The Best Sports Day Of The Century?

The MAIN event

The MAIN event

Is this the best sports day from a fan perspective of the century to date? Depending on what you feel about the fight, here is what we have on the docket:

Some Premier League soccer match, if thats your cup of tea, starts things off on NBCS network at 7 am.

At noon, rounds 4-7 of the NFL draft will air on ESPN. Like it or not, the football is now this countries biggest sport, and appropriately they will find their way on the menu on a day as big as this.

People just can't get enough that is the NFL behemoth

People just can’t get enough that is the NFL behemoth

NHL second round game two between the Rangers and Caps starts at 12:35 on NBC. The first game ended with the Caps winning the game with 2 seconds left in regulation. A HUGE game for the biggest TV market in the US.

Lightning won game 1 at the buzzer

Lightning won game 1 at the buzzer

The Sox face the Yankees at Fenway at 1:35 on Fox. It just wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t the best rivalry in all of baseball (and maybe sports) participating in any day considered the “best” sports day of the century.

Why not add the best rivalry in baseball to the docket today?

Why not add the best rivalry in baseball to the docket today?

The Kentucky Derby runs at 6:30 on NBC. Billed as the most exciting 3 minutes in sports, there is nothing quite like a big horse race. A great early taste for the gambling crowd to get their pallet wet before the fight and hopefully some cash in the coffers.

There is nothing quite like the Kentucky Derby

There is nothing quite like the Kentucky Derby

Game 7 of the Spurs Clippers, which feels like its the NBA championship, and very well could prove to be as I think there is a decent chance the winner wins the NBA title. The finale of a fantastic series with tons of intrigue and incredible effort on both sides. Contrast in coaching styles and strategy, with the Clippers a more free flowing smash mouth approach while the Spurs with a quiet, execute no emotion approach. Which will win out? Is this the end of the Spurs run with Duncan and Popp? Will the Clippers finally be able to get over the hump and win a series where they were underdogs or evenly matched? Its hoop heaven. Tip, WISELY by the NBA will be at 8:05 on TNT.

For all the marbles tonight

For all the marbles tonight

Game 2 between the Duck and Flames, the Ducks crushing the Flames 7-1 in the opener. This one might conflict with the “main event” as the puck drops at 10:05 on NBCS.

There was lots of this in game 1

There was lots of this in game 1

Then the main event. The most anticipated fight since…….well I’m not sure since when. Tyson Holyfield 1?? Its certainly the most this century. In Las Vegas at the MGM, and no matter what happens in the fight the buildup and preflight will be at a historically hyper level. Ringside tickets going for $100,000. Should start around midnight and end around 1 am. Pay per view at an astounding $99.99 per buy.

Could the fight possibly live up to the hype?  Does it matter?

Could the fight possibly live up to the hype? Does it matter?

Which will cap off an epic day of sports, arguably the best sports day this century. I can’t think of a day that was more intriguing from a fan perspective. Its days like this a sports fan lives for.

Enjoy it sports fans!!

Ode To The 2015 Celtics

Jae Crowder shows the passion that exemplified the 2015 Celtics

Jae Crowder shows the passion that exemplified the 2015 Celtics

The season began with meager expectations, a coach with little experience and no discernible philosophy on offense or defense, and a roster loaded with leave average flotsam, a mercurial all star point guard on the last year of his deal, the maddening Jeff Green and an overpaid stiff making 10 million dollars. The Vegas over under had them at an optimistic 28 wins, and most expected the team to maximize their ping pong balls and cruise into the lottery and possibly NBA purgatory.

What happened over the next four months was nothing short of a miracle. It began with the trade of Rondo, the remaining face of the franchise, to Dallas for Brandon Wright, Jameer Nelson, and Jae Crowder. In addition the Celtics received a first and second round pick, both with protections. They then sent out Green to the Grizzlies for basically a first round pick and Tayshaun Prince. What followed was a furry of moves and transactions, including adding Isaiah Thomas while dropping the aforementioned Prince. When the dust settled they had a rotation of:

Evan Turner
Avery Bradley
Brandon Bass
Tyler Zeller
Jae Crowder
Isaiah Thomas
Marcus Smart
Jonas Jerebko
Luigi Datome

Then everything changed. After a bad loss early in the season Stevens declared “I need to get better at coaching NBA basketball”. And better he got. There was a whiff that something special might be happening when the team beat the Hawks, who at the time had the best record in the NBA, right before the all star break. The team began to gell in the second half, and eventually finished with the fourth best record in the entire NBA after February 2nd. A four game winning streak included W’s against the Grizzlies and at Indiana. They won with a team oriented defense, even though the roster contained no real rim protector, and an offense that stressed ball movement and three point shots. Thomas was as advertised, leading the entire NBA in fourth quarter scoring this season. No one has been better at getting to the line since the team dealt Paul Pierce, averaging a staggering 6.5 attempts per game in just 26 minutes of action. Crowder and rookie Marcus Smart added toughness to the team and Brandon Bass provided leadership, big time effort and experience at winning NBA games. Zeller and Olynyk provided an odd one two punch in the front court. Avery Bradley was the teams MVP, mastering the metric unfriendly 18 foot jump shot and leading the team in scoring. Some questioned the strategy of going for the playoffs instead of maximizing draft position, but that talk only seemed to fuel the teams desire to win games.

