2010 NBA Finals Preview

So here we are.¬† After a long 82 game season followed by an exciting postseason, the Celtics are where they said they’d be, The NBA Finals.¬† They have knocked out superstars galore in Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard.¬† Now it is time for them to knock out arguably the best player in the game today, Kobe Bryant.¬† And if not for a Kevin Garnett knee injury last season, the basketball world would certainly have this same script for a third year in a row.¬† Without further adieu, I give to you, my NBA Finals preview.¬† (Rhyming not intended.)

With the NBA, one has to look at matchups.  That is how I will go about this post.  The in-series adjustments that will be made will come down to coaching and can very easily determine who wins this series.

Rajon Rondo vs. Derek Fisher

Rondo has been far and away the most valuable player for the Celtics this postseason.  He has constantly out hustled his opposition and run the Celtics offense fluently.  

Derek Fisher is the old veteran who is solid as a rock and has a knack for hitting big shots.  Thus far in the post season he has been able to slow down Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash.   I think that Phil Jackson will start him out covering Rondo but if Rondo starts abusing him like I think he will, Kobe will come over and guard Rondo much like in 2008. 

The problem here is, in 2008, Kobe stayed off of Rondo and was able to help on Pierce and Allen.¬† He won’t be able to do that this year as Rondo has refined his game since 2008 and has the ability to hit an open jump shot.¬† If Rondo can get into the teeth of the Laker defense consistently, this will be a short series.

Advantage: Celtics

Ray Allen vs Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game.¬† He has solidified that notion this postseason.¬† There is almost no way of stopping him.¬† He wants to win and has the ability to inflict his will on a game at any point.¬† In Game 6 of the Suns’ series, the Suns came to within striking distance and that was as close as they got.¬† Kobe poured in 37 points and most of those points came with Grant Hill in his grill.¬†

In 2008,¬† Doc Rivers switched off between Pierce and Ray Allen as to was covering Kobe.¬† Look for much of the same this year but with a little help from Tony Allen off the bench.¬† TA was great against D-Wade and LeBron¬†earlier in the playoffs and I have faith that he¬†can’t at least slow Kobe down.

Ray Allen is the best pure shooter in the game today even at the ripe old age of 34.¬† It is aggravating¬†to me that the Celtics offense won’t go through Ray.¬† He will scorch the net from downtown 2 possessions in a row and wont see the ball again until the next quarter.¬† If Kobe is forced into guarding Rondo, I think that Ray can run circles around Derek Fisher.¬†

Advantage: Lakers

Paul Pierce vs Ron Artest

This is without a doubt the biggest matchup of the series.  Whoever can get the better of who here will dictate who will be wearing another ring.  In 21 games against each other head to head, Artest holds the advantage being 11-10.  Artest is one of the best defenders in the game and he knows he has to stop Pierce at all costs. 

Pierce is coming off a series where he roasted the Magic because no one could match up with him.  Pierce averages 20.5 ppg against Artest in their long history.  Yet during the regular season, Artest held Pierce to 15 and 11 respectively in the two games they played each other.

Any offense that Artest¬†offers the Lakers¬†should be seen as an added bonus.¬† His responsibility will be keep Pierce at Bay for the¬† entire series.¬† If he can accomplish that, the Lakers will win the series.¬† It is my opinion he won’t be able to do that.

Advantage: Celtics

Kevin Garnett vs Pau Gasol

Garnett punished Gasol¬†back in 2008 to the extent that the LA faithful were calling for Gasol’s¬†head.¬† He played with no heart and backed down all series long.¬† Last season he manned up and played Dwight Howard as physical as anyone in the league.¬† Against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals, Gasol¬†disappeared¬†again, a true Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.¬† The question here is which Pau will show up.

