Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celtics state of play; strong and getting stronger.


Eighteen games into the regular season for 2010 - 2011 and the Celtics are 14 - 4 and 8 - 1 at home; so all is good for Celtics fans.

So far. 

A lot of things are different this year; teams rising in the standings as others fall, and a certain much hyped team in the South Eastern division is just getting it together after falling to the green and white twice. To cover as much ground as possible I am going to break it down with the following;

Rajon Rondo - He was devastating during the later half of the year with some lapses, but he is down right incredible now. Posting 10 and 24 assists in the first ten games, Rondo leads all NBA players with an average of 14.9 per game. That’s very nearly five clear of Jason Kidd. Wow.

Shaq - An injured Kendrick Perkins, an injured and terminally fragile Jermane O’Neal, and a rookie Semih Erden who is learning the ropes while carrying...wait for it, a shoulder that is not 100% means Shaq is getting good minutes. This translates to 11.7 a game with 7 rebounds thrown in while also getting the occasional ‘Shaq of old’ getting 25 and 11 against New Jersey on November 24th.

Even scoring across the board - To take the most recent game vs the Bulls which the Celtics won 104 - 92, all starters scored in double figures while the bench scored between 8 and 2 points with only two players going scoreless. ‘The bench mob’ has been good and but inconsistency held them from being great night in and night out. Marquis Daniels has steadily been stringing together good performances. Glen Davis’s continues to come off the bench and bring it.

Kevin Garnett - KG is healthy. This translates to consistency, production and 20 point and 17 rebound games becoming more common for a player who built his reputation as a double double machine and continues to.

Trust -  Define trust on the court. Ray Allen missing his 5 three pointers in row, then with the game on the line vs Portland Paul Pierce passes the ball to Allen for the win 99 - 95. This is indicative of a team who really doesn’t care who takes the shot and has several players who can nail the coffin shut on their opponent.


Bean Town is back. Green and white for life

Friday, September 3, 2010

Delonte West returns to Boston

Back at the beginning of the now water shed 07 - 08 season for the Boston Celtics, fans were picking up their jaws from the floor and pumping their fists in the air. Boston had pulled off an amazing and what seemed initially high risk trade, bringing Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston. 

After getting over the shock of this 10 plus player trade, one thing did not sit right with me - that Delonte West was traded.  I felt that the C's really lost a 6' 4'' hard nosed defender, highly versatile combo guard who actually plays well at 1 or 2 spot and is a real competitor. He was at that time one of my favorite Boston players. 

His time away from Boston bared some sad and unusual developments. Dealing with mental illness (Bipolar disorder) and gun charges in Cleveland, it is safe to say things could have been better. Although, in the Cav's games I saw last season, West was one of the better player on that team. Good enough to make me feel like Boston really lost something they sorely needed - youth, scoring and guts.


Now returning to the green and white, the Celtics get back something they have lost which they now need more than ever. West Gives the C's more depth at the wing as well as a combo guard. He gives them consistent three point shooting, a guy who can make his own shot, get to the hoop and most importantly break a scoring drought (that really cost the C's a few games last year). West is also an excellent passer and top notch defender. Add to that he has a familiarity with Doc Rivers, more than few Celtics players as well Boston's defensive system - the C's got a great player for next to nothing.

As for Delonte's personal issues, who knows? Yeah, sure he could have another bad year. But he is back in Boston, with a team and management who value his ability and potential more than they are concerned about his 'problems'. Fact is they need him back. He'll they needed last year. West has all the right ingredients to create a fresh start and have a good year for a team that sould never have let him go in the first place.

Green and white for life.   

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The obligatory 'Lebron James going to the heat' post.

I really did not want to write about this. Frankly, I am sick of seeing James in a Heat no. 6 jersey already, and the season is months away. Now here is my dilema, I don't want to contribute the vast amount of drama, bitterness and conjecture about Lebron James. So my aim is to be as constructive and reflective as possible. I will break it down into two posts; the effect of LeBron's move from Cleveland to the heat. As to keep it relevant to the green and white the 2nd post will relate to how I believe the Celtics and Heat match up at each position. So here goes.

From all the things I have read and seen on the topic of Lebron's 'decision' , it's implications and his apparent greatness have been summed up most succinctly in an email from my cousin Mike. It is a beautiful piece of writing, and to me hits the nail on the head. 

"Yes, it was handled very badly, but the thing that really pisses me off about it is that is simply a symptom of a much deeper cynicism that is inside LeBron, and the reason why I believe he will never be considered as one of the game's best in years to come, and Simmons touched on the reasons why: The great players have that hunger to win and that unstoppable drive to achieve their goals.

Obviously it's impossible for LeBron to take over a game every night, but he can do it often enough that just by brute force his team will always make it to the playoffs and likely go pretty deep. But when you have to play the best it's not enough. Michael Jordan could take over games as well as or even slightly better than Lebron can, but the difference was in the days he couldn't quite get it going. Where LeBron sulks and shows his frustration, Jordan would compensate in other areas, working extra hard on defence, drawing double teams to open up teammates and all the other little intangibles that don't count on a stat sheet. 

Basically Lebron is Michael Jordan minus Shane Battier. Their abilities are probably almost equal, but its that shit cleaning, scrappy, never give-up edge that Jordan had that makes him an order of magnitude better than LeBron. And I feel the same way around this Miami team too, I think the problem lies less in the talent around LeBron (although of course it's important) and more in that attitude that when the pressure is on he gives up and blames it on someone else."


So while they're sure to go deep in to the playoffs this year, and may even win it with the benefit of Wade filling in when LeBron can't muster it, there's an equal if not bigger chance the same thing that happened to Cleveland this year will happen to Miami next year, that they will stumble at the last hurdle. And then shit will hit the fan. I predict that if they don't win a championship in the first 2 years, maybe even in the first year, that LeBron demands a trade. And by then the damage will be done to his psyche and he may never win a championship. I truly believe there is a 75-80% chance of him not doing so. This is a huge risk on Miami's part, and I can't see it going anywhere nearly as smooth as people seem to think it will. But that might not come out until late in the playoffs or even finals when they get beaten. Then shit hits the fan.