Avery Bradley was the MVP of the second half playoff run

Avery Bradley was the MVP of the second half playoff run

The Celtics win 8 of their last 9 games to not only secure a spot in the playoffs, but the 7th seed. Some will soon forget this bunch, which will no doubt be broken up next season, but not this fan. (Had they drawn the Hawks its very possible they would still be playing right now, but dems the breaks) They provided three months of exciting basketball, winning games they had no business winning, always playing hard and often times having the advantage at head coach. Of all the outcomes of this season, the emergence of Stevens as a viable and valuable head coach might be the most important. Before all the trades it looked like maybe the NBA might be too much for him….by the end of the year he was a coach of the year candidate, finishing ahead of Gregg Popovitch in the voting.

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Where this team goes from here is anyone’s guess. They have an arsenal of picks to use as collateral in making a deal for an impact vet, and have rid the roster of any malcontents not interested in winning basketball games first. Its a good place to start, but its no lock they will be back in the post season tournament next season or even the season after. This is why I think Celtic fans should take a minute to appreciate the effort and accomplishment of this group in the second half of the season. That kind of basketball doesn’t happen often without a mega superstar leading the way, and who knows when they will be able to acquire one.

So I tip my cap to the 2015 Boston Celtics. They did the franchise and city proud.

It wasn't a banner year for the Celtics, but it was one that won't soon be forgotten for this fan

It wasn’t a banner year for the Celtics, but it was one that won’t soon be forgotten for this fan

What is the future for Rondo?

Rajon-Rondo’s-Time-With-Dallas-Mavericks-Done-After-Game-2-Performance

Those in Boston saw it coming. Rajon Rondo wasn’t the same player after suffering a knee injury two years ago. He had always had problems with coaches, dating back to his days at Kentucky with Tubby Smith. The Celtics did a wonderful job of keeping all his attitude problems under wrap, allowing him to come back to the team and be the de facto coach for the Celtics as they limped off to a terrible start this season.

What the Mavs saw in him is anyone’s guess. Its almost like the they didn’t even do any scouting before the trade. Putting aside the attitude issues, which were and are very real, the dude has been in a free fall since his knee surgery. He can’t shoot free throws, couldn’t for Boston, hasn’t defended since they traded Garnett and Pierce away, and in general has just stunk. The best player in the deal turned out to be Jae friggin Crowder, and the Mavs spent the next two months after the trade trying replace him and Wright. They settled on Stoudemire.

The Mavs settled on Stoudemire to replace Jae Crowder and Brandon Wright

The Mavs settled on Stoudemire to replace Jae Crowder and Brandon Wright

Ouch. I’m a big fan of Cuban, but one wonders why on earth they would make that trade if they had indeed scouted Rondo the past two years. It torpedoed their season, and puts them in a horrible situation moving forward as they now have to replace Rondo, Crowder and Wright. And Wright was GOOD for them, shooting over 60% from the floor.

So whats next for Rondo? If I’m his agent and I think he can turn around his attitude I want to sign a one year deal. If not then go for the long term deal. But where is the fit? A young team would be insane to want that type of attitude on their team, and a good, veteran team wouldn’t need his present skill set. Putting aside the attitude problems, he has been in a free fall since his injury. Can’t shoot free throws, won’t attack that basket for fear of shooting them, can’t defend, and could never figure out his jump shot.

There is a chance he simply walks away from the game. On several occasions he has admitted to liking football more than basketball, doesn’t seem to want to be coached. Didn’t want to be part of a winning situation in Dallas. Give Ainge a lot of credit here. He knew the player Rondo had become after the injury, including the petulant attitude, and did the most he could to prop him up as a viable player, keeping him as the face of the franchise and leaking information that the team wanted to sign him to a long term deal. He may have gotten a decent player in return with Jae Crowder, who they can match any contract he’s offered in the offseason.

What the future lies for Rondo is anyone’s guess, but its apparent he’s at crossroads in his NBA career, having to decide if he wants to be coached and be part of an NBA team or retire a multimillionaire and NBA champion.

Now its all about the past

Now its all about the past

Cavs take game 1; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

celtics-and-cavaliers-logos

So it appears this will take a herculean effort from the Celtics to not only win the series, but take a game. I thought they had pretty good effort, got some solid games from a few guys, but no one really stepped up. Credit the Cavs defense, who disrupted what the Celtics wanted to do on offense all night long, and moved the ball well and with precision on offense. 8-22 from 3 isn’t really going to cut it when your gunning for the upset of the century. So on with the good, bad and ugly from game 1:

The good:

The Celtics were on the verge of being completely blown out several times during the game and wouldn’t let it happen. Should at least give them a tad of confidence in the series moving forward. Thomas with 22 points on 14 shots and 10 assists. He struggled a bit on defense but overall had a solid game. Olynik looked like he belonged, posting a 12/2/1 in just 18 minutes of play. Other than that, not a whole lot of “good” in a game you give up 113 points and lose by 13. Turner was solid with 12/7/5 but in a contest like this its really apparent to the eye that he’s not an NBA point guard, but is forced to on this roster. This MUST be addressed in the offseason. No more Turner or Pressey at the point next season.

I'm not a point guard

I’m not a point guard

The bad:

Bass, Sullinger, Olynyk and Zeller combined for 9 rebounds in game that featured 161 shots and 213 points. Thats flat out awful and must change moving forward, especially when you consider the Cavs don’t really have a lot of bigs that should prevent them from grabbing misses. Avery Bradley was just abysmal, putting up 7/2/3 and 1-6 from downtown. He was also horrific on the defensive end, playing a big part in Irving’s 30 points on 11-21 shooting, including 5=9 from 3.

