Eulogizing the 2010-2011 Boston Celtics

Writing a eulogy is never an easy experience.  No one likes to write about death, particularly about the death of someone or something they love. In the sports world, it happens once a year per team that you follow.  Am I being overdramatic? No.  This season (and every season for that matter) the Boston Celtics were frequently invited into my living room, I frequently checked up on them via various information devices, to the tune of 91 games this year.  The season ended last week as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat ousted the Celtics in 5 games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.  This piece has taken me a long time to write because, as with any type of mourning, time heals.

I remember the early months of the season when Rajon Rondo averaged about 15 assists a game.  I remember the first half of the season when I advocated Glen Davis for the Sixth Man of the Year award.  I remember enjoying Shaq’s time in Boston, going to Harvard Square posing as a statue and composing the Boston Pops.  I remember thoroughly enjoying Nate Robinson’s videos from the preseason where he would play various pranks on Shaq.  I enjoyed watching the development of Semih Erden.  I was remember laughing at the reports of Delonte West and Von Wafer getting into a fist fight in a 2-2 pickup game.  I especially remember Ray Allen burying his record-breaking three pointer against the Lakers at home.

The Celtics had to deal with the injury bug as they never had their preseason roster fully intact.  Delonte West, Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Kevin Garnett all missed time with injuries.  As a matter of fact none of the aforementioned group of players ever played in the same game.  But even with those injury troubles the Celtics still held onto the top seed in the East and were always close to San Antonio for the best record in all the NBA.  The Celtics dismantled the Heat in each of their matchups (until the regular season when the Celtics were trying to get healthy for the playoffs).

What will forever define the 2010-2011 Boston Celtics can simply be referred to as “The Trade.”  At the trade deadline Danny Ainge broke up a majority of the roster and effectively broke down the chemistry that made the Celtics one of the toughest teams in the NBA. He traded away big man Kendrick Perkins and spark providing Nate Robinson for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.  He sold Marquis Daniels to the Sacramento Kings.  He moved Luke Harangody and Semih Erden to the Cleveland Cavs for draft picks.  He brought in Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo, and Sasha Pavlovic.

Ainge defended himself saying that the Celtics would not have been able to resign Perkins.  He defended himself by saying they needed a wing that would give Paul Pierce and Ray Allen much-needed rest down the stretch.  He defended the deal by saying the Celtics would need some offense from a big man to spread the floor.  He defended himself by saying he wanted to rebuild for the future while trying to make the team better in the present as well.  He defended himself by saying the Celtics were 19-3 in games that Shaq played in over 20 minutes.

As it turned out, Shaq was unable to get healthy the second half of the season.  The Celtics sorely missed Perkins, an inside presence that would have teamed nicely with Jermaine O’Neal in the playoffs.  Doc Rivers never really trusted Jeff Green with substantial minutes, thus never giving Pierce and Allen the rest they needed.  The Celtics were never able to garner any semblance of chemistry with their brand new roster. Going into the playoffs, it is fair to say everyone knew they were in deep trouble.

They quickly dispatched the Knicks, who were going through injury and chemistry issues themselves.  They then faced the Heat in the most anticipated playoff series in recent memory.  In that series the Celtics failed to execute their offense.  Rajon Rondo went down with one of the grossest injuries I have seen since the Willis McGahee injury when he was at Miami.  Yet, Rondo mustered the courage to play through his dislocated elbow and lead the Celtics to a Game 3 victory.  Kevin Garnett laid one of the biggest eggs in playoff history in Game 4 and was only “ok” in Game 5.  Ray Allen would never see the ball the rest of the series. The next two games the Celtics would fail to show up in the final two minutes of each game as the Heat outplayed them.

Some will complain about the referee’s and the preferential treatment to Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.  Some will point to how dirty of a player Dwayne Wade became in this series.  Others will point to the injuries of the Celtics and how thin their roster actually was.  The bottom line? The Celtics did not finish ball games.  Whether it was fatigue that comes with age, miscommunication, or lack of chemistry the Celtics couldn’t withstand the Heat. And that was all she wrote.