The comparison to Jordan is elegant, and sums up what is at the heart of the matter and perhaps the crux of LBJ's persona. LeBron's decision was his to make, that is his right. I believe how he made showed poor judgement and a lack of maturity. There was a time to make this decision the right way, and in my opinion that was directly after or within 72 hours after game 6 of the 2nd round of the 2010 play offs after Boston sent them packing. 


At the press conference after game 6 LeBron is saying all the right things - but I swear his face showed visible contempt. There is a great big 'gestural shrug' on his lips, that is a facial mannerism indicating contempt or disgust. It is impossible to know what he was thinking; but if you had lost again in the play offs after your organisation tried to do everything it could to get you to the finals - If it where me I would be angry and extrememly frustrated. The game 6 press conference or some time immediately after that (for me again 72 hours is the limit) was the time to for James to make 'the decision'.


Instead of drawing it out over the off season and not informing the Cleveland of his intentions until it was aired live (for attention and validation as I believe James did), all he had to say was something along the lines of; 


"I have decided that this was my game for the Cavaliers, I respect this organisation more than I can say, but our failure to in game 6 has motivated me in this incredible hard choice....". 


He wouldn't have to say where he was going and the shock and derailment of the Cavs organisation would still occur, but at least Cleveland would know the score and start to prepare better than they have been able to. Having stated his intent to leave LBJ should have said (with me as his manager) good stuff about the fans / team mates / Akron / Cleveland. 


And at that Moment, after a crushing defeat by Boston, Cavs fans would be sad but the reasons why he wanted to leave would make sense and you could even understand it. The purpose of his actions were about setting up the best situation for himself and drawing as much attention and media fervor and perhaps that is who he is. A person seeking validation and through his actions and choices, who needs to feel not just that he is the best player but he has to feel that people believe he is the best player. Joining the Heat and the other two best free agents in the game today proves this point. Why play against these guys if I can join up with them and beat all the haters?  

As for the Heat franchise, despite how I feel about the way it all went down, It is a move for the heat organiasation that improves their team and chances at winning a title. But as Mike said the chances of faltering are still there. Wade, House and Haslem are the only players who have played on teams that have won a finals series. This is virtually a new Heat team, playing together and building chemistry are all things that need to form at their own pace. Except that every other NBA team won't go easy on them while they gel. Every team worth their salt will be gunning for them in the initial stages of the season. They will lose games and there is always a team that, despite their ranking, can cause your squad match up problems (09 - 10 Cavs lost 3 - 0 to Bobcats in the regular season). 

The Miami Heat should take some lessons from a 'super friends' team from the golden era of the NBA. The Knicks did it when they won the title in '69 - '70 with 'Earl the Pearl', Walt 'Clyde' Frasier, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere. But that took at least three years to get to the point of winning it all, as a roster slowly took shape. That immortal Knicks team amassed a 60 - 22 record and won the title but they had to do it in 7 games. Willis Reed came back out onto the floor in game 7 battling through pain and sinking two shots. That was enough to inspire his team mates to get it done and is one of the most treasured moments in Knicks franchise history. They where a stacked team for their time but they proved they had fortitude and guts. The question is do the Heat have the same level of integrity and perseverance? Will they care enough about each other to step up when  players go down? Will Bosh, Wade or Bron bring it and bite down like Willis did if that is what it takes to win? When they lose a few will the team muster strength or fold? These are things you can't recruit or bring together through acquisition. They are intangible because this what comprises real and defining team character. The positive relationship between players and the character of the team contributes fundamentally among other things to teams winning rings.


Green and white for life.







Friday, August 13, 2010

Celtics signings.

The Celtics are making something of the off seaon remaining 'in the conversation' having signing significant players in Von Wafer, Shaq and Jermane O'Neal. 

Wow! Who would have thought that Boston would finally get Von Wafer! 

I have been dying to write or say that, because one of these new Celtics is garnering more than his fair share of media attention and genuine excitement from fans (myself included), and it is not the player who sounds like a German biscuit. All these acquisitions are significant, 
filling a need for big bodies and rebounders at the and the 5 and filling the thin wings at the 2 and the 3. But what does this all mean to the C's in a 2010 - 2011 season where the NBA landscape has significantly altered?

Von Wafer is a guy who has been in the league just under half a decade and has been followed by a bad rep. I am not condoning players making unreasonable demands and putting a great big 'I' in the word  team - but sometimes a player just needs the right environment and a coach to give a little. Doc is 'giver' but he is also a hard liner in relation to players destroying team chemistry. Von Wafer explained to media that he was willing to do what Doc said and be a part of the team, saying that Rivers stressed he wants a team player in Wafer if he wears the white and green in 2010 - 2011. Von Wafer even said he wanted to get into the gym and study Celtics defensive schemes - a mandatory thing to mention at a press conference to establish good credibility as a player.

But Danny Ainge has taken a calculated risk in Von Wafer. This risk  could potentially pay off; Wafer is natural Athlete, can score from any where on the floor (when his game is on) and at 6' 5'', can play the 2 and the 3 if needed. He is a shake and bake instant offense kind of player, Boston could do with a little more of this. Along with Nate Robinson, the C's have two wild cards to unleash on the parquet. Boston's lack of points off the bench shall be boosted with the acquisition of the former Florida State baller. This, I believe could make up for his perceived lack of D, but he in the right place to learn how to clamp down.

Shaquille O'Neal. Ok, well a 38 year old O'Neal. And a lot has been said about the big fella. We all know the things Shaq has achieved. 4 rings. Dominating the low post. Missing free throws over three decades (sorry, couldn't help it). He is a player who had a significant impact on the game when he entered the NBA 18 seasons ago. Now, he is less 'Impact' and more 'impact off the bench'. In the modern NBA, offenses run and players are like eagles. Shaq is condor with a bit of albatross. He ain't an eagle. But if the condor / altatross can get the offensive glass then get the outlet pass to Rondo, finish at the rim with authority, box out players with their massive frame and get other players into foul trouble - then the eagles can afford to give him 20 minutes a game at least. 

