Farewell June 2013

Normally, I embrace the month of June.  In fact, it is my favorite month of the year.  Summer begins, warm weather, trips to the beach, hell my birthday is in June.  However; June 2013 was simply awful for a Boston sports fan.  I, myself, can’t wait until Monday morning when I can turn the calendar to July.

Since I started blogging (even dating back to the McKeon and the Mongoose days), as a Boston sports fan, I have primarily been able to write about successes, champions, and legendary athletes. Boston fans have seen two World Series’ trophies, four Lombardi trophies, 1 Stanley Cup, and 1 Larry O’Brien trophy.  We have also seen three out of the four teams we root for lose more than one championship game or series.  None of that pain or disappointment comes close to what Boston fans have endured over the month of June.  Where do I even begin?

Aaron Hernandez

The most notable detrimental event in June is Aaron Hernandez being charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.  Sure as a Patriotsap_aaron_hernandez_mi_130728_16x9_992 fan this bothers me.  But as a human being it down right pisses me off.  I hold true to the belief set forth by Robert DeNiro’s character, Lorenzo, in A Bronx Tale. “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”  That is just what Hernandez is, wasted talent.  This kid was given everything out of the womb from a physical standpoint.  Bill Walton would refer to him as “the biggest winner of the genetic lottery known to man.”  Hernandez is 6’1, built out of granite, and has amazing agility.  He was given everything: A full scholarship to the University of Florida, drafted by the best organization in the NFL, to play with the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, and as of last August given a sizable contract.

In life, all Hernandez had to do was stay in shape.  Everything was given to him.  He never pulled an all nighter trying to finish a term paper in college.  He never had to sit in a cubicle hearing a boss drone on about TPS reports. Hell the guy probably never had to clean his house or even take out the garbage.  He was living the American Dream; being paid millions of dollars to play a game. And he blew it all.

I have to wonder when it will all hit Aaron.  He will no longer enjoy his mansion in North Attleboro.  He will no longer be able to eat at 5 star restaurants.  He will never hear the roar of 60,000 fans cheering as he catches a pass from Tom Brady.  It is all gone.

Boston Bruins

Back in the middle of May, the Boston Bruins pulled off an improbable comeback over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Down 4-1 with eight minutes left, the Bruins came from behind to shock the world and advance to the second round against the New York Rangers.  The Bruins skated past the Rangers in 5 games setting up a date with the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.  Most experts believed the Bruins would have a hard time beating the Penguins because of their offensive juggernaut. The Bruins proved all the naysayers wrong, owning the Penguins in 4 games.

The Bruins advanced to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.  The Bruins looked to be a team of destiny.  The Andrew Shawmiracle comeback over the Leafs, the dismantling of the Rangers, and sweeping the Penguins.  Gregory Campbell helped kill off a penalty for 1 minute skating on a broken leg.  All the plots to the beautiful story line were in place.

The Bruins came to Boston down 3-2 for Game 6. Milan Lucic scored a goal late in the third period.  It looked as though the Bruins, the improbable Bruins, would force a Game 7 in Chicago.  The with 1:15 left in the game, Brian Bickell beat Tuukka Rask to tie the game.  17 seconds later, Dave Bolland beat Rask to put the Blackhawks ahead and bring the Cup back to Chicago.  I will not attempt to get fancy in describing my feelings as these events unfolded on June 24 (the night before my birthday).  The Bickell goal felt like a wild mule kicked me square in the genitals.  The Bolland goal felt like I lost those genitals 17 seconds later.

After the Bruins were able to shock the Maple Leafs, I was convinced they were going to win the Stanley Cup.  They destroyed the Rangers resulting in John Tortorella receiving a pink slip.  Their win over the Penguins cemented my belief the Cup was coming home to Boston.  Then I sat there on my couch on June 24, watching Andrew Shaw lift the Cup over his head on the TD Garden ice.

How can that be?

