Why the Celtics May Be The Best In The East

The Celtics-Heat playoff series this season was one to be remembered. There was the game 6 where Lebron dropped 45 to force a game 7. There were even the loyal Boston fans cheering even after the big 3 stepped off the court in game 7. When I look back at that series I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had Avery Bradley been healthy. Some may say he’s a non-factor. Some may say his health was irrelevant, but don’t underestimate his impact to their team. He’s a difference maker. I believe the old saying is the little details can make a big difference. He is the epitome of that saying.  He not only would’ve provided a perimeter defensive stopper but would’ve moved Ray Allen down to the 6th man position, not only giving him more time to rest but putting Ray Allen in a better position to provide an offensive spark for the team in tight situations.

The Celtics were so close, in game 7 they were tied going into the 4th. However, the Big 3 had nothing left to give, there was nobody to stop Miami’s perimeter guys and the Celtics were held to 15 points. Avery Bradley could’ve provided offense, given Allen more rest to hit threes in the clutch and take that game further. Anyway, what if? What if? What if?

This season, besides what patriotic Celtic fans may think, the Celtics got a whole lot better. Sure, they lost Ray Allen but lets be completely honest with ourselves, as much as we hate to say it; Ray Allen is declining. He averaged 14.2 points a game this season, which, let me remind you all is the second lowest average for him besides his rookie season in Milwaukee. In the playoffs, he averaged 10.7 points his lowest playoff average of his career. He also shot the worst 3 point percentage of his career in the playoffs, shooting only 30% from deep. John Terry can do more, and is a more versatile offensive player.

They also resigned Jeff Green the promising young forward they got through the Perkins trade two seasons ago. They wisely resigned Garnett who is still a top 10 power forward in the NBA and played some of the best basketball of his career last season. They signed a solid offensive guard off the bench in Courtney Lee who averaged 11 points a game for the Rockets last season. They also got extremely lucky this offseason in the draft when Sullinger and his unpredictable back slipped to the 21st pick. They also picked up the 7 foot Brazilian, Fab Melo out of Syracuse who could definitely be a huge defensive presence in the NBA. Those new additions sliding into an already strong team with Pierce, Rondo, Bass, Dooling, Pietrus, and Bradley could be the deepest team in the NBA. I think with their added depth in the back-court and front-court they could definitely pose a threat to the Heat who are clearly one of the thinnest teams in the NBA.

Celtics vs Heat Series Preview

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I’m really excited about this series. It’s going to get extremely gritty and intense and I can’t wait. For me, this series will be tough for both teams to win. In terms of game 1, I think the Heat will take this one. Not only because they’re at home but because the old and veteran Celtics just finished their series with Philadelphia two days ago. They grinded it out in 7 games and right now they must be exhausted. I don’t think they will be ready for the explosiveness and fast-breaking pace of the Heat right out of the gate. In terms of the series as a whole it should go down to 6 probably 7 games. If I were the Celtics I would be relatively worried about the Heat right now. They play just as good defense as the Pacers and the Pacers are quicker and even they couldn’t stop Lebron and Dwyane Wade from sheer dominance in the last three games. The two superstars are feeling it, especially Wade who is playing some of his best basketball of all season. They got the Heat at the wrong time. I’m just wondering if the Pacers couldn’t keep Lebron and Wade to under 25 points, then how will the Celtics be able to? The Celtics, a team who don’t matchup as well with the Heat and aren’t as quick along the perimeter. If Lebron and Wade continue to score 30-40 ppg then the series is over because when those two are playing like that and working together they are the best team in the NBA. The Celtics have to limit their turnovers, because if you choke up the ball too much to Miami they will eat you alive. The Celtics also have to take advantage of KG down low. He’s been playing amazing basketball of late, while carrying the Celtics offensively. Nobody can guard him on the Heat, he should isolate a lot down on the block and definitely get his usual  free throw line jump shot on the pick and roll. For KG, he even might get a few straight line drives because one pump fake off the pick and roll against a slower defender he can get straight to the basket. The Heat have to take advantage of Dwyane Wade. He is playing the best basketball he’s played all season and now since Avery Bradley is out of the picture, he’ll have Ray Allen guarding him. Ray Allen is not only slower but Wade won’t exactly have to do much to break Ray’s ankles either. They have to take advantage of that matchup because if he can get Ray into trouble then there goes their 6th man early and that takes away a lot of the Celtic offense and disables them to spread the floor like they love to do. Then the simple thing has to happen, the bench has to get involved. Like Shane Battier, Mike Miller, they have to make their open threes to take some pressure of the usual suspects. They need Mario Chalmers to be more agressive to the hole and then they should be fine, because their team defense is unbelievable. All in all, I think the Heat are destined for the finals once again because they’re the Heat, because their superstars are playing the best basketball in the world right now and because they’re younger, quicker and their best players outmatch the Celtics offensively. I’ll go Heat in 7.