Jermaine O'Neal is possibly the most potential laden and option at the 5 for the C's (Sorry Semih, you gotta play first). Jermaine is an efficient center, and that is vitally important for the Celtics. Why? He is one of the least turn over prone centers playing today. Perk is a great a center and defender of all star bigs, but suffers a bit in the turn over department. Think about what that could do for a team like Boston that turns the ball over a lot? J.O'Neal has has a consistent shot, could possibly slide to the 4 in certain line ups, is a great shot blocker and rebounds. All good when he is healthy. If 'big J' get into a groove, avoids being hurt and commits to what Doc Rivers is setting down he could have a renisance year.

News that broke whilst this post was being written; Rasheed has been waived and is retiring which leaves a roster spot and need for Luke Hangody. The rook will get on this Celtics team based on his potential, great summer league games and his nose for the ball. If he can get into a groove playing at the 3, that would see him getting even more minutes and really propel him to become a piece of the of the next generation for the Green and White. I really like this kid, I hope he gets a run.

More news as it comes.

Green and White for life.     

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bill Russell (originally posted June 18th, 2009)

This is an older post from one of my other blogs. I am sorting posts from my other blogs, and this little piece about the best basketball player ever should really be here.



Bill Russell is my Hero.

As an adult, making an admission that you admire or respect an individual is all right, to state someone is your hero – well, personally I feel it is a proclamation to be made with some consideration. As I assess the things I admire about this great person, simply put no other words will do.

Bill Russell has won 11 National Basketball Association (NBA) titles during his career as player in the 1950’s and 60’s with the Boston Celtics and as a coach in1970’s. He was not a player who poured on points, but as you can see from the picture above he was extremely adept at stopping other players doing just that. Players who played with and against Bill Russell speak of his tenacity and uncanny ability to anticipate where the ball was going to be. Being in the right time place to send the ball back where it came from. His record as a player has recently earned Russell the honour of the NBA finals ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award being renamed after him.

Basketball as with any sport played at it’s highest level, is about winning. It is absolutely evident that Bill Russell is an embodiment of the victoriousness. But it is not the reason he is my hero.

Bill Russel as a player and a person is uncompromising. To understand this I will paraphrase a story about Bill Russell. In the early 50’s in his sophomore college year, Russell was a leader and prime candidate in many statistical categories by an obvious margin. That year he was passed over for the most valuable player award. A white player, secondary every sense, won the award. In his senior year, Bill Russell accepted that same award, before literally throwing it away. He did this because it meant nothing to him after what had occurred in his second last year of college.

I watched a documentary where his Celtics team mates retold how Bill Russell destroyed NBA teams in southern states, with his shot blocking, court speed and anticipation. He played the game ethically, but his dominance on those occasions most effectively stated his disdain for the segregation and racism that thrived in the south at that time.

Most of all, Bill Russell put himself on the line. Being an active civil rights advocate during his time as a professional ball player was a risk to himself personally. Civil rights contemporaries and leaders like Mohamed Ali, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X paid in varying degrees for their beliefs. Russell had his life and that of his family threatened frequently, his house vandalised numerous times as well as an undertow of public disdain by those disagreed with what Bill Russell rightfully campaigned for.
I believe that in sport and life there is a word always associated with true virtuosity. Intangibility. Bill Russell was not just a superior player and athlete; he played and still lives today with an indomitable spirit. He put his heart into what he wanted to achieved and as well putting himself on the line for his own beliefs.  He defied and defended in the ways that matter most. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Celtics off season Update no. 2.

Ok, a lot is happening first lets address the Celtics roster. This is kind of my version of what I think the 2010 - 2011 team should look like combined with who has actually signed , presuming both rooks are signed, those players I believe need to go or who have already signed else where, players previous locked in or are damn close to resigning with the green and white. This is how it should look;

Starting five
  • Rajon Rondo PG
  • Ray Allen SG
  • Paul Peirce SF
  • Kevin Garnett PF
  • Jermane O'Neal C

Bench:
  • Nate Robinson PG (damn close)
  • Avery Bradley PG / SG
  • Semih Erden C 
  • Glen Davis PF
  • Luke Harangody PF / SF (should be damn close)
  • Tony Gaffney SF
  • Oliver Layfayette PG
  • Brain Scalabrine PF / C
  • Matt Janning SG / SF (he really should be there)
  • Michael Finley SG / SF

Injured
  • Kendrick Perkins C

That is 16 roster spots filled out. I have left out by choice Marquis Daniels and Sheldon Williams...well, to be honest they don't fit any more. Both players where hardly used in 09 - 10's magical play off run. Tony Allen has unfortunately left, signing with the Memphis Grizzlies for $9.2 million - something Boston was unwilling to offer TA. Damn shame because he is a great defender and explosive scorer. He will be missed and possibly come back to haunt us. Matt Janning went undrafted but he makes the grade because;

a) The C's need youth and athlticism. Janning has both.
b) You always need a guy with possible SG / SF Potential.
c) He dominated the Bobcats in Orlando in the Celtics only    Summer League victory.
d) He is local. The Boston fans always love a local. And he can potentially play better than Scal.

Speaking of rooks, Harangody really stood out in Orlando, playing an under talented and some times under maned SL roster (playing their last game losing to the Nets, with 7 players?!). Luke show cased a solid 3 pt shot, great rebounding and great intensity and aggression. Plus he has the weirdest shooting style I have seen in a while.


Now, here is something I would love to see. My ideal second unit / youth group / post big three starting 5. Basically the players I hope reap rewards fro the green and white. There are alot of variables; injuries, under performance, trades etc but given the right conditions we could have this;

  • Rajon Rondo PG / SG (captain)
  • Avery Bradley SG / PG
  • Luke Harangody SF
  • Glen Davis PF 
  • Semih Erden C
  • Matt Janning PG / SF (6th man)
OK, they are a tad undersized, but the uniqueness of Davis and Harangody at there positions can have an upside. And again I am trying to peddle my 'two-guard-no-true-guard' idea. But come on, two quick athletic defensive minded guards working together in a starting 5. If it worked it would be awesome.

