Celtics defeated by Heat, Doc “probably” returning

Posted May 11, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Celtics

The Celtics had every opportunity to win game five, and were even up 87-81 with 4:23 remaining, but led by Lebron James the Heat closed the game and the season on the Celtics with a 16-0 run and won going away 97-87. Once again the Heat’s ‘big three’ dominated scoring 81 of the 97 points.

Dwayne Wade led the way with 34, while Lebron was right behind him with 33. Chris Bosh added 14. For the Celtics, Ray Allen led them with 18. Kevin Garnett scored 15, and Paul Pierce added 12. The Celtics really struggled in the half court, and couldn’t find anyone that could score. Too  many turnovers down the stretch were their downfall.

With the Celtics season over it is now time to look forward to 2011-2012. In Doc Rivers press conference after the game he said he is “probably” coming back. “I am a Celtic, I love my guys, I love who I work for,” said Rivers. It was a bit surprising to hear Doc already make a statement about his decision about coming back, but this is the biggest question for the Celtics this off season. I believe Doc has one year left in him. The ‘big three’ have one year left together, and I think they will give it one last run next season. They do have some decisions to make before then though.

The Celtics need to first make a decision on Jeff Green and whether or not they want him to return next season. He would be due close to $6 million. Whether or not he comes back will determine a lot as to the Celtics off season approach. They need to decide whether or not he is their sixth man and lead guy off the bench. Personally, I think Green is not suited for a a big city like Boston and play for a large market team, but my gut is that he will probably be back.

The Celtics will also have three free-agents Glen Davis, Delonte West and Nenad Kristic. “Big Baby” would have probably had a lot of offers if he was a free agent last year, but his sub par postseason has really brought down his value. It will be very interesting to see what the Celtics do with him. He could probably start on another team, and there could be a team out there that will offer him a decent deal. My gut is that he will not be back with the Celtics. Same goes for Delonte West, he could easily start on another team and I feel that West wants to start and not back up Rajon Rondo. Kristic is nothing more than a back up at this point, I can’t see the Celtics bringing him back.

As for what the Celtics need, priority number one is a legitimate center. Clearly that has been a position that has been lacking since the Kendrick Perkins trade. That is priority number one. They also need a quality back up point guard that can give Rondo some rest and not force him to play so many minutes night in and night out. Another need that I see is another scorer from the bench. The second unit really hurt the team in the playoffs, and they lacked scoring. Any time of scorer off the bench is necessary.

The ’11-’12 season will be the last run for the ‘big three’ era. I do believe that they have the capability to win a championship, as long as they can stay healthy. As was shown this season in the playoffs the Celtics need to be healthy in order to win. With the addition of a few key role players the Celtics will be primed for one last run at banner number 18.

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Celtics fall to Heat in OT, down in series 3-1

Posted May 9, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Celtics

In a series that continues to be about each teams ‘big three’, game four belonged to Miami’s ‘big three’ as they scored an astonishing  83 of the Heat’s 98 points in Miami’s 98-90 overtime win at Boston giving the Heat a 3-1 series lead. The Heat outscored the Celtics 12-4 in the overtime period, allowing the Heat to pull away.

Lebron James led the way for the Heat scoring a game-high 35 points and adding 14 rebounds. Dwayne Wade had 28 points, and Chris Bosh redeemed himself for his poor performance Saturday night scoring 20 points, including some key baskets late and in overtime.

The Celtics could not get the same production from their ‘big three’ as they did in game three as both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen struggled, shooting a combined 6-22. Paul Pierce did all he could by harassing Lebron on defense all night and scoring a team high 27 points. After probably his best playoff performance ever in game three, Garnett struggled in game four, shooting 1-10 and only scoring 7 points. The difference in game four was he wasn’t getting inside as much and was forcing shots from beyond the free throw line. Boston had an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers, which proved costly.

The biggest question coming in was how Rajon Rondo’s elbow would hold up. It held up better than expected and didn’t limit Rondo as much as people thought. He played 38 minutes, scoring 10 points and adding five assists. Rondo was taken out for the start of overtime as Doc Rivers felt the Heat were just using his defender to help out and double other Celtics. This move really didn’t pay off as the Celtics offense wasn’t in sync at all in the overtime session, and Delonte West struggled running the offense. The Celtics had four turnovers in the overtime period.

Although the Celtics didn’t play particularly well they had their chances to win it in regulation. Rondo got to the basket and missed a wide open lay up with just over a minute remaining. The Celtics had the last shot of the game, but it seemed like the play did not go to plan as Pierce was forced to his left and had to take an off balance fade away. It seemed like the play was for Pierce to get a screen from Garnett to get Pierce free to get to his sweet spot of the right elbow but the screen could not get there in time and Pierce needed to make a play with the clock winding down.

