Monday, April 29, 2013

Knicks Get No Payback As Celtics Avoid The Sweep

Silly, Melo...Sweeps Are For #1 Seeds.

Okay, now veeeery slowly...put the brooms down and back away slowly...

Well...the Celtics may have lost a 20-point lead. They may have found themselves forced to go all the way to overtime in a win-or-season's-over game. And they may have done it with sharpshooter J.R. Smith out of the lineup for the Knicks due to suspension (in what amounted to a flashback to his former and frequent lapses into stupidity, Smith elbowed Jason Terry in the face at the close of Game 3)...but, dammitt...this one felt GREAT! Especially sweet was the return of The Jet getting revenge in the best way possible at a time when the C's needed him most.

With the Snickerbockers going ballistic on every form of social media available calling for GreenHeadz to roll in an effort to exact some measure of revenge for being swept in the first round two years ago by the C's, it was great to see so many Noo Yawkuz holding brooms and having no clue what to do with them (as usual. Haaaave you SEEN the city?).

This, of course, in no way diminishes the desperate situation in which the Green still find themselves in. It was nice to see Doc go back to the lineup that took 'em to the dance if for no other reason than continuity. The Celtics are going to be best with the lineup they played in Game 1 and Game 4 -- no question about it. It was also nice to see Doc letting Terrence Williams play significant minutes. He is as much a steadying force as Jordan Crawford is an offensive tempest.

I do still have a bone to pick with the coach about keeping the door locked to the doghouse that Courtney Lee is obviously residing in these days. I think Lee has a game waiting to break out of him and at worst, he's a legitimate opposing force that can help to keep Smith under control. We'll see if he gets some burn with the return of Smith in Game 5 on Wednesday.

One of my favorite moments of the game? Paul Pierce faking Jason Kidd out of his sneaks and flushing it as a too-late Prigioni whizzes by just in time to catch posterization.

One last note of discord between me and the coach...count me among the outraged believers that the "shortened playoff roster" is one of the most ludicrous artificial constructs in the game of basketball. Why in the world would a team with a possible contingent of ten legitimate offensive and defensive weapons cut minutes and even bench any single person who might help them in a game? Ludicrous.

Message to Doc and the fellas for Game 5 in MSG? You know what you did there for most of Game 4?

Keep doing that.

Go Celtics.

Tale Of The Tape (Now Isiah Thomas fresh!)

Box Score

Former Celtic Jason Collins Comes Out, NBA & Sports World Welcomes Him In

Jason Collins, a Wizard now, but who until just this past trade deadline was the first Celtics center off the bench, has just come out and revealed to the world that he is gay.

First, let me say "Congratulations, Jason!" Others have come out after their careers were all said and done, but you took an unprecedented risk by throwing it out there in the midst of a career, leaving yourself completely at the mercy of public opinion and potential controversy in the locker room to champion your cause.

Not to take anything away from other courageous players like John Amachi, who came out after his retirement from the Orlando Magic and others like him in other sports who came out after they stepped away from the glare of the spotlight, but to out yourself in the middle of a career takes a center-sized amount of courage.

Kudos to Britney Grenier as well.
The former Baylor University star came out before ever suiting up for her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, just after college.

And as large as her announcement was, however, the stigma that exists in men's professional sports is magnified times 1,000 with respect to being openly gay.

Both are heroes and both deserve all of the positive attention and support that they've been getting from the likes of fellow athletes like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and others in and out of the professional sports world.

May this be the beginning of the end of any controversy over sexuality in the locker room so folks can be free to just be who they are and play ball.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Facing Elimination, Will Celtics Overcome Recent Challenges?

Okay, let’s start right off by addressing the 500 pound green elephant in the room so that we can move on: The Celtics Miss Rajon Rondo.

Did anyone in their right minds think any differently when news that he was gone for the season spread that fateful day against the Heat?

As annoyed as I was at the end of Game 2 when Tommy Heinsohn kept waxing on about how it was a “Rondo-type game,” and “If Rondo were in this game, he’d…” even as our guys in green were getting their shamrocks handed to them, he was indisputably correct. It just didn’t feel like the appropriate time to throw it out there, because our guys were struggling and to mention Rondo felt like an excuse for poor play. And it was poor play, Rondo or not.
Look, as I said back then after it happened and the Celtics went on a great run with ‘Hippie Basketball” sharing the wealth and running free and loosey-goosey which led to the inevitable but horribly ill-informed and naive proclamation by the casual fairweather that “the Celtics are better without Rondo!”