Boston Celtics

I made a promise to myself I would not watch a single second of the NBA Final because I did not want to give David Stern his much desired television rating.  My problem, however, is my access to Twitter.  Tuesday, June 18, the Spurs were 5 seconds away from beating LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the NBA title.  My twitter feed blew up.  I could not resist temptation.  I had to tune in to see the sad faces of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.  I even had my tweet all lined up.  Not 6, Not 5, Not 4, Not 3, Not 2!  1!  I tuned into the game just in time to see Chris Bosh tip a rebound out to Ray Allen, yes Ray Allen above all people, bury a three from the corner to send the game into overtime.  Why did it have to be Ray Allen?  Former member of The Big Three.  The guy who left town to take less money because he did not want to play in Boston in anymore.  The guy who abandoned Pierce and Garnett to go play with the Celtics’ biggest rival.  Why did it have to be Judas Shuttlesworth?

As we all know the Heat went on to beat the Spurs and win their second straight NBA title.

On the local front, the Celtics traded Doc Rivers to the Clippers for a 1st round draft pick.  I am yet to determine how I feel about NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celticsthis. The beef between Bill Simmons and Rivers further complicates things.  I have long been a fan of Doc Rivers.  I am on the fence about Simmons.  Some days I like him, most days I find him wildly annoying.  As it stands now, I find myself being annoyed with Doc Rivers.  He essentially asked out-of-town because he did not want to be apart of a rebuild.  Knowing he did not want to be apart of a rebuild, he had no problem signing a 5 year contract for $35 million last season.  Obviously KG and Pierce would not be around for those 5 years.  He obviously knew a rebuild was happening.  Instead of owning up to him quitting on the current Celtics, he has made many excuses as to what went down between he and Danny Ainge leading up to this trade.

There is a lot of Ray Allen in Doc Rivers.  The both feel the need to be liked by the fans.  They can’t handle the fact Boston fans may be upset with them.  Ultimately, I am glad the Celtics received compensation for Rivers.  But the bottom line is Rivers did quit on the Celtics and he is currently trying to protect his reputation with Celtics fans by saying it was not his idea to leave town.

After Rivers asked to be dealt to the Clippers, the writing was on the wall Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would be moved as well. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce Believe it or not, I have mixed emotions about this one.  Paul Pierce has been a Boston Celtic since I was 13 years old.  I can’t remember what the Celtics were like without him.  I remember when he slipped to the 10th pick in the 1998 draft.  I was ecstatic,  That ecstasy lived on for the last 15 years.  Anyone who knows me, knows I will argue Pierce is a top five player over the course of his career.  Seeing him don a Brooklyn Nets uniform will be difficult.  Seeing him be coached by Jason Kidd will blow my mind.  It is not hard to forget the Nets were Celtic rivals in the early 2000’s.  Right at the center of that rivalry? Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd.

Seeing Kevin Garnett go will be difficult as well.  I remember working as a camp counselor the summer of 2007 when Garnett was traded to the Celtics.  I walked around the camp with a radio, listening to WEEI, as the trade talks heated up.  Garnett brought an unparalleled intensity to Boston.  It was impossible not to get fired up along with him when you were at the Garden.  Credit Garnett for getting that building as loud as it got most nights.  Without Garnett, there is no Banner 17 hanging from the rafters.

#34 will hang from those same rafters one day.  I hope #5 does as well.  They were great Celtics.  Great isn’t even the word.  There are no words to describe Pierce and Garnett.  Their last move as Celtics?  Bringing home three first round picks to help rebuild the franchise.  It does not get any better than that.   Damn it, I hope they knock off the Heat next year.

June was an awful month in Boston. July 2013, I welcome you with open arms.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

No Rondo? No Problem

This past week, I saw my beloved New England Patriots lose the AFC Championship on their home turf to the Baltimore Ravens, Unknownfive days later my Boston Celtics blew a 27 point lead to the Atlanta Hawks en route to a double overtime loss.  Two days after that, I learned Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the 2013 season with a torn ACL.  The argument can be made this was the worst week of my life, at least in the world of sports.  Most Celtics fans are on the Tobin Bridge ready to jump because of the loss of Rondo.  You won’t find me on that bridge.  In fact, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I think the Celtics will be better without Rondo.

Go ahead, mock me.  Call me crazy.  Tell me to take my green shaded glasses off.  But let’s face it.  The Boston Celtics were 20-23 before Doris Burke would tell us during the game against the Miami Heat yesterday Rondo would miss the rest of the season.  The truth is I don’t believe the Celtics could be any worse than what they were.