The Celtics age and being banged up definitely had something to do with their performance. Garnett and Allen didn’t seem to have as much jump in their legs down the stretch, particularly Garnett. Pierce and Allen each played 45 minutes, while Garnett finished with 41 and Rondo 38. Coming off of such an emotional and physical game Saturday night and only one day of rest, playing this many minutes was not the ideal situation for the Celtics and it caught up to them. The Celtics are at their best when they push the tempo and get things moving quickly and towards the basket. Too many times tonight the Celtics walked the ball up the court and took their time running the offensive. Since the Heat play great defense this forced too many desperate shots to beat the shot clock.

Game five is set for Wednesday night in South Beach as Boston will try and avoid elimination. The Celtics don’t have much time to recover, they just need to dig as deep as they can and play with the same intensity and passion as in game three. With the future hall of famers and great players on the team, you know they will give it absolutely everything they have, it is just a matter whether it is enough to get past a much younger and athletic Heat squad.

‘Big Three’ lead Celtics to game three win

Posted May 8, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Celtics, Uncategorized

The Celtics-Heat series has been all about each teams ‘big three’, and with Miami’s dominating the first two games the Heat took a commanding 2-0 lead. Game three Saturday night was a different story as Boston’s ‘big three’ scored 70 of their 97 points in the Celtics 97-81 victory.

Kevin Garnett led the charge for the Celtics finishing with a game high 28 points and also a game high 18 rebounds. Paul Pierce was right behind with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists. Pierce also played outstanding defense on Lebron James, limiting him to just 15 points. The third member of the ‘big three’, Ray Allen contributed 15 points.

The other major story of the game was Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo who in the third quarter got tangled up with Dwayne Wade and the two hit the floor with Rondo’s arm bending in a very awkward position. He immediately grabbed his left arm in pain and went straight to the locker room. It was diagnosed as a dislocated elbow, and the Celtics training staff popped it back into place and Rondo returned to the game to start the fourth quarter. Rondo finished with only six points, but dished out 11 assists and still was very active on defense despite only playing the entire fourth quarter with basically one arm.

Celtics big man Shaquille O’Neal returned to game action for the first time in roughly a month and a half. Shaq played eight minutes and finished with two points. Clearly, he was playing through a great deal of pain as it was very difficult for him to get up and down the court. He was determined, like the rest of his teammates to give everything that they had because they knew that this was a must win game as they could not afford to go down 0-3.

Getting back to the Rondo injury, many people thought it was a dirty move by Wade and thought he pulled Rondo to the ground. I don’t really think it was a dirty play by Wade, I think both guys just got tangled up and fell to the ground with Rondo’s arm just being in a freakish position. My question to the Heat is, did they even know that Rondo’s elbow was dislocated? In the entire fourth quarter the Heat never forced Rondo to his left, and continued to play well off of him giving him plenty of space to operate. To me it just didn’t make sense how they allowed a guy to play with just one arm and be successful. Now, the question is how will Rondo be for game four? Rondo says he will play no matter what and will jus focus more on the defensive end of the floor, but he is the Celtics point guard, you need a point guard on the offensive end to be able to dish the ball to the ‘big three’ and playing with one arm that might not be the easiest of tasks. You can expect the Heat defenders to now force Rondo to his left and make him use his left hand, it will be very interesting to see how he reacts to that. Making matters even more complicated back up point guard Delonte West injured his shoulder in game three, and although he returned to the game afterwards coach Doc Rivers said his injury was worse than originally thought. Point guard play is extremely important in the playoffs and that position is surrounded by major question marks at this point in time.

The Celtics were a desperate team Saturday night and played with a great deal of passion and emotion. It will be interesting to see how they follow that up tomorrow night in game four. They are a very banged up team, with a lot of older guys. Can they continue to play with the high intensity? or will age and injuries get the best of them? This is a critical game in the series as if Miami wins they will head back to South Beach with a commanding 3-1 series lead with a chance to wrap it up, or the Celtics can even the series making it a best of three. Tipoff is set for Monday night at 7 p.m.

Opinion: NBA officiating at its worst

Posted May 4, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Celtics

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time now, but the first two games of the Celtics-Heat series have really got to me on this subject. The NBA officiating is an absolute joke, and is one of the main reasons why I am more apt to watch an NHL playoff game over an NBA game.

Game one was the perfect example. First of all the Heat went to the free-throw line twice as much as the Celtics did. Having home court, sure you are going to get a few more calls, but twice as many trips to the line, that’s a bit much. Obviously the biggest problem with this game was the ejection of Paul Pierce. Two double-technical’s in a span of a minute ends up having one of the best players on the floor get tossed with seven minutes remaining in a tight game.

