Boston Beats Miami, 112-93

It was the night every thing went right for the Celtics, as they cruised to their fifteenth win on the season over the now 15-6 Miami Heat. Both teams were in somewhat compromised positions. Miami was missing guard Goran Dragic, and head coach Erik Spolstra was absent to witness the birth of his second child. The Celtics slotted rookie Grant Williams in place of Marcus Smart who was out with an undisclosed illness, and Hayward with his fractured hand.

Miami concludes their 2nd night of a back to back, the first team this season to march into Toronto and defeat the Raptors. Miami shot a similar percentage to Boston’s, just below 44%, but it was their inability to reach the free throw line which doomed them. Their 17 attempts were dwarfed by Boston’s 32. The rebounding and assist battles were pretty much an even draw. The one category the Heat shot themselves in the foot was in turnovers, committing 18 over the course of four quarters to Boston’s 9.
Jimmy Butler’s one man Show couldn’t even keep things interesting late. His 37 points were aided by Miami’s abysmal 93 to Boston 112.
The stars in the hardwood were Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Brown and Kemba combined for 59 points on only 37 attempts. Tatum had some hops accumulating 3 blocks, his teammate Daniel Theis did the same. 
The Celtics are now 15-5, their next game is on the sixth against the 13-5 Denver Nuggets. Miami drops to 15-6 and will play Washington on the sixth as well. 

‘91 NBA Finals, Lakers Vs Pistons (No M.J)

By the time these teams arrived to the final stage of the season, the Pistons and Lakers were running on fumes, exhausted by years of 100-plus game seasons. Star point guard Isiah Thomas played a mere 48 contests, 35-year old Gerald Henderson proved an insufficient placeholder. Detroit’s win total dropped to 50, nine fewer from their 1989-90 campaign. The infrastructure proved strong and weathered the storm, overcoming the plucky Atlanta Hawks, old rival Celtics, and young blood Charles Barkley an the Sixers in relative back-and-forth series. 
In the west, the Lakers are a quiet all-time team. Top 5 in offensive and defensive ratings, the two pronged front court of Sam Perkins and Vlade Divac is superior to anything the Lakers received from Kareem past the year 1987. Kareem arguably was the corpse dragging L.A. down in 1989. Los Angeles desperately needed a youth movement to succeed the championship core. Their prayers finally were answered. After a humiliating exit at the hands of Phoenix in 1990, under the leadership of Mike Dunleavy in place of Pat Riley, L.A. blew past Houston, Golden State and handily took care of the younger, faster Trial Blazers. 
Where the Lakers are thick in depth, the Pistons are thin. A mixture of old and young hands steadily guiding the ship. Behind Magic’s steady 19 point, 15 assists, 10 rebound triple-double series, the Lakers despatched Detroit in six-games capturing his sixth championship since entering the league in 1979-80. 

