I took a great deal of satisfaction in watching the Magic beat the Cavs. And, the Cavs can't even say that it could have gone either way. The Magic dominated this game from start to finish. Even the depleted Celtics gave the Magic more of a fight than the anointed ones did. I guess Stern will have to settle for just half of his dream matchup.
LeBron averaged almost 44 minutes per game in the playoffs after averaging almost 38 mpg in the regular season. He also spent the summer playing in the Olympics. He may be young, but even young players have a limit as to what they can do and he looked even more tired than Paul Pierce did in his last game. For such a supposedly deep team they still leaned too much on LeBron and in the end, they went just as far as he could take them and he ran out of gas.
Proving that he is a big baby, LeBron didn't even meet the press and wasn't available for the post game press conference. He said that he had to be alone. He didn't even congratulate the Magic players after the game as is customary. That is pretty poor sportsmanship. Other stars always meet the press afterward and they always congratulate the other team, even though they are all heartbroken about the loss. As much as I dislike Kobe, he still manned up after his loss in the Finals last season and faced the press. LeBron has a lot of growing up to do. It makes you wonder if he will stay in Cleveland or bolt for another team. If he is honest with himself, he will admit that their loss had as much to do with himself as it did his supporting cast. But, one thing is for sure, watching Howard dominate the Cavs' front line makes me appreciate Perk even more.
Now it is on to Beat LA. I think Orlando may have a decent chance of doing so. They were 2-0 against LA in the regular season. Their big front line could create mismatches for the Lakers just as they did for the Cavs and Celtics. Their 3 point shooting also makes it difficult to double players. Charles Barkley picked the Magic to win in 7. He picked them to win vs the Celtics and he also was one of the few to pick the Magic to beat the Cavs. I'm with Charles.
Since the Magic came into the league, I have always cheered for them unless it was head to head with the Celtics. Being a Floridian, they are sort of my home team. But that aside, I am genuinely getting to like this Magic team. They are gritty and play hard and have had to fight hard to make it to the Finals. They were given no chance to beat the Cavs, who rolled through the first two rounds without a loss. They never gave up and now they are headed to the Finals and LeBron and company are going fishing. The multitude of Kobe vs LeBron commercials seem a little silly now. Sorry Mr Stern.
The Philadelphia 76ers have decided on former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan to fill their coaching vacancy. They had been considering Tom Thibodeau, and it is a relief to me that they didn't sign Thibodeau. If Thibodeau is to get a head coaching job, I hope it is a western conference team so that he will only face us twice. I believe that Thibs will make a very good head coach and I don't know about you, but I don't want to face a team with his defensive schemes in our same division.
Thibodeau is still in the running for the Sacramento Kings coaching job. Interviews with that team are still ongoing. It would be great for Thibodeau to get his own team, even if it is the Sacramento Kings. But, I am still hoping that he will return to the Celtics for one more year to help us hang banner 18. Danny has said that if Thibodeau isn't offered a head coaching job, then he will have a contract offer awaiting him to return to Boston.
Well, class is out and the Celtics are going their separate ways. Obviously we would hope to be better next season than this since we didn't make it past the second round. There are some things I would hope that the Celtics will work on over the summer.
First and foremost, Rondo needs to work on his jumper. One of the Celtics' weakness this season was when teams would double off Rondo and dare him to beat them with jumpers. Let's hope that Rondo spends a lot of time in the gym working on that jumper and comes back with a reliable shot from at 15-18 ft. This is from a Foot Locker promo, but sounds like he is gets the need to improve his shooting.
Next, I would give Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe and Kendrick Perkins the assignment to get healthy. Pierce was seen grabbing his elbow several times during the playoffs. After the playoffs it was also mentioned that he has bone spurs in his ankles. If they were bothering him during the playoffs, I would hope that he would get them cleaned out over the offseason so they don't flare up again next season. KG's bone spurs were found before the season and they let them go and it came back to haunt them. Ray had a hamstring pull and that will just require rest. KG has had his surgery and hopefully that will take care of the physical problems that kept him out of the second half of the season. With all three of these guys, I have no doubt that once they are healthy they will come into training came in top shape and ready to win another title.
Leon also had his surgery but won't be expected to play until around the All Star break. Hopefully Danny will resign him and he will have the second half of the season to be ready to give the team a boost in the playoffs. Perk once again had some problems with his balky shoulder in the Orlando series. It doesn't appear that he will need surgery but just needs to give it some rest. Perk will be getting married in June and will probably get back to full time training after that. Perk took a big leap in his game after KG went down and another leap in the playoffs. Perk needs to keep working on his post moves and his short jumpers. He's already one of the best defensive centers in the league and he just needs to polish his offense just a little more.