The rebounds were out of reach today for the good guys

The rebounds were out of reach today for the good guys

The Ugly:

The Celtics team defense. Its been a hallmark of their second half resurgence, but they just couldn’t get stops all night long. Cleveland shot 45% from the floor, but it was the eye popping 41% on 13-31 shooting that really proved to be the difference. James with a lunch bucket 20/6/7, and Love managed to play a bad game and still grab 12 rebounds.

If the Celtics have visions of shocking the world and winning this series, they are going to have to make some big corrections in game 2. They will have to rebound better, defend the three point shot better, shoot from deep better, and get a world class game from both Thomas and Bradley. Its possible, but not much I saw tonight gave me a whole lot of hope. I will say this…….everytime this season they have been counted out, they have gotten up off the mat and did what most thought they could not.

On to game 2……..

Talk about the series at http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

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How The Celtics Could Beat The Cavs

Cs-and-Cavs

On paper its a mismatch of epic proportions. The Heat have an edge at every position with the possible exception of head coach, and boast the best player in the league in Lebron James. It should be a cakewalk for the boys from Cleveland, but there are a few things to consider before we delve into how the impossible might be made possible.

First, the Celtics boast the fourth best record in the NBA since Feb 2nd, bested only in the East by the Cavs. In fact only a handful of games separate the two teams during that stretch, and the Cavs were in the midst of an 18 game home winning streak during that time. (ironically, snapped by the Celtics when the Cavs rested their best players in the fourth quarter) This Celtic team, as presently constructed, have gone an impressive 24-12 to finish the season. This isn’t your normal 8th seed. Its a unique set of circumstances where a team headed for the lottery completely revamped their roster, not to maximize ping pong balls, but to win more games. And win more games they did, as Stevens got a bunch of castoffs, league average players, hard workers, and Isaiah Thomas to all pull in the same direction.

Second, the team they are playing resides in Cleveland, where Lebron James was unable to win a title in his first go around, and the culture of losing and choking in big games dates back decades. While one can argue that has nothing to do with this particular Cavs team, it is important to note that other than James, the Cavs are a team full of players with very little playoff experience, and its impossible to know how they might react if the fan base starts to get antsy, thinking history might repeat itself. The Celtic have always been somewhat of a thorn in James’ side, and it took him years to figure out how to beat them. Maybe those “ghosts” will show up in this series or further down the line. Or maybe they won’t. Its impossible to tell, but the concerns of past failure by the fan base with regards to modern teams are very real. Just ask the Browns.

Remember this?  I bet Cavs fans do

Remember this? I bet Cavs fans do

So how do the Celtics pull of the upset of the century? An injury to James comes to mind first, but assuming he stays healthy they will need a whole lot of the following and bunch of luck to get it done;

They need Isaiah Thomas to TAKE OVER games in the second half. He can do it, and Kyrie Irving will let guys do it, the problem is on the other end. If he goes off, will he be able to hold his own on defense and get the stops needed to pull the team over the finish line? He has been up and down on that end of the floor all year, but mostly its large guards that give him problems, and Cleveland doesn’t present that sort of problem. Thomas would pass a lie detector if asked if he was indeed the best player in the NBA, and he’s going to have to play like it if the Celtics were to have a realistic chance of winning the series.

If the Celtics are to have any chance, "phenom" better be the tip of the iceberg

If the Celtics are to have any chance, “phenom” better be the tip of the iceberg

They will need their ball movement, a staple of their second half surge, to be precise, happen on nearly every half court set, and use both sides of the court. The Celtics are at their best when they are sharing the ball and making their opponent expend a ton of energy on the defensive end. This can happen, but it will take some help from the Cavs, who have the ability with James and their size inside to disrupt this type of ball movement.

They are going to need massive games from Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko. Its possible Olynyk’s role in the postseason is limited because of his inability to defend, which would leave massive pressure on Crowder and Jerebko to make plays. Specifically they are going to need to shoot LIGHTS OUT from the three point arc, the great equalizer in the game of basketball. The problem is, marginal players usually play their best in front of a home crowd, and the first two games will be in Cleveland.

The Celtics will need to win one of the first two games in Cleveland. Possible, but not probable, as they come into the game as 11 point underdogs. But anyone in the NBA can beat any other team on any given night, and if they can make magic happen just once in the first two games, they could conceivably put a great deal of pressure on the Cavs in game 3, which will be next Friday night at the Garden. A Friday night at the Garden during the playoffs is one of the toughest places to win a basketball game in this league, especially if the crowd sincerely thinks the team has a chance, and the surrounding bars don’t run out of alcohol before the tip. A split in the first two games would give them that confidence and the place would be insane. These fans don’t like Lebron James and have vivid memories of him struggling to beat their team early in his career.

It would be a welcome sight to Celtics fans to see the return of the King's Mom to the rivalry

It would be a welcome sight to Celtics fans to see the return of the King’s Mom to the rivalry

Finally, Stevens would have to out coach David Blatt at every turn during the series. He would have to find ways to contain James, win every out of timeout play, have a perfect rotation, find the right mix of players for every situation in every quarter through the series. In short he would have to morph into the best coach in the history of basketball. A tall order to say the least.

