Posts filed under ‘Basketball’

Doc Rivers ‘endorses’ Obama

After guiding his team to an NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussed the victory on WEEI-AM (850). Asked whether his team could repeat, Rivers invoked a motto associated with Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president.
Rivers and Obama are two African-American leaders who have enjoyed success this year. The Celtics, during their history, showed progressive thinking on race relations. Thanks to the late team patriarch Red Auerbach, the Celtics became the first in the NBA to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper) and hire an African-American coach (Bill Russell). This commitment to equality will prove a more enduring testament to Celtic excellence than Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers (though it was remarkable to watch the 131-92 romp).


June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm 2 comments

Twelve fourth-quarter points

That’s what damaged the Celtics’ chances in an 88-77 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of their Eastern Conference playoff semifinal series. Cleveland star LeBron James impressed with a 21-point night as his team evened their series at two games apiece. Boston still can’t win on the road (0-5).

What’s more vexing is the way commentators ooh and aah over James’ baskets. It’s like they’ve never seen someone make a layup before and hang from the rim for two minutes. If the Celtics can solve the Cleveland defense and silence James and his sycophants in the remaining games of this series, they can celebrate for doing all basketball fans a favor.

May 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

A Bruins, Celtics playoff panorama

Boston’s basketball and hockey teams can sure generate postseason excitement after years of missing the playoffs. The Bruins haven’t made the postseason since 2004, while the Celtics last visited the playoffs in 2005. Now both teams are back.

They’re also looking at championship droughts (relatively speaking, of course, given the Red Sox’ 86 years between titles). The Bruins’ most recent Stanley Cup came in 1972, while the Celtics won their latest National Basketball Association championship in 1986. Can these teams buck precedent?

For the Bruins, they will have to evoke the resilience of last year’s Red Sox, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series. The Bruins trailed the Montreal Canadiens, their Eastern Conference quarterfinal foe, by the same margin before winning 5-1 on Wednesday night. Two more wins for the eighth-seeded B’s, and they can stun the No. 1 Habs.

The Celtics have a heap of high expectations to fulfill as they begin the playoffs. For a team that won just 24 games last season, they sure bounced back quickly, with an NBA-record 42-game turnaround in 2007-08. Can the Celtics’ new top trio, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett — none of whom has won a championship — continue to delight fans in the postseason? We’ll find out as the top-seeded Celtics begin the playoffs against the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm 1 comment

Boston Celtics: Overrated or unappreciated?

It’s hard to have a 20-3 regular-season record thus far and consider yourself unappreciated, but the Boston Celtics might have a case here. The postgame analysis team on CSNE dismissed the Celtics as not quite there yet after the team lost a close one to the Detroit Pistons, 87-85, Wednesday night.

What the Celtics should take from this game is the three-pointer from Ray Allen that tied the score at 85. Yes, Paul Pierce missed a shot that would have given his team a lead, and yes, the team subsequently fouled former Celtic Chauncey Billups, allowing Billups to make two game-winning free throws. And yes, the Celtics held numerous leads in the game that got whittled away by the persistent Pistons.

Good teams win close games, but the Celtics are showing that at least they can get in close games with good teams like the ones they have lost to: the Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Pistons. Analysts should consider this before being so dismissive of a talented team that is still learning to cohere.

December 20, 2007 at 6:52 pm 6 comments

Patriots, perfection, and provincialism

The New England Patriots are the only undefeated team left in the National Football League this season. The Boston Celtics are similarly sizzling, having won their first seven games in the National Basketball Association. What does this perfection mean for New England and its crazed sports fans?

Everything and nothing.

Once, New Englanders had a sense of history. Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy chronicled this sense in his Red Sox skald “The Curse of the Bambino,” when he wrote that Sox fans who remember the Impossible Dream season of 1967 could recite what happened in a decisive inning against the Minnesota Twins faster than they could with their own phone numbers. The hegemony of history permeating New England soil has informed its sports fans, so that in this area, at least, Boston arguably remains the Athens of America.

Unfortunately, New England is losing this historical awareness. The recent successes of both the Patriots and Celtics have led fans to display an embarrassing amnesia. Patriots fans are ready to award a fourth Super Bowl title to head coach Bill Belichick, while Celtics fans think that seven regular-season games are enough evidence to confer a championship.

The Patriots’ performance thus far is impressive, but other teams have matched and bettered it in recent years. The Indianapolis Colts went 9-0 in 2005 and 2006, while the Denver Broncos went 13-0 in 1998. The Celtics look equally formidable, but they need to maintain this level over an 82-game season. Final records do not necessarily mirror early returns; the 1993-94 squad began with a 6-2 record and ended with a 32-50 mark.

Nor does a strong regular season guarantee postseason success. The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers both took 15-1 regular-season records into the NFL playoffs and failed to reach a Super Bowl. The Dallas Mavericks had the best record in the NBA last season, but still lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. In a time when the playoffs consist of many teams and many rounds, it is easier for regular-season royalty to miss a championship coronation.

This should not detract from the accomplishments of both this season’s Patriots and Celtics. Patriots fans may wonder whether the hardly-halcyon days of unfortunate first-round draft picks and last-place seasons really happened, while Celtics fans have a talented trio to celebrate in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The successes of both teams are welcome. But New Englanders need to remember what Garnett said after the Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers, 91-69, on Wednesday to stay perfect. “We don’t want to disrespect the history of this great franchise,” he said. “I think we’re a lot more in tune to what we’re not doing well versus the things we are doing well.” Wise words for fans as well as players.

November 15, 2007 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

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