echelon of the truest combatants. They have amassed their final army with which they will join the battle -- most recently securing for the duration the services of White Knight "D.J.," and Sir Randolph of Shavilik to bolster the efforts of the newly recruited Sir Terrence of Williams and Sir Jordan of Crawford as they ride in earnest with Ticket in hand and Truth as their currency.

On the horizon for this team -- the vaunted Knickerbockers of New York. The team of Green will face the assassin Carmelo come Tuesday and two times before the fighting season begins with ample opportunity to better their standings and, thus, bring the battle to their own arena where the advantage lies. Was their rally at the end of their contest against the Grizzlies the beginning of that ember that will grow into the flame that blazes their path to glory -- much as it was the last time they jousted with Memphis and lost -- or will the streak of four losses grow, placing their ranking...nay!...their very season in jeopardy?

Methinks the former. These men carry chests full of pride, skill and the desire to prove that they were sorely miscounted when others were heaped with praise and expectation.

So, go...go, Celtics of Boston...go, and continue on your quest to announce before the Association of National Basketball that the loss of a single knight (or three...) is of no consequence to a band of brothers united as such are the Celtics of Boston. Go forth and return to us the Holy Grail...


Indeed...

 
THE BUZZ:
 
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
@ 7:00 p.m.
Boston Garden, Boston, MA
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Kevin Garnett: Straight-Up Nuts Or Crazy Like A Boxer?" or "Deep Impact: Kevin Garnett Pioneers Trend Down Low"

I don't know about you guys, but I love watching the copycats come meowing out of the alleyways when someone popular or influential does something that gets noticed, and then everybody tries to follow their lead acting as if they were the ones who originated "The Cool."

Well, I'm here to make sure that one of my favorite players and one of the greatest Celtics of all-time gets his proper due as the winner, trendsetter and creative genius that he is.


Kevin Garnett has long been recognized as one of those true superstars of the game who come along only once in a blue (and green?) moon and do SO many things in such a way that they become prototypical for players at their position for years to come. He's redefined the job specs for Power Forwards in the League, infusing the spot with a versatility and ferocious brand of defense heretofore unseen in such a lean, mean package. And now, as he has been for the past couple of years, KG is on a mission to try and conquor the Center position as well, even at the (by NBA standards) advanced age of 36.

Standing now on the precipice of yet another defining moment, the proper kudos should be given to KG for the latest in-game fad that, while he didn't exactly introduce it to the League, has garnered its share of attention as others have begun utilizing it with the kind of flair and confidence that could only have been nurtured by watching a star of KG's caliber execute it to perfection.

But, what is this painfully primal practice to which I am referring? Why, I'm talking about that timeless crunching classic, that surefire shot, that tried-and-true tapper so popular that it has not only propelled the program America's Funniest Home Videos to the pinnacle of pugilistic pageantry making them the grand high kings of comedic culture, it has also enabled them to celebrate an amazing (and some might say agonizingly achieved) milestone (more on this later) recently. I speak, of course, about the act and the art of hitting, slapping or punching another human male "where the sun don't usually shine."


The art of the Nutcracker -- or Junkshot, if you will -- has made a crushing comeback on NBA courts around the country this season and, if this lake is traced back directly to its tributary, one can only end their noble journey at the feet (and hand) of that Celtic trailblazer (now THAT'S an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) The Big Ticket himself. Or had you forgotten his magnificent marble masher against Phoenix Sun Chandler Frye back in 2011?


Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "If Garnett is such a trendsetter, why did it take so long for the 'Sack Snap' -- or Oyster Shooter, if you will -- to catch on?" My answer to you is: "I. Don't. Know."

The best that I can assume is that, like many transformative trends, it took a while to catch fire, much as the hot of-the-moment fashions of Paris eventually find their way to Los Angeles and New York months later (and to the middle states a few years after that); like old sitcoms -- "Everybody Loves Raymond," for instance -- that trickle over time to the likes of Sweden years later as "Alla √§lskar Raymond" or something of that nature, so, too does the inherent genius of a player of Garnett's ilk take its time to marinate and flavor the NBA like a nice, juicy steak.

Scoff you may, but this ball-busting trend seems to be swelling by the day. Remember this special Christmas delivery from DeMarcus Cousins to O.J. Mayo back in December?