The NBA With No Michael Jordan

  1. It is the most abstract question that’ll make my nose bleed if I even tried to comprehend all of the ramifications of eliminating Michael Jordan from the universe. Jordan did what the Patriots and Brady have to the NFL since the turn of the century. Plenty of talented teams met their ends at the hands of the Bulls lead by the tongue wagging high flyer from one of the two Carolinas. 
Jordan simply a pox on the NBA. I mean, he brought them ratings, revenue and fame they still haven’t reached since his departure. I’m referring to how other teams viewed him. Alternative history views M.J as Hulk Hogan, someone who always won to the delight of everyone. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. People don’t like it when someone stays on top for too long. Human beings are naturally haters of success. If you enjoy getting your face stomped in by the same guy, or hitch your wagon to him as a follower of his cult, like we’ve seen with LeBron James, basically, you suck and go against what sports is all about. 
Sports is about needless pain inflicted on oneself in the chase for the fleeting sensation of ecstasy when they happen to accomplish something of significance. We are aware the achievements of rich individuals who aren’t aware of our existence isn’t ours to begin with, but we pretend for the sake of playing along and wrapping ourselves up in their struggles. 
If M.J never existed the NBA is more egalitarian and less famous. Hall of Famers who retired without championships no longer are ring-less. The United States never allows it’s professional athletes to participate in the Olympics. David Stern can’t promote Charles Barkley like he did Jordan. Barkley never could keep his foul mouth in check and his attitude didn’t match Jordan as the other one who’d sell you a McDonalds happy meal. With the retirement of smiley Magic Johnson in 1991, the NBA is surely primed to enter the dark ages similar to what it experienced in the 1970’s. 
While the aesthetic of the game would remain pleasing, probably even better because scouts fixated themselves on finding the next Jordan, fans aren’t watching Karl Malone on the West Coast and could give less of a shit to see Patrick Ewing in New York. As great as they are, people just don’t care. The NBA’s never been short on talent. But finding someone supremely marketable like M.J. comes once every decade or so. 
On the bright side, Larry Bird gets an extra MVP in 1988; David Robinson wins two more in ‘91 and ‘96; Malone in ‘98, and Drexler in ‘92. 
The Knicks, Suns, Magic, Jazz and Pacers likely win a finals with M.J out of their way. Drastically reshaping their perceptions. Remember how the narrative around Dirk Nowitzki was remolded after his 2011 championship? Imagine that with Ewing, Barkley, Shaq & Penny, Stockton & Malone, and Reggie? 
  • I prefer that reality to this current one. Dynasties are garbage and usually do nothing to grow the game. In football it’s different. Fans will tune in to see any team play. They know how to advertise their game. The NBA simply don’t and when they do grow in popularity it becomes unbearable and breeds idiocy masquerading as intelligence.

Give me an egalitarian NBA where the sycophants don’t know who to support and keep fans supporters or their respective teams, not of just one guy.

C’s Overcome Sluggishness, Beat New York, 113-104

The Celtics did not make it easy on themselves, walking out of Madison Square Garden with their fourteenth win on the year against five loses. This one came at the expense of the 4-16 New York Knicks, who did not go down without a fight. Boston fell down by nine in the third quarter, thanks to taking poor care of the basketball and losing Marcus Smart to a “blow” to the abdomen.

The referees showed favoritism to the Knicks, giving them 37 free throws to Boston’s 22. Julius Randle and R.J Barrett lead the Knicks with 13 attempts at the charity stripe a piece.

In the nick of time the Celtics returned to how they usually win close ball games. Unselfishness, and out hustling their opponents. Out rebounding the Knicks on the offensive glass (16-8), accumulating more assists (25-15), and causing 14 turnovers.  

Midway in the fourth, the Celtics offense woke up. Once the human turnstile Enes Kanter was subbed out for the rookie Grant Williams, the Celtics went on a run to regain control and their defense tightened up. In the time Williams seen, he was a positive 17 in the box score. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for an awesome 58 points, anchoring Boston’s attack even when the team experienced droughts.

In place of Smart, Semi Ojeleye and the aforementioned Williams stepped up bigly. Randle and Bobby Portis were the biggest thorns in Boston’s sides, somewhat neutralized when Kanter was taken off the floor.

With this win the Celtics improve their win percentage at MSG to .721 since 2001. They will head home to face Jimmy Butler and the 13-5 Miami Heat this Wednesday. New York travels to Milwaukee to take on the top team in the east, the 17-3 Bucks tomorrow.

Backdoor Cuts and Close-Outs, the Celtics Achilles Heel

In this era of position-less basketball, replacing lost production after the departure of Al Horford left open a hole that’s filled by not a center, but by guards and forwards making up for the loss of his offense. Career years from Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, fantastic contributions from young buck Grant Williams. Williams and Daniel Theis have made a lowly 2 three-pointers between their 34 attempts. It’s a helluva accomplishment when players are able to contribute despite the crutch in this day and age. Theis and Grant have generated points via their passing and screen setting. While they are flawed, maybe even not ideal, they have done us proj us and deserve recognition. 

But how will Boston replace Horford’s defense. The C’s have fallen victim to backdoor cuts and leaving the corners bare. Can Grant’s defense jump up a level? He needs his legs to simply move faster to close out. Robert Williams needs to work on his awareness. Enes Kanter is giving an effort, and if you know Kanter that’s all you can ask for. But, simple elbow grease won’t fix this. Boston has a mini-crisis on their hands overshadowed by their hot 13-4 start. Maybe it’ll get better when Gordon Hayward returns?