While KG is not the player he once was, he does still have that vintage intensity and he has refined his offensive game somewhat.¬† He can bury the outside jumper at will and this helps open the court for Rondo and company.¬† KG was what was missing from the Celtics team a year ago.¬† His presence¬†alone makes this team very tough to play.¬† He is physical and will get into Gasol’s head two minutes into Game 1.¬†

Advantage: Celtics

Kendrick Perkins vs Andrew Bynum

Bynum is consistently injured and Perkins is consistently in foul trouble.  Bynum is usually good for helping out around the rim and Perkins is usually good for clearing everyone out so Rondo or Pierce can grab a rebound.  This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Even

Celtics Bench vs Lakers Bench

The Celtics bench consists of Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Tony Allen, and Nate Robinson.  The Lakers have Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Shannon Brown.  Rasheed and Odom pretty much cancel each other out because they are so much alike in the fact that they can show up and have a huge impact on the game or they can fade into irrelevance.  Overall I feel that the Celtics have the better bench because of Glen Davis and Tony Allen.  Both provide a spark, Tony with his defense and occasional dunks and Davis with his mid range jumper and ability to rebound.  The only thing worthy of note off of the Lakers bench is the soccer like flopping ability of Vujacic.  He has the ability to get under the opponents skin and also the ability to get a crowd riled up.

Advantage: Celtics

Doc Rivers vs. Phil Jackson

Those of you that know me, know that I think Phil Jackson is the most overrated coach in the history of sports.¬† I find it very easy to coach the greatest players in the game and let them do all your work.¬† Never once is he challenged to make an actual decision that could impact a game.¬† It is easy to coach the Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s of the world.¬† Is it easy to coach young talent such as Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Tony Allen and develop them while constantly losing?¬† No.

I think that as much as Phil is overrated Doc is underrated and is one of the best "x’s and o’s" coaches in the league today.¬† As I mentioned before this series may come down to who can make the necessary adjustments as the series goes along.¬† Who can get the maximum production out of their rotations and who can find mismatches to exploit.¬† I am well aware that Phil has his abundance of championship rings, one for every digit on both hands I believe.¬† How many has he won without the best player in the game at that time on his roster? Zero.¬†

Advantage (and call me a homer): Celtics

 

This series will ultimately come down to three things.  Pierce vs. Artest, if the Lakers can contain Rondo, and which coach will make the correct adjustments throughout the series.

Final prediction:  Celtics in 6

 

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Position Rankings (OTA Edition) Defensive End

¬† The defensive end position in the 3-4 is comparable to the defensive tackle position in the 4-3.¬† The main focus for these techniques¬†are gap responsibility and occupying blockers.¬† Defensive ends in the 3-4 lineup on the tackle and are responsible for the¬†B and¬†C gaps (those in between the guard and tackle, and outside¬†of the tackle as well).¬† The jobs in which these men partake are thankless and extremely¬†difficult.¬† They are looked upon to take on the biggest lineman (tackles), sometimes being double teamed by the interior lineman, down-blocked by a tight end, or even chipped by a fullback leading the hole.¬† Similar to an offensive lineman the stats for this position do not show up in the box score, but rather brought up in the film room on Monday.¬† One of the best 3-4 defensive ends of all time, Richard Seymour, puts the position into perspective, “it’s not designed for you to make the plays.¬† It’s designed for the linebackers. That’s why it’s the 3-4. You’ve really got to do a good job to get yourself into it, but you’re creating for other people.”

¬†1) Miami Dolphins-¬† This was probably the toughest inetrnal¬†debate I have had since starting these rankings.¬† There are a couple of reasons why I give the # 1 spot to Miami.¬† The defensive end position is extremly¬†tough to play.¬† You need a multitude of guys to rotate in and out in order to be effecive.¬† I see this Dolphins team having a lot of talent and youth at this position.¬† If Randy Starks wasn’t taking on nose tackle duties in the abscence¬†of Jason Ferguson I would feel more comfortable with this ranking.¬† However that being said, when Ferguson returns Starks is the best defensive end in this division.¬† He is great against the run and in a position where sacks are at a minimum, Starks gets to the passer.¬† Taking the place of Randy Starks at right end¬†is first round draft pick Jared Odrick.¬† This mamoth¬†has the size and strength, but more importantly the athleticism to be a two gap player in the 3-4 scheme.¬† He has an incredible wingspan at 36 inches, and at the point of attack he will be able to hold up against the strong tackles in this division.¬† The¬† Left end spot will be occupied by returning starter Kendall Langford.¬† Langford is a bit of an unknown coming out of Hampton College.¬† Langford¬†however was a big fish playing in a small pond, he was first-team¬†All-American¬†¬†his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.¬†¬†¬†He has perfect size for the position and is strong against the run.¬†¬†Langford should continue to improve in this his third season at the position.¬† Behind Langford is Phillip Merling.¬† Merling¬†is a bit of a disappointment to the coaching staff who drafted him with the first pick of the second round in 2008.¬† Merling¬†had first rounder written all over him coming out of Clemson and was expected to start until the emergence of the aformentioned¬†Langford.¬† Merling¬†has still come up with some big plays for the Dolphins, none bigger than his interception returned for a TD against the Jets to clinch the division in 2008.¬† The coaching staff remains behind Merling¬†and says that if he were more consistent he would be a starter.¬† Merling¬†however was arrested just two days ago¬†on a domestic violence charge.¬† With four potential startes at the position I see Miami having a slight edge in this division.¬†¬†

