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

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The Not-So Rapid Reaction- Celtics Lose 120-107

Last night, after Miami put on the finishing touches of a 120-107 opening night win against my beloved Boston Celtics, I really wanted to sit down and hammer away all my thoughts on to this blog.  Truth be told, I am getting old and I fell asleep after the game.  It is likely better that way, as I have had time to organize my thoughts and not publish my patented knee jerk reaction that I am famous for.  I would like to continue this type of post but any faithful reader of NTCF knows our promises usually ring hollow.  I will simply take it game by game.  So without further adieu, here is my thoughts following last night’s game.

I will spare everyone the tired “Ray Allen is my ex-girlfriend from high school” analogy.  Whatever the case may be, he didn’t want to play in Boston anymore.  He wanted to live tax-free in Miami, play golf on his off days, and ride the coat tails of LeBron James and get another ring before he called it a career.  Boston fans have been “betrayed” before.  No doubt it stings a little bit more when a fan favorite decides to go play for your most bitter rival.  See Damon, Johnny. I admit, I had a sense of rage seeing him don a Miami Heat uniform.  I was happy that KG ignored him when he thought during the game was the perfect time to try to clear the air and get some “daps.”  Yes, it did hurt to see Ray pour in 19 points on 5-7 shooting and 2-3 from long range.What hurt more than his stats, however, were the times when the Celtics needed a bucket and couldn’t get one.  Because it was those times over the last 5 years that Doc could draw up a play to free up Ray Ray and he would bury a jump shot.   That is what I will miss most about Ray Allen.

Maybe the emotion was too much for the Celtics last night.  Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were awful for the most apart.  Garnett has been known to get himself so psyched up that he can’t produce.  Last night was one of those nights.  Maybe it was the ring ceremony prior to the game, maybe it was the national spotlight, maybe it was playing against a former brother, maybe it was everything combined but KG was largely ineffective last night.  I also believe that Jason Terry was caught up in the moment of trying to hard to be better than Ray Allen.  He was all over the floor and not in a good way.  His shots were out of rhythm and his defense was sorely lacking.  I found myself very concerned about Terry.  He is not a true point guard and  I am not sure how his game is going to translate when being asked to bring the ball up the floor, something he is not accustomed to doing.

Jeff Green was a no-show last night as well.  I am willing to give him a free pass at the start of this season though.  He is coming back from open-heart surgery.  At this point last year, he was probably thinking that he would never play again.  Believe it or not, life is more important than sports.  I think Jeff was a bit emotional last night and wasn’t able to get into the game.  I am excited to have him back this season and I look forward to having him play with a full training camp under his belt with the Celtics.  Once the chemistry is established he will be essential to the team’s success.

What I took away most from last night’s game was how much I now loathe Dwayne Wade.  Every time he takes the ball to the basket and loses it he stops and stares down the ref.  He has become the biggest (insert derogatory slang term for the female reproductive organ here) in the NBA.  He has the audacity to call Rajon Rondo a punk after the game last night.  This is the same guy who dislocated Rondo’s elbow with a cheap shot 2 years ago in the playoffs.  This is the same guy that bridged Darren Collison last season.  This is no longer the guy that had the awesome commercial, “I fall down 7 times and stand up 8.”   It also drives me crazy that refs allow him to use his off-hand to stiff arm his defender when he drives to the basket.  It was probably the most pivotal play in the playoffs last year and it happened again last night.  At this time last year, I despised LeBron James.  After what LeBron did in Game 6 last year, I…I… (gulp) respect him.  Now, my hatred, my disdain, my insurmountable intense dislike is toward Dwayne Wade.

I am really hoping Doc lets Jared Sullinger play.  My one qualm with Doc Rivers is his knack for not letting rookies play.  Sullinger will be needed this season.  He will be needed to give Garnett rest.  He will be needed in the front court.  He is a large part of the future of the Boston Celtics.  Doc played him 8 minutes last night.  I understand there may have been matchup problems for him but I sincerely hope that Doc sets aside his policy about giving rookies minutes, and he lets the kid play.