Christmas Day Predictions

As the clock hits 12 tomorrow the NBA season officially begins. Let’s take a look at the Christmas day match-ups. The winners and the losers.

Knicks vs. Celtics:

A repeat of the first round of the playoffs from last year. The Celtics swept the Knicks, however this year the Knicks are back with a vengeance. They drastically improved their roster this off season with additions like Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis among many others. This match-up should be very interesting. Or it should’ve been interesting, however recent changes in the Celtic roster have made this game a no brainer. Losing Jeff Green was a huge blow to their depth, and the injury of Paul Pierce just gives Melo more room to score. That means Marquis Daniels will start and that leaves the bench with…. Brandon Bass? That won’t be enough to hold off the Knicks, especially when the Celtics core are all in the mid 30’s and need breaks often. Tyson Chandler will also have whatever he wants in this game. He will most likely be guarded by Jermaine O’neal, a slower and shorter center. Tyson will have his way in the paint, and since Jermain O’neal isn’t an offensive weapon he will be able to play lots of help. Furthermore, Amar’e Stoudemire will play along the elbow and the perimeter causing Kevin Garnett to come out as well. Leaving Jermaine O’neal all alone. The guard play will be vital for the Celtics in order for them to win. Rajon Rondo has a large advantage over Toney Douglas, however Iman Shumpert has shown defensive capabilities as well as quickness and a 6’5 frame. He will need to step up this game, as well as Ray Allen. He will need to do more then just shoot, due to the absence of Paul Pierce. If I had to predict right now, I’d give it to the Knicks.

Heat vs. Mavericks:

A finals rematch, probably the most anticipated game of the Christmas match-ups. After winning the finals, the Mavericks made substantial changes to their roster. Letting Tyson Chandler, Deshawn Stevenson and J.J Barea go made the team softer. However, they added veterans Lamar Odom and Vince Carter. This game will be a test to see if the Mavericks still have the toughness and defense they had last year. Nobody will be able to guard Dirk in this game, because frankly, it’s impossible. He will get his share of points, no doubt. Lamar Odom will also be a threat on the floor, he and Bosh will be a great match-up considering they’re almost the same type of player. Then you have D-Wade and Lebron. It’s very rare that players can guard them. And this game will be no different. There is no way, an older Vince Carter can guard Lebron James. He’s slow, and he’s not interested in playing defense. At the shooting guard position there really is nobody to guard D-Wade except for Jason Terry. Although, the Dallas bench can still out battle the Miami bench, I will give this game to Miami. The loss of Tyson Chandler is bigger then they think, they lost toughness and a defensive anchor. Who’s really going to stop D-Wade and Lebron in the paint? Nobody.

Lakers vs. Bulls:

This game features the Bulls and the second best team in Los Angeles. The Lakers are out to prove that they can still win games, doubt has surrounded this team for weeks. Kobe’s injured, Bynum’s out, Lamars gone, the triangle offense is gone. Everything seems to have gone wrong, well unfortunately tomorrow won’t be the light at the end of the tunnel. I predict a Laker loss. Let me explain. The former MVP is going to destroy this whole team. It’s as simple as that. Derrick Fisher can’t guard him, neither can Kobe. He will get by the first man and Bynum will block him. Oh, wait Bynum is out. Pau isn’t a shot blocker and isn’t as intimidating as a Bynum. I forsee a Derrick Rose takeover tomorrow. Another strength of the Bulls is their bench. Taj Gibson…. 