I understand the Celtics just lost their superstar point guard who leads the league in triple-doubles.  I understand the Celtics lost their point guard who dishes out double-digit assists per game.  I get it.  At the end of the day the Celtics were a below .500 team going into yesterday’s game.  In my opinion, the two best games the Celtics have played all season were against the Knicks in New York and yesterday’s contest with the Heat.  In both games Rondo did not play.  He was suspended for the Knicks game and we all know about yesterday.

I must preface my next few thoughts with this. People who read this blog know I am a fan of Rajon Rondo.  Over the last few weeks, the Celtics were a dead team.  On offensive there was too much standing around watching Rondo dribble around everybody.  The Celtics were getting piss poor shots at the end of the shot clock because there was no flow to the offense.  With Rondo out, this now forces everyone to be apart of the offense.  The Celtics are now going to be forced to play team basketball.  I like seeing Kevin Garnett work out of the post.  The inevitable double-team comes and he kicks it out to a guard for an open jump shot.  It is really simple.  The problem is when Rondo was on the court KG wouldn’t play near the basket because he didn’t want to clog the paint.  With Rondo out, I expect better team basketball out of the Celtics.

Remember how excited I was about the Celtics depth back in October?  We will now see that luxury unfold for the rest of the season.  Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa know they are going to get their chance to play.  While none of the above are true point guards, I believe they can adequately handle point guard duties in small doses.

In a weird kind of way, Paul Pierce will be re-energized with Rondo going down.  Paul Pierce will once again be The Man for the imagesCeltics.  Too much was made of making it known the 2013 Celtics were Rondo’s team.  The fact is this team belongs to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  I expect Pierce to embrace the challenge of being the go to guy.  He will play a lot of point forward.  Throughout Pierce’s career, he has always been at his best with the ball in his hands.  He is not like Ray Allen who runs off picks all day long.  Pierce is at his best when he can drive to the basket or pull off his patented step back jumper from the elbow.  Pierce is obviously on the back nine of his career.  This will be his last go around as the head honcho.

Even with Rondo out, I believe this Celtics roster as currently constituted can beat every team in the Eastern Conference in a 7 game series.  No doubt, Miami will give them their biggest challenge. I don’t see any scenario in which the Celtics can get better than they are right now this season.  Trading Pierce and/ or Garnett makes no sense.  There is no way the Celtics can obtain equal or greater value for either player.  Not only do they still have the talent to compete, they are also mentoring younger players like Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger how to play the game.  Don’t discount that last intangible.  Garnett has done wonders for the likes of Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby Davis.  Garnett and Pierce are essential to the proper growth and development of Sullinger, Bradley, and even Fab Mello.

Maybe I am overly sentimental when it comes to my teams.  But I also believe I am being objective in looking at this year’s roster.images-1  The season ending injury to the team’s best player could be the best thing that could have happened to this team.  I believe it will allow different players to step up and play key roles and it will motivate the players to “win it for Rondo.”As Sean Grande tweeted yesterday, “On a day when the Celtics lost their best player, they also found their heart.”

I believe in heart.  The Celtics haven’t played with it at all this season until yesterday.  Now the Celtics are motivated to shut up all the media pundits that are writing their 2013 obituary.  I won’t write off the Celtics just yet, and frankly, you don’t have any reason to either.

 

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

 

Celtics Provide a Merry Christmas

I last wrote about the Boston Celtics 1 month ago.  At that time, I was writing about them every game and it began to get monotonous. The Celtics had been going through the motions the first 2 months of the season.  My stories were all pretty much the same but with different words.  Rondo was great, Pierce and Garnett still got it, Jeff Green is frustrating, etc.  I also kept saying the regular season was an 82 game audition.  After watching today’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, I finally have something worth while to write about.  The pre-season is over and the regular season began today for the Boston Celtics.images

The Celtics were playing.500 ball heading into today’s Christmas tilt with a new division rival, the Brooklyn Nets.  They played the  Nets even through the first quarter but came out blazing in the second quarter.  Today’s game was won by the bench.  They outscored the Nets bench 43-21, led by Jared Sullinger’s 16 points and Jeff Green’s 15.  The bench, which was supposed to be a strength for the Celtics coming into the season, finally played like it.