And, most recently, taking the trend to a new high...er, low...shot-blocker turned *ock-socker Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder practiced against the privates of the league's top ball-slammer Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers:

The NBA has fined Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka $25,000 for striking Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers in the groin area.

The incident, which was called a Flagrant Foul 1 on the floor and upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2 upon league office review, occurred with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 108-104 win over the Clippers on Sunday, March 3 at Staples Center.

The announcement was made by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

-- HoopsWorld.com



Ouch.

In fact, this trend is becoming such a hit that some of the game's most notorious...ahhh...ball-busters are lamenting the fact that they're perhaps too late to the party:


Now, you KNOW that if a guy like Matt Barnes wishes he could do it, it MUST be bad@$$!

And, just think about the marketing possibilities that abound for players if the "Whack-A-Sack" becomes a signature move in the NBA: protective groin cups will make a comeback, opening up yet another revenue stream for endorsement-hungry players -- "Hi, my name is LeBron James and I'm a professional basketball player for the Miami Heat. I'm committed to helping my team win not just one Championship, so I don't have time to be laying on the court tucked into the fetal position crying like a little b*tch after some lower-level @$$hole takes a swipe at the 'Little King.' That's why I wear (insert cool new protective groin cup company here)."


Maybe they can turn those hot magnetic bracelets into a waist chain that helps build a force field that protects "what lies beneath," or on the offensive side, maybe they can sell wrist workout tapes designed to help you build the strength and stamina needed to pull off the proper "*ick flick." Back again to prevention, maybe they could market a new kind of "Icy Hot" geared specifically for the nether-region that renders the vulnerable area sensation-free in the event of a "Sack Attack." This may even come in handy for many players who tend to -- how should we say? -- "give the fans what they want" which can sometimes lead to a severe case of "brain strain," if you will.

But, of course, just as any popular trend will tend to produce scores of supporters, so too, do they attract members of the "No-Fun Brigade" who are always eager to step up to try and throw a cold, wet blanket over the entire proceeding:


I guess, in the end, it's probably for the best. After all, as the saying goes, the best are often imitated but never duplicated and I firmly believe that none of these "Weed Wackers," if you will, will ever be able to hold a candle to a true original like KG. Besides, if the NBA "Number Crunchers," if you will, keep going at this clip, guys like Tom Bergeron -- host of the above referenced America's Funniest Home Videos -- will eventually have nowhere to store all of that footage...
While he, of course, noted with a laugh that in the 500th episode “they’ll be a lot more people falling down and doing ridiculous things,” Bergeron also revealed there would be another milestone for the show that same night: the 1,000,000 groin shot.
No, perhaps we should just put this topic on ice, let the burning questions cool and recede after one last hand for Kevin Garnett, and take the knee on this one...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Gospel Of Paul: Pierce Continues Speaking Truth To (NBA) Power

 
So, can we FINALLY say it? Can we FINALLY get it out of the way for good?
 
Paul Pierce IS the Celtics. As he goes, they go. No Pierce, no justice...no justice, no Pierce.
 
Seriously, though, I know it's just one game and he's been out for others and the C's have sometimes managed to pull it out, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and eschew the usual statistical self gratification and state purely and entirely from my gut...the Celtics have lost more games without Paul Pierce in the lineup than with Garnett out or Rondo out of the lineup, respectively. In other words, the Celtics best chance at winning with a missing player is with Pierce NOT being that missing player. Even when he's sub-par and sometimes even sub-zero, he still produces and helps to propel the team with his confidence and swiss-army knife-like skillz. To paraphrase the Louis Vuitton Don from Chicago, "Pierce could stand there with his points at zero and still be looked at as a F***in' hero." He's THAT good.
 
 
To be fair, yesterday's rumble with the Bobcats had all the familiar symptoms of the impending "Trap Game." Coming off of a closer-than-it-turned-out loss to arguably the NBA's second-best team, missing your key veteran...
 
Enter the Toronto Raptors and cue the return of Captain Paul Pierce. Fifteen points, four rebounds, four assists, one block and one new milestone later? Celtics = 112 Raptors = 88 and Geno-Time.