Ya, remember him? Omer Asik and Kyle Korver are other names among the young bench who averaged around 27 points a game last season. Another weakness of the Lakers is their bench. They lost the 6th man of the year in Lamar Odom, and they lost Shannon Brown. Now that Bynum is out for 5 games, they have to move Josh McRoberts into the starting lineup, which leaves the Laker bench with…. Matt Barnes? Steve Blake? That won’t get the job done. Among all this doubt, there is a strength that the Lakers have. An angry Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the type of player to go off when he is mad, and oh boy does he have things to be mad about. His wife left him, he tore ligaments in his wrist, the front office traded Lamar Odom, and Mike Brown was appointed without any discussion. Even though he might go crazy tomorrow, that won’t be enough to get past Derrick Rose, the Bulls defense and their bench. I’ll give this one to the Bulls.

Thunder vs Magic:

The Magic fans will be happy to see Dwight Howard on the floor in an official game as a member of the Orlando Magic. They won’t be happy to watch their team get beat by the Thunder. The Thunder pride themselves in their defense and their energy. Their young talent and their scoring champion in Kevin Durant. I bet Kevin Durant is smiling somewhere right now as he thinks about the poor perimeter defense he will match up against tomorrow night. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson. What a joke. Kevin Durant will rip them up from all over the floor. As well as his partner in crime Russell Westbrook. Who has no problem being guarded by Jameer Nelson. I bet James Harden is even looking forward to the loose defense of the Magic. However, getting to the basket will be harder then ever. Whenever you’re up against Dwight Howard you know points in the paint won’t come easy. He should have his way in the middle, nobody on the Thunder can really out muscle him. They do have a good chance of constraining him though, considering the depth at the power forward/center position. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collinson and Cole Aldrich are all very defensive minded players and will try keep Dwight Howard under control, but we all know that’s close to impossible. The depth is also a huge problem with the Magic. Besides Big Baby Davis and Quentin Richardson the bench is pretty empty. Everyone else is inconsistent and won’t be a match for the young and energetic  bench who scored around 30 points a game last season. This game will go to the Thunder. I will also predict that this win against the Magic will be the beginning of their finals run. A win in the finals? Possibly but this could be the beginning of something special.

Clippers vs. Warriors:

The world is buzzing about the Los Angeles Clippers. The most exciting team in sports right now. The “Lob Angeles Clippers,” they’ve been dubbed. The talents of Blake Griffin and CP3 combined seems like something out of a video game. I would say they scored the biggest this off season with the additions of Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Chris Paul. They’ve proved they’re no fluke, while beating the Lakers in both preseason games. I could see this game being more of a challenge for the Clippers. The Warriors actually have players who can stay with CP3. Stephen Curry has shown defensive aptitude in his career and although Monta Ellis isn’t a defensive minded guy he can still keep with CP3.  The Warriors bench is also very young and talented. Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, and Brandon Rush are among the bench. They will provide a boost of energy for the Warriors if they need it. Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors are a very young team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really give the Clippers a run for their money. This match-up is especially interesting because  neither team really plays too much defense. This should be a score-a-thon. Both teams somwhere in the 100’s. The X-factor in this game for me is DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin will pound David Lee down low, he isn’t quick or strong enough to guard him. DeAndre Jordan is the key to a Clippers loss or win. It is yet to be seen if he can be a defensive anchor in the middle, if he can man the paint and provide an intimidation factor, then Monta Ellis and Steph Curry will have a harder time scoring. If he ignores the defensive end, then this game will come down to who can outscore the other. We’ll see. I’m going to be spontaneous and give this one to the Warriors. I have to have at least one surprise. I think the Clipper mania will come to a halt when the Warriors come out of nowhere and beat the Clippers.