Looking ahead to the rebirth of the Celtics, also known as the 2011-2012 season, there are a lot of question marks.  One thing must be certain in my eyes: Glen Davis has worn a Celtics uniform for the last time.  Everyone fell in love with the hustle and energy Davis provided.  Once upon a time Glen Davis took charges, dove for loose balls, and hit an occasional jump shot.  Then somewhere around the midpoint of the season, he fell in love with himself, forgot how to pass, forgot how to box out, and forgot that he was surrounded by Hall of Fame talent.  The first positive going into the 2011-2012 season: Glen Davis is “Gone Baby Gone.”The other positive going into the 2011-2012 season.  Head Coach Doc Rivers signed on for a five-year extension.  This will keep stability in the organization.

The Celtics need to add a big man and a name that has been popping up that I am intrigued by is DeAndre Jordan.  The kid is 23 years old, averaged 7 points and 7 rebounds, and is 6’11 250.  He can fill the role that was left behind when Perk went to Oklahoma City.  I would also like to see the Celtics expand Jeff Green’s role and get him 30 minutes a game.  Watching him and Rondo on a fast break will be must see TV.  I would also like to see the Celtics bring back Delonte West.

The Boston Celtics 2010-2011 season is in the books.  They were the third best team in the Eastern Conference.  They were a trade that should not have happened away from potentially being better. I refuse to believe the proverbial window that was opened by Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett is closed.  This team will be back and in contention next season. They are too competitive, too talented, and have too much pride for this to be the end of an era. Until next season let the Celtics rest, and let’s move onto rooting the Bruins on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Red Sox in their season as well.

I can be followed on Twitter at ScottieNTCF

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The Tale of Two Series

With apologies to anyone who has followed the blog and my coverage of the Celtics and Bruins in the playoffs.  I just haven’t had time to sit down and write or I have been extremely angry.  You choose.

There are things in life that make me very happy.  Conversely, there are things in life that make me very angry.  At the time of this writing, the Celtics are down 0-2 to the Miami Heat and the Bruins are up 2-0 in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers.  The Boston Bruins have been resilient in their playoff run.  When they have been punched, they have absorbed the blow and punched back, often times knocking their opponent out for the win.  The Celtics bullied around the Knicks in the first round not being punched at all.  The Heat have bullied the Celtics through two games and the Celtics look lifeless.

Due to the fact that my anger and disappointment is off the charts, I am simply going to offer this up as a post.  I am in no real mindset to analyze anything that is going on.  If that’s what you are looking for check out CelticsBlog.com or ESPNBoston.com.

Tim Thomas makes me very happy because he is a stud.

Glen Davis makes me very angry because he sucks.

Both NBA and NHL officials are like Mondays.  No one likes a Monday.

Rajon Rondo missed the team bus leaving New York and is lost somewhere in the city.

Brad Marchand has joined the likes of Pedroia and Woodhead in my book.

Will Shaq return before the Bruins score a powerplay goal?

There is nothing better than winning games on the road.

There is nothing worse than watching a lifeless and heartless team play in the playoffs.

Other than those observations, I’ve got nothing.  Feel free to blast my pour coverage of the most important part of both team’s seasons.  Like the Celtics, I deserve the criticism.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF.

Why?

This post is inspired by JadaKiss.

For the past week, when it came to sports, I found myself asking one question numerous times.  Why? Some of these questions I think I have answers to.  Others I am as baffled by them as I once was with Math.  (Once they started putting letters in it, it really screwed me up).  So here are a few things that have been driving me insane.  If you can answer any of these, please, I beg of you answer them!

But first, out of respect:

Why is Glen Davis getting the ball at the end of games?

Why is Glen Davis getting 10-15 shots a game, mostly jumpers at that?

Why did the Celtics trade for Jeff Green if they aren’t going to play him?

