While the Boston Celtics have flat-out dominated the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals they were caught off guard last night when the Magic decided to show up. Sitting in the stands I got to listen to a man say, “he’s pretty good” while watching Jameer Nelson put up 23 points including two clutch 3’s in overtime (no, he didn’t call glass). I guess it was easy for everyone to forget that the defending Eastern Conference champs posted 59 wins this season and take the series for granted with a 3-0 lead.
The Magic had a great gameplan although I’m sure three points from Vince Carter was not part of it. The Celtics struggled to push the tempo and the Magic did a great job defensively in transition. This forced the C’s into a lot of isolation sets and limited the ball movement that is such a huge part of the offense. On top of that the Magic effectively set high screens for Nelson confusing Rondo and creating mismatches for Dwight Howard who finally lived up to his image. Howard controlled the glass on both ends and made you forget his eight missed FT’s.
It will be impressive for the C’s to end the series in Orlando, but I think the Magic force a Game 6 back in Boston. With that said the C’s have never gone to six games or more when holding a 3-0 series lead.
I know I know…it’s been oh so long since any of us last posted something on here. I apologize to our loyal readers.
Anyways, I thought it was time for the world to hear my father’s latest Celtics poem, which should get you fired up as the C’s return to the Garden up 2-0 looking to close out the series. Also, none of this poem has been altered including the all caps and green coloring. Always fun watching people learn how to use a computer (earlier this week he watched his first TV show online)!
GAME 7 LAST YEAR IN BOSTON THE CELTICS GET MUGGED
AND MAGIC AT GAMES END ARE FULL OF HUGS
WELL, TODAY STARTS THE NBA FINAL FOUR
AND THE CELTICS WILL BE ON THE FLOOR
THREE TEAMS WILL FALL
LEAVING ONE TO WIN IT ALL
NOW THE CELTICS HAVE TURNED ON THE SWITCH
AND THE MAGIC WILL LEARN THAT PAYBACK IS A BITCH
The Boston Celtics are off to a 5-0 start looking to surpass last season’s 27-2 record, but more importantly finish the way they finished in 2008…with another title. The Boston Globe is already starting the 72-10 talk, and if healthy it might be hard to argue.
On the first night of a road back-to-back to the Celtics faced one of the hottest offenses in the NBA and absolutely shut down the Sixers. Even the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA (statistically at least…just ahead of Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis), Jason Kapono, couldn’t help the Sixers shoot above 40% or break 80 points. Point guard Rajon Rondo took his new contract and closed out the first quarter by putting the C’s up 19-17 with this sick out-of-bounds shot. The reserves came in and that was the end of that game.
The Celtics were able to rest their big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, which should bode well tonight in Minnesota going up against former Celtic Al Jefferson. Rasheed Wallace continued to shoot nothing but 3’s draining 6-8 and finishing with 20 points in his hometown. Marquis Daniels continues to play smart basketball and penetrate while Shelden Williams has to be the biggest surprise of the young season. The former lottery and husband of Candace Parker is showing flashes as to why he was given the nickname the Landlord.
The three things Celtics fans have to really enjoy outside of the wins, which of course are most important, are how the Celtics lock down defensively, move the ball on offense and are so deep that Doc can limit the starters minutes and hopefully keep them as fresh as possible as the season goes on. The Celtics racked up 27 assists on 41 fg’s last night and limited yet another team to under 40% shooting for the 4th time in 5 games.
Rajon Rondo’s new deal with the Celtics will apparently pay him 5 years for $55 million placing him as the 8th highest paid point guard (tied with Monta Ellis). I have been very vocal about how in the modern era point guards are not the first piece to build a team around. Think about it…last year how far did the Hornets go? Suns? Jazz? The list goes on and on. Read the article linked above if you disagree! So signing a point guard as the “future” of the franchise should obviously upset me right? Long term deal for big money as the so-called Big Three start to hit the backside of their career.
Well, you’d be wrong. The Rajon Rondo signing was necessary and a smart move. Celtics GM Danny Ainge reportedly was offering 5 years $45 million but Rondo’s camp would not budge. In all honesty at that point what’s another $10 million over 5 years? Rondo was huge last year in the playoffs almost averaging a triple-double as the team lacked firepower with KG sidelined. Rondo is only 23 and has improved as a player every season. People look at his lack of scoring (still no jumpshot) but forget to focus on what he does best. Rondo is a pure, old-school point guard who plays solid defense with his long wingspan, rebounds and distributes the ball like very few. Plus his turnovers are also kept a minimum which is something Jason Kidd has never done as he’s always been referred to as a high-risk/high-reward type of player. With Rondo what’s the risk?
I agree that as the Big Three starts to decline it will be tough for Rondo to carry a team on his own. But would you really forfeit the shot at winning a title this year and next year just because Rondo should only be paid $45 million instead of $55 million? What’s the upside of not reaching a deal right now because of $10 million? After this season he would have become a restricted free agent in an offseason where teams have piled up money to throw at anyone they think could make their team better. If some team misses on the big names like LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc then what’s to prevent them from throwing more than $11 million/year at a young point guard like Rajon Rondo. I think Boston will always have a tough time attracting premier free agents unless they are able to build a culture of winning, which is what they are currently trying to. Plus you have to add to the talent you have not subtract pieces. It’s likely that Ray Allen will retire or head elsewhere in free agency after this season so could you actually picture this team without Rondo as well? Ainge has his work cut out for him to make this transition as seamless as possible, but for now this move was necessary.