What do you think? Comment who you have to win each game. Only 13  hours until tip-off. Here we go!

Ring Disrespect

We all know what kind of person Mark Cuban is. He’s a loud mouthed, cocky, and controversial owner. For the whole playoffs, we all watched in awe to see Mark Cuban say not more then about 10 words a night. Not even shouting to the refs. Just a pep talk for his players. What could he have been doing just sitting there in the NBA finals saying nothing. How can you not say anything, this is the moment he has waited for, for about 10 years.

Then when the buzzer sounded in game 6, he told Chris Webber what his plan was. The plan that kept him from speaking. No rings. He said they’re too old fashioned and i want a special Mark Cuban ring. This caused some hard feelings among the players.

Especially when he says old fashioned to a team full of veteran talent.  Jason Kidd remarked, ” I am old fashioned.”

Who to agree with, that’s the question. Is it cool to invent new rings, or make it a necklace or something. Or should we keep tradition the same.

In my mind tradition should be kept the same. Especially when one of the most loud-mouthed people in the NBA wants to change a tradition that has lasted longer then he has been alive. I would be seriously disrespected if I was the players.

I’ll tell you why. First off, he goes on TV without even telling his players what he was thinking and blurts out he wants a new type of ring. As an owner of a basketball team, it’s your job to make the right decisions and connect the team. By going on TV with a new idea without consulting his team shows not independence but neglect towards the team.

Then there’s the tradition aspect of it all. Think of Dirk Nowitzki for a second. This man came from Germany when he was 19-20 years old. For 13 years in the NBA he has dreamed of a ring, he has dreamed of holding the trophy up high. And for 12 years before his time he has seen players like Kobe, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Richard Hamilton, Shaquille Oneal, all players that came to the NBA about the same time as him. They all have rings. I think to change a ring it’s just not the same. People always say get that ring, when talking about a championship. Now to take it away from the players who have worked their asses off for 103 games is just like taking dreams away.

Take Jason Kidd for example. Growing up in the NBA he saw all these rings being flashed around, and he got jealous. He tried twice to win the NBA finals but fell short both times. There is more meaning in a ring. He is 38 years old and he is not looking to wear some big gold bling bling around his neck showing everyone who the champions are. He wants a ring. The whole Mavericks want a ring.

If I were Cuban I would apologise for starting turmoil when they should be celebrating over their championship.

Finals: Game 2 Notes

It looked all but over. The Heat had a 15 point lead with 7 minutes to go. They have three all stars on their team and they were looking like they would cruise to the finish. Then after Dwyane’s big three, their hollywood that Joakim Noah talked about came out. There was the premature celebration, the punches, the cheering and everyone including myself believed it was over.

Never doubt a veteran team.

The Mavericks closed the game out on a 22-5 run, they came back and won the game by 2 points. Lebron and Wade had so many opportunities to finish the game off, but they played along the three point line and took rushed shots. This dates back to critique on their clutch play and their ability to finish games off. This is not just another game, they just lost game 2 of the finals. They could’ve had a 2-0 lead going into the three games in Dallas which are almost impossible to lose all three. They could’ve won the series in Dallas, or come back to Miami with a 3-2 lead. Now it’s basically 0-0. The first game means nothing. Nothing has happened except for the momentum shifting to the Mavericks.

This was a big let down for the Heat. They looked like they were coasting to an easy series, their superstar firepower was taking over and everyone thought this series was in the Heat’s hands. This is not the play we should be seeing from a champion. Champions don’t lose concentration for 7 minutes in game 2 of the finals, at home, with a 15 point lead. It’s not a champions type of game.

This game also showed us how persistent and valuable the veteran experience is on this team. They never gave up. They scored bucket after bucket and dug into the Heat defensively. It showed us that maybe a champion doesn’t have to have two or more stars on their team like the 2010 Lakers, or the 2008 Celtics, or the 2007 Spurs. All you need is will, heart and determination and that’s what got them back in this game.

