Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When did the Magic get good?

I am utterly confused by what I am seeing in these conference finals. Actually let me rephrase that. I am confused by what is going on in the Cavs-Magic conference finals. The Lakers- Nuggets series is going pretty much as you would expect. They are two fairly evenly matched teams. and the Nuggets match up incredibly well with the Lakers. For anyone who thought it would be an easy road to the Finals for Kobe and Lebron, think again.

I'm still trying to figure out whether it is the Magic playing well, or the Cavs playing poorly that has resulted in a 3-1 series lead for Orlando. From what I saw of the Magic against a severely depleted Celtics team, I thought this series would've been over by now. To the Magic credit, they match up with the Cavs really well, and have withstood some epic performances from Lebron to take command of this series. They are doing what they do best, which is shoot a ton of threes, and have Dwight Howard command the offensive glass. Howard has played 100 times better this series than last, which I think is more a credit to Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby Davis, than it is to Howard(biased much?) The whole thing is kind of depressing to me. I keep thinking if the Celtics had Garnett and Powe we could've taken out the Cavs after all. Oh well, no use in playing the "what if" game.

I will admit, I haven't watched this Cavs series as much as I would have liked. I was at Dewey Beach, so I only saw bits and pieces of games 2 and 3. Although Lebron has been magnificent this series, he choked the game away last night. He turned the ball over 7 times and missed some huge free throws. I think what gets missed sometimes, is that for all of Lebron's greatness, he still turns the ball over a lot in the 4th quarter, and is not that clutch of a free throw shooter. Plus he gets a ton of calls at the end of games because he is such a superstar. I think it is clear that though Lebron is the best player in the NBA, most teams would still rather have Kobe take the last shot. I know Lebron hit that crazy game winner in game 2, but the turnovers in game 4 were absolutely inexcusable.

Everyone keeps blaming the Cavs supporting cast for the reason they are losing, and in some ways that is true. But I tend to think it is more the Cavs poor defense and poor coaching that has contributed to this surprising result. How can you let Orlando shoot open three after open three, especially Pietrus who has killed teams all playoffs with the corner three point shot. Also, if you want others to play better, run some plays for them! Everything they are doing is basically give the ball to Lebron and clear out. How about run some plays for Mo Williams or Delonte West.

Since the beginning of game 7 of the Celtics series the Magic are playing great basketball. What makes them so dangerous is their ability to stretch the floor with their outstanding three point shooters. What other team in the league can say they have two guys that are 6"10 and can hit the three.

I am going to comment more on the Lakers/Nuggets series in my next blog entry. I am rooting for the Nuggets, if for the simple fact that I would love to see the " Birdman" win a title. Talk about overcoming adversity. Anyway, thanks again for reading and enjoy your night!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

End of the Road

I haven't written in awhile, but not for the reasons you may think. As all of you know, my beloved Celtics were knocked out of the playoffs Sunday night in a very anti-climatic game 7 blowout by the Magic. I'm not that upset about the loss for many reasons. Number one, with Garnett and Powe out the Celtics weren't going to get past the Cavs anyway. It was really prolonging the inevitable. As much as I love Brian Scalabrini, if he is a guy that you need to count on as a key contributor you are not winning a title.

Another reason I'm not crying myself to sleep is simply because the Celtics won the title last year. For anyone who is a die hard fan of a sports team, you know you'd rather have 10 losing seasons and a championship, than 10 winning seasons and no title. As a sports franchise your one and only goal is to win championships, period. I was barely a year of age when the Celtics last won the championship, and seeing them not only win, but beat the hated Lakers was one of the best moments of my life.

I think above all else I am more mature now than I used to be. I realize that sports is in essence just a game and is cyclical anyway. Your team can't win every year, though my teams have had ridiculous success the last decade. There really is no sense analyzing the "what if's" of the series. The reality is the Magic were more talented than the Celtics. In fact, if they had more heart and were better coached the series would've ended sooner. Plus, the Magic should have probably won two of those games if not for epic meltdowns and Big Baby Davis. Dwight Howard really disappointed me in that series. I had never really watched him play that much but had heard he was one of the top 5 players in the league. After watching him play, he'd be lucky to be in the top 10. He has no offensive game besides dunking and layups. His defense is good but if you notice, almost every time he blocks a shot, he blocks it out of bounds instead of toward a teammate. As for rebounding, he is a great rebounder, but even those stats are inflated because he does not have any other rebounders besides Rashard Lewis on that team. I think the guy does not use half his talent and really hope that he dedicates himself to working on his post moves in the off season.