Green and white for life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Celtics off season Update no. 1.

The off season is a loaded one for almost every team in the NBA. With an outstanding free agent crop it is no surprise that teams taking risks and spending big basket ball dollars to lock up players to solid contracts before next off season's inevitable lockout and potential enterprise bargaining agreements. 

The Celtics have a few things looming in the off season great to ghastly. I will break them down for you with great or ghastly rating accordingly:


  • Great - The next generation: In summer league action New Celtic Luke Harangody has been putting up some nice numbers (23 pts vs OKC, 14pts 12 rbs vs PHI). I have a great feeling about this guy, the C's got a steal and they know it. He owned a lot of teams in college but gets passed by teams on draft day due being an 'unconnvetional NBA body'? Also D-league standout Oliver Layfayette, whom I actually saw play in Boston in his first NBA game (being the last game of the 09 - 10 season), has been logging good minutes at the point. Perhaps Boston may finally have back up true PG for Rondo. Let's hope.
  • Great - Doc is back!: After pondering the family vs team, his kids and wife told Glenn 'Doc' Rivers to go be a coach. This may lead be instrumental to players returning / resigning while Rivers esteemed status as a coach could aid the Celtics attracting decent free agents.
  • Great - 'The Truth' is back!: After opting out of the last year of his contract, Paul Peirce has resigned for a multi- year contract in the mid 60's (millions), well under the max of 96. Again a vital peice, despite his age you can't have a contender next season without this player.
  • Ghastly - Kendick Perkins Knee: The Celtics throw back center is out for a good chunk of time, at least until mid 3 months into the regular season. One of the only possible (and I stress possible) good things to come out of this is that fan's may get to see Semih Erden (inked to contract this week) play at the 5 spot. New prospect Artsiom Parakhouski has played some good minutes at the center in summer league for the C's. Also, don't rule out Rasheed Wallace returning next season. 
  • Great / Ghastly - Ray Allen yet to resign: Ray Allen is still resign with the C's, but from what we hear it is just business of Basketball. Ray would be a valuable asset to any contender (especially the Cav's if they get Bosh). Ray should resign, but how much is being a Celtic worth to Ray-Ray?

More news as I hear it. Green and White for life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 Draft:Avery Bradley (19th) and Luke Harangody(52nd).

The future of a Celtics draft picks in recent years can mean one of several things; gradual and increasing court time leading to success as a player (Rondo and Davis), the D-League and time playing for the Maine Red Claws (Lester Hudson, JR Giddens) or being traded (Bill Walker, who put up some nice numbers for Knicks last year). Faced with the prospect of an aging but still highly effective core (Allen, Peirce, Garnett), utilising and taking the time to foster the talents of their draft picks must be a priority if the Celtics hope to contest for future titles. 

Luckily, it looks like the C's have chosen well; drafting a point guard / combo guard in Avery Bradley and a hardworking power forward in Luke Harangody.


Bradley addresses some key areas of need for the Celtics. Firstly, they C's may have a reliable rookie back up for Rondo with similar defensive instincts and speed. Secondly, from what Boston's recruitment has observed of Bradley, his D is at an elite 'NBA ready' level. His shooting is still emerging, but his solid mid range game is sorely needed by the green and white. Finally, with a potential combo guard who has the ability to play 'bigger' than his actual height (6-2-ish) the Celtics may (and I am making a rather large supposition) have the makings of a devastating front court Rondo / Bradley duo for years to come.

Luke Harangody is a solid Power Forward, a player with a reputation as a fierce competitor and low post work horse. Playing for Notre Dame in the highly competitive 'Big East', Harangody was the go to option for the 'fighting Irish' and thrived playing some the best players of the 2010 draft class this past college season. With numbers like 21.8 ppg and 11.4 rpg averaged over his last three seasons at ND, he was a steal at 52 outweighing any misgivings other NBA teams may have had about his abilities or potential.

The Celtics need to do one when the 2010 - 2011 season kicks off; PLAY THE DAMN ROOKIES FOR A CHANGE!!!! This is my biggest criticism of this Celtic team, over playing an older core while capable young guys sit on the bench. That said some 'rooks' of the past several seasons just haven't cut the mustard (Gabe Pruitt I am talking to you). Having two players with the abilities of Avery and Bradley, the Celtics have two valid contributors this season. For this to happen they need to get a regular 20 or so minutes every few games at the beginning of the season, building up to game in game out contributions by seasons end. If this team is willing to tank games to be ready for the play offs, then they can leave a game or two in the hands to youthful and energetic rookies.

Green and white for life.     

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 Draft.

The finals now behind us (but still stinging), the Celtics have a real chance to add youth to the roster and have a contributor within 2 years with the 19th pick. The C's also have the 52nd pick, but a late first rounder is nothing new for Boston. Real Potential lies at number 19.

But who? And who does this team need?

Most talk is centering around the addition of a point or Combo guard. Valid, but it would be worth resigning Nate Robinson, give him a year in the rotation and we could see the timely and explosive contributions we saw in these most recent play offs could become more common place.  