¬†2) New England Patriots-¬†I have the Patriots again slightly ahead in this position for a couple of reasons.¬† First, the actual scheme they run is flawless and fits the 3-4 to a T ( shout-out to B B).¬† The ends in the scheme take up blockers and allow the backers behind them to make plays.¬† Ty Warren is a big reason for this rankings as well.¬† He had been overshadowed by Richard Seymour for years along the defensive front.¬† However Warren has been a mainstay along the Patriots line and has been the proto-typical end for this team for years.¬† He is very strong against the run and in my opinion made a few linebackers from those championship teams.¬† You can’t tell me that the¬†Mike¬†Vrabels¬†of the world don’t owe Warren a few steak dinners, a hug, or at least a cuddle.¬† The opposite end seems to be a rotation between Mike Wright, possibly Gerard Warren and Ron Brace?¬† The fact of the matter is that New England posseses¬†a few former first round draft choices to rotate in to either position.¬† If they move Wilfork to the end position and bring in a Gerard Warren or Ron Brace, it makes the line that much stronger.¬† Damione¬†Lewis was also a first round draft pick as well and he could fill in anywhere along the line.¬† There is also a contingency of young players that could contribute in a big way. Whose to say Bill Bellilchik¬†won’t find a diamond in the rough in Brandon Deaderick, Myron Pryor, or Kyle Love.¬† There are alot of movable pieces on that roster which makes them dangerous, couple that with Bill’s brain, and you could have yet another solid defensive line.¬†

¬†3) New York Jets-¬†I know, I know, they had the number one rushing defense last year.¬† They also had a stronger defensive¬†line.¬† The departure of Marques¬†Douglas at the right end position has brought the ranking of this defense down.¬† Douglas¬†remains an unrestricted free agent and to this point is still available.¬† However I don’t think the team wants to keep getting older at the defensive line with Shaun Ellis on the left end and Kris Jenkins in the middle.¬† Shaun Ellis is a very solid¬†left end and is in no way a reflection of this ranking.¬† However the combination of age and lack of depth has dropped this team.¬† There has been talk of trying out first round bust Vernon Gholston¬†at the right end slot, but he hasn’t¬†been productive in two years at the position he was drafted for, so why should he project stronger at a new position.¬† On the current roster the Jets are looking at Mike Devito, Rodrique¬†Wright, and Ropati¬†Pitoitua¬†to replace Douglas, and quite frankly there is not enough body of work on either guy to determine if they can do so.¬† I do not doubt Rex Ryan’s defensive brain at all, but you can’t tell me if Ellis, at the age of 32, goes down, this defensive line will be as strong as last season. Then again, if Douglas comes back to the Jets, they may jump up in the rankings as well.