Boston knows a few things about coaching

Boston knows a few things about coaching

While a more likely outcome of the series will be a 4-0 or 4-1 Cleveland win, teams have beaten the #1 seed out of #8 seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. The similarities of the two teams records since February 2nd aside would make this the upset of the century, but certainly not of all time, even in the NBA. This is why you play the games and don’t just congratulate Cleveland for securing the second seed in the East and advance them to round two without a contest.

Dare to dream. Because as we all know, anything is possible

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Read about everything Celtics and NBA related at www.celticsnuts.com

Why Was The NBA Dark Tonight?

nba

Time to resurrect my annual rant about why the NBA is dark tonight:

Every year the NBA playoffs start the same way…..games end on Wednesday, and the playoffs start on Saturday. Unceremoniously, with a non marquee game at 12:30 followed by 4 other games.

But why no game on Friday night? Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to showcase to your fans the kickoff of your REAL season? You just finished a regular season where teams on the top and bottom were losing games on purpose to solidify either a draft slot or preferred first round playoff matchup.

So here is what I have always proposed, and its so simple, so fun, and so fan friendly it has always confounded me that its never be done. Play ONE game on Friday night. Have it be your “Playoff Opening Night Extravaganza”. Have an hour pregame where the ESPN or TNT pundits set the matchups for your tournament. Let them recap the regular season and let the lay fan understand how we got here and what to expect.

Have the teams welcome the national audience by having a team legend throw up an honorary tip. Adam Silver should be in attendance and should welcome the fans to the greatest show on earth from half court. The game would merely be celebration to kickoff what will be a month and a half of tournament action to crown your champion.

Friday

Who wouldn’t watch this? Is there something else the NBA fan is doing Friday night other than checking out the NHL tournament or watching a movie with a significant other?? Whats the downside? One less day of rest for TWO of your SIXTEEN teams competing in this thing??

When your done solving the tanking problem thats plagued the regular season you need to make this happen Adam Silver. Would be a great way to put YOUR stamp on the NBA in way that would make people pay attention to your sport.

Silver

The Future Of The Boston Celtics: Who Stays and Who Goes?

By Bob Kerr

CelticsLogo_Parquet_595x350

Should he stay or should he go?

With the 2014-15 season just about over, most Celtics fans can agree on two seemingly contradictory things.

1. This team was eminently likable.
2. It also needs to be upgraded at nearly every position.

With that in mind, and so much roster turnover due this summer with contracts coming expired and rookies coming in, it’s a good time to take a closer look at this roster and try to suss out who is here for the long term, who is a short-term piece, and who will be gone by next year’s trade deadline if not this summer.

The following assessments are a completely unscientific combination of what I hope to happen and what I expect to happen. (Spoiler: don’t expect to see many people here for the long term):

Brandon Bass

I have big muscles

I have big muscles

Earlier in the year I thought he was shamelessly gunning for a contract. I think it is undeniable he came into camp after his last deal in less-than-optimal shape and has played uninspired ball during the waning years of the Rondo era. Now, I wonder if he didn’t just let his skills atrophy while essentially spacing the court for Pierce and Garnett, picking up dimes from Rondo, and giving less-than-great effort from a coach (Rivers) who was too busy looking to his next job to demand great effort from his players any longer.

Like nearly every other player, Bass blossomed under Brad, and the system suits him. He’s not a great creator but he’s now allowed to more of an attacker in addition to his shooting, and he occasionally bangs and bullies, which we need. Despite some inspired efforts on his man defense (he played Anthony Davis of all people as well as anyone has all year), his help defense is still pretty lousy.

So do they keep him? He wants to stay. The Celtics were too good this year to get a draft pick that they could trade for veteran help, so with two or three rookies coming, it’s probably easy on the coaching staff to have someone like Bass who doesn’t rock the boat, doesn’t need to be taught how to play, and doesn’t need any coaching up. I’d prefer the position upgraded, but I think he stays on the relative cheap. Verdict:

Short Term

Avery Bradley

I think I should stay

I think I should stay

What we have in Bradley is someone who struggles to create any shot for himself that isn’t a long two, is positively dreadful on the fast break, only a passable ball handler, and an occasional defender. Advanced stats seem to loathe him. Clutch stats seem to love him. He’s fairly dependable and has led the team in scoring on some big wins. It was recently reported that teams offered the Celtics a low first-round pick for Avery, and Danny said no. I’m not discouraged by those lowball offers, but I am encouraged by the interest—it means he has some value in a future “youth and picks” package for a talent upgrade, and I suspect that is how he’ll be used sometime in the next year. He’s redundant with Smart, Thomas, and Turner, anyhow. Verdict:

Gone

Jae Crowder

I want to stay RIGHT HERE

I want to stay RIGHT HERE

If you put Crowder’s head and his heart into Jeff Green’s body, you’d have a perennial all-star. Alas that’s not the case, so we’re left with a guy who can look terrible and incredible in the same game (OK, not unlike Green), but on the balance kills himself to compete, might actually be the team’s heart and soul, and brings more to the table than he takes off. Zach Lowe recently speculated that some teams are going to give him a big offer on potential. I don’t think there is potential there; what you see is what you get. But I like what I see, and I think the Celtics do too. I see him staying at mid-level money. Verdict:

Long Term

Luigi Datome

Tell me I don't look like Furio Guinta

Tell me I don’t look like Furio Guinta

There’s not much here to dislike, is there? He’s crafty, he’s competitive, he’s got a sweet stroke, and an awesome name. He seems like he’d be the most fun Celtic to hang out with in the parking lot of an Allman Brothers concert since Bill Walton. That said, he’s slid out of the rotation since Thomas came back from injury, and there’s probably a reason for that. He’s two steps too slow or four inches too short to play in the NBA, and so next year he probably won’t be playing in the NBA. Verdict:

Gone

Jonas Jerebko

I think I'll go there

I think I’ll go there

Many Celtics fans have enjoyed watching Jonas this year, and I suspect it’s in part because he’s the anti-Kelly—next to Kelly, Jonas Jerebko practically moves like prime KG out there. Make no mistake, however: Kelly Olynyk is the better basketball player. If Jerebko were better, he’d be playing more than 18 minutes a game on a team that desperately needs length and athleticism. Jerebko is short on talent on both ends of the court, and seems to have a hoops that is IQ slightly below average, but he is built like a prototypical ballplayer, he has a great motor, and on occasion a decent nose for the ball. All of these are things you say about incoming rookies, however, and he is not one. I like him fine, but if it seems sometimes as if he’s playing for his NBA life, that’s because I suspect he is. Verdict:

Gone

Kelly Olynyk

I can fly!

I can fly!

I’m still convinced they got Kelly because they knew Minnesota wanted him and were hoping to swing a Kevin Love deal. Well, that didn’t happen. Kelly has a strange tendency to look like shit until you check the box score and see he led the team in +/- (he’s the Bizarro Brandon Bass in that regard). His ball movement is pretty great for his size, his shooting is passable, and he can actually drive to the basket, even if posting him up results in a 30% chance of him falling over. His help defense and pick-and-roll defense are both pretty woeful, but—and perhaps I’m alone on this island—his man defense is actually slightly better than its rep. I feel like if he cut his hair and grew a chiseled beard, we’d all think he was like 10% better than we do now. He doesn’t “suck,” but we need much more athleticism and/or toughness from that spot. I wonder if Minny would still be interested? Verdict:

Gone

Phil Pressey

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

I actually really like Pressey, but young, third-string PGs are like lottery tickets; if you don’t hit the jackpot, pick up a new one for a dollar. Pressey seems like a great kid, and he has actually swung a couple of games this year, but he’s no jackpot. Verdict:

Gone

Marcus Smart

Yes, I did just punch you in the testicles

Yes, I did just punch you in the testicles

The good is obvious to anyone who watches the team regularly. He’s got a great attitude, he’s a team guy, a leader, and a pest to opponents. He moves the ball efficiently, he has a big effect on games without filling the box score, he pushes tempo, and he tackles loose balls with great instincts and unpredictability. OK, so some of those loose balls are swinging between the legs of opposing players, but you get my drift.

The negatives are just as obvious: his shooting comes and goes, and his ability to attack the rim is nonexistent. The shooting may improve with better teammates and looks—and getting him in the corner and catch-and-shooting rather than his pretending to be Steph Curry up top—but his inability to drive or finish is troublesome, especially as he is built like a fullback, so though there isn’t room for physical development. Still, he’s a de facto PG and it’s prudent to expect gifted PGs to drastically improve from year 1 to year 3.

I keep wishing he’d model his offense after Pacers-era Mark Jackson, but when you’re hoping your rookie learns to play like an old man, well, mama there goes that ceiling. All this said, give me a team with 15 Marcus Smarts any day. He’s my favorite rookie since Pierce. Verdict:

Long Term

Jared Sullinger

I'm fat

I’m fat

So far in Sully’s career he’s dropped in the draft, struggled with back issues, had the cops respond to a domestic violence call at his house, developed into a 3-point bomber who can’t make threes, went down with an injury while his team was in the playoff hunt because he couldn’t stay in shape, gave a long interview to Jackie MacMullan about getting in shape and then returned to court looking heavier than before. It’s not even worth discussing him—he won’t be in the league in 5 years, if not sooner. Hopefully we can rope in a sucker to give up value for him first. Verdict:

Gone

Isaiah Thomas

Hey I want to be here LONG term!!

Hey I want to be here LONG term!!

He came to the Celtics after being cast aside by two teams in 10 months, which is a big red flag given his production. So, I’ve watched him closely for signs that he’s an asshole, and I’m seeing a guy who is always smiling, is the first off the bench to congratulate teammates, who constantly communicates, who seems to be very well liked. My conclusion is that Phoenix mangled this trade deadline about as badly as a team can.

The downside to Thomas is that he’s fairly easy to swallow up with a bigger defender, he can dominate the ball too much, his own D is so-so, gets sloppy with the ball at times, and I don’t love him as a team’s “best player.” The upside far outshines all of that; he’s a microwave scorer who gets to the line better than any Celtics guard of my entire life, and that counts for a lot, especially when there are better offensive players to go with him.

Is a piece going forward or a value asset that came on the cheap? It’s hard to say. Ainge claims to love him, which indicates he’s here to stay. Ainge also claims to have loved him since college—which is a nice sentiment, except Thomas went #60 in the draft and the Celtics drafted Jajuan Johnson at #27 and E’Twaun Moore at #55. You love the kid and went with Moore at 55? Come on, cut the shit, Danny. Verdict:

Short Term

Evan Turner

Nice knowin ya

Nice knowin ya

Do you buy low and sell high on Turner, while he’s still got a year left under contract? He’s pretty well cost controlled for a guy who does everything he does, even if he uncorks a few appalling turnovers a game. His value around the league is no doubt close to nil, but Danny should be making calls. Who wants him? Evan is one of those weird players who is more useful as a 30-minute guy than a 16-minute guy (which is part of the reason his Pacers stint was a disaster), but at the same time if you’re playing him 30 minutes a game, where are you? The answer: the 8 seed, at best. The Celtics have higher aspirations than that. The Kings don’t. My suggestion is to shuttle him and the Clippers pick off to Sacramento for the likes of Stauskus, and let him spend year mumbling to Cousins about how much better it is in Boston. Sorry, Evan. Verdict:

Gone

Gerald Wallace

"Make sure those checks clear"

“Make sure those checks clear”

Who cares?