To close out this game, they needed Dirk Nowitzki. His 9 points in the last 2 or so minutes showed Lebron what it takes to be a real champion. His late game antics, his shooting when it counted and his reading of the defence on the last possession won Dallas this game. Never mind his contest of Dwyane’s prayer shot at the end of the game.

This game showed us a lot about who we’re watching in the finals. A team that cruises after a lead,and a team that doesn’t give up until the buzzer sounds. Hmm, I wonder who will won the NBA championship.

Rose or Lebron?

Who would you rather take? If you were starting an NBA team who would you rather take Lebron or Rose. They’ve both been MVP’s. Let’s compare.

I think there is an upside to Rose and Lebron. We’ll start with Rose.

He’s definitely a leader, he’s taken the Bulls all the way to the conference finals this year with a team most people expected to be first round exits. He took them to the #1 seed in the NBA and in the process he managed to just win the MVP.With Rose you get a lot of things. He’s the fastest player in the league. He blows by a whole team on a fast break and when he gets to the rim he’s one of the best. He could throw it down with sheer force or lay it in with agile grace. His leadership abilities are unfathomable for a player of his age and with his experience. He’s only in his third season, I think people forget that. He’s 22 years old and is being compared to all time greats. His leadership abilities are what make him one of a kind. In every interview he’s had all year he’s never mentioned himself in the Bulls success but his teammates and coaching staff. He often apologizes for mistakes publicly and privately after games. Whether it be too many turnovers or too many shots, he calls himself out whenever he makes mistakes. He holds his teammates accountable and himself accountable for all mistakes made. He’s only 22 but it looks like he’s been leading an NBA team for 10 years. His passing is an underrated aspect of his game. People usually mention D-Rose in the context of amazing athlete, MVP, scorer. Passer doesn’t usually come up. Maybe it’s because he only averages 8 assists per game. It’s not the assists that define his passing skills but his eye for the game. He sees holes in the defense, he can anticipate movement, he can spot the open man. He isn’t flashy like Steve Nash or CP3 but simple and basic and that gets the job done. Coaches like Tom Thibodeau stress keeping it simple. Even if he’s not getting the assist he is getting it to a teammate who can get the assist. He often passes to players who need to get warmed up. Then there is his scoring. When he came into the league people doubted his shot. They said he couldn’t shoot the three or shoot the mid range jumper consistently. This season he kicked dirt in the haters mouths and proved them wrong. He’s been knocking down open shots like it’s natural.

Then there are his flaws. Every player has flaws, they’re human, D-Rose has very little. One is his turnovers. On many occasions D-Rose gave the ball up around 5-6 times. Much more than is usual for a point guard in the NBA. It’s not sloppy dribbling or careless passes that can be the blame. It’s his speed and his movement. He’s always moving, very rarely do we see Rose standing around except for if he’s on the bench. He’s so fast that sometimes the ball can’t keep up with him which is when the ball goes out of control and it results in 2 points for the other team. Another flaw is his jump-shooting. It’s a strength when he’s on, but when he’s off it’s not pretty to watch. He’ll brick shot after shot and teams often take advantage of it. Helping them play off D-Rose more. One of his flaws that some people haven’t picked up on is his inability to be effective against very tough defenses. If he can’t be effective enough he kind of shuts down almost. He doesn’t produce in many other ways and he starts turning the ball over. That may be a sign of his youth but against the Heat he surely hasn’t put up MVP type numbers. He hasn’t helped them doing the small things even though he’s been ineffective. This isn’t the time to choke, Derrick. He needs to play like he has all season in the next few games.

