Tag Archives: kevin garnett

No Need To Panic In Boston


For all of those worried Celtics fans out there about the team’s lackluster 0-3 start… Calm down, you’ve seen this before. As a matter of fact you’ve seen it twice this year already.

For the entire sports scene in Boston slow starts have been the norm all year long.

It started in April with the Red Sox who after a headline stealing off season jumped off to a horrendous 2-10 start to the season. However, the Sox recovered to have the best record in baseball all summer before they imploded in September.

The Bruins had an obvious Stanley Cup hangover as they found themselves in last place in the Northeast division with only three wins after the month of October. Now the Bruins sit in first place of the entire Eastern Conference heading into the new year.

Now it’s the Celtics turn.

Let’s be honest, the C’s are old and in a shortened compacted season like this one age may play a huge factor integer success.

Kevin Garnett has been hot and cold, Ray Allen has been, well, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce has been M.I.A. due to an injured heel. The best performers so far have been an ultra motivated Rajon Rondo who has responded well to off season trade rumors, and Brandon Bass has been the inside presence that the Celtics have been lacking since trading Kendrick Perkins.

The Celtics are not a full team right now. Besides missing Pierce they are without Jeff Green for the season due to a heart ailment and newly acquired guard Mickael Pietrus is still injured and not scheduled to return until mid-January. Head coach Doc Rivers has had to rely on heavy doses of Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels to fill in for those roles and so far it’s led to mixed results.

However, people should realize that it’s only three games. With 63 games left and Pierce returning to action in the next game or two the Celtics have more than enough time to right the ship.

Even though a season like this favors a young team with fresh legs this Celtics team has won too many games to not make the proper adjustments to stay in contention.

A turnaround is eminent with this team and it starts with a fairly easy schedule for the next few games. Their next four have them playing the Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets and they play the Washington Wizards twice. By this time next week the Celtics could easily be 4-3 and getting back into the swing of things.

So for the worried fans of Boston who are ready to slam the panic button, relax. There’s plenty of time left in the season to turn things around and get back in track.

The Red Sox & Bruins had early season troubles and both recovered now it’s the Celtics turn to do so.

Since history repeats itself then the C’s should be sitting on top of the Atlantic division very shortly. However, if they do recover hopefully their season, and the Bruins for that matter doesn’t mirror the Red Sox season exactly. That would be too much for the fans of Beantown to handle.

The Rangers And Knicks Are Killing Themselves

Henrik Lundquist cant believe how these playoffs have played out so far for the Rangers

Jared Jeffries’s turnover, Marian Gaborik’s tip away, Ray Allen’s three, Alex Semin’s Goal, two blown halftime leads, two blown leads late in the third period… the last week in New York playoff sports have been a nightmare (and don’t get me started on the Yankees pitching woes either.).

This has been about as depressing as it gets. Watching the Rangers and Knicks blow leads to two teams that they’re not better than, but had outplayed in the majority of the games that they played.

The Rangers should be up 3-1, the Knicks should be up 2-0, and the reasons that they’re not are maddening.

First the Rangers ills have been not being able to close out an opponent (much like how they weren’t able to close out a playoff spot in the regular season). In game 1 against the Capitals they led 1-0 late in the third thanks to great goaltending by Henrik Lundquist and the defensive work of Marc Stall and company. Then in an instant Alex Ovechkin ties the game thanks to a fluke tip in where Derek Stepan, Staal, and Lundquist all couldn’t get a stick on the puck even though it was there in front of them.

The overtime goal was even worse as Staal seemed to nonchalantly make a clearing pass out of the zone that ended up on Jason Arnott’s stick, then Semin’s, then the back of the net. Defeat from the jaws of victory.

Then came last night. Not even 24 hours after the Los Angeles Kings blew a 4-0 lead in two periods, the Rangers upped them by doing it in ten minutes. After two periods of Rangers domination where the Rangers and the crowd was bullying the Capitals (last time Bruce Boudreau ever comments about crowd noise), the crowd stood in shock as Semin knocked in a loose puck that Lundquist lost track of, then after Marcus Johansson scored on a tip-in to make it 3-2 he scored on a lucky bounce off of a Karl Alzner slap shot to make it 3 all.