While it’s still early in the season Rondo trails only Steve Nash in assists/game , however Rondo’s assist/turnover ratio is insane. Plus Rondo also racks up the steals currently trailing only Kobe in steals/game. So, again, tell me, where’s the risk in this signing? A 23-year-old point guard who has improved on the court every season, won a title, almost averaged a triple-double last post season and focuses solely on getting his teammates involved instead of himself…what is there not to like? Let’s hope the rest of the league continues to get Rondo’d.
It took Charlotte nearly five minutes to score their first basket and at that point you could tell that the Celtics defense was in postseason form even though this was just the home opener. The Cs pulled away in the 3rd quarter and the majority of the 2nd half turned into garbage time with J.R. Giddens and Lester Hudson (I still think Hudson will be able to contribute in this League) racking up the minutes while The Landlord, Shelden Williams, put forth a solid effort off the bench posting 12 points (8-11 from the line), 9 rebounds and 3 assists in 22 minutes.
After two games we still don’t know how healthy KG will look as the season goes on, but posting a 92-59 victory at home in which Garnett only has to play 26 minutes is an encouraging sign and will hopefully allow KG to stay rested for the playoffs. We did learn that newcomer Rasheed Wallace refuses to shoot anything inside the arc. Last night Wallace was 3-8 from the field with all of those attempts coming from deep. Wallace is 6-14 from 3 so far and if he’s shooting at that clip throughout the season there should be no complaints from the fans.
Led by Rondo’s 11 assists the C’s moved the ball around posting 27 assists on 33 fg’s and kept the turnovers to a minimum with only 12 turnovers. One complaint offensively would have to be 29 3-point attempts, but the defense was once again the story and will be for the rest of the season.
In other NBA news the LeBron-Shaq(tus) experiment is off to an ugly 0-2 start after Andrea Bargnani lit up Cleveland for 28 leading the Raptors past the Cavs despite LeBron’s triple-double.
Orlando appears to be deeper than I originally thought although they still have 81 games to go. After 1 game though the Magic’s reserves looked solid and it will only get deeper once Rashard Lewis returns from his 10 game suspension and Pietrus or Anderson shift back to the bench.
The Spurs got the steal of the draft in DeJuan Blair (drafted 37th after household names Victor Claver, BJ Mullens and Christian Eyenga to name a few) who dropped 14 points (7-10 fg) to go along with 11 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes.
Lastly a shout-out to our loyal reader Jorgito and now that that’s out of the way I have to rip him. Time to move on from your love affair with Ricky Rubio. He may or may not be a good player when he finally has the balls to play in the NBA, but until then Minnesota has a better PG on their roster who has proven something night in and night out on a high level in the Big East. Jonny Flynn, in his debut, helped the T-Wolves erase a 19-point deficit by scoring 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. That’s right an NBA team that plays Brian Cardinal for 20 minutes is now 1-0 to open the season while the Cavs are 0-2.
Life is good!
Larry David is a brilliant man for that statement in last week’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but so is Danny Ainge and how he was able to acquire Marquis Daniels this off-season for the bi-annual exception. Daniels took a significant pay cut from last season’s salary in order to have the chance to win a title here in Boston and only make $1.9 million for the season.
As I stated in my season preview I think Daniels will end up being the biggest addition to this team (outside of KG returning from an injury of course). His ability to play both guard positions will allow Doc to successfully experiment with lineups during the regular season and get some rest for the starters. Daniels looked ok last night (led the C’s in plus/minus) but he will without a question grow into this role and pick up more than 18 minutes/game.
Last night was a great way to start the season, but after starting last year 27-2 and winning 62 games but still falling short in the 2nd round we know it’s about how you finish. With that said the Celtics ended an 8 game losing streak in Cleveland and also ended a 16 game road losing streak in this series. The Cavs won their first 23 home games last season so for LeBron and Shaq to drop their home opener is more than just any other game.
Shaq did come ready with a great quote regarding Glen “Wyc Grousbeck won’t call me Big Baby” Davis and his thumb injury:
O’Neal joked that he would miss injured Boston forward Glen Davis. “They call him Big Baby for a reason,” cracked the Big Diesel. “Because he’s my son.”
What about the performance of Paul Pierce over LeBron last night? Yeah James looked phenomenal throughout the game and put up some incredible numbers, but what happened down the stretch? Pierce was clutch as always while LeBron missed a 3 and surprised Anthony Parker with a pass for a crucial turnover.
As my brother just said “dude 82-0 is realistic.” I don’t think Tommy Heinsohn even thinks that’s realistic but hey maybe 67?
While the Lakers looked pretty solid last night playing the Blake Griffin-less Clippers we can only hope Kobe gets jealous of Gasol’s newfound and ridiculous fame.