Without going into full-rehash mode, the Celtics team, that came together and rallied without their most vital piece was a running, passing pure-basketball team that traded in set plays for this basic basketball truth – if you play defense and get out and run, good things will happen.
The team you’ve seen over the last two of the three games has been the team that I feared would enter the playoffs – a walk-it-up, play-calling half-court-offense team with changing faces based on the current needs and matchup problems presented by their opponent.  We all know that in the playoffs, things slow down and the game moves deeper into half court sets. The more successful teams are the ones that can rebound and run on misses attacking the opponent’s basket before they get set. Either that, or they possess a talented point guard who can steer them through the intricacies of breaking down the half-court defense. Obviously, everyone knows which team the Celtics had to be.
I lay a fair portion of the blame on the players for not taking better care of the basketball in the first game, but I must include Coach Doc Rivers and even single him out for some of the failure of the second and third games.

Doc has a penchant for changing things up in the playoffs at the most inexplicable moments. The Celtics would and should have won Game 1, but for some horrendous unforced turnovers by Green,
Pierce and a couple of others in the 4th quarter. Why try to fix what ain’t really broke? But he put the ball more completely in Avery Bradley’s hands (a huge mistake, since he is essentially a shooting guard in a point guard’s body) instead of keeping Paul Pierce as the the point forward role that he had assumed from the moment that Rondo went down. He started a different lineup in game 3 in the hopes that it would rejuvenate the offense and provide more scoring punch at the outset, but it did neither. In fact, it quite possibly disrupted any continuity we might have had from Game 1 to Game 2 and it may have undermined the confidence. He has relegated Courney Lee to the bench at a time when the defense could clearly use a strong defender with length at the shooting guard/small forward position for the J.R. Smith’s and Ray Felton’s of the world, not to mention an aggressive offense off the run, which he has shown is his strength. We’ve seen only sneak-peaks of Terrence Williams who is probably the 3rd best ballhandler on the team at this point, and there has been scant floor time for our only solid big, Shavlik Randolph.

There are a host of other questionable turns that I can go into more fully maybe at the postmortem of the season, but, to quote a friend and fellow GreenHead, “You don’t make changes to your lineup in the postseason, only adjustments.”
We know that today’s game could very well be the last one of the season for the Celtics. If it is, it will obviously be disappointing, but they should be proud of what they WERE able to accomplish this season: They began the season with an almost completely new roster and set out with the goal of pursuing that elusive 18th title in spite of the fact that two of their three main stars were on the downslope of hero’s mountain. They dealt with adversity when their best player, the pilot of their ship – the head of their Voltron – was lost for the season. They soldiered on even when another of their team, a rookie who hadn’t been counted upon initially but then seized his opportunity to contribute, was taken away with back surgery. And they continued marching ahead when yet another of their team, a proven scorer, was stricken down with the same injury that took their leader. They had two others returning from what was, evidently, life-threatening heart surgery attempting to become comfortable just running and taking contact, let alone resuming their high-level of play. There were trade rumors swirling amidst the team’s two best remaining players which could have damaged the morale and drive of this team. Instead, they pushed ahead further and entered the Playoffs as the 7th seed, underdogs against the Atlantic Division winners.

No, the Celtics have nothing to be ashamed about, no reason to hang their heads. If this is, indeed, the end of the season – and perhaps even the end of the era of Pierce and Garnett – then at least the Celtics can rest assured that their future will be competitive. Coming next season, we’ll have the services of Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullenger back. Jeff Green, who finally began the journey of coming into his own, will also return. The young and talented Terrence Williams and  Jordan Crawford will be back, as will Shavlik Randolph and the potential of Fab Melo. The chorus of questions will become louder as the season ends and attention turns to whether Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry return, either of their own volition or by the hand of General Manager Danny Ainge, who may opt to begin the rebuilding process in earnest now that it has become clear that the Celtics are no longer the title contenders that they were from 2009 through last season.

There will be much to say at the close of this season, whenever it comes, but I’ll save it. I’ll save it because as long as there is a game left to play, there is hope that these Celtics come together, stand as one, and keep fighting on.

