The Sacramento Kings took a 99-81 beating against the Boston Celtics Wednesday night. It was punctuated by the Celtics’ unselfish play with six players finishing in double figures.
But my eyes were drawn to DeMarcus Cousins, the edgy center for the Kings and the rumor of many a trade bait despite many a denial by the Kings. Of all teams, the Celtics were linked to Cousins’ trade rumors incessantly, all the way up until the point Rajon Rondo was injured. Granted, these were rumors and demands fueled by fans, but they were so pervasive it became a part of the national basketball conversation. So it was fitting to see Cousins in person at the Garden (a chance to watch on TV for me) and evaluate how he’s changed over his tumultuous two years in the league.
Let’s just say there was nothing new to see.
Despite an impressionable stat sheet (17.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg) coming into Wednesday’s game, he tallied a lethargic 13 and 6 against the Celtics. At one point, it looked like Cousins was openly pouting on the court. His body language was terrible.
It’s self-evident that Cousins is a remarkably talented player and likely has a bright future in the league, given the right amount of growth. But you see the emotional baggage he carries on the court right now. The immaturity. The lack of focus.
And there are actually Celtics fans that want to see him play with KG? Please. Not only will it not happen, it shouldn’t. The Celtics rejected the same kind of player and adult project when they dropped Glen “Big Baby” Davis. There’s no need to go down that path again. Not now.
I kept poring over this during the Celtics’ 100-98 double overtime win over the Miami Heat Sunday. Ray Allen, a consummate professional, is now a despised character in Boston. He’s referred to as “Judas Shuttlesworth.” He’s booed as quickly as he’s applauded. And through it all, he still knocks down big shots against the Celtics.
In the season opener Oct. 30, he put up 19 points in a Miami win. Coming off the bench Sunday — and playing significant minutes through the fourth quarter and both overtimes — Allen added 21 points in a losing effort. But he had at least one big 3-pointer to draw the Heat within a point with less than a minute left in regulation.
There’s a reason why Allen thrived in an environment like Boston and with a teammate like Kevin Garnett: He thrives off both the positive and negative energy. It doesn’t make a difference to him whether you hate him or love him, he’s knocking down shots. And that makes him one cold-blooded dude.
Well, really, there’s lots more left to concern myself with. As winter winds down, I’ll be focusing more and more on high school sports content for the Boston Globe. That includes prep hockey and basketball. But if I weren’t such a nut, I wouldn’t be here. So I’m also going to be paying close attention (not reporting or anything like that) to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox. Spring training is a hop skip away and the Celtics are in full swing. The only thing that’s missing is my presence on both topics. I’m sure I can rectify that right here. Stay tuned.
- Interior defense on the Celtics looks different. But you know this. It’s just odd that the perimeter defense looks so different too. Watching Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry can run a pick-and-roll with David Lee and carve up the Celtics so easily — with Kevin Garnett on the floor — is worrisome . That’s probably a bit of an overreaction given the nature of the Warriors offense and their stellar guards. But I just keep imagining LeBron James and Dwyane Wade running that pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh and having a much tougher time trading buckets. Of course, that is if the Heat ever actually run a set offense. Mind you, Ellis dropped 41 points and Lee put up 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Celtics didn’t get off easy.
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I’m one of the few people that immediately said I liked the Boston Celtics’ trade of Kendrick Perkins for essentially Jeff Green. (Let’s forget the other guy for a second.) It was, in my initial opinion, a good deal because of the skills and athleticism that Green brings to the table. What I wasn’t really aware of from the 10 or so games I’ve seen of the Thunder on National TV was the inconsistency in which he plays. First night in green, he looked like a deer in headlights. That was the first warning sign.
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I like to think that I’ve been busy, and that’ why I haven’t posted here. I’ve been thinking about it for the last two weeks — stewing on it really — but I haven’t been able to square away the necessary time to really jot down my thoughts. Even now, I don’t really have the time.
But here are a few things that I just had to write down because, if anything, they’ve dominated headlines and have distracted me from the things I’m actually supposed to be doing.
1.) Carmelo Anthony to New York — I thought this was both a logical trade in the pieces given and taken on both sides and it also ended the “Melo-drama” of the NBA trade season. Great move for New York, despite the loss in depth. Great move for the NBA, to be done with this ridiculous year-long side story.
2.) Celtics trade Kendrick Perkins — I didn’t see that coming. His defensive presence is the only reason the Celtics were the favorites for an NBA title. And if Shaquille O’Neal can’t seem to get healthy, there’s no telling whether the Celtics are even better than the Orlando Magic. I’m waiting to see how the team responds when they’re not playing at 10:30 p.m. EST.