¬†4) Buffalo Bills-¬† The Bills are amidst a transition in their defensive ¬†scheme and this brings questions¬†as to how the players leftover from last year will transition to the 3-4.¬† Marcus Stroud likely will start at the right end position and his experience in the 4-3 tackle position should make a somewhat seamless transition to the¬†3-4 end.¬† At 6’6″ 310, Stroud possesses¬†great size and strength to help occupy blockers and cause disruption in the running game.¬†¬†The opposite end spot in my opinion will be most likely filled by Baltimore¬†Ravens import Dwan¬†Edwards.¬† Edwards¬†comes from the 3-4 system in Baltimore where he played the end position.¬† He’s familiar with the scheme and should get at least¬†the first crack at the starting job.¬† On his heels will be 3rd round draft pick this season, Alex¬†Carrington.¬† Carrington is coming from Arkansas St. and tallied nearly 20 sacks in¬†his last two seasons.¬† He is a very athletic lineman who, if he doesn’t start, should see some third down opportunities right away.¬†¬†Rotating in (fighting for jobs) will be Spencer Johnson, Rashaad¬†Duncan,¬†John McCargo, and Will Croner.¬† ¬†¬†It will be interesting to see how Buffalo makes the transition from the 4-3, and how the new coaching staff will manage its players.¬† They have a fresh start¬†with¬†the new defense, it’s just¬†a matter of what they do with the personnel they have from here on.

The Boston Celtics, 2009-2010

Tonight could be the culmination of the entire season for the Boston Celtics.  All the questions that were asked about this team from the preseason and regaining Kevin Garnett, to the superb first 2 months, to the .500 basketball they played after the all-star break, finishing with their remarkable playoff run, will be answered with the outcome of Game 6 tonight.  We all know that there are 7 games in the series if it were to go that far, but the Celtics have the best opportunity to finish off the defending Eastern Conference Champions tonight at home.

No one believed that the Celtics were going to make it¬†this far.¬† After stumbling into the playoffs it was known that they would get by the Heat, but then according to the cliched, so-called “experts”, they were expected to be downed by the Heat.¬† Only 2 of these people even picked the series to go 7!¬† Well sadly for them their knowledge did not really show through when the Celtics downed the “LeBrons” in six games.¬† Yet, here we are.¬† The Celtics did the impossible thought and advancing and that series has been forgotten.¬† The goal of this team was not to get to where they are now.¬† They want banner #18 to be hung from the rafters of the Garden next year because they do not receive a trophy for downing the most hyped player that has not won anything.¬† The Celtics know what is hanging on this game and they will wrap it up tonight allowing the fans to start practicing their “BEAT L.A.” chants.

Back on the Bandwagon?

Nope, not me.¬† Well, I guess bandwagon may not be the most appropriate word.¬† I‚Äôm the guy that tonight (Wednesday) will choose to watch the Sox finish off their series against the Rays over game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.¬† So, I guess if there was a bandwagon, I technically never got off.¬† A more fitting question may be: Is your hope restored for the 2010 Boston Red Sox.¬† The answer to that‚Ķa resounding I don‚Äôt know.¬† Yup, I don‚Äôt know.¬† I‚Äôm not sure whether the last eight games (in which the Red Sox won seven) have been a mirage, or whether it is a sign of things to come.¬† I‚Äôm not sure whether David Ortiz‚Äôs performance in the month of May is simply an entire off-season and the month of April‚Äôs frustrations coming out onto the baseball. Or whether the ‚Äúold‚ÄĚ David Ortiz simply took three months of the 2009 season off and has decided to postpone his vacation this season.¬† To tell you the truth, I‚Äôm not sure why I‚Äôm even writing this blog post‚Ķbut you‚Äôre the one reading it.