Michael Vick gets released from prison today. He will say all the right things but in reality he probably still doesn't think what he did was wrong. I have no respect for the guy at all. I understand that he grew up with dog fighting, but a lot of people grew up in a lifestyle then realize it is wrong and change. I hope no team picks him up, but alas some team will. Vick was one of the most wasted talents in sports history. The guy was blessed with skills probably no other played has ever had and wasted them. It should be very interesting to see the reaction he gets from fans around the country.

Usually when the Celtics are eliminated I have to start dreading two straight months of baseball, but I'm excited to see a potential Lebron vs. Kobe final. If Lebron and the Cavs don't win this year I would be shocked, but I guess anything could happen. More analysis of the playoffs next time. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Did that just happen?

I'm still trying to digest what I saw last night. The Celtics played like a bunch of fourth graders until about 3 minutes into the 4th quarter, and were able to pull out a huge game 5 victory. Even with the Garnett and Powe injuries, Scalabrini's sickness, and Ray Allen's lack of a jumper, these Celtics keep coming up huge. This whole playoffs they have been a Jekyll and Hyde team. One quarter they are playing like the champs of old, and the next they are playing like the Clippers. I just can't figure out this team.

What in the Stephon Marbury? Marbury hasn't been able to hit a shot since he got to Boston, yet found his touch at just the right time in the 4th quarter. He did exactly what the Celtics needed him to do with Rondo in foul trouble. I think Marbury on a whole has been solid for the Celtics, save for the fact he can't shoot, but I think that is more being out of the game for so long than anything else. Him and Big Baby Davis were the reasons the Celtics were able to win this game. Oh, and of course the fact that the Magic delivered one of the biggest choke jobs in recent memory.

What can I really say about the Magic. I would love to say the Celtics won that game, but in reality the Magic lost it. It wasn't just that they blew a fourteen point lead with 8 minutes left, but how they blew it. The Rafer Alston shot, if you could call it that, looked like he thought he was playing a game of HORSE. Also, why don't the Magic ever pass to Dwight Howard? Isn't he one of the top 10 players in the league and by far their best player? I just don't understand this Magic team. Clearly, they should be beating this undermanned Celtics squad, but they don't posses the desire or smarts the Celtics do. That and Doc Rivers is completely out coaching Stan Van Gundy. Perkins and Davis are good defenders but there is no excuse for Dwight Howard only getting ten shots in a game.

I love this Celtics team. There have been about a hundred times this postseason where they could have packed it in and used the excuse of no Garnett, but they keep fighting and with a little luck keep pulling out victories. Even if they get swept by the Cavs, this postseason has been so satisfying for me. For any of you fellow Celtics fans, it is amazing that we can now talk about the Celtics as a bonafide championship contender again.

Thank you all for reading. I will be taking a bit of a hiatus as I am going to a friend's graduation this weekend, but will hopefully be writing about a Celtics series victory when I get back. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Big Baby!

What a day for Boston Sports! The Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox won, two of the wins being seasons saving victories. I'm going to focus on of course my beloved Celtics. The thing I love most about this Celtics team is that there seems to be a different person that steps up every night. Sure the team as a whole has been wildly inconsistent, especially on the defensive end, but it sure has been a hell of a ride. Game 3 was really hard to watch for me. The Celtics played mostly uninspired basketball and Pierce and Allen continued to struggle with their jump shots. Eddie House continued his torrid shooting but did not play enough in my opinion.

In Game 4 I expected a better effort by the Celtics and they didn't disappoint. Pierce played by far his best game of the playoffs, Perkins and Rondo continued to be solid, and Big Baby Davis hit the game winning jumper. Let's talk about that last play. What a clutch shot by someone no one in the building expected to get the ball. Past history suggests that Pierce would've tried forcing a shot instead of passing out of the double team. Thankfully he made the smart choice. That is my one knock on Pierce. A lot of times he feels like he always has to take the last shot even when someone else is playing better that day, or someone else has a better shot. That was the biggest shot of the season for the Celtics. If Davis misses, their season is essentially over but now the pressure is back on the Magic. That's the crazy thing about basketball, an inch or a bad bounce can determine a season.
I still expect the Celtics to win in 7, but hope they can close it out in 6.