Why did the Red Sox sign The Underbite to a 5 year contract?

Why does Tom Brady have his hair in a pony tail?

Why does Louis Murphy need Viagra?

Why can’t the Celtics stay healthy?

Why did I underestimate Butler two years in a row?

Why is Krista married to The Underbite?

Why is Jared Sullinger staying in school?

Why am I confident the Spurs won’t get to the Western Conference Finals?

Why does ESPN think Blake Griffin is better than Kevin Durant?

Why are the Orioles undefeated?

Why are people paying $250 to see a Charlie Sheen stand up?

Why does Evan Longoria own an AK 47?

Why isn’t Tyler Seguin getting more ice time?

Why is Jarrod Saltalamachhia being blamed for the Red Sox pitching staff giving up 11 home runs to Texas in three games?

Why is Glen Davis playing 30 minutes a game?

Why did I like Glen Davis so much in the first half of the season?

 

2010-2011 NBA Midseason Awards

For basketball purists, this has to be one of the best seasons since… well since Michael Jordan was still in the league. You have transcendent superstars (see Kobe Bryant) dominant players (see Dwight Howard), grizzled veterans (see Kevin Garnett) and up-and-coming youngsters (see Blake Griffin). Now all those examples are just one of many choices you could make from an extremely deep list.

This is possibly the toughest year in recent memory to actually pick winners for awards because of the exorbitant talent level across the NBA.

Because there are so many potential choices for each of these awards, I thought it best to have two options/opinions on our awards so the spectrum of deserving players can be diversified.

Last night while Gambo was channeling his inner Tom Gugliotta and I was doing my best to honor the great Tom Chambers in some pick up basketball, we realized it was midseason in the NBA and we started discussing who is deserving of some NBA hardware.  We learned we had different view points and figured it would be nice to share them with our faithful readers.

All NBA Third Team

Gambo:

Dwight Howard

Blake Griffin

Paul Pierce

Dwayne Wade

Derrick Rose

Scottie:

Pau Gasol

Kevin Love

Paul Pierce

Manu Ginobli

Russell Westbrook

All NBA Second Team

Gambo:

Amare Stoudemire

Dirk Nowitzki

Kevin Garnett

Manu Ginobili

Deron Williams

Scottie:

Dwight Howard

Dirk Nowitizki

Kevin Durant

Monta Ellis

Rajon Rondo

All NBA First Team

Gambo:

Pau Gasol

Kevin Durant

LeBron James

Kobe Bryant

Chris Paul

Scottie:

Amar’e Stoudimire

Blake Griffin

LeBron James

Kobe Bryant

Derek Rose

All-Defensive Team

Gambo:

Dwight Howard

Kevin Garnett

Rudy Gay

Kobe Bryant

Russell Westbrook

Scottie:

Dwight Howard

Kevin Garnett

Corey Brewer

Tyreke Evans

Chris Paul

All Rookie Team

Gambo:

DeMarcus Cousins

Blake Griffin

Greg Monroe

Landry Fields

John Wall

Scottie

DeMarcus Cousins

Blake Griffin

Gary Neal

Landry Fields

John Wall

Executive of the Year

Gambo: Pat Riley

As much as you might hate the Heat, the “architect” himself was responsible for putting together a big-three that will contend for years to come. It took some time but the studs in South Beach seem to have it all figured out now. Runner-up: Danny Ainge, for keeping the Celtics together for another year.

Scottie: Pat Riley

I hate Pat Riley.  I hate the Heat. But there is no getting around the roster moves he made in the off season making the Heat a sure fire force for years to come.  Just saying that last sentence leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Sixth Man of the Year

Gambo: Serge Ibaka

Now he probably should be starting for the “Zombie Sonics,” but Serge does the majority of his damage off the bench. If the Thunder want to challenge the Lakers, Spurs and Mavs in the West, they will need his size and shot-blocking down the stretch. Other deserving candidates: Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Glen Davis.

