Sunday, June 26, 2011

Belated 2010 - 2011 NBA season Recap - part 1

First off let's get the obvious out of the way...Boston did not win it's 18th banner.  They where in contention but had the rug pulled pretty hard and fast from under them by a bunch of guys in Florida who like to wear black and pretend to be sick.

Things pretty much changed at mid season due to one of the most emotionally gutting trades in years, sending Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic.  I am also abit pissed they traded Semih and Luke Too. The record was better this year, and to put the dog turd on top of the cup cake, Boston gets owned by the Miami Heat in the play offs.; a team they handled 3 times out of 4 in the regular season. 

Being a fan of the C's since 04 - 05 season, this season wasn't as bad as i have bared witness too. It just could have been so much better if certain things had not occurred. Although I have every reason to be unhappy about The 2010 - 2011 NBA season and how it all finished up, I honestly can’t be. I just loved being a fan of not only the Celtics this year, but of the NBA ; the game, it’s theatrics and some goddamn great games this year. I have come up with a top ten (not all Boston related) as to why I can call this season one of the best in years. So here we go;

10. The Eastern Conference power shift: Orlando pulling a desperation trade, that actually made Phoenix a better team in the long term, Coach Thibadeu and the Bulls claiming the no 1 seed, a monumental Knicks / Nuggets trade that should have occurred in the preseason and the resurgence of a revamped Miami all contributed to a seismic power shift. During this time Boston pretty much remained an elite team, I would goes as far and say this was true even after the Perkins / Robinson for Kristic / Green trade that dealt a blow to their immediate title chances but may pay dividends in the long run. In some ways all these changes, despite how I may feel about them personally will define the eastern conference especially for a while to come.  
9 . The new Denver Nuggets: I just loved watching this team post Carmello Anthony. A devastating scorer and feeble defender with sticky hands is traded. In return the Nuggets get Galnari, Felton, Chandler and Musgov who pretty much fit in and helped the team win in the short term while keeping Denver looking OK in the longer term. The ‘share the wealth’ system under Coach George Karl was as elegant as it was refreshing to watch. Although Denver could have used a super star in the first round of the play offs. 

8 . Wallace going to Portland: Gerald Wallace was the last player of the original Charlotte Bobcats. Not like they where an old team or anything, but hey traded a damn good player for Pryzbilla and to free up some cash? Portland changed from a very good Portland team into a potentially awesome team. Sure they rolled through the end of the regular season gaining a great head of steam. Brandon Roy found a time machine  for one game in the first round of the play offs giving the Dallas Mavericks an impetus to fall in a heap (but not for long). Wallace has untapped bad ass-ness and skills to match but he was languishing in Charlotte toward the end of his time there. Portland is an astute trade away from being a western conference contender if they keep the core they have together now intact.   

7. Miami Losing, then winning, then winning some more..and then losing in the finals: One of the worst things this year was the fact that I had no choice but too watch the Heat play way more than I really wanted to. What the hell did TNT think would happen when they distributed ‘fan night’ voted games to overseas sports networks (ONEHD in Australia). Fans voted for the popular team with the big names teams and not always the best games. Frankly, I would have loved to have seen more Warriors games and less Lebron. More Wolves games and a reduction in seeing Wade draw fouls and sink free throws.  Less of Chris Bosh’s tiny head and soft play and more Memphis. And let’s be honest, that whole ‘men crying in there’ thing, survey any group of NBA (non Heat) fans to speculate and I guarantee two names will come up - Brad Miller and Chris Bosh. On the flip side of this coin, I got to know the Heat roster fairly well and it is undeniable, the team Pat Riley put together was very good. Their D was suffocating. I am sure that some stat nerd has correlated all the breakaway dunks that came off steals from their defense for the heat in 2010 - 2011, I don’t know the exact figure. Perhaps somewhere in the ‘wow! that many?’ range. The Miami Bench was a significant part of why they got as far as they did and why they failed when they got there. I have great respect for Haslem, and if he and Miller had been avoided injury this year the story of how it ended may have been a little different. And that gets us to where it all ended for the Miami Heat, and to their credit in one season with a virtually new team they got to the finals. That is a significant feat. But to win the finals very good teams, with flawed benches and achieving significant feats don’t win a title. A team has to transcend and become something greater than the sum of their parts, a fluid and unstoppable machine driven by hunger and determination that you can see in their eyes. If you don’t do have that then the only trophy you win is for the conference. And it is just not the same. ThIs Heat team will win the title within 3 years, when the lessons they have learned in these most recent finals have shown them the way and what they need to do. That team will be better not just in talent but in character, An area Miami perhaps needs the most work.  