The worst of all came in double OT as Jason Chimera had his shot blocked and it looked like Lundquist was going to cover it up for a faceoff in his zone. For some reason Gaborik decided to knock the puck away from Lundquist right as he reached for it and it landed right on Chimera’s stick and the comeback was complete.

Carmelo and the Knicks are on the brink thanks to lackluster play from his teammates.

Three fluke goals, three to one deficit, the Rangers have redefined the stomach punch loss.

(Side note: Marian Gaborik has been a disaster the second half of this year. That boneheaded play combined with his lackluster offensive production has me and other Rangers fans doubting where his head is right now. If he can’t score goals and is causing some to go in then why is he on the ice? Last night the Rangers went 0-7 on the power play and are 1-234 in the series. Actual stat. That is Gaborik’s bread and butter and he’s not delivering. If this keeps up then next year he’ll be with Wade Redden in Connecticut.)

If that wasn’t enough, it came after the New York Knicks snatched defeat from victory in two straight games.

The Knicks had outplayed the Celtics and were in prime position to win both games even with Carmelo Anthony playing poorly in game one and without Amar’e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups in game 2.

In game 1 the Knicks led by 12 at the half and Stoudemire was destroying Kevin Garnett and company on the inside. Then somehow in the last 5 minutes of the game he doesn’t get one touch. Yeah Melo went 1-11 in the second half but the fact that Amar’e doesn’t get the ball that late in the game when he had dominated throughout was horrible.

The shot selection by Melo, Toney Douglas and others was typical Mike D’Antoni offense. If Amar’e gets the ball the Knicks win by 10, since he didn’t, and D’Antoni didn’t stress that in the huddle, the Knicks lost.

Game 2 may have been the nail in the coffin though. After losing Amar’e to back spasms Anthony took all of New York on his back with his 42 point, 17 rebound, 6 assist performance where he was the only Knick to shoot anywhere near 50% as Bill Walker shot 0-11 and Douglas went 5-16 (two things on Douglas real quick. 1. There is no way that Douglas should ever be allowed to take 16 shots in a playoff game, EVER. 2. Douglas ‘s poor shot selection at times is the reason that the Knicks need to actively look for a point guard this offseason. He’s not capable of carrying a second unit and keeping the Knicks in front or in the game.).

Marian Gaborik hasnt been helping the Rangers much this postseason.

With 12 seconds left Melo got an inbounds past where he was immediately double-teamed and Melo through a strike to a cutting Jeffries who had a good look at the rim… if he would’ve turned in the right direction and not directly into Kevin Garnett. Melo got criticized for passing the ball in that situation but that was his best option. He couldn’t hoist a bad three over two defenders and his pass to Jeffries was on point. The real issue was that Jeffries made a bad play on the ball (really Jared Jeffries? No.) and couldn’t finish.

The Knicks main issue is there lack of reliable role players. Walker, Douglas and Jeffries aren’t able to play big in these situations and that, combined with the lack of big men, are the reason that they’re down 2-0.

With the Knicks heading home in a rut down in a series they enter the a depressed Madison Square Garden after the Rangers put themselves on the brink with a terrible game 4 loss.

After this weekend both teams will be done. Both the Rangers and Knicks are a year away from being serious contenders and it couldn’t be more apparent.

The Rangers need to learn how to close, the Knicks need the players to close. The Rangers need to get better offensively, the Knicks need to get better defensively. Both teams’ big time players need to play big, and both teams need to learn how to protect leads.

It’s been a frustrating week for New York fans in the Garden watching these two teams fall apart fortunately it’ll all be over sooner than later.

The Heat Are Not Elite

The Heat are good, but not on the celtics level

Did you know that the Miami Heat are only 1-6 versus the top five teams in the NBA this season?

Funny stat huh? Especially when everyone and there mom is sitting around discussing how much the Lakers need a big time win and how they struggle against stiffer competition.