Rajon Rondo lead the Celtics with 19 points.  Paul Pierce, the only NBA player in history not named Michael Jordan to pour 35 points in 2 consecutive games at the age of 35, decided he wanted to be a distributor and handed out 10 assists.  While the bench play was most encouraging, the Celtics returned to playing at least a semblance of team defense.  It is no secret the Celtics are at their best when they are playing solid defense.  Today was one of those days as they held the Nets to just 79 points.

There has been a lot of trade rumors floating around because of nervous Celtics fans that think an NBA title is won in November.  Names like Varejao and Cousins have been discussed because the Celtics need another big man.  While I agree the Celtics need a big man, I am not in agreement that said big man should be acquired via trade.

I am not at all interested in trading Jared Sullinger or Avery Bradley.  I admit that when he was in college I thought he would be a jared-sullinger-andray-blatchecolossal bust in the NBA.  My buddy Q is allowed to rag on me for years to come because I was wrong.
Sullinger showed why he was a pre-draft consensus top 5 pick.  The kid had 16 points and 7 rebounds.  He showed he has range on his jumper.  He has a nose for the ball.  He was +21, highest of the Celtics.  Trading this kid would be a mistake.

Remember the spark Avery Bradley provided the Celtics throughout the second half of the season last year.  He and Rondo have undeniable chemistry.  Bradley is also a pest on defense forcing opposing teams to start their offense with 14 seconds left on the shot clock most possessions.  I am not saying Bradley is going to be the savior when he returns to the floor January 2 against the Grizzlies but I know he will make the Celtics better.

I am concerned and curious why Leandro Barbosa has fallen out of Doc’s rotation.  He was providing instant offense off the bench for the Celtics.  He has now racked up a few DNP-Coach’s Decision over the last week. I believe he should provide Courtney Lee some competition for minutes when Bradley gets back.  It seems Doc disagrees with me.

The Christmas game was encouraging.  I think the Celtics are ready to put a streak together.  No matter how tough their division has become, I still believe they are the 2nd best team in the East and will ultimately be the only team that can cool down the Heat.

The Celtics continue this 4 game road trip out west against the Clippers on Thursday night at 10:30.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Snipe Bucks

November 10, 2012 will be a day Celtics fans will remember this season. The Celtics beat the Bucks 96-92 and Jeff Green arrived. If you were only looking at the box score, his stats wouldn’t jump out at you.  In 25 minutes, he had 12 points and 3 rebounds.  But if you watched the game, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Green was awesome in the fourth quarter on both sides of the floor.  Seeing him take the ball hard to the rack was refreshing.  His 8 trips to the charity stripe are very telling.  Green was aggressive taking the ball to the basket.  He is a matchup nightmare for teams around the NBA.  He can post up smaller guards and take bigger forwards off the dribble.  Last night was the first night Celtics fans saw what Jeff Green is capable of.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t say the true star of the game was Paul Pierce.  Pierce basically traded buckets with Monta Ellis as the game went on.  When Pierce reaches that other level that he gets to from time to time, he is truly unstoppable.  Milwaukee didn’t have anyone that could stop Pierce as he went for 25 points.  He still is very much The Truth.

Doc Rivers obviously read my recap from the 76ers game.  I called out Courtney Lee for not bringing anything to the table through the first 2 weeks of the season.  Doc promptly changed his starting five, putting Lee on the bench, and starting Jason Terry.  The funny thing is, the new starting five didn’t really work.  The Celtics had been getting off to fast starts prior to the change.  Last night they started slow but the end result is all that matters.

Jason Terry was very efficient last night and looks to finally be settling into his new digs.  Terry had 15 points on 5-7 shooting (2-3 from deep).  My concern, however, is the Celtics do not have a back up point guard.  Terry can’t do it.  I am not comfortable with Barbosa in that role.  And I don’t see Courtney Lee capable of handling that responsibility either.  Avery Bradley thrived playing with Rondo last year and struggled when he had to run the offense.  This is something to keep an eye on going forward in the season.