3.) Barry Zito’s back in the rotation — Everybody’s punch line is back in the starting rotation for the San Francisco Giants, with manager Bruce Bochy penciling him in as the No. 4 starter, switching places with Jonathan Sanchez. Madison Bumgarner will remain the No. 5 starter while Tim Lincecum stays at No. 1 and Matt Cain at No. 3. Not a bad rotation. Plus, it’s nice to switch back and forth between lefty’s and righty’s.
4.) Jim Harbaugh has a thing for Alex Smith — The rookie coach of the San Francisco 49ers says, “I very much like Alex. I like being around Alex. I had an opportunity to evaluate the tape, and I think he’s a very good football player. That being said, we’re going to make the decision to bring in the best quarterbacks that we possibly can to compete for the starting quarterback job.” Let’s not play with Alex’s feelings. Dump the sour grapes for something new and flashy. Preferably Auburn in flavor.
I don’t expect to be posting much for the next month as I’ll be all over the high school state tournaments for basketball and hockey in Massachusetts. But I do intend to steal a moment or to drop a quick one-liner every now and then.
Last night’s Lakers-Celtics game, a 92-86 win for the Lakers, was much more than a dog-and-pony show for Ray Allen‘s super-human 3-point shooting capabilities.
(Allen connected on 3-of-8 threes to surpass Reggie Miller for the all-time lead in 3-pointers made with 2,562.)
Allen, without question, was brilliant and gracious. I’ve followed him since his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and I can honestly say there isn’t a more deserving guy to hold this record than him.
But for the game, and the rivalry, there’s a lot to draw upon from last night’s contest. It was, in the best way I know how to describe it, an “I told you so” game. Let me explain.
1.) Only 9 healthy — Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal, Semih Erden, Marquis Daniels and, for shits and giggles, Delonte West didn’t play last night for Eastern Conference’s best team. Is it any wonder why they lost? Erden, the 7-foot Turk who has been playing aggressive and strong in his reserve role, was out with an adductor strain leaving the Celtics thin in their greatest asset — the frontcourt — after notable injuries to Shaq and Jermaine. The whole reason the Celtics picked up Erden and the O’Neals was to compete with the Lakers in the paint. Last night’s loss becomes painfully obvious when the bigs to back up Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins are no longer available and, like last night, get in foul trouble.
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It occurred to me last week that there are a number of ongoing storylines this summer in the Boston sports scene that are of high significance for each team that are still playing out. Some of them have inspired my colleagues to offer their opinions on a number of occassions, while others have been a tad overlooked.
What I want to do is just give an overview of what’s the top sports stories in the Hub right now and then give some link love to my colleagues who have dissected these topics at length. However, it appears not much interest has been given to the Boston Bruins’ Marc Savard contract situation. Whatever. I’ve addressed it anyways.
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I dunno if Shaquille O’Neal can bring the Boston Celtics their 18th banner, but I think his arrival in the Hub is the most interesting story line for Boston sports this summer.
Yes, even bigger than the Red Sox’ possible third place AL East finish and wild card run. Even bigger than the Patriots opening training camp as Tom Brady still has no deal in place. Even bigger than then the collective age of the Celtics growing one year. (Or Rasheed Wallace retiring.) Or the Bruins’ drafting of Tyler Seguin, a.k.a. the savior.
It’s that big.
I guess that’s why they call him The Big Leprachaun now. Or Shaq-rock. Whatever you choose. (I happen to like Shaqachusetts.) He’s huge.
At the end of the day, the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA title despite Kobe Bryant. To shoot 6-of-24 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals is not legendary.
Add to the fact that Black Mamba had horrible shooting games in 4 and 5, and I’m hard pressed to think he deserves to be the NBA Finals MVP. I’ll add my name to the chorus of critics who believe that Pau Gasol should’ve been honored with Bill Russell’s award. Is it so much to ask that the guy with MVP credentials — and not the MVP reputation — stand at the front of the podium for these things?
Case in point: If the Celtics had won, Paul Pierce would’ve more than likely won the Finals MVP. Why? Because he carries the reputation around the league as the Truth, and although his scoring was good in spurts (a la Kobe), he was not the determining factor in any of the games that the Celtics won. On name recognition alone, he was more valuable to viewers and fans of the game. But not for the Celtics.
I think so. So let’s give love to the Spaniard, who is deserving of an award he can now only look at whenever he goes over Kobe’s house.