The draft day additions need to be at the 3 (small forward), 2 (shooting guard) or even the 5 (center).  As such, several candidates that may (and I stress may) be available for Danny Ainge to pick up for the C's at number 19. After browsing consensus draft pages here is the official 'Green and White for Life' draft projections;

  • Small Forward, LUKE BABBIT, Nevada, 6 - 9: I keep coming back to this guy. First off Babbit seems like a shooter who can make his own shot and has good range. Not a blinding natural athlete or phenomenal leaper, Luke Babbit has been described as being 'crafty' relating to his ability in finding ways to score, inside / outside, getting to the hoop and getting the harm. Scrappy and competitive to boot, Luke Babbit seems to embody a familiar 'Truth' at the 3.   
  •  Center, HASSAN WHITESIDE, Marshall, 7 - 0: A big man with raw potential, Whiteside may go earlier and the Celtics may not even get a look. But if doubts about his readiness for the NBA come to the fore, he may be available at 19. This guy could be a defensive power house with a 7-7 arm span and averaging 5.4 blocks in college. Hassan Whiteside's passing and still maturing body is limiting him in some respects. He is reported to have a good mid range shot and and his size and power make him a good, if still emerging, low post threat. Hassan's developing skill set could be fostered subbing minutes for an injury prone Kendrick Perkins. Then again, does potential and raw ability get you on the Celtics rotation?
  • Small Forward, DAMION JAMES, Texas , 6 - 7: James seems to have the mental fortitude and adaptability to come off the Boston Bench, but has the emerging skill level to keep him right at the wrong end of it. Reportedly tough and versatile, he has an awareness of his role on the floor and is able to get open for shots while being able be physical down low. Still developing from long range along with other elements of his game, Boston may be a place in which to learn and thrive.     

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Loss in 7.

I am not going to pick this apart. It was a physical match tied for three and half quarters, then one team the shots when it counted. Unfortunately it wasn't Boston. Congratulations Laker fans, you have a year to enjoy it. 

My heart goes out to the 2010 Boston Celtics. To come from fourth in the east to win the conference and take the Lakers to 7 is not something to be ashamed of. As a fan I am bummed, so I can't even imagine what the players are feeling right now. I just hope they have the desire to bring it back together for another motivated run. 

This team with a tweaked roster, a good draft pick with a chip on their shoulder could find themselves back in the finals claiming the title. Let's hope. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

State of the Finals

Yes, Lakers vs Celtics. Again, for the twelfth time since 1959. Am I a Celtics fan. Absolutely, I didn't call this blog 'green and white some times'? No. And yes, of course the C's will win the 2010 finals. They have done it against the Laker's in the finals 9 times compared to the LA's 2. But not being one to blindly  believe in a Boston victory and taking into account they C's are down 2-1 I feel I need to explain myself.

Well, losing game 3 makes it that bit harder. But Cleveland beat The C's with a record loss in game 3 of round 2 in the east and we all know how that turned out. My heart tells me Celtics in 6, but they will have to step up like they did in Cleveland x15. The Celtics have in their collective wheelhouse to accomplish that feat, facing turning points (regarding to orlando winning two being down against the Cavs) and coming back and taking it all. The Lakers transition D was weak and lazy in game 2, I believe the Lakers are vulnerable when caught on their heels the same as the Cav's are. They are teams that rely on the set up, and even more so setting up their top scorers. Good defense in combination with a running game is just what the doctor should order for this Celtics team. This will be even more effective if Rondo is driving the lane while given options to kick out for the three to team mates or the Mid Range 2. 

I would be Running Rondo and Robinson as a 'two guard / no true guard' combo for periods in game four if the Celtics can get Rondo the space he needs and LA is caught reeling. Contain the Laker Options, disrupt their rhythm get the win.




Green and white for life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boston clinches Eastern Conference title, defeats Orlando 96 - 84.

Last time, the path this team took to get to the finals was an obvious one. A 36-game-improvement-60-plus win-season-best record-in-the-league-beat-the-Lakers-in-6 kind of obvious.

But this? 

To be honest, a fan's faith in the green and white was tested this year with a regular season that was awesome to start with, bumpy to downright dodgy in the middle and redeemable toward the end. Celtics players talked as they always have this year, phrases like 'staying focused' and 'Ultimate goal in mind' and 'being ready for playoffs'. But their are several words which have turned out to be the most important, often reiterated by coach Glen 'Doc' Rivers again and again in 09 - 10;


BEING HEALTHY FOR THE PLAY OFFS.

After finishing 50 - 32 in the regular season and looking anything but intimidating the Celtics have come alive. Round 1 saw them dominate Dwayne Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat in 5, a win we all saw coming. 

Round 2 was a different story. The regular season first placed and post season favourite Cleveland Cavaliers playing a Boston team whom apparently needed to 'step up' to beat the No. 1 team in the East. Six games later Cleveland was an after thought, being out played and out hustled by a unselfish and well balanced Celtics team . 


This of course leads us to the Conference Finals. Their opponent the Orlando magic had swept their own first and second round series against the reasonable Charlotte Bobcats and the supposed very good Atlanta Hawks. On paper they where the best team. On court they folded, after one lucky win and one very good one. 


Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Dwight Howard, three of the best players in the league have all fallen to a true team focused on one goal. An NBA title.

And now, all the Celtics have to do is win four games against the Lakers to take out the whole damn show. 

Green and white for life. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No sweep for Boston: Orlando wins 96 - 92 in OT.

I am not a sage, basketball egg head but I think I got lucky calling it in my last post (prior to game 4);

This next game SHOULD be the best game of the series. It SHOULD be a closer game, akin to game two. Overtime is not completely unlikely. Orlando beat this Celtics team in the regular season, so it SHOULD be in the Magic's sphere of attainability. If victory is unattainable the game SHOULD be fought hard regardless. This Orlando team SHOULD feel like their back is against the wall.


I actually hit it on the head. Especially that bit about the overtime. But that is not the point. The point is we finally have a ball game and a series.

But for how long?

Orlando are too good a team to get swept in four. I really wanted Boston to win this game, believe me I am not vouching for the Orlando Magic to win the series. I just believed they had a victory in them. Unfortunately, a sloppy game by Boston in relation to their serious dip in field goal percentage (46.6 in game 3 down to 42.1% in game 4) and failure to execute when it counted led to this loss. Rondo being contained to 3 of 10 is not a good sign either. 

The fact this game went to overtime is significant for each team; Boston played badly because of missed opportunities, but is everyone missing the fact that Orlando needed to get to overtime to earn the win shooting a very average 44.6 % from the field? Peirce lost the ball on the last play, if he had hit the shot it would all be over now. Boston cut down the Magic's lead on the back of a substantial run before the final botched play in regulation that led to the Orlando overtime win. I would be more concerned if it was a regulation victory by 10 points.