As one sage and still fierce warrior once reminded us…


Go Celtics.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Knicks Defense + Celtics Offense = Boston 71-Knicks 87

Yep, she's back...just in time for the Playoffs!
Folks, that's really what it comes down to. The bench finally gave us some production and -- for the game -- four Celtics scored in double figures, though no one scored more than 18. The Knicks had only three players score more than 6 points, but when one of your three double-figure scorers -- of course I mean Carmelo -- rings up 34 all on his own and you're walking the ball up to get into a half-court offense that you don't actually have...well, ballgame: Knicks.

I will solemnly admit: I was fond of telling anyone who would listen that the Celtics booted away Game 1 by posting more turnovers than points in the 4th quarter and that really, it was our game to give away, but this one...this one, we just appeared to be out of our depth.

Was it the early (and some would call them awful) foul calls by the refs against Garnett, Pierce and Green that slowed everything down to a crawl? It didn't help, that's for sure. Was it an active but seemingly stuck-in-3rd gear Paul Pierce, who dropped 18 as the team high-scorer but never really got into the kind of groove you can depend on for the entire game? That wasn't great, but still, not the answer. Was it Jeff Green going from stud to dud from Game 1 to Game 2, contrasting his 26 points  on 8-15 shooting against tonight's 10 points on an embarrassingly meek 3-11 shooting performance? That REALLY didn't help, but again...there was something else at work, something more disturbing.

It was the Knicks defense that did us in this night. And this was with a formerly dependable defensive weapon like Tyson Chandler being rendered ineffectual by a bulging disk in his neck.

I could go into detail about the game and about how Ray Felton carved up the Celtics defense like it was a Thanksgiving Day turkey and he was...well, probably how he usually is (what I'm saying is, the kid doesn't look like he misses a lot of Thanksgivings. Or meals, in general. Or snacks. Or...). I could talk about how KG couldn't get into a rhythm because of the ludicrous fouls that were being called (which also affected Pierce and Green as they attempted to guard the apparently un-guardable mythological holy basketball god known as (Don't-Put-Your-Hand-On-This-Fellow) Melo. And, I could talk about how much I am growing to loathe the "wind up Jordan Crawford and watch him go" offense as it stagnates the rest of the team flow. But, none of these is more relevant than the brand of fiery, hostile tenacious defense that was played by the Knicks when the clock struck "winning time."

Can the Celtics get it back? Yes. Do I think they'll come back home and reel off two convincing wins at the Garden? Actually, I really, really do. Am I smoking a very large combination of Crack and PCP? No, I am not, and I am offended that you even asked.

As absolutely crazy banana go nuts as you think this may sound, I think we've seen the best that the Knicks have to offer and we have seen about 65% of what the Celtics have to offer in any one game. The Celtics can be markedly better on offense and they can be exponentially better on their defense. All they need is to A) stop trying to play Playoff walk-it-up basketball and try to get out on the run on almost every possession. They have the horses for it, so why not make it a race? and B) Turn up the defense back to where it was only a few short weeks ago and guard the paint a little bit better from the Felton's of the world. Also, the refs will HAVE to be better than they were in New York with respect to benefit-of-the-doubt calls like those Carmelo was given in MSG.

One last thing...can I tell you how much I wished I could jump through my television screen so that I could grab Tommy (who I normally love, respect and agree with) Heinsohn by his jacket collars and scream into his bewildered face, "RAJON RONDO IS NOT COMING THROUGH THAT DOOR, SO WOULD YOU PLEASE...FOR PISTOL PETE'S SAKE...STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM!!!"

No, I will not accept Rondo as the excuse for not taking better care of the basketball in Game 1 and I flatly and absolutely refuse to mention his name when it's clear that the team has stepped away from their brand of fast-break passing-game basketball that they were winning with AFTER Rondo went down.

I will agree with one thing about Rondo, though. If the Celtics can't find their fast-break offense in the next two games, hell, for the series...they'll all be joining him in wearing civilian clothes by the start of next week.

Tale of the Tape

Box Score


NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs -- Round 1, Game 3:
Celtics vs. Knicks
Friday, April 26th, 2013
@ 8:00 P.M.
The Boston Garden
Boston, MA

Monday, April 22, 2013

Conjunction Dunktion: Jay-Gee On A Spree; KG Charges Bulls; Paul Pierces Warriors Hearts

Hookin' Up Facials & Rimshots & Throwdowns
Gettin' It Started As Always With One Of The Game's Most Emphatic Dunkers

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few throwdowns from the end of the regular season that you just might want to see again as we wait for Round 2 between the Celtics and Knicks tomorrow night...