While The Truth didn't do anything spectacular with respect to in-game statistics tonight (unless you count the all-out assault he executed against the basket all night, leading to 11 foul attempts and 9 makes), he still managed to pass the legendary Round Mound of Rebound himself, Sir Charles Barkley on the All-Time scoring list to gain top-20 status.

Kevin Garnett, the other Basketball-God-In-Waiting, also recorded an amazing achievement by doing Pierce one better, or should I say five better, by moving into 15th place all-time, passing Laker legend Jerry West with 25,201 points.

Yup, P2 just keeps on climbing the ladder of greatness as he moves ever closer to basketball immortality.

Special shout out to Jeff Green, who scored a team-high 20 points, 6 rebounds 3 assists, 2 steals and one block and the rest of the Celtics who have gotten back on the road to winning by thrashing the Dinos at home with a tremendously balanced scoring effort with no fewer than 7 players in double figures (BOX SCORE and Tale of the Tape).

But, this here post is all about Pauly P.

In fact, I'm not even gonna tell you anymore how great The Truth is...I'm gonna let sage Celtics historian Jackie MacMullen do it for me (in case you missed this special story on ESPN).

Enjoy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Unvarnished Truth: Celtics Biggest Comeback Remembered By Dime Magazine


Dime Magazine...you complete me.

Okay, let me explain...

A couple of days ago, Dime Magazine posted a story about one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Playoff history that just so happened to be led by one of the greatest Celtics of all-time.

In case you've forgotten (I'll only forgive you if you were a newborn in 2002 or have some sort of illness that affects recollection), the 2002 Boston Celtics consisted of a motley crew that included one Antoine Devon Walker, Kenny Anderson, Walter McCarty, Rodney Rogers, Tony Delk, Vitaly Potapenko, Tony Battie, Coach Jim O'Brien and one young gun who would one day grow up to be the NBA's great purveyor of Truth.

The team was playing against the odds-on favorite to make the NBA Finals New Jersey Nets (seriously, don't laugh...and take your meds...) to a 1-1 series tie and our C's were in a world of hurt heading into the 4th quarter of Game 3. Co-Captain Walker appeared to be tearing a new one into 4th year phenom Paul Pierce as he sat pensively on the bench. I'll leave it at that and let the fine folks over at Dime Magazine tell you how it all went down from there. Then, once you've read it, come on back and watch the 4th quarter (posted below) so you can see it all happen just the way you imagined/remembered it.


I will just say this about the aforementioned game: it will forever live in my brain, seared into my consciousness as one of my sweetest memories. I can recall standing in the back of a bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (ahhhh, destination bachelor parties....), beers were being slung 2 for the price of 1 (let's just say that this place made a LOOOOT of money that day). A teeny-bikini contest was being judged up on stage at the front of the house, so you can just imagine where our combined 18 eyeballs (for the mathematically impaired, that's nine people -- or a whole bunch more with some seriously unfortunate stories) were glued for the next hour.

Wrong.

The Celtics were on...Game 3...down 20 heading into the 4th and we had the bouncer put the game on the flatscreens in the back. If you've read the above story by now or watched the video, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that the MC of the bikini contest broke off from calling the competition to remark, "apparently, we have a few people from Boston in the house!"

Pure Nirvana.

At least I THINK that was the name of the woman who won the bikini contest.

Kidding. I meant the game.

I will never be able to separate the New Orleans Experience from the transcendent joy that I felt that day watching the Celtics come roaring back to make history on the shoulders of the man who shall forever be known as "The Truth." Nor will I forget how I felt later on that night after many more 2 for 1's, a couple of Hurricanes and other assorted celebratory libations (I can, without reservation, say that it was decidedly less transcendent and leave it at that).

Thanks, Dime Magazine, for calling out such a special memory.

Here's hoping for a few more to come from 'ol #34 before the Hall calls.

THE BUZZ:

TONIGHT!

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
@ 8:00pm
Boston Garden, Boston, MA

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Celtics Put League On Notice With Wins Against Indiana, Philadelphia

 
Man, are these Celtics fun to watch or WHAT?

Team Green completed their recent back-to-back road challenge with wins against the Philadelphia 76'ers and the Indiana Pacers, but may have come away with more than just the W's.
 