I came away from last night’s game realizing the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat rivalry has surpassed the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in my eyes.  The reason for that is two-fold.  1) The Red Sox are largely irrelevant right now and will be until they straighten out their operation. 2) LeBron has been public enemy #1 for the Celtics since the Big 3 arrived in Boston.  Now one of the members of the original Big 3 have joined forces with the enemy.  The Celtics are the only team in the NBA that have, can, and will take the Heat to 7 games in a playoff series.

Next up for the Celtics: Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis bring the Milwaukee Bucks into Boston on Friday November 2.

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

How Sweep It Is!

Believe it or not I actually do have a social life to attend to once in a great while.  Because of the social life, I was unable to post about the games over the weekend.  In case you missed it (and I doubt you did) here is a mini recap of the weekend.  And what a great weekend it was for Boston sports.

Celtics Bust Out Brooms in NY

In Game Three of the first round series between the Celtics and Knicks, the only competition on the court was between Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in who could hit the most three pointers and have the most points.  Pierce had 38 points hitting 6 of his 8 threes and Ray-Ray had 32 points hitting 8 of his eleven threes.  Rajon Rondo was able to run around the court at will and posted a triple double with 15 points 11 rebounds and 20 assists.

Game Four saw the Celtics lead throughout the game before putting on the finishing touches on a 101-89 victory being the only team in the NBA to sweep the first round this year.  Garnett led the way in Game 4 with 26 points and 10 rebounds.  If you missed either of these two games, you didn’t miss much as the Celtics dominated right from the opening tap to the final buzzer.

In hindsight this series ended when Chauncey Billups went down with a knee injury at the end of Game 1.  Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudimire never looked to be on the same page.  Toney Douglas was no match for Rajon Rondo.  Landry Fields laid perhaps the biggest egg in the history of postseason sports.  This was a guy that was a first team all rookie and he stunk the place up in all 4 games.  The Celtics will wait for the Heat to polish off the 76ers before starting round two.  The extra time off will provide the aging roster with some rest and also buy time for Shaq to get healthy.

Horton Hears a Who: Bruins Lead Series 3-2

Nathan Horton scored 11 minutes into the second overtime of Game 5 to put the Bruins one win away from advancing to the second round.  At this time last week, the idea of the Bruins making it out of the opening round was a joke.  But over the last three games they have played with heart and that is all you need to win in playoff hockey.  Michael Ryder continued his great play with the save of his career bailing out an out of position Tim Thomas in the first period of the game.

Speaking of Thomas, the man stood on his head in Game 5 with 44 saves.  Chief among those saves was a vintage Thomas move of sliding across the crease saving a one timer on a 2 on 1 break in overtime.  How he saved that puck, I have no idea.  All I know is the my heart was in my throat.  Radio personality Michael Felger has been asking when Tim Thomas was going to steal a game in the playoffs.  He got his answer with Thomas’ legendary effort in Game 5.

Lastly, how stupid is Max Pacioretty?  The man loves his Twitter account like no other.  This time he took to tweeting a derogatory remark about Brad Marchand’s nose.  Marchand responded by being the third star of the game and playing with as much energy and hustle as anyone could ask for.  Pacioretty has already promoted enough bulletin board material for the Bruins, and he just doesn’t seem to get the message.  There will be nothing better than the Bruins winning the series Tuesday night in Montreal in front of 28,000 screaming Canadien fans.

Sox Shut Down Angels

Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey both shut out the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend combing on 16 innings without giving up a run. The Sox now have a five game winning streak going and are showing everyone they are in fact who everyone thought they were going into the season.  In the last nine games, the starting rotation has an ERA of 0.88.

Carl Crawford also hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox and has shown signs of coming out of his season opening funk.  Once Crawford gets going, and he will, watch out.  The Red Sox will be unbeatable.  Mark my words. The Red Sox can keep their winning ways going as they will travel to Baltimore and open up a three game set on Tuesday.