The Celtics travel to the windy city Monday night to take on the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.  The Bulls are 4-2 and are atop the Central Division being led by a resurgent Rip Hamilton.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF.

Celtics Hold On For First Win of Season

Outside of the first 10 minutes of the game, there wasn’t much to be confident about with Boston Celtics.  The Celtics raced out to a 26-12 first quarter lead against the hapless Washington Wizards.  The Wizards, who were without John Wall and Nene, looked as good as what myself and the other 4 people who read this blog would look like in the NBA.  The 12 points given up in the first quarter for the Celtics probably looks good as a stat for their defense.  The reality is Washington missed several wide open shots.

Paul Pierce drilled a deep three late in the fourth that proved to be the dagger.  The fact that any one shot is considered a dagger from last night’s game is laughable.  Pierce did throw up 27 points on 10-22 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds.  Kevin Garnett showed he can still play lock down defense.  He forced Kevin Seraphin (who lit him up all night) to turnover the ball with 11 seconds left that pretty much sealed the Boston W.

With Ray Allen gone, there is zero doubt who will have the ball in late game situations.  I have said this before and I will say it again.  Pierce is a top 5 player in the NBA when the game is on the line.

In the off-season Jason Terry said the Boston bench would never get outscored.  Through 3 games they are yet to outscore their opposition.  In the Washington game, not one guy had a plus in the plus/minus rating.  Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox were -5, Brandon Bass was a -8, and Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry were both -12.  Thank every higher religious power that Darko’s ass stayed glued to that bench.

Look, in these three posts, the tone of the articles may be that I am really down on the Celtics through three games.  That is not the case.  There is so much talent on this team from 1-12.  They have 79 more games to figure out how to make all that individual talent work as one.  Doc is still trying to figure how to rotate guys in and out, trying to figure out who plays well with who, all while trying to create a rhythm and chemistry on his squad.  This is evidenced by Doc deciding to mix it up already by moving Jared Sullinger into the starting 5 and Brandon Bass to the bench.

For what it is worth, I could care less who starts a game.  I care more about who is on the floor at the end of the game.  That being said, the lineup I like most is Rondo, Pierce, Green, Bass, and Garnett.  I am admittedly enamored with Jeff Green.  I think he has such a smooth game. I think Doc needs to find more minutes for him so he can find his niche with this team.  I really want to see him run with Rondo.

Speaking of Rondo, the shot he hit to beat the shot clock after being blocked was one of the luckiest yet most unreal shot I think I have ever seen in all my years of watching basketball.  Rondo has turned a double double into an average night.  The argument will go on until we are all blue in the face but Rajon Rondo is a top 3 point guard in the league.  I only put Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose ahead of him.  Yes, I think he is better than Deron Williams.

The Celtics’ game is Wednesday, November 7 when the Wizards travel up to Boston.  I expect the Celtics to win this one by at least 15.

 

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Ranking the Boston Champions

There is no doubt the last 10 years have been the greatest 10 years of any sports town in history for Boston.  No other city comes remotely close to having 7 championships in ten years.  So where do I rank those 7 championships? Let’s have a look.

7) 2004 Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers

Tom Brady was a stud in this one as he threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns leading the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Panthers.  Adam Vinatieri was the hero again as he hit a 41 yard field goal to with 4 seconds left to put the Patriots ahead for good.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s game winning field goal; Vrabel’s 2 sacks and touchdown reception; 37 total fourth quarter points

6) 2005 Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots winning this Super Bowl cemented the theory that the Patriots were the 2000’s dynasty in the NFL.  Tom Brady started to draw comparisons to Joe Montana.  And perhaps best of all the Patriots beat loud mouth Terrell Owens.  The Patriots also became the first team since the Denver Broncos to win back to back Super Bowls.

Memorable Moments: Branch’s 11 receptions; Rodney Harrison flapping his arms like an eagle after his second interception; Another Vrabel TD reception

5) 2007 Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were the hottest team in baseball going into the World Series in 2007 after winning 15 of their last 16 just to make it into the playoffs.  They then swept the division series and league series and were forced to wait as the Red Sox finished their series with the Indians.  This 2007 team was a lot different from the 2004 team as it was a team that was led by Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.  Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury arrived on the scene as well while old friends David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Curt Schilling were still doing their thing.