Gone

James Young

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws star

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws star

There’s nothing to discuss—he barely played, the team isn’t cutting bait on him now, and he has no value. So he’s staying. Verdict:

Short Term

Tyler Zeller

Easy peasy

Easy peasy

He’s been one of the nicest surprises of the year for the Celtics, but I’m not sure I want them to be the one to pay his next contract. That’s coming due. I like him at maybe Nick Collison money, but he may be getting more than that. Better to look for someone who defends the tin and ideally the pick-and-roll better. There are too many better centers on the market and in the draft to think Danny is sticking with Zeller—unless the saturated center market actually means Zeller has to a accept a lower rate. Verdict:

Gone

Discuss all things Celtic and NBA related at www.celticsnuts.com

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Celtics Mid Season Grades

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As we all take a breath and try to make sense of a first half of the season that saw the team trade its franchise player, multiple roster moves, a shift in philosophy from the head coach, and countless games that came down to the last minute of play, its a good time to grade the players that remain. Its impossible to tell who will be in the teams long term plans, but we must grade on what we’ve seen on the court to date. Players will not be graded on a curve, so no quarter will be given for youth, inexperience, or expectations…..what we saw is what they will be graded on.

Brad Stevens: B

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Its been a wacky season for the young second year coach with no previous NBA experience. The season started with an all star point guard on the roster and a few capable vets and low expectations. For whatever reason they decided that trying to emulate the Suns from last season was a good idea, which turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. They blew big leads, made very few in game adjustments, and in general looked like a team without proper NBA leadership. Then they traded Rondo, Stevens declared that he “had to get better at coaching NBA basketball” and things took off from there. The subtraction of Rondo and Green turned out to be a positive for the Celtics, who carved a new identity as a hard working defensive team that grinded out wins. They began to make in game adjustments (especially at halftime) and the leadership of Brandon Bass, Teshaun Prince, and Marcus Thornton gave the team a winning west coast road trip and a signature win over the 43-11 Hawks heading into the All Star Break. Stevens was on a collision course with a failing grade and a trip to ping pongville, but he hung in there and made the team his own. The future looks bright at head coach.

Avery Bradley: B+

Bradley points to the team's MVP

Bradley points to the team’s MVP

After a rocky start, Bradley found his stride after the Rondo trade. He was outstanding at hitting mid range jumpers, corner threes, and generally being the teams most valuable offensive player. 13/2 with 35% from 3 is getting the job done on a team projected to win 26 games WITH Rajon Rondo on the club. He’s under contract for about 8 million per for the next 3 years, so its pretty safe to say he’s part of the future, although his salary wouldn’t deter the team from trading him to upgrade the overall talent on the roster.

Jared Sullinger: C+

Get out of my way or I'll sit on you

Get out of my way or I’ll sit on you

Like the team, its been an up and down season for Sullinger, who has added a three point shot (28%) to his game, to go along with acceptable rebounding and below average post defense. He probably is what he is at this point, and he’s going to need that three point shot to stick around in the league as a productive player in the long term. When motivated, he is a capable scorer in the paint, surprisingly so for someone as short as he is. 14/8 on 44% shooting is acceptable on a borderline playoff team, but probably a bench player for a quality NBA club. He is signed through next season at his rookie salary of 2 mil. Soon it will be decision time on Sullinger and he’s got lots of competition in house (and maybe the upcoming draft) for his roster spot.

Evan Turner: C+

Yeah, that was me hitting the game winner against the Hawks

Yeah, that was me hitting the game winner against the Hawks

Turner was arguably one of the worst rotation players in the NBA the last two seasons, which is why he ended up in Boston. Ainge took a low risk, high reward gamble on Turner and so far its paid off. He’s not a point guard, but he plays on on TV for the Celtics. This has hurt his statistics, which at 8/4/4 on 42% shooting doesn’t look all that impressive, but he has handled his duties at the point well, all things considered. The biggest consideration being they really don’t have a true point guard on the roster other than Pressey. Signed through next season at 3 mil, and its safe to say he’s not going anywhere, although I’m certain they don’t see him as a long term answer at his current position.

Kelly Olynyk: D+

I can fly!

I can fly!

Been hurt for the last month, but before that it was a hodgepodge of erratic play for the second year forward from Gonzaga. He can’t defend his position worth a lick, but he can shoot, hitting 3’s at a 35% clip, which makes him a valuable player in the right situations. He also has a nice nose for the ball and feel for the game, stuff that can’t be taught or show up in the box score, so its possible he can survive in the league without being able to guard his position. Not many cats in the NBA can accomplish this feat. Signed through next season at 2 mil, so like Sullinger it will soon be decision time on young Kelly. He could be out of the NBA in three years or a sixth man for the Spurs (doesn’t he seem like a perfect fit there?)…..his future is that unpredictable.