I wanted to quickly mention this whole Manny Ramirez ordeal. First of all, just another black mark on the sport of baseball. You have two of the best players in the game tied to steroids. The thing about Manny is that he really didn't need to take it because he is so naturally gifted. I thought the only substance abuse he would be doing would be marijuana. I'm already tired of the constant media attention this is getting. It's just another example of overexposure in the media. Unfortunately, I think this will only get worse in the future. I just hope it doesn't come out that Manny used during the 2004 World Series title run for the Red Sox. I think the city of Boston would literally crumble if that came out.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and a great mothers day. Let me know if there are any topics you would like me to comment on in the future. Have a great day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eddie Eddie Eddie!!

Last night Eddie House returned as the streaky shooter we know and love. The Celtics dominated from the outset, and really have been the better team since mid way through the second quarter in game 1. There were a lot of outstanding performances last night, but House's definitely took the cake. For some reason when Eddie House hits a three it is more exciting than anyone else. I think it is because if he hits one, as a Celtics fan you know there are a bunch to come. As I said at the beginning of these playoffs, Eddie House needs to be a factor for the Celtics to advance, and the last three games he has been.

In addition to House's heroics, Rondo and my red headed brother Brian Scalabrini put in outstanding performances. Rondo tied Larry Legend's Celtics triple double record with another all around solid performance. This was probably the most exciting part of the game for me, as Rondo had not been the same player since he hit Brad Miller in the face in game 5. As everyone knows the Celtics go as Rondo goes. What can I say about my red headed brother Brian Scalabrini. He had another outstanding game, hitting threes and playing outstanding defense on Rashard Lewis. His performance makes the Garnett and Powe injuries hurt even more, thinking of what could've been.

Speaking of Leon Powe, everyone talks about the Garnett injury being so devastating but imagine if Powe was still in the rotation. With another big man the Celtics wouldn't have to worry about keeping Davis and Perkins out of foul trouble as much, and wouldn't have to bring in deadbeats like Mikki Moore and " the worst player in the NBA" Tony Allen. But hey, you have to live with what you got and I am very proud of this Celtics team. One more thing, how does Rafer Alston not get tossed last night? Say what you want about Rondo's hit on Brad Miller in the last series, but at least that one was during the play. Alston bitch slapped House in the head from behind. Can someone please tell me how games are refereed these days?

Dwight Howard has showed me in this series that he is not ready to step up to the upper echelon of superstars in this league. He has been essentially a non-factor offensively, and doesn't seem to care much about it. In all honesty, the Bulls scared me a whole hell of a lot more than this Magic team. At least you could sense they wanted it. I don't sense the Magic have that killer instinct and that is why I think this series is over in 6, not 7 like I had previously predicted.

In other news, Brett Favre needs to go away. I wanted to write a blog about people like him. People that always need the attention, that feel like they should be the center of attention at all times. I have lost a lot of respect for Favre. To me his talk of a comeback is purely selfish. He can't play in this league anymore at the highest level. If he thinks he is going to win a Super Bowl with the Vikings that is just ridiculous. The Vikings won't even win their division. I know it must be hard for star athletes to stay retired, but it is not right to constantly go back and forth about retirement. Just step away from the game before you damage your legacy further Brett.

Have to get back to work. Hope you all enjoyed, and I will write again this weekend. Go Celtics!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celtics and Caps

I'm writing this entry on my lunch break at work and still trying to piece together my thoughts on what transpired in last nights Celtics-Magic game. The Celtics looked absolutely pathetic up until about five minutes to go in the first half. Their comeback from 28 points was encouraging though, and I still think they will win this series. Tony Allen inexplicably got four minutes of playing time in this game. His first time touching the ball resulted in of course a turnover. I seriously do not know why they play that guy. I'd much rather put in Bill Walker or Gabe Pruitt.