Early Season Celtics Report

We’ve been through the gauntlet already as Celtics fans. It’s a rerun of the memorable 2017-18 campaign only on a smaller scale and gone through, hopefully, faster. Gordon Hayward is out with a fractured hand on a fluke play. Kemba Walker is carted off the court after jamming his neck into the abs of Semi Ojeleye. Watching him be whisked off into the locker room, I assumed Walker was out for the season, and quite possibly his career was over and it was fair to even ponder whether he would ever walk again.

Fortunately, the diagnosis came back as a “sprained neck” and we can allow ourselves to hope for Walker’s return soon. While there’s no timetable for his comeback, we can pencil in Hayward’s date for around Christmas. Eventually, with the grace of God, the Celtics will field a fully healthy roster.

Currently, the “Hospital Celtics” sit at a respectable 12-4. Have gone toe-to-toe with the NBA’s best and have proven themselves to be no pushovers. Even Enes Kanter, the much maligned Neoliberal, looks solid in the brief doses Brad Stevens uses him. Obviously, he’s still the same turnstile on defense he’s been his whole career. On offense, he looks more comfortable and is setting screens getting our guys open. It’s a give and take, and so far on certain nights Kanter is giving us a lot of reasons why he belongs.

Jaylen Brown is making a serious case for himself as an All-Star. I don’t know what happened over the summer to rehabilitate his dribbling and on-ball decision making, suffice to say, it’s working and has brought the best out of Brown. This is the Brown we’ve had wet dreams about for years. We’ve been teased consistently and now here he is. And, perhaps, this is only the beginning for one of the Jays. As Jayson Tatum is showing improvements after a stagnant sophomore campaign. Tatum has cut back on the twos and let loose a constant barrage of three-point attempts.

We wait with baited breath for the return of Walker and Hayward. For all the heroics of Marcus Smart, his finishing around the rim drastically improved astonishingly from last season, this team is bare when it comes to scoring. Right now, it’s all about survival and winning the wars of attribution until the cavalry arrives.

The Celtics Don’t Need A Center

Haven’t you heard the news? The Boston Celtics are back! After losing the opener to the Philadelphia 76ers, they’ve rattled off eight straight victories. Taking down heavy hitters such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks along the way. While Gordon Hayward is sidelined at least until Christmas with a fractured left hand, and Kemba Walker couldn’t finish last night’s outing due to apparent back spasms. These setbacks are hopefully no more than minor and won’t derail what seems to be an epic bounce back season for the C’s.

Looking up and down the roster it is easy to see the main need for this team would be a center. Danny Ainge wasn’t able to replace Al Horford this summer. But who is the guy who can fill those shoes he left behind? Likely, no one. Besides, the center by committee done fairly well. Exceeding expectations. Theis is 8th in blocks per game (2.1), and a crazy + 18.6 net rating. Theis found his rhythm on offense improving his touch around the rim. Backup big man Robert Williams is also flourishing. Whereas, Theis doesn’t qualify for the the league leaders in net rating, Williams does and registers 6th (14.7). Williams is blocking nearly everything in sight and is a pick-and-roll menace. Running a 1.14 points per possession. Theis is 1.15.

Bottom line, perhaps the Celtics don’t need to trade a core piece of their group for a marginal improvement at center. Trading Jaylen Brown for Domantas Sabonis is idiotic. Trading Marcus Smart for Draymond Green is criminal negligence on the part of the Celtics. Unless Anthony Davis spectacularly becomes available, there is no center that’ll drastically raise Boston’s ceiling over night.

So where can they look to marginally improve their roster without giving up an arm and a leg? A couple of names come to mind: former Celtic guard Isaiah Thomas of Washington, and perimeter player C.J Miles from the same team. The Celtics aren’t short of wings, but they do need an extra guard that can come off the bench. Miles is a decent alternative to Brad Wanamaker if the Celtics don’t feel confident in him.

If it’s bench scoring, of which the Celtics tank last in, that remains a concern. Isaiah looks to have found his footing after years of meandering around the league post hip injury.