But this victory has only served to give the Magic a glimmer of hope that Boston should extinguish in game 5. The Celtics will sharpen up their rotations and enter that Magic home court with purpose and need for retribution. Doc Rivers won't let them forget the simple mistakes they made that let Orlando take game 4 and the players being aware of their own part in that loss. Boston needs to go in mad, and take it all away from the Orlando Magic. It doesn't need to be a beat down like game 3, but it needs to be decisive and smothering.


Green and white for life.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wow. 94 - 71 Celtics.


In game 3, every Celtic player logged minutes (between 5 and 39) and only one remained scoreless (keep on tryin' Shelden) as Boston, shooting 46.6% from the feild, took the Orlando magic to 3 and 0 and the brink of elimination.

I am a Boston fan, Obviously. But I try to  remain objective. Well...as objective as a fan can be. The fan part of me is screaming wordlessly (as to not jinx the C's run) the thing which at this point seem very possible to occur, given that my team is up 3 - 0. Paul Peirce yelled it heading to the locker room with 20 seconds left in game 3; 'one more, one more'.

The basketball appreciator says calmly; OK up three, great for the team in Boston. The team from Orlando had it's best chance to get some firm footing and begin the long climb from 2 - 0 down. The didn't. Maybe it's because only three players score double figures. Or the fact they shot a collectively dismal 36.9% from the field. 

And unlike previous games, the magic didn't (or were not given the chance to) cut a lead with a run in the fourth. Instead they finish 23 behind and on the verge of losing the series and their best shot at a title in years. And they've got a day off for the rot that is self doubt to set in, or attempt to keep it at bay and find a way back. 

All this before going back to the same opposing arena, where they got beaten by more than 20 points in the last game, to try and get one of four victories in a row to win the series. 

Possible. Theoretically. 

Which sets the stage for game 4. So I will break it down with the emphasis on the obvious;

This next game SHOULD be the best game of the series. It SHOULD be a closer game, akin to game two. Overtime is not completely unlikely. Orlando beat this Celtics team in the regular season, so it SHOULD be in the Magic's sphere of attainability. If victory is unattainable the game SHOULD be fought hard regardless. This Orlando team SHOULD feel like their back is against the wall.

They are at the edge of a cliff with a lion blocking their only way out. The question is - does Orlando find it easier to jump or take a shot at Simba?  It is a case of what SHOULD happen, and what the Magic do in their next and possibly final game of 09 - 10'.


Green and white for life.







   

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking like something we haven't seen in a while.


 The Celtics find themselves up 2 - 0 against an Orlando Magic team who has breezed their way through the post season. The Celtics hang on to win game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals 95 - 92

To paraphrase a boxing anecdote in the context of MBA basketball; Boston must take out the eastern conference heavyweights the Orlando Magic, just like Ali took out the more favoured Foreman in Zaire in 74. That famous victory in '74 was accomplished because Ali used patience, discipline and elegantly brilliant tactics to defeat a younger and more powerful adversary.

Doc rivers said during a post game statement following Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals that this Celtics team is looking like the team that started the 2009 - 2010 season. A team that went 27 - 5. 

On paper Orlando is clearly a better team, especially if you take into account their stellar form in the 2nd half of the season. The team of Howard / Carter / Lewis / Nelson combining with significant bench play from Reddick, Pietrius, Williams and Barnes playing the inside outside ball game was killing teams in the last half of the season. You collapse on Howard, you give the rest of the team options through the lane or from beyond the arc. Add that to the way the Magic have dealt with their play off opposition, especially the highly talented Atlanta Hawks and Orlando look like an obvious tip for a best of 7 against an older Celtics team who are guilty of patchy play during the regular season.

Thing is, Neither of these teams have shown up for the play offs. 

Firstly, lets look at the Magic team now (prior to game 3 of the eastern Finals). Howard has been dealing with the Celtics 'Bigs', who know how to defend an opposing center like Dwight Howard. Limiting his offensive choices and getting him out of his normal pattern of play. So, no problem? Kick it out to your team mates, they can step up? 


Well...for some reason this is not happening. Carter and Nelson have showed some improved play in the 2nd game, but despite this the Celtics are holding down the fort to get the wins, even with 4th quarter surges when the Magic actually looks like number 2 in the east. 

I believe that coasting through the play offs and only facing a tough team in the eastern finals is the WORST thing for this team who, despite great depth and discipline, lack maturity  when facing a cagey opponent using patience, discipline and elegant tactics. That sound you hear is the culmination of the metaphor from 2nd Paragraph.


Now for the Celtics. To be up 2 - 0 in the conference finals, a lot of things are going right. Namely this team is stepping up and (so far) playing every game like they are down and facing elimination. Taking out the Cav's in 6 is now a much publicised, but no less impressive victory. They won 3 in a row playing with a killer instinct that has carried over to the conference finals. Behind Invigorated play by Peirce, Allen and Garnett, key contribution form their bench and all this being spear headed by this teams new MVP; Rajon Rondo. 
Game 3 is a chance for the Magic to force open a crack and get some day light in this series. For the Celtics, a win today would have the same effect that game 5 had in the Cleveland series. Even if they came back and won game 4 the damage has been done, the statement has been made.


It is up to Boston to win this. It is in their best interest as a team to contain and defeat the Magic at TD Banknorth as they have done on the Magic's home court. To do that they need to step up the intensity, to NOT give this very capable Magic team no chance at a game 3 win. What is needed is a demoralising win for the Celtics akin to the game 5 record loss Cleveland sustained in game 5.

A statement needs to be made today to shut the door on this series.

Green and white for life.







    

Monday, May 17, 2010

Going for the green and white.





 As an Australian fan of the Boston Celtics there are plenty of times when you are alone in your passion for the team. I began following the club in one of their worst years, 04 - 05' held no joy for those who follow the green and white. The fact you follow an American team confounds some people in Australia. 