Big Baby needs to realize that he is in a good situation and should re-sign with the Celtics for what they can offer him.
Bill Walker needs to do everything he can to convince Doc to play him more next season. I believe he can be that defensive 3 that this team needs. He has the tools and athleticism and basketball IQ to be a very good player and just needs to get some playing time under his belt to get past all the rookie mistakes.
Eddie House needs to exercise his player option and come back next season. He is instant offense off the bench and proved that he is absolutely deadly from beyond the arc. Plus, in a pinch he can bring the ball up and do a decent job at the point.
Scal won a lot of fans this past season. He stepped in when the team was short handed and produced for the team. First for Scal will be to get some rest and be sure that his head is completely back to normal. After that, he needs to prepare for just about anything to happen. He is now an expiring contract that could be moved this off season or at the trade deadline. He could also stick with the team and continue to do all the little things he does to help the team. We could do a lot worse for a 9th or 10th man than Scal.
After 5 seasons of more of the same, Tony Allen just doesn't seem to get it. Sure, every season is derailed by injury, but he just doesn't seem to improve between the injuries. If he hasn't gotten it by now, unless he gets a brain transplant, I don't see him getting it this season. In my opinion, the best assignment I can give Tony is to get used to playing for a new team. That is, if Danny can find someone who wants him.
Gabe Pruitt has shown flashes of potential but can never quite make it into the rotation. Gabe needs to give Summer League his best shot to show that he can play. If he doesn't impress there, it is doubtful that we will see him on this team next season.
As for Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury, their best bet is to try to find another team. They didn't quite work out as expected. I think Marbury could help if he is willing to come back as a back up to Rondo and continue to be a team player, but I expect he will be looking for more money and more minutes and a possible starting role. Mikki? Well, he is a great teammate and a good locker room guy but just didn't seem to fit. He has said that he wants to come back but I think Danny would be best to look for another free agent to fill this slot.
For Tom Thibodeau, I would give him the assignment to come back to the Celtics. I know he has paid his dues and really wants a head coaching job, but I'd love to have him for another season to get one more championship. With a healthy team and Thibs' defense, they have a very good shot at it.
As for Danny, he has the biggest assignment of all. He needs to find a back up center, a defensive small forward, and a back up point guard who will fit this team and get them back to the Finals. Since the Celtics' only draft pick is #58, I don't see much help coming from there. The Celtics are already over the cap and have very few assets to deal with in trade. He will need to use the MLE wisely and depend on players signing for the veteran's minimum to fill out the roster. He also must try to re-sign Big Baby and get an extension done for Rondo. Last summer he dropped the ball by signing Patrick O'Bryant and letting Chris Anderson get away. His midseason reinforcements also left much to be desired. This is a make or break season for Danny because the window is getting smaller for the Big Three and if Danny doesn't get them a supporting cast, they could end up playing way too many minutes and run out of gas like they did this past season. Let's hope that Danny is up to the task.
As we plunge into the off season, there isn't a lot of Celtics news and probably won't be until after the playoffs are over. Then we will get into the draft, summer league, and free agency. But for now, there is plenty of time to settle in with a good book and I'd like to recommend some that I have read and enjoyed.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY by Red Auerbach and John Feinstein, Little, Brown and Company; 2004.
In more than 50 years with the green and gold, Auerbach collected countless friends, admirers and stories. Now 86, he’s forgotten nothing and has an opinion on everything. These great storytellers make this book so effortless to read that you can almost hear Red reciting each line and smell him lighting up that famous cigar.
DYNASTY’S END – Bill Russell and the 1968-69 World Champion Boston Celtics by Thomas J. Whelan, Northeastern University Press; 2004.
Thomas J. Whalen chronicles Russell's memorable last season and the Celtics' dazzling triumph. Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s and Boston's own turbulent and bitter struggles with race, he tells the fascinating story of how an improbable championship team overcame poor health, indifferent fans, disruptive personnel changes, and internal morale problems. Whalen recounts how Russell transformed the game of basketball during his remarkable career and revisits the outspoken superstar's conflicted relationship with Boston. He also tells why the Celtics, the first team to break several NBA color lines, failed to attract a loyal following among the city's largely white sports fanatics and press corps
SECOND WIND (The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man) by Bill Russell and Taylor Branch, Random House; 1979.
Bill Russell takes you back to his childhood and guides you through all of the influences in his life that molded his opinions and persona. He takes you though the pains of racism and his struggles to find himself both in and outside of basketball. The path he takes from rural, segregated Louisiana to media superstar is a very fascinating read. Along with his personal struggles and victories, he gives you some keen insights into his Celtics teammates and the camaraderie that they shared. Bill Russell like you have never seen him before. I just finished this book and have to say it is definitely worth the read.