Marcus Smart: C+

This ball is superglued to my hand

This ball is superglued to my hand

He has struggled to find his role on the team and in the league. He really isn’t a point guard and has struggled to even initiate offense at times. He’s a streaky shooter who seems to enjoy taking and making clutch 3’s. He’s been surprisingly bad at attacking the basket, which is strange because he was a monster doing so at Oklahoma State. He’s been a capable defender at times, yet has struggled to keep quicker guards in front of him. His future in the league is probably that of a defensive specialist off the bench, and the sooner he embraces this role the better for everyone involved. He also better be able to get the ball to the tin, or he will be almost useless on the offensive end save for the occasional 3 point bomb. Signed for the next 2 years at around 3.5 mil per with team options for the next two years after that. Lots of time for the team to evaluate and for Smart to evolve. One thing is certain….he’s an NBA player and these days thats good enough when picking in the draft.

Brandon Bass: B

Brandon Bass tries to pop a basketball

Brandon Bass tries to pop a basketball

The consummate professional. Shows up ready to play every night, gives 100% on both ends of the floor, and shows a nice stroke from the 10-15 foot range. 9/4 on 47% from the floor is good enough, and its important to note the team really took off when he was inserted into the starting lineup. He’s the perfect role model for the many players on the roster devoid of experience, and they need all the mentorship they can get. Its players like Bass that prevent a team like the C’s from descending into the depths of NBA hell, a horrible place that can take a team years to dig out of.

Tyler Zeller: C+

Easy peasy

Easy peasy

Started off the season preposterously strong on the offensive end, shooting over 60% from the floor for the first 30+ games. He’s struggled without Rondo to feed him 3 or 4 easy baskets a game, and would never be considered a rim protector despite being 7 feet tall. His future in the league is a bench player who can score in the paint and play acceptable defense. What you see is what you get, now and probably in the future. They could do much worse for 2.6 million next season. Another in the long line of players who decision time is coming on like freight train.

Marcus Thornton: A-

Marcus doing what Marcus does.....shoot

Marcus doing what Marcus does…..shoot

An afterthought in the deal that brought Zeller to Boston, Thornton has been the teams version of a microwave, heating up and shooting basketballs as fast as he can catch them. Shooting an eye popping 41% from 3 and playing acceptable defense off the bench. In short he’s been the biggest reason the team has turned its season around other than Bradley. At 27 and signed through the end of the season, he’s not exactly what the team is looking for when they consider their future. But for Thornton the future is now, and he’ll be playing NBA basketball somewhere next season, it just won’t be with the Celtics. That said he’s easily the most exciting player on the roster, which is both a credit to Thornton and a knock on Ainge.

Jae Crowder: C+

I'm the only one left!!

I’m the only one left!!

As advertised. Plays hard, can hit the occasional three, deflects a ton of balls on defense, can rebound a bit, defend and generally provide hustle off the bench. 7/3 on 50% shooting is about the best you can expect from a player drafted 34th overall and making a mill per. Signed through the end of the year and I’m sure the Celtics would love to have him back at the right price.

Phil Pressey: D-

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

What he’s doing on this roster is anyone’s guess. You can’t swing a dead cat in this league without hitting a quality point guard, and the Celtics haven’t been able to find one of them to play backup, and now starter, for the better part of the last 6 years. 27% from 3 just ain’t gonna cut it in this league when your 5′ 8″ and turn the ball over way too much. If there is one thing Ainge should be able to do over the next offseason its find an actual NBA rotation point guard for the roster. He doesn’t have to look far, and if pressed I could probably find a few guys in the local YMCA’s that could duplicate Pressey’s contributions.

Tayshaun Prince: INC

It was fun while it lasted

It was fun while it lasted

I want to give him an A+, but he just hasn’t been here long enough and will probably be gone at the trade deadline. Its a shame because, like Bass, he has been a model NBA player and really provided a spark for the team in the short time he’s been here. If he’s auditioning for a spot on a contender’s roster, the results couldn’t be better. Has a great feel for the game, has a nice midrange shot, leads by example and shows the experience of a champion. He will be missed, and its a shame the team couldn’t get their mits on him four years ago or they might have won another NBA title.

James Young: INC

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws

Full disclosure: I thought Young was the worst player among those likely to be drafted last season and said so on www.celticsnuts.com so I’m obviously biased. He’s spent most of the season hitting threes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL and actually asked to return there when he wasn’t getting time with the big club. I’m not sure thats the stuff NBA legends are made of, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, he did light it up against the horrible competition up north. His future in the league is a left handed Marcus Thornton and time will tell if he can get there. He’s young, and the team has him under control for the next 4 years at around 1.2 mil per. If I was to guess, if he makes it in the league it won’t be playing of the Celtics.

Gerald Wallace: F-

All the way to the bank.....

All the way to the bank…..

Thanks for those draft picks.

So thats where the team stands grade wise with a 20-31 record and one game back from the 8th spot in the playoffs as the second half of the season begins next week. Discuss all things Celtics at www.celticsnuts.com

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NFL Championship Sunday Gambling Picks

For all the marbles, and hopefully cash for the faithful

For all the marbles, and hopefully cash for the faithful

After a divisional weekend that saw the faithful taking 3 units from The Man, we head to Championship Sunday, where the two conference favorites try and make the grand daddy of football in the house that Jerry Jones built. These lines seem to be right on the money so it will be a tough road to navigate for those who like to put their money where their mouth is. But now is not the time to hesitate, so without any further ado, here are the plays.