 Mean J-Green Makin' A Scene Against ATL
KG On A Dunking Spree VS Chicago 
The Truth On The Loose Puts Down The Deuce
Mean J-Green Throws It Down In The Bean

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Celtics Announce Charity, Then Hold Game 1 Give-Away To Knicks: 78-85

Okay, Folks...this one smelled like a 12-week-old boiled egg in an old sneaker lined with limburger cheese.

For those of you GreenHeadz looking for a recap, let me spare you the pain of a drawn out sobfest.

Eight turnovers (8!!) in the 4th Quarter...nearly all of them unforced and 4 of them by the otherwise transcendent Jeff Green (26 points on 8-15 shooting -- 3-5 from Threeland, 7 boards, 3 blocks and 2 assists), who had 6 total turnovers for the game. Green tied with Pierce, who frittered away 6 of his own possessions, 2 of which occurred in the 4th.

The Knicks over the same 4th Quarter stretch?

Zero. Zip. Notafinga.

That's the game in a nutshell. Not Anthony's 36 points. Not Kevin Garnett's abysmal shooting (4-12). Not the C's putrid bench scoring (4 points for the ENTIRE GAME!).

It wasn't even the fact that the C's could only muster a paltry 8 points in the 4th quarter. The bottom line was turnovers, turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers. The Celtics committed 20 turnovers [ UPDATE: I misspoke...TWENTY ONE TURNOVERS!!] compared to the Knicks rather conservative total of 13 -- great if the Celtics were running a popular bakery, but absolutely horrid if you're trying to win an NBA Playoff game.

Everything else that people may want to talk about in this game is irrelevant. The Celtics lost this one by 7 points. They had a lead in the 4th and turned the ball over 8 times in that quarter alone. Nuff said.

About the only great thing that happened in this game for the Celtics was the pre-game announcement that they would be committing to raise $200,000 for the victims of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing through their Shamrock Foundation for The One Fund. They'll be contributing $100,000 of their own dollars and raising an additional $100,000 with a series of future initiatives.

Hopefully, the Guys In Green will achieve their charitable goals off-court while delivering to their hometown the distraction of success on-court in Game 2 down in Madison Square Garden. They've already proven that they can handle the Knicks. Now, they need to prove that they can handle the ball.

And, you know what? I have every confidence that they WILL take better care of the rock and come out of MSG with a split as they head back to Boston for Game 3. I believe this because A) Doc will have them ready, B) They clearly have the talent to do it, C) the team has to realize that this was an eminently winnable game, one that they handed off on a blue and orange platter, and, finally...D) I know that they'll put on a better showing because there is no way on Red's Green Earth that they're gonna let THIS escape into the second round of the Playoffs:

Box Score

Tale Of The Tape


NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs -- Round 1, Game 2:
Celtics vs. Knicks
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
@ 8:00 P.M.
Madison Square Garden
New York City, NY

Putting Tragedy Behind, Boston Ready For Rumble With New York

Between the abject horror of Monday and the chaos and confusion of Friday, it was determined that as far as the Boston Celtics and NBA Playoffs are concerned, the show will go on.

And well it should. As many have already explained, if at all possible, we should return to as normal an existence as we are capable of as both a sign of resilience and defiance to any- and everyone who would seek to threaten our way of life and the freedoms that so many have given their lives to sustain.
With that said, I wish the victims and their families healing and want to give unlimited praise and thanks to the first responders and investigators for their very hard earned success.

Moving on…
Celtics vs. Knicks. MAN, this is gonna be good. 

Boston vs. New York…KG vs. Carmelo…Paul Pierce vs. Every Damn Thing In A Knicks Jersey.  THIS is what Playoff basketball is all about. The drama…the competitiveness…the legitimate and palpable dislike that these two teams feel for each other = epic watchableness (Yeah. It IS a word. I wrote it, didn’t I?!)  

Get ready to hear The Truth, put The Jet on the runway and get your pollen-based product-sweetened oat-grain cereal ready!
So…how can we expect our green giants to do this year as the underdogs? Well, if you listen to the so-called experts over at SportsIllustrated, ESPN and CBS Sports, Boston is going to get beat like punching bags as nothing more than sparring partners to the allegedly Eastern Conference-bound Carmelodrones New York Knicks.