BIRD WATCHING, On Playing and Coaching The Game I Love by Larry Bird with Jackie MacMullan, Warner Books; 1999.
Just as he stunned opponents with over-the-shoulder passes, killer steals, and jaw-dropping long-range jumpers on the court, Larry Bird now offers one startling revelation after another as he candidly recounts his rise to become one of the most respected NBA coaches in the game today. He tells us for the first time what really happened in "Celtics Land" after he retired and why he chose Indiana for his first coaching job. He shares a last look back at the Celtics dynasty, at Robert Parish and Bill Walton, at Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson. He describes his last duels with Magic Johnson and with Michael Jordan, as well as his experience playing on the great 1992 Olympic team ... Knowing that it was the last time he would be sharing a court with them. But Bird Watching is more than a book about basketball. Recalling his own painful shyness, battles with the press, and the demands of stardom, Bird also talks about the world he never left behind: drinking a beer at Jubil's bar in French Lick, doing his own yard work, and remembering the lessons he learned from his hardworking mother. I think my favorite story in this book is from the Olympics. He was telling how they could never get out of the hotel without being mobbed and so he rarely ventured out. Then one day he was shown a back door and he would sneak out to watch the USA baseball team play and he was just one of the crowd there.
THE LAST BANNER - The Story of the 1985-86 Celtics, The NBA’s Greatest Team of All Time by Peter May, Simon & Schuster; 1996.
Whether the 1985-86 Boston Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time is certainly debatable, but there is little doubt they were the best of a long line of outstanding Celtic squads. May (The Big Three, S. & S., 1994) argues here that although Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge formed a potent starting five, it was the bench, led by Bill Walton, that lifted the team to championship status. As for the team's place in history, he contends "they played at a time when the competition was never better and the game was not yet contaminated by the ravages of expansion." How such a surfeit of talent came to be assembled and blended in a cohesive unit makes for an interesting study.
THE BIG THREE by Peter May, Simon & Schuster, New York; 1994.
The Boston Celtic front line of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish dominated the National Basketball Association with three championships in five years in the early 1980s. May, a veteran Celtic beat reporter, examines each player's career from youth through college and into their NBA years. Though he relies to a great extent on game accounts and basketball anecdotes, May tries to probe beneath the surface. Not only does he reveal the private side of each player's personality, he also examines why they were able to work so well as a unit.
Top of the World: The Inside Story of the Boston Celtics' Amazing One-Year Turnaround to Become NBA Champions by Peter May, 2008.
In yet another offering by Peter May, you can read the inside story of the way last year's championship team came together and stayed together to win it all. Just as The Last Banner did for the 1986 team, May tells the story of how the 2008 Celtics were assembled and paints a brief background sketch of coach Doc Rivers and of each of the key members of the title squad. The author takes the reader through the highlights of the team's regular season and describes Boston's playoff march. Very good read.
DRIVE - THE STORY OF MY LIFE by Larry Bird with Bob Ryan; Doubleday, New York; 1989.
The Boston Celtic forward addresses his troubled past, discussing his teammates and telling basketball anecdotes in the process. This book gives you a look into the private Larry Bird that you rarely see in the media or in the spotlight.
THE BIRD ERA - A HISTORY OF THE BOSTON CELTICS 1978-1988 by Bob Schron and Kevin Stevens; Quinlan Press, Boston, MA; 1988.
This is a great book that gives a behind the scenes look at the Celtics during the Bird Years, including the three championships won during that time. Great insights into the building of the 3 championship teams of that era as well as the interactions between the players and coaches on those teams.
REGGIE LEWIS - QUIET GRACE by Craig Windham; ACTEX Publications, Winsted, CT; 1995.
It has a positive,inspiring message, especially for young people (and not just basketball fans). Reggie was not overly-talented,but he made the most of the gifts he had."Quiet Grace" is a wonderful account of his life, from his boyhood in Baltimore to his stardom with the Boston Celtics (It also includes an interesting photo album section.)And "Quiet Grace" lays to rest the rumors surrounding Reggie's tragic death. This is an excellent, fascinating biography.
HIGH ABOVE COURTSIDE – The lost Memoirs of Johnny Most by Mike Carey with Jamie Most, Sports Publishing LLC; 2003.
If you think Tommy Heinsohn is the biggest Celtics homer, you never listened to Johnny Most. Every opposing player was the enemy and every Celtic was a saint. This book is a tribute and a memoir of one of the great figures in Celtics History. Who can ever forget the call.. "Havlichek stole the ball! Havlichek stole the ball! It's all over!!"