After Sunday’s loss at Boston isn’t about time that we give them the same treatment?

Their 85-82 loss showed once again that “The Heatles,” as glamorous as they may seem, are not the top tier team that we think they are. Never mind their Christmas day win in L.A.; the Lakers could care less about those types of games. Kobe and company are biding their time until the postseason when it actually matters to have statement wins. The Lakers can go about their business like that because they are defending Champs.

The Heat on the other hand don’t have the same luxury due to their lack of Jewelry and Mt. Everest sized hype.

Ever since LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh stood together in July they were crowned the best team in the league. They would win 70 games, they would be unstoppable… if that’s the case then how do you lose for the third time to the best team in the Eastern Conference and this time when they are as healthy Big Pun?

The Celtics were without two big men yesterday (Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal), Marquise Daniels and Paul Pierce was closer to 10% than 100%. They trotted out little used Von Wafer for 14 minutes and only went 7 deep in their rotation. They put Rajon Rondo on LeBron James in spurts in the third quarter… how the hell did the Heat lose this game? Easy answer, they’re better than the Heat, more in-depth answer… they’re tougher than the Heat.

Wafer scored more points in those 14 minutes that the entire Heat bench did all game; Big Baby Davis was huge in spelling Kendrick Perkins who is coming back from knee surgery. Davis in 30 minutes scored 16 points off of the bench and helped outmuscle Miami’s weak front line.

Yet the biggest advantage came in the mental department. The Celtics got in the Heat’s head yesterday. The Rondo ploy on LeBron was stupid brilliant. It was stupid because if LeBron wanted to he could’ve backed Rondo down all game long, but it was brilliant because somehow Rondo put a ton of pressure on the ball and James couldn’t make the plays he normally does.

Putting Rondo on James was so silly, yet so effective.

The Celtic toughness was on full display yesterday. When the shots weren’t falling the defense turned its game up. They forced 15 turnovers including 6 by Wade who had another horrible outing against Boston this year. They turned up the physicality forcing Wade into a stupid flagrant foul on Kevin Garnett in the third after KG floored Mike Miller with a vicious pick. After the foul was assessed you saw Rondo poking around the Heat huddle like a little kid nosing around the refrigerator and didn’t stop even though four players pushed him away.

The C’s showed that no matter how shorthanded they are the best team in the league resides in Boston and that as hyped as the Heat are they’re not title ready just yet.

The Heat’s flaws were on full display. They’re too dependent on their Big 3; they have no considerable depth, no big men inside and no consistent point guard play. The Big 3 rarely complete games together unless it’s to lesser competition and (eerie music please) none of these guys seem to want to take the big shot.

Why in the world was Bosh away from the ball, Wade setting a pick and James inbounding the ball while Mike Miller took the potential game tying three? Shouldn’t that be a shot designed for your best players? It wasn’t the first time either. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Eddie House have taken game tying or winning shots while the 3 musketeers stood and watched. That can’t happen. You have to take that shot if you’re the supposed main guy. Kobe wouldn’t pass, Melo wouldn’t and these guys shouldn’t.

The Heat to me are all bark and no bite, all flash and no grit. They have no killer instinct; no want to step on the other guys’ throat. The Celtics have that. When the game got tough the C’s flexed their muscles and beat up the Heat. Their experience in these situations and toughness carried them where the Heat looked dazed and confused trying to muster up some sort of retaliation but to no avail.

At some point the Heat have to figure Boston out.

Looking ahead for the Heat, they have 28 games left to figure out how to get that mental toughness and beat a worthy opponent when it matters. They have to go to Chicago and face D-Rose later this month and next month things get really interesting with games against San Antonio, the Lakers coming to Miami, and Oklahoma City and Orlando as well.

They have one more game versus Boston in December too but it’ll be the 80th game of the season and both teams may rest their starters.

Not that it matters though. What we learned yesterday is something we should’ve known since day one; Boston is the better team than Miami. It doesn’t matter if they’re at full strength or not, Boston gets the job done and belongs among the elite in the league.