Scottie: Glen Davis

I am picking Glen Davis and it has zero to do with him being on the hometown team.  No one brings more energy or is more valuable to his team off the bench than Davis is for the Celtics.  He is averaging 12.5 ppg and grabbing 6 boards a game.  As of January 19, he has taken 34 charges! With that absurd number he has basically created a new stat! He has developed a nice outside jumper that forces defenses to respect him and he is not getting blocked nearly as many times as he did last year.  He is finishing around the rim and is punishing his opposition with a sweet little spin move reminiscent of Antoine Walker.  Give Big Baby the 6th man of the year award right now.

Most Improved Player of the Year

Gambo: Raymond Felton

There are a lot of good choices out there with players such as Kevin Love, Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon, but Felton is player I almost completely wrote off last season. Now, he is the quarterback of D’Antoni’s offense and a borderline All-Star. Not bad for a guy who was more-or-less run out of town by Larry Brown.

Scottie: Eric Gordon

I was debating between Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, and Eric Gordon here.  Gordon has improved his stats from last year (16 points a game to 23 a night) and has been able to handle different tasks assigned to him.  When Baron Davis was out with an injury, he stepped right into that role and played well.  It is clear his summer with Team USA has made him a better player. Beasley and Love were also picked higher than Gordon and they should be playing as well as they are. I don’t think anyone ever expected consistent production out of Gordon.

Coach of the Year

Gambo: Greg Popovich

Coming into the season the Spurs had a ton of question marks with age, declining play and young players in bigger roles. “Pop” has done a great job of tailoring everyone’s new role while pushing Ginobili into starting lineup and monitoring Tim Duncan’s minutes.

Scottie: Tom Thibodeau

The Bulls are in line for the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference at the mid point of the season. Their front court has been decimated by the injury bug with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer playing in about half the team’s games. Sure, Derek Rose is an MVP candidate but this is largely the same team Vinny Del Negro had one year ago. Other than Derek Rose and Luol Deng this team doesn’t really have any key contributors that have gotten them to their 29 wins.  The reason for their success is because of Coach T.

Defensive Player of the Year

Gambo: Dwight Howard

No one changes opponents’ game plans on both ends of the floor as much as Howard. A force in the middle that clogs the lane and deters players from driving the lane; he also possesses amazing quickness for someone his size.

Scottie: Kevin Garnett

Call me a homer but is there anyone more valuable to his team on the defensive side of the ball than KG? He is the most intense player in the NBA hands down and he brings out that intensity on the defensive side of the ball.  He missed nine games and in those nine games it was apparent how much the Celtics missed him.  He may not stuff the stat sheet on the defensive end but teams that play the Celtics don’t generally put up a high field goal percentage.  That can be attributed to KG.

Rookie of the Year

Gambo: Blake Griffin

Entering the season, there was a question if John Wall or someone like DeMarcus Cousins could challenge Blake for the top rookie honor, but it quickly became clear that Mr. Griffin is head and shoulders above the rest.

Scottie: Blake Griffin

Not only is Blake Griffin hands down the Rookie of the Year, if the MVP vote was made on stats alone, he would be getting some votes. At the time of this writing the Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and there isn’t a player in the NBA that’s on more of a hot streak than Griffin.  He routinely has 3 posters a night as he takes out all his aggression on the rim when he drives to the basket.  More importantly he has improved outrageously over the course of the last 3 months.  Here’s some stats to take in: October:  16.7ppg and 11.0  rpg. November:20.9  ppg and 11.7 rpg. December:23.0 ppg and 13.5 rpg. January:27.8 ppg and 13.6 rpg. Sick and wrong.