Most people acknowledge and accept my passion for this storied NBA franchise but to follow the Celtics, with hardly another fan ever in sight can put you in a position of being a singular voice. I now know how it feels to be a part of the crowd for my team, to be one of many in a sea of green after making the pilgrimage to the last Celtics regular season home game this year.

In early April 2010, my wife and I made a trip to America for 11 days. In that time we went to Las Vegas, New York and Boston. For the purposes of this entry I will focus solely on the Boston constituent of the of the trip. 

When the first thing that greets when you get off the Amtrak massive green Celtics sign at least 5 stories high, you know this is THE place where green and white lives. Staying a few hundred meters from the TD Banknorth Garden, with Celtics 
posters and banners adorning flag poles and walls and not being the only person wearing Celtic green - in a small way I felt like I had come home. Well, the part of me that loves the Boston Celtics felt like that. The rest of me was tired but enjoying the trip.

It really didn't hit me until I walked in the venue, where I was and how far I had come to be there. After a mandatory visit to the supporters shop and counting several other apparel stalls I wanted to go back to after the game - my wife and I made our way to the into the arena to watch the pre game goings on.

It is at this point I felt something I will never forget. Regardless what would occur I had walked into the TD Banknorth Garden to find myself literally hit with what can only be described as a rush of air and a culmination of awe and appreciation. Everything that I am so familiar was there; the parquet floor, the 17 banners and retired numbers - all tangible. I felt honored and proud. It was simply unforgetable. 

My wife took a photo of me on her old film camera with out my knowledge. It sums up every thing I have written, just more susiscintly. The awe is plainly visible on my face and the emotions I felt are conveyed in the 'mistiness' of my eyes.

The Celtics lost the game with out any of the big three playing a minute, but at least I got to see Rajon Rondo post up power forwards and take them to school. As the Celtics fan often do, the folks started leaving when the result became evident. I stayed to soak up every second because it didn't feel right to do anything less.

Green and white for life.       

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celtics win in 6.


For a team that had the best record in the east and what appeared to be all the right components for a title and a star to take them there - the unthinkable has happened. They lost in 6 games to a team with no single super star and a point guard who caused them fits. 

Yes, the apparently 'too old' Celtics beat everyone's favourite team (quiet literally) Cleveland. 

There, I said it. Let  me soak it up for a second. It is times like this when it feels great to be a devotee of the green and white.


So to break it down, what went right for Boston? And for Cavs fans, how did this conceivably occur? The fall out from this series has massive ramifications for the off season free agency market as well as exposing the true credentials of the teams that contested what coach Doc Rivers refered to as 'a brutal series'.


  • Boston just played better when it counted: Ok, I am a fan, but it is what I believe truly took place over 6 games. That said the Celtics had lapses, worst-playoff-loss-in history kind of lapses.That is why I added 'when it counted'. And it counted games 4 and 5. In every loss the Cavs suffered, they where held to around 40% from the field and LeBron either was a no show or misfired. The Celtics did a great job containing the 'king' (without a crown) but LeBron's sub par play may have also been due in part to some wear and tear on his elbow. But it didn't seem to bother him when he torched the C's for 38 in game 3.

  • Game 5: This was so damn pivotal to the outcome of the series. I mean the Celtics really demolished the Cavs in this one. And in their own house. A king hit to Cleveland both mentally and physically. The reason; When Cleveland focused all their attention on containing Rondo, the big three used that sliver of day light to heat up. Peirce finally shook of LeBron's defensive shackles and had 14 in the first half while Rondo was held scoreless in the first half. Once Rondo started getting looks (he finished with 21) in the 2nd half the damage had been inflicted, a Cavs team was left genuinely rattled with their backs against the wall. Not  a good place to be when you have to win the next game in Boston. Did I mention they lost that one?

  • Blood in the water:  To close out a series means you need to take the momentum, and pasting Cleveland in game 5 gave the C's the beginning of that. The Celtics had to take advantage of the blood in the water and close it out, play with the will and urgency to finish it on their terms and their home court. And they did that once again with a balanced attack with no one star and a team of players ready to step up. Tony Allen, Rasheed and a invigorated KG were 3 of 5 Celtics in double figures.
This series is also pivotal in giving this Celtics team back it's swagger to win this years title. And they will need every ounce of it against an Orlando magic team that has quietly has been undefeated in the play offs while also finishing the regular season very strongly. The Celtics are an under dog once again.

But that has been working for us of late. 

Green and white for life. 


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Key win: 120 - 88, Celtics take series lead.

After an impressive 10 point win to even the series, one in which Rondo further cemented his burgeoning dominance of this series (29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists) Boston took the series lead.

But the way in which they took it was down right brutal.

Opening up a lead in the 2nd half, the Celtics destroyed Cleveland playing them back for their worst play off loss ever by giving the Cav's their  historic 32 point loss. In a stunning display of team work, the green and white had 6 players in double figures while limiting the play of LeBron James to 4 of 15 shooting for 15 points. 

Each team will be ready for the next game, that is not in any doubt. For Boston they have stated that they are playing this next game like it is game 7 and it is their backs up against the wall, to avoid playing a real game 7 in Cleveland. For the Cavs the have little choice, they face elimination. If they are ever going to bring it now is the time. But you have to do it in Boston against a team that is playing together and limiting their opponents key player (James).

I believe that Cleveland has chronic match up problems against this Boston team and have had since 07 - 08. Both teams have changed their line ups and shored up their weaker points, but the one thing that is Cleveland's greatest asset is also a fundamental weakness. 

That is LeBron James. 

If you limit or contain LeBron James it falls upon his team mates to step up and dominate. Antwan Jamison is the only Cavs player I feel could do that. Mo Williams is way to in consistent and has a bad habit of cooling down when he needs to heat up. Shaq has developed as a great piece of the puzzle for Cleveland but his dominant play does not  decide games like it used to. Essentially the Cavaliers are a team with a very good players and one amazing and dominant player. When James misfires like he did in game 5, the players around James lack the cumulative strength to dominate as he does. Until the Cav's recruit a player(s) to complement LeBron in the way Scottie Pippen complemented and enhanced Jordan's game - the Cavs will not win a championship.