All in all it was a great weekend in Boston sports.  Let’s hope the run extends into late June!

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Game 1: Where Carmelo Lost the Game

The Boston Celtics stole Game One from the New York Knicks tonight at the TD Garden, 87-85.  The Celtics trailed the Knicks for most of the game but Ray Allen drilled a three with five seconds remaining to give the Celtics the series lead.  I have long preached death, taxes, and Ray Allen are the only certainties in life but the Celtics won this game because of Carmelo Anthony.

In the final five minutes of the game, Amare Stoudimire was unstoppable.  He was hitting jump shots, driving to the basket with authority, and the Celtics had no answers for him.  As the game wound down, Carmelo Anthony took it upon himself to try to win the game and ignore the hot hand of Amare.  The Celtics gladly let Melo try to win the game and he failed miserably culminating on an offensive foul where he shoved Paul Pierce in efforts of creating space.  From 2:15 on the Celtics took control of the game.  Melo hoisted a two threes in the final two minutes and was called for the offensive foul.  Amare didn’t touch the ball not because of the Celtics defense, but because of Melo’s selfishness.

Jermaine O’Neal was phenomenal tonight.  There really is not other word for it.  He was the energy the Celtics needed blocking shots and hitting his own shots.  Celtics fans were worried about not having Shaq, but Jermaine isn’t so bad himself.  He has the wingspan to block and change shots.  He is also willing to take charges.  Tonight Jermaine O’Neal reminded Boston that he was once a pretty good player himself.  It is a good thing because the Celtics will need him this post season.

It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that Rajon Rondo showed up.  For most of the game he looked slow and didn’t have the usual bounce in his step that we have been accustomed to seeing.  I was honestly concerned thinking the plantar fascia or his hamstrings were acting up.  But then he turned it on and started rebounding and creating opportunities.  With Billups now looking like he is hurt, the Knicks won’t have a true point guard.  Rondo should be able to take advantage going forward.

How about Ray Allen? Yes, he hit the game winning shot that sent all of New England into a frenzy.  But watching the game I was more pleased with him getting down low and mixing it up in the paint.  Every time I looked up Ray Allen was the one rebounding and starting the break.  The Celtics have struggled with rebounding all season long and can use all the help they can get.  Ray is an unlikely source of rebound production but he did have 6 tonight.  He was also very efficient with his offense, 9-15 from the field, 3-5 from downtown, and 24 points.

Game Two is Tuesday night.  Hopefully someone finds a muzzle for Glen Davis in the mean time.

Ray Allen Making History

All week I have heard people say and seen a few write on Facebook or other social networks that they were hoping on either Sunday or Monday that Ray Allen would break Reggie Miller’s all-time 3 pointers made record.  About a month ago I kept thinking to myself about how sweet it would be for this to be done, not in some random game, but on national TV, on TNT, and in front of Reggie Miller.  For the last 2 weeks, knowing that the Lakers were coming to Boston tonight for the TNT game I was hoping above all that he would be close enough to catch and surpass Reggie tonight.  My hopes have come true.  Ray Allen needs 2 more 3’s tonight to catch and move by Reggie Miller forever, and there may not be a person in the world who will be as ecstatic as this guy when this finally happens.  Now let me briefly get into the hate I have for Reggie Miller and then I will move onto Ray Allen.  Reggie…

(If you only want to read about the great Ray Allen then feel free to skip this next paragraph.)