The Heat however, are still a work in progress.

Fear And Loathing In Beantown

Paul Pierce watched Boston's title run fall short.

Boston’s postseason year of heartbreak continues. A month after the Bruins epic collapse against the Flyers in the NHL’s Eastern Conference Semis, the Celtics followed that up by flying out to L.A. and leaving their game in Boston after an epic game 5 victory.

Boston’s loss shouldn’t be a shock at all; the Lakers by all accounts were the best team in basketball this year from start to finish. What is surprising is how the Celtics lost this game. Granted there was very shoddy officiating by senior referee Joey Crawford, but the Celtics let opportunities pass them by and let their offense fall by the waist side.

It goes something like this, the bench play was finally exposed as thin and un-explosive as “Big Baby” Davis and Nate Robinson lost the luster of their amazing game 4 experiences and only produced 6 points (all Davis’). The offensive rebounding of the Lakers killed the Celtics as they couldn’t let Rajon Rondo get into open space and run the transition offense that he does so well.

The biggest offenders of the Celtics demise last night was that defensive glass. The Celtics rebounding was terrible as they got allowed Pau Gasol and company to dominate the offensive boards all night. The Lakers nabbed 23 offensive rebounds on the night and even though they shot an abysmal 32% from the field the second chance opportunities led to 37 trips to the foul line as compared to only 17 for the Celtics.

Speaking of shooting the Lakers couldn’t hit anything last night. Kobe Bryant was 6-24 from the field while Gasol finished 6-16. They got only nine points from the bench mostly from an ineffective Lamar Odom and took really horrible shots throughout the night. It makes you wonder how the hell exactly did the Celtics hold the Lakers to under 30% shooting for most of the night, limit the ball movement of the triangle offense, hold a thirteen point lead midway through the third quarter and hold the best one-two punch in the league to 12-38 shooting… AND LOSE?!

The real reason is once again the so-called Big Three was a sideshow. All series, heck postseason, the Celtics three headlining players just couldn’t put together a whole game where they were at their best. Paul Pierce was a fourth quarter no-show which was unusual given his flair for late game heroics. Kevin Garnett played his best game of the series as he harassed Gasol all night and had offensive spurts that reminded you of his Minnesota days. However, the player that cost the C’s mostly was Ray Allen. Allen virtually played his way out of Boston after a stellar game two where he drained a Finals record eight 3’s. the sweetest stoke in the game shot 3-14 from the field and just couldn’t get anything going for him all night. He ran Kobe all around the Staples Center yet it translated into little to nothing for Allen. If this was indeed his last game in Boston then Allen surely doesn’t want to be remembered for much during his tenure.

Which brings up another troubling question, what now for the Boston Celtics? The core of this team is old, and that’s putting it lightly. It looks like Ray Allen won’t return next year and KG is entering the last year of a contract as is Paul Pierce. Plus you have a bench that lacks any punch at all as was apparent in all but one of the finals games. We might’ve seen the last of the Boston Celtics in championship games for a long time because this team has a lot of work to do to keep up with whatever these other teams do in free agency such as Miami or Cleveland.

Maybe this game would’ve been different if Kendrick Perkins doesn’t injure his knee in game 6, maybe he would’ve limited Gasol’s effectiveness on the glass all night. Or maybe the Boston Celtics Big Three or Four or whatever just didn’t do enough to handle L.A.’s toughness. Whatever the case maybe just know this; at the 8:23 mark in the third quarter, the Celtics had the defending champs right where they wanted them. They were better defensively and were executing much better on offense. Then for some inexplicable reason it all fell apart and now they go back to Boston title-less, searching for answers and unsure of what will happen next with the team.

It’s a sad day in the city where Champaign flowed with ease in the 2000’s the Bruins have some company in the Heartbreak hotel as Ray Allen can spill about his poor performance to Milan Lucic and Doc Rivers and Claude Julien try to figure out what went wrong. Memo to Terry Francona and Bill Belichick, the way that this year is going in Beantown your playoff chances are looking pretty bleak.