The fact is, the Celtics even being in that game was a miracle when you consider the dreadful performances of their back court. Rondo has not been the same player since game 5 of the Bulls series, though he played better in the second half. Ray Allen was missing a ton of shots he usually makes, and I can pretty much guarantee he will drop at least 25 points Wednesday night.

As has been the story all playoffs long, the Celtics are getting killed with their lack of depth on the front line. Brian Scalabrini, a.k.a my brother from another mother, has actually played very well and given them some offense production off the bench. However, he lacks the athleticism to compete defensively with Rashard Lewis, though his defense in the second half was solid. I agreed with Doug Collins last night when he said, normally the Celtics should try fouling Dwight Howard more because of his poor foul shooting, but they simply do not have enough bodies. I was pleasently surprised to see Stephon Marbury make some shots for the first time as a Celtic. Basketball is all about confidence. For the Celtics to have a chance in this series and beyond, Marbury needs to continue to look for his shot and be more than just a role player on this team.

Like I said earlier, I think the Celtics will still win this series. Let's look at the facts. The Celtics came back from 28 points and were a Ray Allen three pointer from tying that game down the stretch. In fact, they missed so many opportunities to tie or get the lead that they would normally capitalize on. I think the Celtics did a great job on Dwight Howard, holding him to sixteen points. However, they need to do a better job closing out the Magic's three point shooters. I still think the Celtics will win this in 7, and actually think they match up better with this Magic team than they did the Bulls.

I want to talk a little bit about the Capitals in this entry as well. As you know, I basically know nothing about hockey and can't even skate. However, I am so happy that the Capitals are doing well, and that the DC area has something to be proud of. Over the years it has been nothing but disappointment after disappointment for DC area sports fans, so the Capitals success could not have come at a better time. The fact that Gilbert Arenas, who has been injured for like the last ten years, was known as the areas most popular athlete should tell you something. Now I think it is fair to say that Ovechkin rules the town, and for good reason. DC sometimes gets the reputation of a corporate white collar town, which for the most part we are, but Ovechkin is the opposite. He is not only probably the most talented player in the NHL, but also one of the toughest. I thought Mike Wise wrote a great article today in the post comparing Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. He wrote that it was beauty vs. beast with Ovechkin obviously being the beast. When you look at him you can understand why, if he wasn't a star hockey player he probably wouldn't be getting many dates, but the guy is tough as nails and a great sports symbol for this area.

Thanks everyone for reading. Please let me know what I can do to make this better. Have a great day and stay dry!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Survive and advance

The Celtics victory over the Bulls last night finished off one of the greatest series in NBA playoff history. I half expected another overtime game, but was ecstatic the Celtics were able to win in regulation. Frankly I don't think my heart could take anymore overtime periods. I feel a mix of happiness and relief, and just hope the Celtics will have enough left in the tank to play the Magic tomorrow.

The Celtics won last night by getting back to their style of basketball. They hadn't played Celtics defense all series long, but played very well last night for the most part. Eddie House finally woke up and hit some big threes. His shooting had been notably absent the entire series and it is a good sign for Celtics fans that he seems to have woken up from his slumber. My red headed brother Brian Scalabrini(Jackie Moon) provided some much needed scoring off the bench. The Celtics bench had by far their best game of the series and I hope it continues. Big Baby Davis and Kendrick Perkins were once again beasts on the boards and did an outstanding job finishing around the basket. Pierce and Allen hit some big shots and even Mikey Moore provided a few solid minutes off the bench. Rondo has not been the same player the last two games. In the first five games of the series he was driving to the basket at will but seemed to be less aggressive in games 6 and 7. He still had one hell of a series though and I still believe he has the chance to be mentioned with the likes of Chris Paul and Derron Williams in the coming years.

A huge factor in the Celtics being able to build and hold on to a lead was simply that the Bulls were missing open shots. Heinrich and Salmons, who had killed the Celtics in the Bulls victories, were essentially non-factors. Ben Gordon, after a solid first half, was not a factor in the second half of the game. Having said that, this Bulls team is going to be really good in a couple years if they keep all these pieces together. It should be interesting to see whether they decide to sign Ben Gordon to a big deal this summer. As clutch as he was this series, I feel like he is way too selfish of a player for the Bulls to pay him anymore than what they offered before.