At this point in the season, it's becoming trendy among NBA talking heads and blogsites galore to refer to the Boston Celtics as "The Team Nobody Wants To Face In The Playoffs."
 
Beginning on that fateful day back in late January against the Miami Heat when the Celtics learned that All-Star point guard and team engine Rajon Rondo would be down for the season, and extending through the season-ending injuries to rookie phenom Jared Sullinger and bench sparkplug Leandro Barbosa, the Celtics put down the potential excuses and picked up their play. Contrary to almost every basketball brain and hoops herald, the Celtics refused to roll over and wallow in the unfairness of it all, instead adapting, excelling and announcing to the league that they would be anything but an easy out come playoff time.
 
These Celtics have not only survived the kinds of losses that would have crushed even the strongest resolve of most teams (hey, Lakers...at least your underachieving center can actually play...you think Philly doesn't want that trading day back?), they've thrived, playing 17 games and losing only 4 of them. I think 17 games is a decent short-term indicator that these Boston Celtics are not laying down; not for the Miami's, Golden States and Indiana's of the world and they're giving no freebies to the rest of the league, either. Even more amazingly, they haven't so much as missed a beat while adding and incorporating quality replacements (maybe even improvements) for some of their fallen.

Speaking of those replacements... as well as the C's have been playing, as much as I absolutely love the free-wheeling, passing game, speed basketball that the team is now playing...what gives me the biggest batch of butterflies in the belly is the exuberant spirit of this team. These guys are really pulling for each other...I mean REALLY pulling for each other. If you watch the Celtics vs. Pacers Tale Of The Tape to about the 2:09 mark, you'll see what I mean about the bench and how they've been rooting for the team for this entire run.
 
Even the guys who aren't seeing a lot of playing time seem to be as ecstatic for their teammates as they would be for themselves had they been the ones making the winning plays. In fact, Terrence Williams -- whose signing I happen to believe was an absolute hijacking by the Celtics over the rest of the League -- who has seen less playing time than Jordan Crawford (another steal, I promise you), has been among the most vocal and supportive from the bench, often out of his seat cheering with the joy of a fan in front of his television. Watching how he and the other recent bench additions have been marveling at the exploits of the Hall-bound Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce up close makes me believe that whatever problems some of them were alleged to have had on past teams will be kept to the shadows, at least in the short-term.
In the meantime, inspired and greatly improved play from Avery Bradley and Jeff Green along with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Chris Wilcox has allowed Coach Doc Rivers to rest Pierce and Garnett for larger stretches of time, thus increasing the odds that they can dominate down the stretch during crunch time, if needed.
 
If the Shamrockers can keep-on keeping-on the way that they have been, the C's can move past just making the playoffs and start thinking about home court advantage (hey, don't laugh...the Celtics are just a GAME AND A HALF out of 4th place in the Eastern Conference!), and Doc can pull out the the 'ol whiteboard once again.

Don't get me wrong...I'm neither giddy enough to be oblivious to the possible pitfalls awaiting the C's as they race to the end of the regular season and I'm not so much of a homer that I don't believe that there may be great trials that lie ahead in the Playoffs for a team without a true playmaker (and the League's best one at that!).
 
But, just as there are people who believe that the most important things these Celtics are missing are Rondo, Sully, the Brazillian Blur and a true center, I believe that the most important things they lack are fear and the desire to quit, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Once again...

Monday, March 4, 2013

FLYPAPER, March 4th, 2013: Bradley Effect, New Faces Settle, Go Time For The C's, Old Dogs & New Tricks, Wilcox Coming Along

We took a quick buzz around Celtics/NBA cyberspace and landed on a swarm of articles, posts and clips you'll want to see. Here's what stuck:   

"The Avery Bradley Effect" --  CelticsBlog.com, via Brian Robb

"New Faces Settling In With Celtics" -- Boston.com, via Amalie Benjamin

"It's Go Time For The Celtics" -- Celtics.com, via Marc D'Amico

"An Old Dog And Some Young Pups Learn New Tricks" -- CelticsBlog.com, via Jeff Clark

"Chris Wilcox: Things Are Starting To Come Along" -- CelticsTown.com, via @Tom_NBA.

"Can The Boston Celtics Still Top The Atlantic Division?" -- HardwoodHoudini.com, via Mike Cerra