Maybe the Celtics do need Rondo. Just kidding. We’re still better off without him despite losing our first back-to-back games since the All-Star break. Their first 2 games back were on the road on back-to-back nights. First game was against the Denver Nuggets, who I have developed a huge man-crush on. The second was at the Los Angeles Lakers on a night when the ghost of Jerry Buss inspired them. When someone important in the franchise dies you have absolute no shot at winning. Here are my thoughts on the Denver game:
Denver 97, Boston 90
The Celtics hung tight through 3 quarters of this game. They just didn’t have enough down the stretch. Oh yea, and the refs didn’t exactly help their cause. The Celtics shot 16 free throws, the Nuggets 36!! Ultimately it was the play of Paul Pierce that cost them this game. The captain had 10 points on 2 of 14 shooting. There are some positives to take out of this game though:
Avery Bradley is turning into one hell of a basketball player. He won’t ever make an all-star team, but he’s going to win a championship with someone because of his defense. Everyone can score in the NBA. Not everyone can play defense. He’s one of the biggest reasons the Celtics are still 8-3 without Rondo. He went for 17 points this game.
Jeff Green needs to be in the starting lineup. Brandon Bass is the most useless player on the Celtics. Why is he a starter? Why do people like this clown? What exactly does he do? I got torn apart last year when I told Felger and Mazz that we got the short end of the Brandon Bass for Glen Davis trade. Felger asked me what kind of drugs we had out in Worcester. Only the best I told him. Baby used to be able to create his own shots, pull down boards he had no business getting, and stroke a really nice 18-foot jumper. Bass can’t create his own shot, takes down boards that are right in front of him and can’t shoot as well as Baby. Meanwhile Jeff Green was a HUGE investment for this team. We surrendered any shot at a championship in 2011 when we traded Perk for Green. Now that he’s healthy and Rondo is hurt we should be fully investing in him to see what we can expect from him. Is he someone the Celtics want to build around? He’s got insane athleticism for his size. He played well in the 4th quarter against Denver and had an eye-opening block on Corey Brewer. Dude needs to start and play at least 35 minutes a game.
Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins redefine the word useless. They are old, left-over parts that nobody else wants. Unfortunately they represent our depth of big guys. Neither of these guys can do anything especially well. At least for bench guys a contending team should have guys that specialize in one thing and are terrible at others. These guys are solidly mediocre or worse at all aspects of their game. Kenneth Faried ran circles around these chumps. If you ask Tommy Heinsohn though, both of them are All-Stars!!
This years Nuggets team is one of my favorite teams in the NBA. Unfortunately they have a ZERO PERCENT chance of winning the NBA finals. This is largely what makes the NBA such a terrible league. There are no more than 4 teams that can win the NBA finals this year: Miami, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, San Antonio. The Clippers and the Spurs are a stretch too. In no other professional sports league is this the case. The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup despite being the least likely of the 16 playoff teams according to Vegas lines. The Ravens won the Super Bowl, despite almost no one picking them coming into the playoffs. The San Francisco Giants won the World Series despite being lead by their catcher and a fat bastard named Pablo. All 3 of these teams were long shots to win the title, but even the favorites in these leagues were no better than 4-1 to win it all.
In the NBA? The Heat are currently 4 to 9 to win the Eastern Conference. That means if you bet $90 that the Heat will win their first 3 playoff rounds, and they do, you win a whopping $40!! The second best shot in the East are currently the Knicks at 15 to 2. This basically means there is no shot in hell that anyone but the Heat will make the finals form the East. And the West? At least it will be competitive to see who comes out of the west, but only the Clippers, Thunder or Spurs can make it that far. These teams are quite simply going to get all the calls in a sport where games are won and lost on the free throw line. All 3 of these teams are better than 10 to 1 odds to win it all, but the next most likely is the Lakers at 25 to 1. The Lakers are a below .500 team that probably won’t make the playoffs. The Nuggets? 40 to 1!! They are 34-21 and one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but they have less of a shot than the Lakers. That’s the NBA. Here’s why I have a man-crush on the Nuggets:
They got rid of Carmelo Anthony and have gotten better since the trade. This proves my theory about players like him. He’s a huge dooshnozzle, who is all about himself. That might win you a championship at Syracuse, but it’s not going to work in the NBA. Now that he’s gone the rest of this young team has been able to develop, and it’s worked out as well as they could hope. Since he’s left Denver for the bright lights of Manhattan he’s managed to make the Knicks a better than .500 team that can’t get by the first round of the playoffs. Coincidentally this is exactly where the Knicks were at before he got there. Look at what Lebron and Durant do for their teams. Then look what Melo does. He’s not even close to being an elite player and certainly isn’t someone to build around.
Ty Lawson is such an underrated player. He isn’t flashy like Rondo, but he’s a much better player. He fearlessly drives to the hoop on much bigger players. He can shoot the 3, he defends tenaciously, and he doesn’t make huge mistakes. His line against the Celtics? 26 points, 6 assists, 8 of 13 from the field, and 8 of 10 from the line. Oh yea and ZERO turnovers. I’d like to see stat lines like that from Rondo, instead of the glorified “triple-double”.
Kenneth Faried has earned the nickname “Manimal”. He is an absolute beast who seems to be driven by a motor. He hustles his ass off whenever he’s on the court and makes the most of his smaller stature against bigger players. He absolutely dominated against Chris Wilcox. Although he only had 7 points, he ripped down 16 boards, didn’t turn the ball over and had a +6. Green Teamers everywhere have a little Kenneth Faried in their pants and I would LOVE to have this guy wearing Green.
Danilo Gallinari can flat out score. He’s Denver’s leading scorer, and one of 9 players on the Nuggets who scores more than 8 points a game. Against the Celtics he went for +20, and had 26 points, including four 3 pointers.
Denver’s got lots of guys who fill a specific role, and one of the best benches in the NBA. None of this will matter when they play Kevin Durant or Lebron James, which is unfortunate. Andre Igoudala is the biggest name on this roster and averages 13 a game (although he blew against the Celtics). Kosta Koufos is a solid as you get for a center in the NBA. He scored whenever he wanted to against the Celtics. Andre Miller is an established NBA veteran who has been a leader on every team he has played for and lead his Utah Utes to the Final 4. Celtics could use guys like him off the bench. Corey Brewer has always been a favorite of mine since he won 2 championships at Florida. He’s never going to be an elite scorer, but he does contribute double digit point totals, shoots the 3, and is a long and hungry defender. Reminds me of a young Bruce Bowen. Even though they boo Javale McGee in Denver, I’d LOVE to have this guy on the Celtics. He can’t shoot for crap, but he’s such a presence defensively. He averages over 2 blocks a game, and has crazy hops. He’s perfect for the 18 minutes a game that Denver uses him for. Wilson Chandler scored a lot more when he was on the Knicks, but he’s found a nice little niche in Denver’s 9-man rotation.
I like what both the Celtics and Nuggets bring to the table. The Nuggets are a much more complete team than the Celtics, but the C’s have a lot to look forward to if Green and Bradley continue to develop, and if they can get rid of useless clumps of garbage like Wilcox and Collins.
Am I wrong that only the Spurs, Clippers, Heat or Thunder can win it all this year? Am I missing someone? Can the Celtics or Nuggets get in on the action? Feel free to leave your comments and tell me how wrong I am. Shares on Facebook and Twitter are graciously appreciated as we attempt to spread the good word. Hit follow to subscribe (on the right).
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