Lebron: He’s the two time MVP at the age of 26. He was second in MVP voting this year, some of it I think was the hate from the media from his decision this summer. If the MVP was measured in stats then Lebron would win by a mile. His strengths are too many to list. He’s almost the perfect type player. He’s a team player while being a dominant scorer whenever he wants to be. He’s a tough defender, a persistent rebounder and artist on the break. He could play 4 positions and could be the best at each position in the league if he wanted to be. The strengths start at his passing. He will be in the top 5 in most assists once it’s all said and done. He averaged 7 assists in almost every season in the league, he finds every teammate on the team. In so many different ways. Maybe it’s an entry pass to the post. An alley hoop pass to D-Wade on the break. A dish out from penetration to Mike MIller on the perimeter. He’s a silky passer while being aggressive in getting his teammates involved in what he does. If he took less shots he could have a great chance of averaging a triple-double. Then his defense. A lot of superstars put more effort on the offensive end then the defensive end. He puts more in on defense. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him chase down players for a monster block. Or cut off someones lane to the basket,  or steals a pass that nobody saw coming. He sees the whole game in slow motion and he uses that skill to his advantage to excell on defense. Then there is his biggest strength. He is such a talented scorer it seems like his was born to be one. He has the strongest penetration in the league and he gets to the line almost every time or he will just forget about the 7 footers in front of the hoop and dunk on them. Or he’ll take you off the dribble. Go through both legs, behind the back, gather dribble back, fake a shot, get you in the air and drain the mid range jumper. Or he’ll recieve it in the post. Look back, fake left, and drain a fade away to the right. Or his specialty. He’ll steal it on defense and jolt up court for an agile finish or a monster dunk. There really is no way to guard him, if you pressure him too much then he’ll drive by you. If you give him too much room then he’ll drain the jumper.

Then the flaws. His three point jump shot is below average. This is a big hole in his game. He’ll maybe make 4 out of 10 three pointers. Teams are afraid to give it to him because his offense is good enough to surprise everybody but his three point jumper is inconsistent and teams should give it to him. Another flaw is his rare choke at the end of games. I don’t believe all this stuff about him giving up in tough games. It’s not true, it’s just some dumb critique to stir up some argument. He does get nervous in clutch situations some times. Like the 5 game losing streak the Heat faced in the middle of the season. Lebron had clutch moments against New York and Chicago but was unable to take the game.

So who would I rather take. Lebron. No question. He has the passing skills of Steve Nash, the shooting touch of Ray Allen the drives of Derrick Rose with the rebounding ability of Charles Barkley. His IQ is unbelievable for a 26 year old. D-Rose is up and coming but he was called the King for a reason.

Changes Needed: Celtics

Boston embraced instant success when they brought the big three to Boston. They embraced instant failure against the Heat’s big three in the playoffs. There window is clearly closing, their big three are getting older, their edge is fading away and their toughness is disappearing. If they want to be contenders again then there are some changes that they may want to think about.

Age. It can kill a team but also carry a team. In the Celtics case it’s hurting them. The NBA is taking a turn in the young, athletic direction right now. The Thunder, the Heat, the Knicks, the Bulls. They’re all up and coming and will be contending for a championship almost every year from here on out. The Celtics are getting older, slower, and aren’t able to keep up with the younger teams like they did in 2008. Their Big 3 are all in their early to mid thirties. They need youth, maybe not for right now but for the future. Once the big three is gone the Celtics will have to be led by Big Baby Davis, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. Those are really the only young players who have the talent to carry the Celtics once their legacy dies away. They need a backup point guard. Don’t call Carlos Arroyo a backup point guard because he’s not even that. He’s one of the players that would play if Doc Rivers cleared his bench. He was shipped out of Miami because he couldn’t play alongside the big three. He has a few good plays here and there but they need a really productive point guard. The Celtics almost lost the first two games of the first round series to the Knicks because their bench ran all over the Celtics bench.

Jeff Green looked like an up and coming all star in Oklahoma. He was scoring around 18 points grabbing around 6 rebounds. He was a great 6th man and was right at home in Oklahoma. Then on the trade deadline he was sent to Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. That’s when his confidence and his energy dropped. Maybe it was the change of scenery. The Thunder are known as quite a soft team and he was traded to what was the edgiest team in the league. He’s missing easy jump shots, shaking on rebounds and sulking on the bench. Maybe Kevin Garnett should shout at him to get him in the game because he needs a jolt of energy. He’s going to be one of the leaders when the big three retire and he should start preparing.