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - On and Off the Court with the 1990-91 Boston Celtics by Jack McCallum; Summit Books, New York; 1992.
For any Celtics fan of the Bird Era, this book opens doors that would have otherwise have stayed closed: we get to see the biting yet inclusive humor of the aging C's, especially McHale, as well as the overall intelligence of the team that produced a slew of future NBA coaches and GM's. This was a team to be admired and maybe even loved, despite their lack of a championship. This is the book I am reading right now. I have just read how instead of having veterans against kids or green/white teams in practice, they used to play blacks against whites. A very interesting read. This is the year I got to see the Celtics in person and so this season is special to me, in spite of not winning a championship.
Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel.
Pistol Pete has always been one of my favorite players. Pistol is more than the biography of a ballplayer. It's the stuff of classic novels: the story of a boy transformed by his father's dream--and the cost of that dream. Even as Pete Maravich became Pistol Pete, all the Maraviches paid a price. Pistol is an unforgettable biography from Press' discovery of basketball to take him away from his dreary life to Pete's personal demons to his untimely death playing the game he loved. By telling one family's history, Kriegel has traced the history of the game and a large slice of the American narrative. Definitely a must read for anyone who loves the game of basketball.
Next up on my reading list are Maravich by Wayne Federman, Marshall Terrill, and Jackie Maravich; Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile? by Tommy Heinsohn with Leonard Lewin; and Bob Cousy - the Killer Instinct by Bob Cousy with John Devaney. I'll try to report in on them as I finish them.
Way back in 2004, not many Celtics fans felt that Kendrick Perkins would be the starting center on a championship team. Perk has been my favorite player from the time we drafted him and I have been telling people since then that Perk would be one of the top centers in the league one day. I took a lot of flack for those beliefs back then. The most common comment I got when i would express my belief that Perk was good enough to start on a championship team was that he would be a backup on a good team but just would never be anything more.
Back then, it was the crack staff at PerkisaBeast and myself and a few others who truly believed that Perk would be something special. Here are a few quotes from my early writings on this blog.
It is no secret that the center position is one of the hardest to fill with a dominant player. It is also one of the most crucial spots to fill. Where do the Celtics stand as far as their big men? Do we have a center who has the ability to dominate in the middle? I believe we do. In my opinion, Perk is the key to our making the playoffs and to the Celtics becoming a contender once again.
Perk has made himself into one of the toughest players on the Celtics and in the league. His work ethic is second to none and each year he improves his game in some areas. Center is one of the toughest positions to fill and the Celtics have filled this position with a very tough rebounder and shot blocker. He gives the Celtics something they haven't had in many years, and that is an enforcer. With more playing time and some tutelage from Clifford Ray, I believe that Perk can establish himself as one of the premier centers in the league.
Who can forget the game last season when Pierce was having an off game and seemed to be slacking off and Perk got in his face and told him to pick it up and play? This kid is not only going to be a dominant center but will also be a leader on this team. The fact that Pierce did pick it up during that game shows that even the veterans are willing to listen to this hard working kid because he has put in the effort and his work ethic has given him credibility with his teammates.
I see some parallels between Perk and Cowens. First, there is size. Perk is 6'10" and Cowens was 6'9", somewhat undersized for a center. Both make up for any lack of size with hustle and hard work. No one has a better work ethic than Perk and Cowens was a very hard worker as well.
I have always felt that Perk's work ethic set him apart. Even when he wasn't playing, his work ethic showed in the way he remade his body from his first season to his second. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. These pictures were taken over two years apart: one from a December 13, 2003 game in his first season, and the second from November 25, 2005. He is striking almost identical poses in the photographs with his hands on his hips and his elbows flared as he prepares to take a free throw. These pictures show the big difference in Perk as he worked very hard to remake his body. And keep in mind that he had already started working out and had come a ways already before the first picture was taken.
Fast forward to last season and Perk proved to most of his doubters that he was indeed capable of being the starting center on a championship team. His value to the team was evident in game 5 of the finals when he sat out with the shoulder injury. In games 1,2,3,4 and 6 of the Finals, the Lakers big men couldn't do anything in the paint and were all but invisible. But, in game 5 without Perk to defend the paint, both Odom and Gasol had their best games of the series.
But, still some people were quick to say that KG was the factor that made the difference in Perk's play and without the Big Ticket, Perk would not be able to hold his own. Now, on to this season. After KG went down, Perk had to be the man in the middle for the Celtics and he proved more than capable of doing so, even without KG. In the playoffs, Perk was easily the most consistent player for the Celtics and he won over most of the remaining Celtics fans who still doubted him before.