Seahawks 7.5 favorites against the Packers, the over under 46. Both numbers seem right on the money, as the Seahawks dispatched the boys from Green Bay 36-16 in prime time on September 4th. Not a whole lot has changed since then, both teams struggled early in the season but found their stride down the stretch with impressive victories against quality opponents. As was the case last week, the health of Rogers will be key, as his mobility is the one quality that sets him apart from the mortals and makes him elite. Nothing that happened last weekend suggested he will be able to regain that mobility and Russell Wilson was firing on all cylinders, especially on third down. If not for a dubious call against Dez Bryant, the Packers might not even be playing in this game and the Seahawks defense looks as impressive as it ever has, making all the big plays at the right time. These teams have played each other only 5 times in the last 6 years, so there really isn’t much to go on past their meeting earlier this season. We’ll play it safe, make a few small plays and hope that history repeats itself.

Seahawks -7.5 for .5 units. Under 46 for .5 units. Rogers under 271.5 for .5 units. Eddie Lacey over 69.5 for .5 units. Will there be a special teams TD? Yes (+150) for .5 units The Seahawks have been strong late in games, scoring on both offense and defense and I expect this to be a close game where the Seahawks get a late TD to cover. Hopefully on defense.

Richard Sherman demanding a play on the Seahawks and the under.

Richard Sherman demanding a play on the Seahawks and the under.

Patriots -7 favorites against the Colts, the over under 54. This is another rematch of a game played in November when the Patriots were really hitting their stride, handling the Colts fairly easily 42-20. The Patriots have won the last 5 meetings, scoring 59, 43, and 40 points in their last three. It appears Belichick and his staff like what they see when facing the Colts defense but the monkey wrench in this game could be the weather. The forecast is for fairly warm weather and rain. The Patriots have always scored well in bad weather under Belichick, especially in snow, while the Colts play most of their games in the comfort of a dome. All signs point to the Patriots here, which makes this gambler very nervous, as when a play seems too obvious it usually is. In that vein we will be betting the Colts and the under here along with some props.

Colts +7.5 (buying a half point) for .5 units. Under 53 for .5 units. The Patriots over 30.5 for .5 units, in what is a hedge play. Longest TD of the game under 49.5 for .5 units. LaFell under 57.5 yards and under 4.5 catches, each for .5 units.
Given the recent past, the Colts should come out with an extra emphasis on defense, slowing the game on offense to give their defense a chance. A shortened game and a high total has me thinking under, and Braden LeFell should get extra attention downfield limiting his receptions and total yards.

We've seen this face quite a few times after playoff games the last decade.

We’ve seen this face quite a few times after playoff games the last decade.

To be honest I actually like the teasers here in any direction as I think neither game will be a blowout, but we’ll go with the Pats -1 and Seahawks -1.5 for 1 unit.

Good luck to all and hopefully we will once again be taking from The Man and add to our coffers.

What its all about

What its all about

Kevon Looney, UCLA vs. Stanford – Highlights

Kevon Looney

UCLA vs. Stanford

01.08.2015

Kevon Looney – #5 UCLA

Here, we’ve got a tough one to pin down, UCLA’s Kevon Looney. Opinions vary as to whether he’s a long SF or a smallish PF. He’s projected to go in the lottery, but he doesn’t really have any scoring moves aside from cleaning up offensive rebounds. Hopefully, we can clear some of this up today.

Looney is probably accurately measured at 6′ 9″ in shoes. His arms are long, but not exceptionally so. He doesn’t have the kind of elite length you look for in today’s NBA power forwards. He appears to be quick but he’s not a fast player, in that he can get by other bigs but he doesn’t have the speed to out-quick NBA small forwards. He jumps well and appears to be an excellent rebounder, though he is a mixed bag when it comes to blocking out.

In the game against Stanford, Looney scored 27 points, mostly off trips to the line. That’s a good thing, as a Leon Powe type who can foul out an entire second team has tangible value in the NBA. He also hit two shots from behind the arc, the form on which was cringe worthy. Looney showed some face up game, creating space with his first step, but the majority of his offense comes from put backs and hustle plays. He showed no real back to the basket game whatsoever and I cannot remember any mid-range jumpers.

The thing that makes Looney hard to pin down, for me, is his production. He’s averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds per game for UCLA this season. Usually, when you get that kind of production out of a freshman power forward, you are looking at a solid lottery pick who has something besides hustle as a calling card. This isn’t really the case with Looney. What you see is what you are getting, at least at this point in time with him. He’s an NBA PF. Any ideas about him guarding small forwards in the NBA is pure fantasy, and his offensive game is so raw that one wouldn’t dream of running him out there at SF.

UCLA plays mainly zone, so getting a feel for what Looney can do for you on the defensive end is practically useless, except for a couple nice help blocks.

Looney’s main attraction should be his rebounding. Freshmen that average 11 per game are rare, even when they are playing for a squad as bad as UCLA this season. He has the knack for getting to the right place on the floor and getting higher than anyone else to get them.

All of this spells bench player, to me. For at least the first two to three seasons as a pro, Looney looks like bench material. He just doesn’t have the offensive game that would allow you to start a player like him. If his game improves to the point where he is as effective as Leon Powe was before tragedy struck, then you are looking at a sixth/seventh man coming off your bench for valuable minutes. Unfortunately, as of right now, that is just a wishful projection.