Now, I know I am probably not the most objective writer out there when it comes to assessing the Celtics (I’m known in some circles as the Tommy of the Typewriter, which I think is really a bad analogy because I neither announce for the Celtics as a former player named Heinsohn nor do I even have anything more than a vague recollection of what a typewriter is in this era of unswallowable tablets and smartiepants phones), but I do make an honest effort to separate my love of the Green from the realities of their sometimes-greater-than-a-care-to-admit limitations.  
But, we as Celtics fans also know how many “shock the world” moments it's taken for some of the non-believers to realize – you can never sleep on a playoff team led by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers. NEVER.

And with that, let me launch into my prediction about the Celtics beating the Knicks in six games.
Sure, the Celtics have lost Rondo for the year and lost the season series, but two of those losses have had asterisks in the box score – a really tall, intense #5 jersey-wearing asterisk named Kevin Garnett, who happened to be sitting for the final two matchups. As everyone knows, you can take the season series stuff and throw it out the window for the Playoffs. Or, to put it more succinctly – “What happens in the regular season, STAYS in the regular season. History, though? History’s a whole different story.

What do we already know about the Celtics, Knicks and the Playoffs? Well, we know that anytime they’ve met up in the KG-Paul Pierce era, the Celtics proved to be the young father playing ball in the backyard with the Knicks as their 6-year-old son. In fact, the last time the Celtics played the Knicks in the Playoffs, the C’s looked like giant green atomic dinosaurs smashing their way through a well-known but helpless cosmopolitan city.  

Look, we KNOW The Captain LOVES playing in MSG.


 Actually, he LOVES playing against the Knicks ANYWHERE...

And we know that KG owns a luxury condo unit inside Carmelo's head.

But, this game is going to come down to the Celtics defense on the three-point line and each team’s wild cards stepping up to become heroes.

The C’s wild cards? The defensive dominance of Avery Bradley; A decidedly more aggressive (both on offense AND defense – Melo HATES playing on this guy!) Jeff Green; a new and improved (in just about every facet of the game) Brandon Bass, a sweeter-shooting C-Lee; a Jet that’s made-for-the-playoffs; and that wildest of wildcards, Jordan Crawford.  He may never find himself on the same planet of the country with the city where the building has the office in which people are talking about the Defensive Player of the Year, but he can definitely provide a major scoring lift during those confounding draughts the C’s are famous for, and that’s why the Celtics brought him in.
I still believe we’re going to see the best from Jason Terry in these Playoffs. As many a savvy veteran has done before him, he saves an extra gear for the “season that counts,” and I think back a few years when Doc invented his quote: “This guy’s gonna win a Playoff game for us. I guarantee you that,” he was looking into his crystal ball and thinking about Terry.

There’s also the great possibility that unsung heroes suddenly start hearing the sweet music of success like Shavlik Randolph, Terrence Williams, Chris Wilcox and others. Any one of or all of these guys can come in and turn a game with their hustle and scrappiness alone. The Playoffs are where legends are made (yeah, I LOVE that cliché!) and the Celtics are a bubbling cauldron of flying fish just waiting to leap out of the pot and make their mark. And, no, I have absolutely no idea what the hell that sentence actually means, but I am certain that is has something to do with the fact that someone, somewhere on the bench is going to help us out before it’s all over.

Ultimately, what it all comes down to is (All hands on deck! Prepare to fire Cliché # 3) which team wants it more. Effort will trump talent in this series and veteran savvy will win out over flamboyant scoring.

Celtics in six. And Melo has another meltdown in a New York minute.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Here's how you can help:
Donate to the affected families
And, courtesy of the Back Bay Patch from
"With nearly 200 injured and three killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, people across New England and the nation are wondering what they can do to help.

The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts has opened a disaster operation center and is asking locals to notify loved ones of their whereabouts on its website.
Here's a quick list of what you can do to help, courtesy of The Huffington Post:
  • The Red Cross says the best way to help right now is to get in touch with loved ones through its Safe And Well Listings.  The organization is not asking for blood donations at this time.

  • The Salvation Army is offering food, beverages and crisis counseling to survivors and first responders. Find out how you can get involved here.

  • Some marathon runners are stranded in Boston and in need places to stay. Find out how you can offer housing here.

  • Anyone with info about the incident can call 1-800-494-TIPS."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beware Brooklyn...The Green Goblins Await!

Fans...this COULD conceivably be a playoff series at some point this year...granted, we're about to start The Big Sleep resting our players for The Big Show, but still...
LET'S GO, C'S!!!
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
@ 8:00 p.m.
Boston Garden, Boston, MA