Perk proved as he battled Dwight Howard to a virtual standoff that he is one of the top defensive centers in the league. He has also developed a decent offensive game and will continue to improve in both areas in the years to come. Perk is still just 24 years old and has improved season by season. And I have no doubt that he will come back even better next season.
To all those who told me way back in Perk's early years that I was crazy and that Perk would never be more than a back up center on a good team, I take pride in saying "I told you so."
With the playoffs still going on without them, there isn't a lot of Celtics news out there. Hopefully, Danny is on the phone trying to rebuild the bench so that the starters won't be worn out by the playoffs next season. We will have either trades or signings to talk about as the summer goes by. There will also be the Orlando summer league to discuss a bit later. But there are a few things going on in the Celtic nation to talk about.
The big news is that KG finally had successful surgery. The good news is that they found no structural damage and they didn't have to touch the tendon. All they had to do was clean out the debris and bone spurs and he should be good to go in about 6 weeks. One thing that caught my attention in the Globe report was this statement:
The spurs in Garnett's knee were detected before the season but were not considered serious enough to warrant surgery.
They knew about the spurs before the season and let them go. I think those spurs were bothering him quite a while before he went down with the tendon injury in February. I remember the questions about the sleeve he suddenly started wearing early in the season and there were mentions of knee pain from time to time. It is entirely possible that the spurs and the fact that he had to move differently caused the tendon problem. And once the tendon was strained, the spurs kept the tendon from healing.
Now the question I have is this: Doc mentioned that Pierce was playing with bone spurs on his ankle and may need surgery. We haven't heard anything about any surgery to clean out his bone spurs. It would seem to me that they should learn from this season with KG. When you have bone spurs, it is best to get rid of them because sooner or later they may cause problems. It seems that it would be best for Pierce to take care of these now and not take a chance on them flaring up mid season or even worse, in the playoffs as they did this year. It is something to think about and keep an eye on.
Several sources close to the situation said yesterday that Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo would not participate in USA Basketball's minicamp in Las Vegas because of Perkins's wedding July 25 in Houston.
The USA Basketball mini-camp includes a meeting July 22, practice July 23-24, and an intrasquad scrimmage July 25.
Perkins is marrying his longtime girlfriend and Rondo is one of the groomsmen.
Perkins and Rondo originally thought the minicamp was in June, but after recently learning the actual date, they had representatives contact USA Basketball to turn down the invitation.
By not participating, Perkins and Rondo will have a hard time getting serious consideration to play for the US in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey and the 2012 London Olympics.
Celtics forward Glen Davis, however, will take part in the minicamp despite being invited to Perkins's wedding.
It would have been nice for Perk and Rajon to be considered for the next Olympics. And the fact that they were invited shows just how much respect others have the Celtics young starters. But, on the other hand, with the injuries they both finished the season with, it is probably better that they have another commitment.
It is hard to tell how much the wear and tear of playing in the Olympics affects players in the regular season. We may be seeing some of that come into effect with LeBron and Kobe. The regular season takes a lot out of players and if they came into the season already tired, they may run out of steam by the end of the post season. Big Baby plans on attending the tryouts and if he stays with the Celtics we may get to see for ourselves what that extra wear can mean even for a young player.
I send my congratulations and best wishes to Perk and Vanity on their upcoming wedding. Way to go Perk!!!
Now that things are quieting down here at home I am hoping as the off season gets going to take a look back at the season, to take a look at the players who may be leaving, the players who should be coming back, the Celtics' free agents and some free agents the Celtics could be looking at. We'll also talk about the summer league and the draft and other topics as they come up so even though the season is over, there is still plenty to talk about so be sure to check in at LOY's Place for the latest news and rumors from the Celtics and all around the NBA!
Well, the Celtics are out of the playoffs and healing up so they can take back their title next season. Larry Bird's Celtics won in 1984 and then skipped a year to win in 1986. I expect this group to come back hungry and ready to bring home #18 next season. Speaking of Bird's Celtics. It was May 26, 1987 that one of my favorite plays ever took place.
In Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and with Boston down by one point to Isiah Thomas' Pistons, Isiah lofted a soft inbound pass to Bill Laimbeer but Larry Bird intercepted the pass for the steal. While he was falling out of bounds, Bird turned and passed the ball to Dennis Johnson, who was cutting to the basket and who layed the ball in with one second remaining. One of my favorite things about this play is that while everyone else was celebrating, DJ immediately turned to play defense on the inbound pass even though the Pistons wouldn't have time to get a shot off. I'll let Johnny Most describe the action.