This series has to go down as the greatest first round series ever. You had multiple overtimes, game winning shots, amazing individual performances, and as much physical play as you will see in any NBA game. Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo gave us the first chapter in what I hope is to be a rivalry for years to come. Glen " Big Baby" Davis and John Salmons proved they are potential stars in the making. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce proved they are the best clutch shooting duo in the league, and Tony Allen proved once again he should not be in the NBA.

I think the Celtics may actually have an easier time with the Magic, though stopping Dwight Howard and the three point shooting of the Magic is going to be a difficult task. I think it could be another seven game series though. The home court advantage the Celtics earned by finishing as the two seed could come up huge. I will write my analysis of the series probably Tuesday after I have had a chance to recover from this last one.

Davis's outstanding performance reminded me of how good this Celtics team could have been with a healthy Garnett and Powe. I truly believe they would have been a better team than last years championship squad. Rondo, Perkins, and Davis are three times better than they were last year, and Allen is playing at a much higher level. I think next year the Celtics will have a reasonable chance to win banner 18. Not to say they can't win this year, but it is going to take a miracle to beat Lebron and the Cavs without Garnett.

Another great weekend in the books and another busy week at work ahead. Please let me know what you think of this blog, comments are always welcome. Have a great night!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Absolutely Incredible

I didn't think the Celtics-Bulls series could get any more dramatic but last night took the cake. I can't say I've enjoyed this series, because as a Celtics fan I've probably had three mild heart attacks during the course of these crazy games. The triple overtime win for the Bulls last night, though devastating for me, was one of the best games I can remember seeing in recent history. The fact that it came on the heels of probably the best series ever, definitely the best first round series ever, made it even more amazing. Just when you thought one team had the game in hand the other would come back.

My initial reaction after the game was to point fingers at things the Celtics could have done to win the game. The fact that Paul Pierce passed up a good shot to pass to Brian Scalabrini, resulting in the game winning Joakim Noah three point play would be one. Or the simple fact that Pierce did not look for Ray Allen in the closing minutes of regulation and overtime. Sometimes I think Pierce, as much as I love him, doesn't look for teammates enough on last second plays. Even that last shot by Rondo which was blocked by Rose, was very questionable. Why is Rondo shooting fade away jump shots! However, the fact is none of us really know what was going on in that game. It is really easy to criticize from the safety of your couch. The one thing I will say that is absolutely unforgivable is putting Tony Allen in the game. The guy has to be one of the worst players in the league. Every time he is in the game I know something bad is going to happen.

Let's look at the positive. Rose played extremely well, though he continues to turn the ball over way too much. Ray Allen had one of the best shooting performances I can remember in playoff history, scoring 51 points. Pierce, though making some bonehead plays late, hit some very clutch shots for the Celtics. Brad Miller hit four crucial free throws and a had a huge three and driving lay up to bring the Bulls back in regulation. John Salmons is earning himself a lot of money the way he is playing this series. I didn't even really know who he was before the series began. The one guy I hope gets some recognition is Glen "Big Baby" Davis. This guy has improved more than any player I've seen and has actually probably been an improvement offensively over Garnett. He gets every loose ball, finishes better than most big men, and has a deadly mid range jumper. I really think the Celtics could've beaten the Cavs with a healthy Garnett and Powe(sigh). Whether or not they win or lose in this series, the Celtics have three young guys to build their team around after Pierce, Allen, and Garnett leave.

So what is going to happen in game 7? I really don't know, but I hope it is a Celtics blowout. All these other games, while nerve wracking were nothing compared to what I'd feel during a game 7. The thing that makes this series different than last year though, is that the Celtics don't really have a chance to win it all this season, so really they are playing for the conference finals. Last year I would have literally cried myself to sleep for a month if they had lost to the Hawks. But this year I'd be down about it for a day, then would move on. I think I will appreciate this series a lot more when it is over and I've had some time to reflect on it.

Like a lot of sports writers have been saying, I wish this series could go longer. The great thing about basketball, the thing that separates it from other sports, is the fact that no lead is safe. In basketball a ten point lead with four minutes remaining is nothing. After the playoffs are over I am going to dedicate a whole blog on my love for basketball. Anyway, thanks again for reading and happy Friday!