6. The rise of Memphis and Oklahoma City: If you love Basketball games, where young teams give a damn and actually give the impression they care about each other and will take it to any team any time - then the Thunder and the Grizzlies are the team for you. As a fan of the game it fills me with joy to watch the skill, athleticism, ‘hard nosedness’  and purity these two teams personify. And this season, boy did they make an impression. OKC added Celtic Kendrick Perkins making their Ibka / Durant / Perkins back court well...freakin’ scary. Meanwhile with the additions of Tony Allen and Shane Battier the Grizz got some teeth defensively. Zac Randolph put his game into ‘I am going to annihilate any team not in OUR jersey’ mode, posting some crazy numbers offensively. and the play off push these teams seemed to make became an avalanche. Oklahoma city got by Denver while 8th seeded Memphis simply owned 1st placed San Antonio. One of very few teams to cause such an upset in the modern era. And as if this was not enough they met in one of the best 2nd round play off brackets in the race to the finals. It was back and forth, taking-one-in-your -house and back again capped off with a 3OT game four, finally ending in a 123 - 133 victory to the thunder who would eventually take the series in seven. 

Taking care of part two. Stay tuned. Green and White for Life.     

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Boston grabs Perdue team mates Moore and Johnson in 2011 NBA Draft

The 2011 NBA draft has come and gone.

Some would would say ‘was it here? Really?’.

Generally some who know much, much more than me consider this a non event and weaker draft than we have seen in recent years. Yes, Kyrie Irving went No1. Some interesting trades occurred (Stephen Jackson to Bucks, Salmoms in Sactown, Magette in Charotte and thankfully somewhere other than Milwaukee). But my attention was focused on the 25th and 55th pick and the busy hands of Boston Hauncho Danny Ainge.

At no 25 Ainge seemed to do it again, drafting Marshon Brooks - scoring machine in a league with Jimmer Fredette (who found a home in Sacramento via Milwaukee). But ‘Unkanny Danny’ pulled a sneaky and perhaps prudent move; Sending Brooks to NJ for their pick at 27th pick - Perdue big man Jajaun Johnson. What I have seen and heard of this guy; not heaps. What I do know is that Dan got the C’s a 6’ 10” big with great length and athleticism, shot blocking ability and a low post to midrange game. Primarily he will make his living in the paint. Upside for Johnson is big, apparently and he is a four year graduate, which means he is green but not as green as some. Johnson also fills a need for More bigs in green jerseys, which will help some next season (if there is one).

So what is better than one potential laiden prospect from Perdue? How about 2nd one. With the 55th pick E’twaun Moore. Again not heaps I know about this guy; a great 6’4” athlete with length at the SG. ESPN’s chad ford said Moore is a ‘consummate role player, he isn’t great t anything, but his game is solid’. Ford rated rated the C’s draft picks at an A-, only rating the Jazz and Wolves higher. Moore is also a four year man who in that time raised his PPG average from 12.9 to 18 flat. His stats bear out a similar trend of gradual improvement in most other areas of his game, bearing out Fords assessment.

Doc Rivers rates the the Perdue college hoops program as ‘great’ by the way.

But again we find ourselves here, the rookie / draft day post where the future has ment uncertainty for first year players in recent times. Rookies from last year - gone. Luke and Semih where good enough to stick around and better than some, but they got used as trade bait and are now looking to catch passes from Irving not Rondo. I really hope that Doc plays these guys. I can’t put it any simpler. Johnson will get a lot more minutes initially if Glen Davis wants to Glen Davis somewhere other than bean town. Likewise for Moore if Ray Allen well...stops being an ageless juggernaut.

If Doc Rivers gives these guys court time, it will pay dividends. That and the fact they are team mates already, to me that is a bonus and all the more reason to put these to guys on the floor together. It’s just finding that window from the bench to the court. But this in coming season, urgency and chemistry will be at a premium more than they have ever been in the big three era. Things may be different and different is good if you are looking for playing time.

Green and white for life.