I have tried not to get too excited about the Celtics Christmas day matchup, but Lex over at Lex Nihil Novi has gotten me more and more excited for this matchup. If your Laker Hate-O-Meter is getting low, go on over to Lex Nihil Novi for a refill. Some good stuff over there. I think Lex is one of the few bloggers who genuinely hates the Lakers as much as I do.
There is trouble in Lakerland these days. First we hear reports of Bynum complaining about his role and his playing time. Now, Farmar is complaining about his role and his playing time. In the meantime, that supposed Laker defense is quickly disappearing. It takes a special level of commitment to keep up that level of defense. Apparently the Celtics have it and the Lakers don't. They barely squeaked past a very undermanned Knicks team. There have been several articles in the LA papers about how soft they are.
Also, according to the LA papers, the Lakers are obsessed with the Celtics. Vujacic refuses to wear green. They are sitting in their locker room rooting against the Celtics and getting upset when the Celtics win. The Celtics are in their heads. This was in today's LA Times:
Ratcheting up the anxiety level among Lakers fans is the realization that, as was the case last June, the Boston Celtics are a better team. . . .
Kevin Garnett's ferocity has spread to his teammates. . . .
Adding to the consternation of Lakers fans: Kobe Bryant & Co. have failed to cover the betting line in each of their last seven games. . . .
Jackson is already making excuses for his team and whining about their schedule leading up to their game against the Celtics. Now I read that Gasol may be out for their road trip. There's nothing wrong with him, he is just resting up for having to face Perk and KG.
How far Antoine Walker has fallen. He is one of the more polarizing figures in Celtics fans' conversations. Some love him and some hate him. You have to say this for him, he loved being a Celtic. After he won his ring in Miami, he chided Pierce that if he ever wanted a ring he needed to leave Boston. And then he was traded to the Wolves and played very sparingly and then he was traded to the Grizzlies and never played. Now he has been waived. Danny has already said that he isn't interested but there are quite a few Celtics' fans who would love to see Antoine come back for a third tour of duty. What's that old saying? Third time's a charm? Not so sure that would work in this case.
Rondo has taken his play to another level. For a kid who can't shoot, he has the highest FG% among PG's this season. It really is a shame that he isn't getting more love from the fans in voting for the All Star game. He has proved that he can hang with the best PG's in the league and has even dominated many of them. Rondo has also become the leader on a team with 3 future Hall of Famers. This is illustrated by the fact that in the Hawks game he told KG that he would have to be the one to take over in the 4th and he also told him to relax a little. For KG, relaxing means that he would just be slightly less intense than an atomic bomb. But, it worked and it was KG who led the Celtics to the win in the 4th quarter. The key for Rondo now is to be consistent and prove that he can do this on a regular basis. He is past the rookie wall and sophomore slump and so it should be smooth sailing from here on out.
Perk has also taken his game to another level. He is one of the top defensive centers in the league now. I can point out several articles I wrote waaay back when everyone else was calling Perk a bust and I was predicting that he would one day be one of the top centers in the league. Here is one from August 2006 Here is one from October 2007. And, another from December 2006. And you can search LOY's Place and find many more. I always pointed out the fact that center is one of the toughest positions to learn in the NBA and I knew that with Perk's work ethic he just had to succeed. He just works too hard not to. I always had one ally in my defense of and love for Perk and that was the crack staff at Perkisabeast. Incidentally, Perkisabeast has gotten some love lately as well as I saw Brian from Perkisabeast on Celtics Now on Wednesday. Good job Brian! I am happy that others are now seeing what I saw in Perk all along. In case you didn't know it, I love Perk!
Paul Pierce was named Bostonian of the Year. Pierce stuck with the Celtics and the Celtics did right by him. It reminds me of the old days when Celtics spent their whole careers with the Celtics. That is why the team has so many retired numbers. Guys spent their whole career with the Celtics and not just a year or two. And, I expect Pierce's number to be in the rafters one day as well. I'd love to see him retire as a Celtic just like the old days.
The Celtics continue to play with a bulls eye on their backs. Every team gives it their best shot to beat the Champs. Rondo had this to say after seeing the Hawks give their best shot to beat the Celtics.
After watching the Hawks run at his team like a band of kamikazes, Rajon Rondo [stats] wondered where they would be if they played every game with that kind of passion.
“They’d probably be No. 2 in the league,” the Celtics point guard said. “I’m sure that they’d be a top-five team.
The Celtics are facing a playoff type atmosphere in every game. Teams that are less than average against every other team in the league suddenly become contenders when they face the Celtics. It is amazing how well average teams play when they play the Celtics. It is also interesting to read in this morning's Herald that Doc has finally gotten the Celtics to tone down their trash talking but that every other team in the league seems to be picking up their trash talk.
Celtics face the Bulls tonight. This has the markings of a trap game. An underachieving team that will probably come out like gangbusters to try to take down the Champs, the Celtics coming off a big game in Atlanta, and Pierce less than 100%. Hopefully the Celtics won't take them for granted and will put them away early. I could use a good old fashioned blow out in this one.