MVP

Gambo: Dirk Nowitzki,

Prior to his injury he was a shoe-in for the award. Dirk is the only guy out there right now that is doing it without at least another boarderline superstar. I know Scottie will say Kevin Durant, which you can easily make an argument for, but Westbrook definitely helps more than a quickly-aging Jason Kidd. Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Antonio all split votes, so Dirk it is. Runner-up: Kevin Durant

Second Runner-up; Derrick Rose

Scottie: Amar’e Stoudimire

Last year I argued (and will continue to do so) that Kevin Durant was the MVP of the 2010 season.  When I think valuable, I think of how good the respective team of the MVP candidate would be if they weren’t on the team.  With that being said Amar’e is far and away the MVP of the first half of the NBA season.  Last season the Knicks were a joke.  This season they are nearly a lock to make the playoffs because of Amar’e.  He is second in the league averaging 26.4 points a night, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.  More importantly he has put people back in the seats of Madison Square Garden. He had one stretch of ten games with over 30 points.  There is no one playing better ball than this man right now.

Ode to the Bench!-The Story of Game 4

BOSTON -96—- LOS ANGELES-89

GAME 4- Boston, Massachusetts

*The first three quarters of last night’s Game 4 might have been the most miserable 3 quarters of basketball I have ever seen.  The first three quarters of last night’s game rivaled any CYO game ever played.  The game was downright ugly.  The Celtics missed several lightly contested layups and many open look jumpers.  The offense of the Celtics has left a lot to be desired through four games, but their defense has been relentless.  Thank Thibodeau for that!

*The Celtics also got a huge pick me up from the bench.  Words will never do justice to describe exactly what they accomplished last night.  Glen Davis plays with heart and sometimes that is even better than having any talent.  He battles for every ball, crashes the glass, and hustles on every play.  I can’t even make fun of him for drooling and slobbering on himself after a huge and one put back.  He got me fired up to the point where I was screaming and yelling, jumping up and down, and fist pumping in my own living room.  I love seeing players play with emotion and The Ticket Stub has it.  Of course the line of the night came from Mark Jackson: “What do babies do? They drool, babies do that.”

*Eddie Who?  Doc Rivers has said all along that Nate Robinson would win a playoff game for the Celtics.  He did that in Orlando for Game 6, and along with his partner Shrek (Big Baby) they won Game 4 for the Celts.  In case you missed it, Nate the Great referred to he and Baby as Shrek and Donkey.  Ya gotta love it!  Nate provides that same spark that Davis does off the bench.  They play with all the emotion and heart in the world.  Nate banged 2 quick 3’s and then was able to penetrate into the paint and get some buckets there as well.  I didn’t even mind the technical he got for getting in Odom’s face.  That got the crowd into a frenzy and picked up the team as well.  It helped the Celts get that swag back.  It didn’t hurt that D-Fish missed the free throw as well.

*While Tony Allen can be somewhat frustrating on offense, he has played lockdown defense all playoff long.  When called upon he has played Kobe Bryant as good as anyone can play the greatest player on the planet.  He has forced Kobe into taking difficult shots and Kobe hasn’t had anything easy.  Tony has come a long way from the days of biting on every single upfake causing him to foul someone in the act of shooting.  I am really going to hate to see Tony leave for a higher pay day at the end of this season.  I love his ADHD mentality on the court and also on the bench when he simply can’t sit down for more than 3 minutes.  He is constantly up screaming and yelling encouragement to those on the floor.  He is the consummate team player.

*There was no bigger shot in last night’s game then Sheed nailing the three from the top of the key to ice the game.  I have been hard on Rasheed all year long and I stick by that.  However, the truth is the man knows how to win and his experience in the post season has been invaluable to this team.  He has played in your face defense on the big pansy known as Pau Gasol.  More importantly he hasn’t done anything to hurt the team which was characteristic of him throughout the regular season.

*Huge props to Doc for staying with the bench in the 4th quarter.  The man can coach and he showed that last night.  The bench wasn’t looking to “get anyone going” which has been the problem with the starters.  The bench just ran the offense and took what the Lakers gave them.  This needs to translate to the starters for the rest of the series.  If that happens the Celtics will take the title.