So, we have established what I don’t know (and that is a hell of a lot), but, here are a few things that I do know.  I know…well I knew that Josh Beckett’s early struggles would land him on the disabled list (I called it in a previous post…go back and check the records).  I know that Beckett’s track record points to him being lights out once he comes off of the DL, and I can’t wait to see what we just paid more than $60 million for.  I know that Kevin Youkilis is the best first baseman in the American League (and I haven’t forgot about Morneau or Teixeira) and will continue to perform at that level for the remainder of the season.  I know that Dustin Pedroia, even with his current struggles, will perform at the level that we expect of him.  Even with Cano’s early season numbers I still believe that Pedroia is the best second baseman in the AL.  I know that Marco Scutaro has underperformed, and I sense a little Edgar Renteria syndrome in his near future (really good player…comes to Boston…no longer is a really good player).  What might be the most surprising revelation about Scutaro is his defensive struggles…I’m not sure what is up with that.  I know that Adrian Beltre is exactly what I expected.  As of late, his defense has been impeccable and I know he isn’t hitting for power (he only had 8 homeruns last season!) but anytime a guy is hitting .327, I’m not complaining.  Beltre is a hardworking player that always leaves it all on the field.  Complain about him not hitting fifty homeruns all you want, but he’s no longer that type of player and, quite frankly, I don’t mind at all.  I know that Ellsbury and Cameron’s recover took longer than we expected, and I hope Tito finally smartens up and lets Ellsbury play the position that he is best at, it will benefit both players (Ellsbury’s confidence, which I believe took a big blow when Cameron was awarded center, and Cameron’s health, as left field presents much less demand in terms of running).  I know that J.D. Drew is going to hit .275, 20 homeruns, and drive in 80 RBI’s.  That is what he does every season.  It isn’t worth $14 million, but at least he is consistent.  I know that Jon Lester is the true ace of this staff (he always starts the season slowly) and will continue to perform like that for the rest of the season.  I know that Jason Varitek should catch Daisuke Matsuzaka every time he pitches.  There is an alleged communication barrier between Dice-K and Victor Martinez (understandably so as Dice-K speaks Japanese and Martinez’s first language is Spanish) and I know Tito doesn’t necessarily want to designate Varitek solely to Matsuzaka, but that is the situation where I see him having the most success.  I know that Clay Buchholz would be a #2 starter on just about any other team in the big leagues, and having him essentially as out #5 guy is something that should not be taken lightly.  I know that by the end of the 2010 MLB season, the Boston Red Sox will NOT be in fourth place in the American League.

But, the number one factor that will determine the amount of success that the Boston Red Sox will have in the 2010 season, the performance of John Lackey.¬† I‚Äôm pretty sure that Theo and company didn‚Äôt drop a 5 year $82.5 million contract on Lackmaster (I‚Äôm coining that phrase as my own right now) and expect him to be heralding a 4-3 record with an era north of five.¬† If the Lackmaster turns things around and pitches like an $82 million man should, than I certainly see the Red Sox making a run into the postseason, and possibly at a World Series.¬† By the way, I fully expect the New York Yankees to win the American League East Division‚Ķyes, that would mean Tampa would not make the playoffs‚Ķyou heard it here first!¬† If the Lackmaster decides to continue to shit his pants and not show up when he needs to, then I wouldn‚Äôt expect the Sox to even sniff the playoffs (fulfilling Theo‚Äôs depiction of the 2010 season as a ‚Äúbridge‚ÄĚ year).¬† So, Mr. Lackey, it seems as though you need to make a decision, either prove to Sox nation that you are worth the mega-contract that was given to you and carry this team to the postseason, or fail to step up and forever have the title that Marco Scutaro now holds:

really good player…comes to Boston…no longer a really good player.

It is your choice Lackmaster.

Position Rankings (OTA Edition): Defensive Tackle

It is much easier to compare the team defenses in the AFC East now that each team is running a 3-4.  The 3-4 defense has been a progressive trend in the NFL and the league has now 15 teams using this defense!  In 2004 only 5 teams were utilizing the scheme.  With the success of this defense I see these numbers rising.

Four of the top five defenses in the NFL run the 3-4 as well as 3 of the top 5 sack leaders.  The 3-4 scheme is growing in popularity due to its success but in my opinion it has a lot to do with personnel also.  The advantages of the scheme show up everywhere on your team. The NFL allows you to take 53 players to the game.  Every week coaches try to find the right 53 players to help its team win.  The 3-4 defense changes a teams personnel dramatically.  You carry much more linebackers in the 3-4 and less defensive lineman.  This helps your special teams tremendously.  Picture being able to carry up to 10-12 linebackers on a roster.  This gives you big, strong, athletic players sprinting down the field to make plays on special teams.  Those hidden yards can be crucial during the course of a game, especially in the intense AFC East matchups. 

When you are building a 3-4 defense you have to start with the defensive tackle.  He is the heart and soul of this defense and is essential to its success.  Having a strong nose allows your middle linebackers to flow freely to make plays.  If he is able to take up two blockers in the middle of that offensive line, it produces a favorable matchup for the middle linebacker.  He is either matched up with a fullback, or no one.  The AFC East is very strong at this position and in this article I attempt to divvy out the accolades.