Memorable Moments: Pedroia’s home run off Francis; Sox come back from 3-1 deficit against Indians in ALCS; Papelbon’s Irish Jig

4) 2008 Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers

While I am more of a Celtics fan than I am a Bruins fan, this championship has to fall just below the Bruins.  The Celtics were able to stack their team by trading their roster away to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Quite frankly, if the Celtics hadn’t of won the championship in 2008 I would have been incredibly disappointed.  But it was pretty sweet to embarrass the Lakers on their home court.  I was also very happy to see Paul Pierce win a title after all the years he put in with the Celtics.

There may not have been a more deserving athlete in Boston than Paul Pierce when he was finally able to raise that trophy high above his head.  Pierce had been in Boston his whole career and never publicly spoke out about how bad the team was or publicly complained.  Sure, he was mad when they stunk, but Pierce stayed quiet and he was rewarded when Danny Ainge got him a true supporting cast for the first time in his career.

Memorable Moments: Pierce in a wheelchair; Mike Breen:”And the Celtics are embarrassing the Lakers”; Ray Allen crossing over Vujacic

3) 2011 Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks

The Stanley Cup hadn’t been in Boston since 1972.  The Bruins were able to win in overtime of Game 7 against their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, sweep a Flyer team that came back from a 3-0 lead the year prior, and beat the Lightning in Game 7 on their home ice, before capturing the Stanley Cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.  They did it without their best player, Nathan Horton who was knocked into next week by Aaron Rome in Game 3.  They won it with perhaps the most dominating playoff performance ever by a goalie in 37 years young Tim Thomas.

During these playoffs, Zdeno Chara missed time with a dehydration illness, Nathan Horton missed time with his concussion, and they were down in the Montreal and Vancouver series but showed how resilient they were after a season of fans questioning the team’s heart.  These Bruins most certainly had heart.

Memorable Moments: Tim Thomas’ overall performance; Horton’s concussion; Recchi’s last game; Thornton the enforcer; Bergeron getting bit by Burrows

2) 2002 Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams

No one expected the Patriots to stay within 15 points of the Rams in 2002.  Hell, the argument could be made the Patriots weren’t even suppose to be there after Brady fumbl- I mean tucked the football in against the Raiders in the AFC Championship.But Bill Belichick pulled off his best coaching performance in his first Super Bowl win as he was able to slow down “The Greatest Show on Turf.”  The Patriots were able to completely neutralize Marshall Faulk and from there, rookie Tom Brady was able to manage the clock and not turn over the football enabling Adam Vinatieri to kick a game winning 48 yard field goal.  While Brady was named MVP, (16-27 for 145 yards) I will forever argue JR Redmond, Jermaine Wiggins, or the Patriot Defense was far more deserving of the honor than Brady.

The coolest part of this Super Bowl was Bill Belichick having his whole team introduced instead of individual introductions.  This set forth the value of unity amongst a team and started the trend that continues today of teams being introduced rather than individual players.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s field goal; Patriots’ entrance; Madden suggesting Patriots run out clock; The final drive; Wiggins; Redmond; Troy Brown

1) 2004  Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals

It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series.  They suffered the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.  A stretch that saw Bucky bleepin’ Dent hit a lazy fly ball that landed in the netting of the Green Monster to win the division for the Yankees, they saw a routine ground ball trickle through the legs of Bill Buckner off the bat of Mookie Wilson to push the 1986 World Series to a seventh game, and they saw Aaron Boone hit a walk off home run in 2003 that sent the Yankees to the World Series.  The Red Sox didn’t only not win, they put their fan base through through the most painful of losses.

2004 was especially memorable because they were able to do what no other team in baseball had done before: Come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit to win the ALCS against, yes, the New York Yankees.

Memorable Moments: Roberts steals second; Schilling’s bloody sock; “Don’t let us win this one”; (Fully recognize all the memories are from the Yankee series but can you say you have any memories from the actual World Series?)

***A previous version of this post had Tim Thomas listed as 36 years young.  Thanks to a faithful reader for pointing out that he is 37 years young.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

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