- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nobody actually believed the Celtics was going to storm into Philadelphia and steal a win on opening night. And they didn’t. On the bright side, Philly didn’t dominate either. Don’t let the final score fool you, the Celtics had numerous chances to gain control of this contest. They played excellent defense, hustled non-stop. Where the Celtics looked fine tuned on defense, they looked absolutely rusty on offense. Seemingly easy near the basket attempts bounces off the rim, and the Celtics from the free throw line were miserable to say the least. Boston shot a horrendous 20 of 34 from the line. Ironically, they lost by 14. 107 to 93.
The referees were merciless. Every half-second it felt a whistle was blown.
Newcomer Enes Kanter did pretty well, given all we know about his limitations. He held his own against Embiid. Kanter chipped in a respectable 12 points and 6 rebounds. Kanter gave a full effort, paid attention to detail and I think even Stevens was in awe because he rode Kanter for so long he had to close the game with Daniel Theis.
Kanter did go 2 of 7 from the charity stripe.
You can point to missed free throws, of which Boston missed many, but Stevens is guilty of mismanagement. To put it bluntly: too much Carsen Edwards, not enough Brad Wanamaker and Grant Williams. I think Edwards will shake off this poor debut. But the lights were too bright for him tonight. Williams, however, was physical, wasn’t phased in the slightest. Stevens needs to give him more time in the future. The Celtics cannot win games trying to outshoot the opponent. Every game has to look like this Philly contest. Ugly rock fights. We have 81 of those left.
Kanter and Grant Williams will be crucial to winning these contests. Most of the damage Philly inflicted was coming off Boston either shooting themselves in the foot, or becoming victims of the bounce. Eventually, the ball HAS to bounce in favor of the green team more often than not. Tobias Harris was Philly’s best rebounder with 15. Embiid followed him with 13. Al Horford only had 2. But to Philly’s credit, they dominated the boards. Out rebounding the C’s 62-41. You’re not winning many games when you’re giving out second chance points like candy.
Defensively the Celtics bested Philly up and down. Forcing 15 turnovers. Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris turned it over 4 times a piece. Simmons did put up 24, Tobi 15.
Kemba Walker struggles mightily against the defensive front of Philly. Scoring only 12 points on 4 of 18 shooting. Likely, the culprit of this performance is rust. He didn’t look a step slow or out of place. Just simply wasn’t his night. The shortened pre-season didn’t help Walker still shaking out the cobwebs.
On the optimistic front, Gordon Hayward quietly looked like his old self. 25 points, off of 15 shots, 5 rebounds and 2 dimes. He lead the game in points scored. Tatum was 2nd in scoring on his team with 21. Despite grumblings Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality” still influenced the third-year Duke star, Tatum’s shots came primarily near the basket or from beyond the arc. He was aggressive, which is something we should encourage from him if the shot selection is right. Though Tatum finished 8 of 22, it does seem better days are ahead.
Jaylen Brown fell into foul trouble early and played just 20 minutes. He attempted just 6 shots, scoring 8.