1) New England Patriots- Vince  Wilfork is the best 300 pound athlete I have ever seen, hands down.  A man that size is not supposed to do the things that Wilfork continues to do on a weekly basis.  There are a number of things that stand out when mentioning the star nose tackle; the way he demands a double team, and beats it, the way he can get to the edge after beating an interior lineman to make a tackle for a loss, the way he pushes the pocket by man-handling the center.  The things this man does put him in a class of his own.

Along with being an elite nose in the 3-4 defense, Wilfork has been an above average defensive end in it as well.  Bill Belichick’s creativity with this scheme has been advantageous for Wilfork in allowing the big man to make plays.  Wilfork’s versatility is not common at his size and his play along this defensive line has been crucial to New England’s continued defensive success.  There seems to be this contention that the Patriots defense was poor last year and needs a huge makeover this season.  The Pats were 11th in total defense last season and have brought back mostly all the players that helped get them there.  Vince Wilfork, like all defensive tackles in this scheme, is the heart of the Patriots defense.  This defense goes as he goes, and when he’s going good he is virtually unstoppable. 

2) New York Jets- In any other division in football Kris Jenkins would more than likely be the number one tackle.  Jenkins is an absolute monster and is the quintessential clogger in the middle of the Jets defense.  He always requires a double team because of his immense size and strength.  Jenkins plays with great leverage and is able to penetrate interior lines to make plays in the backfield. 

Coming off of a season ending ACL injury to his left knee, Jenkins needs to come back healthy to help his team.¬† More importantly, he needs to be in shape.¬† Recent reports have Jenkins weighing 390 pounds! That‚Äôs thirty pounds heavier than his listed weight last season.¬† As heavy as that sounds, Jenkins will be able to shed that weight in the heat of summer camps.¬† The Jets had the number one overall defense last season, the best against the pass¬†and¬†8th vs. the run.¬† With Jenkins coming back healthy its scary to think that they will see an improvement in these areas.¬†¬†It is worth noting that the Jets also have¬† a solid backup in Sione Pouha who played well in Jenkins’ absence last season.

3) Miami Dolphins- The Miami Dolphins were in the top five in rush defense halfway through the 2009 season.  This was directly because of Jason Ferguson the team’s 35 year old captain.  When he was lost for the season in week 12 with a quad injury, the Dolphins saw there run defense, along with its lofty playoff aspirations, crumble.  The run defense dropped to 18th and that number needs to improve if they want to compete in this division. 

Ferguson has returned to the team this year but faces an 8 game suspension due to a PED violation.  His replacement comes from converted defensive end Randy Starks.  Many speculated that reserve nose Paul Soliai would take the vacancy, but the coaching staff saw the drop in production from that spot and were forced to take Starks from the end position and move him inside.  Randy Starks is relatively unknown to the common fan, but in NFL circles he is a great talent who emerged last season at the defensive end slot for the Dolphins in a big way.  Starks plays behind the line of scrimmage and made a ton of plays for this Dolphins defense, but will it translate to defensive tackle?  Starks is stout against the run and is very athletic for his size.  He has a big test ahead of him and the first 8 games of the Dolphins season are brutal.  He will face the likes of the Viking, Jets, Patriots, Bengals, and Ravens.  All of these teams are in the top half of the league in rushing.  If Ferguson has a set back in his rehab, the ninth game of the season is against Chris Johnson and the Titans. The Dolphins need production from this position if they want a shot at he division.

4) Buffalo Bills- The Buffalo Bills will be switching to the 3-4 defense this season.  The Bills were 30th against the run last season and with the new defensive scheme they hope to be more productive.  The changing of the personnel groups will be interesting to watch as this young team tries to get back to its early 90′s prominence. When you look at the Bills roster you see three nose tackles listed; Kyle Williams, Lonnie Harvey, and Torell Troup.  Williams has the most experience (5 yrs) in the group, but I see 2nd round pick Torell Troup out of Central Florida taking the spot this season. 