Boston unlike Cleveland has a team of players playing like a team. Rajon Rondo has emerged as a force at point guard, his play has confounded and mismatched Cleveland at every turn so far. In trying to limit Rondo, that takes the defensive focus off Garnett, Allen and Peirce. Now you have to stop four very different and equally talented players all heating up. The result of which is the massacre that occurred in game five. Boston has no outright superstar but it does have at least 4 players who can contribute at a high level together.


Give me those four guys and the rest of that team over LeBron any time.


Green and white for life.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Welcome to 'green and white for life', formerly The Mikan Drill and Chase down D (ughh!)

You know the great thing about having a blog nobody reads? Changing the name and address affects only myself. 

And to be honest it has been bugging me, I can't have a pro Celtics blog named after a Laker (even the great ones from Minneapolis, sorry George). Why didn't some one name a drill after Bill Russell? Oh wait, they did...It's called shot blocking. Imagine if that actually occurred? (In an cantankerous announcers voice: 'Jordan goes in for the lay up, Russelled by Mourning!')

This Blog will remain as it has been. Mostly Celtics articles, the occasional 'props to: stuff', more captioning of NBA pics that take my fancy and all of this must be done infrequently and then in bunches.


At least I feel better about the god damn name. 

Wait, what if I rename the blog again? By combining and playing on the names of Celtic players through out history? 'Russelling the Truth', 'A Bird in the Parish' (wow that sounds bad, and painful), 'Waiting to McHale' (I know, but it is funny), 'Be-cous of the game' (rhymes with lame), 'Havla-check this blog out' (I just tying letters, I am not even looking this is crazy!) or 'Cowens owns you' (well, back in the day, he would have).

And with a paragraph of stupid names, minus half an hour of sleep I should have had - I end this entry.


Green and white for life.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The favour returned: 124 - 95 Cleveland.


While Celtics fans enjoyed the post victory after glow that only comes from routing a an elite eastern team and hated rival - we all knew this series is going to give us more. 

It it will not be pretty basketball and there
be ugly losses both teams. In game 3 it was Boston's turn, going down 124 - 95.

Boston had to expect a Cav's team out for blood, with their backs to the wall and robbed of home court. The Cavs don't like getting shown up like they did in game 2, especially at home. Being 2 -1 down in a play off series is not an option for either team. And today the Cav's brought the fire . They out rebounded and out scored a Celtics team that gave away way too many points due to a lack of stops on defense leading to the worst home play off loss ever for the green and white. 

Wow. And ow.

Give credit where it is due.Cleveland are a quality team who have the tools to win the title. Cleveland has made all it's player acquisitions with a dual goal in mind; win a title and retain Lebron James with a long term contract. There is more to lose for the Cav's than a shot at glory with a loaded team. Cleveland could lose James to greener pastures if this campaign fails, where a title is more assured and the city is more alluring. Losing this series could be potentially fatal for the future of Cavaliers as an elite eastern team.

The best time is now for the Celtics to win a title. They have to feel the urgency. The veterans must realise this is their time. Not next or they year after when injuries could be potentially career ending and the stars are a little older. They can't rely on their 07  - 08 champion  swagger to get them over the line. They need the steel that I saw in their eyes when they took game 2 at the Q. To paraphrase Paul Peirce after game 1 they need to play every game like it is game 7 and they are ahead by 2. More than any other team (except for Charlotte in the regular season) Celtics of the past 3 years have always had the ability to confound and beat Lebron's Cleveland teams. Although the odds may have evened out some, the Celtics can still find weak points in the Cav's collective armour.    

This series has more at stake for both teams and goes beyond the winner of this series most likely facing the Orlando Magic. These are two teams locked in a battle for the glory of the moment but also playing for what is to come. As a Celtics fan I know what their 09 - 10' is capable of, when the C's won game 2 they where playing like the 27 - 5 team that began the season. A span in which they handed Cleveland a loss to begin this seasons campaign. 

This series is heading toward a bitter and hard fought game 7. If the physical laws of the NBA apply here, Boston should (and I stress should) come out with a resolve to even this series and make up for the humiliation of game 3. My money is on a pattern of decisive victories by 10 - 15 point margins at most, unless one the teams shoots 60% from the field like the Cav's did in game 3. 

At the end of this series the winner will have achieved something special. Overcoming a hated rival, sending them  to the off season with more questions than answers and changes to inevitably be made. Really it could be either team facing that scenario. But as a fan, I believe it will Boston going on to win. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Play offs: Boston punishes the Cavs 104 - 86, game 2 round 2.



Alot has changed since I wrote about the green and white rounding out the regular season. The Celtics finished with a semi respectable record at 50 - 32. A definite decline from the previous two seasons. 

But tell that to the Celtics team that turned up for the play offs. 

Round 1 - a forth seeded Celtics played a fifth placed Miami. Not much surprise here, the Celtics dismantled a Heat team that was unable to show up and support their star Dwayne Wade. His heroics where commendable but a man can't win the series. An entire team does.

Round 2 - The air-apparent Cavaliers are once again having to go through the Celtics to get to a title. This year is as good as any for the Cavs to claim the title. The west is up for grabs and Lebron has the best supporting cast he has had to date. Game 1 went to a Cleveland team that had too many answers for a Celtics team that could only hit the rim in the fourth. They simply outplayed the green and white. Plain and simple.

Game 2 - Proved the theory that when Boston cough up a game they come back. Mad. The Celtics shot 51.3% from the field as apposed to a frustrated Cleveland shooting at 40%. A lot of players stepped up for the Celtics. Rondo had an astounding 19 assists while Rasheed Wallace had 17 -  finally playing in the post like he could always do but has failed to demonstrate this season. The Lead in this game was as much as 25 but a Cav's run cut that to 10 before the C's went on an 11 - 3 run to close out the game and rout the the favoured contender.

Game 3 and home court for the series goes back to Boston. Judging from the dropped shoulders and shoves by a frustrated Cleveland team, the next game will prove to be something to watch.