If you were to venture into the archives we have on this blog, and specifically search out my name, you will see that I have a sort of undying love for the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers (probably his own) Michael Jordan.  I grew up watching him play, mesmerized by the sheer ease with which he would perform.  When MJ was on the court it did not matter who you put in front of him because sooner or later he was going to get the best of any defender.  In 1998, what should have been Jordan’s final year going out poetically, the Bulls faced what some look at as their toughest opponent: the Reggie Miller led Indiana Pacers.  The Pacers were only the 2nd team to bring the Bulls to a deciding Game 7, which they eventually lost.  The thing is that this series should have been over in 5 games.  At the end of Game 4 with the Pacers trailing by one everyone knew the ball was going to Miller.  He was their go-to-guy and had hit a few big shots in his career.  The Pacers were in bounding the ball on the near-side of the court (according to camera angle on TV) about parallel to the arc of the 3 point line.  Coming off a screen Miller lowered his arms and knocked Jordan back, obvious foul, RIGHT in front of the “ref”…no call…conspiracy?  Yes, because, as you can see in the replays, it is impossible, I stress IMPOSSIBLE, for the “ref” on the far side of the court to miss what had occurred, so the only way I can justify it is that David Stern placed a discreet phone call to the room of those referees the night before the game with a message somewhere along the lines of, “This series better go 7, because everyone knows Michael (Jordan) is going to win, but I need my damn TV ratings.”  Making matters worse Miller left enough time on the clock (0.7 seconds) for Jordan to have one final shot…I would post the video of all of this and you would be able to see just how close this series was to being over a game later, but it hurts too much, just as much as when I watched it live.  So all of that can be paraphrased to say that I hate Reggie Miller.  I do not care if that is “babyish”…and I cannot wait for Ray Allen to make Reggie and his record fade into oblivion…

Now onto the star of the post…Ray Allen and some of his history leading up to tonight.

After his senior season at the University of Connecticut, a senior season in which he set the school mark for 3 pointers in one season and was named the Big East Player of the Year, Ray Allen was drafted 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but was dealt along with another player to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephon Marbury.  In retrospect during the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest Allen looked a little out of place from the Ray that we have come to know and love, of course he was way too smooth for the judges so they did not advance him to the next round.  In 2001 he may have finally had the revelation that he was a prolific shooter and decided to pass on the dunking for the 3 Point Shootout.  He took down Peja Stojakovic in the finals and brought home that title.  What is not realized is that Milwaukee is where Ray Allen started to make his records.  He holds the Bucks record for most 3 pointers made and before LeBron James went off against the Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, Allen had the record for consecutive points scored in a playoff game with 19, done in 2001 when he lead the Bucks to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Sixers.

Halfway through the 2002-2003 season the Bucks dealt Allen, along with a number of other entities to the Seattle Supersonics for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason.  Although he spent most of the next year on the sidelines due to injury, he bounced back in 2005 helping lead the Sonics to the Western Semifinals and was named to the 2nd Team All-NBA.  In Seattle Ray was not done making history.  In April of 2006 he achieved two amazing feats: he moved into 2nd place on the 3 pointers made list behind that other guy, and about a week and a half later he eclipsed Dennis Scott’s record of 267 three’s made in a single season, resetting the record, which still stands, at 269.  The next season was not as great for Allen, lest we forget that his season was ended prematurely because he had to have surgery on both ankles.  That 2007-2008 off season is where the story continues, but only gets better so I will jog your memory with some, “Ohhh yeeaaahhh,” reactions.

The Celtics and Sonics made a deal in the summer of 2007 that sent Ray Allen, coming off knee surgery, along with the 35th overall pick in that year’s draft to the Celtics for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and the 5th overall pick, who ended up being Jeff Green.  That 35th pick we received from Seattle was…wait for it…..Glen Davis.  Hindsight is always 20/20, and with the way that deal is turning out with a possible 6th Man of the Year Award for Grown Man Davis this year the sight is approaching 20/13.  Yet, we are here tonight for Ray Allen.  While a member of the Celtics Ray Ray has reached the 20,000 point club, broke Michael Jordan’s Finals record with 7 three’s in a half and broke the game record held by Scottie Pippen and Kenny Smith by finishing with 8, and tonight, finally, he will do everything it takes to break the all-time mark set by Reggie Miller by recording the 2,560th and 2,561st 3 point field goals of his career…and it will take him about 50 less attempts than it took Miller.  I guess I could have just posted the simple line, “Ray Allen is and always will be a better shooter than Reggie Miller.”