Troup had a very solid week at the Senior Bowl and impressed coaches with his ability to push the pocket.  He is thought of as a high motor kid with good strength at the point of attack.  Troup was a key reason why UCF ranked 4th in the country against the run last season.  His transition to the nose will be a tall task to take on in this competitive division. The combination of Troup and Williams will be vital if the Bills want to stop the run on a more consistent basis.

He’s Only a Man

So what song is Dwight Howard listening to on his iPod this morning you ask?  Or shall I say what is the song that is the most relevant to how big Dwight feels right now?  Let me break you off with some lyrics a little at a time.

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

Sorry Dwight.  We know you are out looking for some kind of help to make you better.  But this is now two years in a row where your team has laid down on you on the biggest stage.  Last year you made it past an injured Celtics team, only to be embarrassed by the Lakers.  This year the Celtics are saving you that embarrassment and delivering it a little early.

I’m more than a bird…I’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

It must be hard being Superman when your powers are useless.  Maybe the 2010 Celtics are from the planet Krypton.  Or maybe the success you saw in the regular season is null and void because your Orlando Magic are relatively easy to figure out.  Dump it into you, kick it back out, hoist a three, repeat.  That stuff works in the regular season when no one plays defense.  But not in the playoffs.

It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

It is pretty absurd, Dwight.  You are Superman, right? You reminded the nation of that during your interview with yourself during halftime of Game 1.  You are bleeding and there are no signs of it stopping.  Keep dreaming of winning a title because that is the closest you will get to hoisting a championship trophy above your head.

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me

That’s right, Dwight. You are just a man in a silly skin tight Orlando Magic uniform.¬† While you are busy looking for special things inside of you, Rondo is chasing down rebounds that you should be getting.¬† I am not going to attack your offensive game because, frankly, you don’t have one.¬† But I will question your hustle, heart, and desire to win.¬† You are the leader of an uninspired team.¬† If you truly are Superman, you would motivate your team into at least looking like they are trying.¬†

But that hasn’t and won’t happen.¬† So, therefore, I agree Superman.¬† It is not easy to be…you.

Ubuntu over Stars

This post season has been spectacular thus far for the Boston Celtics.  They have taken down 2 superstars in Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.  They are up two games on Dwight Howard.  If I had of been told this between January and February, I would have laughed in your face.  But like a light switch the Celtics were able to turn it on at the right time.  Not because anyone player has stepped up, but because the synergy of the Celtics has reigned supreme.

Sure, Rajon Rondo has played out of his mind and has proven that he is in fact a top five point guard in the League.  But the ability of the team to play around him and for him to set everyone up has been the key to success.  In 2008 Rondo had to learn how to play with The Big Three, and they took home the title that year.  In 2010, The Big Three have learned to play around Rondo, and that has made the difference.  The most telling stat of the Celtics post season thus far is that not one player has led the team in scoring in back to back games.  Its not that the Celtics have too many weapons, they are just a well oiled machine.

The bench play has been spectacular as well.  I am eating my words watching Rasheed Wallace be the defensive stopper I once thought he was.  If he continues to hit his 2 threes a game off the bench and goes down in the post every so often like he has, I have zero reason to complain.  Glen Davis has been able to draw his 2 charges a game by sacrificing his body under the basket and taking away lanes to the basket.  He has played Dwight Howard as well as Perk and Sheed have and that is all the more surprising.  His occasional jumper from 15-18 feet seems like a post season fixture for Davis.

The only unfortunate thing I have seen in these playoffs is that after 5 years in the league, Tony Allen has finally learned his role.¬† He has played lock down defense on the opposing team’s best scorer and has gotten into the flow of the offense.¬† Watching him and Rondo run a fast break is a thing of beauty.¬† Why is this unfortunate?¬† In comparing 2008 to 2010 Tony Allen is James Posey.¬† I hate to see Tony go but he is playing himself into a nice contract for himself next season.¬† But i guess I will take the good with the bad.¬† In the case the good is far greater than the bad.

The Celtics are 2 wins away from a berth in the NBA Finals hopefully against the Lakers.  6 wins from an NBA title.  All because they are the best team in the world up to this point.  A team that will refuse to lose.  A team that when it is all said and done will have taken down, DWade, King James, Superman, and Kobe.