How does an official let that happen? You got to know the situation. How can you eject one of the best players on the floor with seven minutes remaining, on a call that wasn’t even deserving of a foul? It just takes away from the nature of the game, forcing one team to play the end of the game without one of their best players.

The double-technical is the biggest joke the NBA has going. It is just the easy way out for the refs to try and take control of a game. 7:53 remaining, Pierce and James Jones- first off, it should have been a flagrant on Jones for basically grabbing Pierce’s whole upper-body. Obviously Pierce got upset and got in his face, any player would have done that. The refs needed to separate the players, no technicals and move on. The refs not wanting to take control own their own, decided to call a double-technical… Just under a minute later, Pierce sets a good solid, legal screen on Dwayne Wade, Wade doesn’t like it and gets in Pierce’s face. Again, instead of just separating the players the refs jumped to the quick conclusion of calling a double-technical and within a minute span Pierce is ejected. What a joke. In what other sports do you see one of the games best players being ejected with seven minutes to go in a competitive game?

Now, I know the refs really had nothing to do with the final result in game two as the Celtics were clearly outplayed but one call really stands out in my mind… Middle of the fourth quarter Lebron gets a pass from Wade and is in the open court flying towards the basket. In the process he steamrolls over Rajon Rondo and slams it home. Personally, I thought Rondo was set and it should have been a charge, but even if you want to argue that Rondo wasn’t set, you have to call a block and give the ball to the Heat under the basket. Is this what the NBA has come to, just allowing players like Lebron to steamroll over guys and not blow the whistle? Below is video of the play, what do you think? Whether it is a charge or not, you still got to blow the whistle and call something.

This postseason more than ever the refs in the NBA have really got to me and now I am even more likely to tune into an NHL game over an NBA game. Furthermore, the NHL playoffs are having one of their best playoffs in recent memory, with many game sevens in round one and just outstanding playoff hockey. Also, did I mention there could be a lockout in the NBA next season? All of this means that the NHL could be gaining many new fans within the next year. Stay tuned.

Thomas steals game two, Bruins up 2-0

Posted May 3, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Bruins

If anyone still had any doubts as to whether or not Tim Thomas should be a Vezina Trophy finalist Monday nights game ended those  as Thomas had one of  the best performances from a Bruins goaltender in recent memory as the Bruins stole game two from the Flyers 3-2 in overtime.

The Flyers actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, including a goal just over 30 seconds into the game. The Bruins kept their cool and tied the game up at two at the first intermission. Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand had the goals for the Bruins. James van Riemsdyk had both Flyer goals.

The game remained tied at two throughout the second and third periods although best teams had their fair share of scoring chances, but both goalies came up big with game saving stops keeping their team in game. Most of those did go to Thomas as the ice was tipped towards the Flyers end for the majority of the game.

Finally, with six minutes left in the first overtime David Krejci scored giving the Bruins a 3-2 win. The goal initially was not called on the ice, but after the first stoppage the referees reviewed it and determined the puck clearly did hit the back of the net. This gave the Bruins the win and a 2-0 series lead, with the series now heading back to Boston for games three and four.

The story of the game was definitely Tim Thomas. He made 52 saves in all including 46 in a row after giving up the second goal in the first period. He made at least three game saving saves in the third period and overtime that kept the Bruins alive. The Bruins did not have as many scoring chances as the Flyers, but they scored when it counted most.

One of the unsung heros for the Bruins besides Thomas has got to be defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, who played 36 minutes of ice time, five more than Zdeno Chara who always seems to be the Bruins leader in minutes played. Seidenberg was forced to play extra minutes because fellow defensemen Adam McQuaid left the game in the first period after missing a check and hitting his face/neck against the glass. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but is said to be back with the team now.

With the Bruins holding a 2-0 series lead and now heading back home to Boston for the next two games, one would think the Bruins are in control of the series. But, just think back to the last series for the Bruins as they dropped the first two games at home, but yet came back to win the series in seven games. A one game at a time, one period at a time approach and they could be skating onto the Eastern Conference finals.

Boston sports notebook May 1, 2011

Posted May 1, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Uncategorized

Sorry I haven’t got around to posting in about a week. I have been busy with end of the year stuff, finals and I actually went back home to Boston for game 7 of the Bruins-Canadians series. I have to say it was the best game I have ever attended in my 15+ years of going to games, and the loudest. I have been to at least one Patriots game for the last 12 years and this Bruins game definitely outdid any of those. A lot has happened with every major Boston sports team in the last week, so now it is time to catch up.

– I will start with the Bruins who finally got past the Canadians in seven games. This was a very entertaining series where every game was exciting from start to finish. The Bruins definitely played much better hockey from game three on. Along with that Tim Thomas stepped up his game as well. He was a little shaky in games one and two, but from game three on he was very sharp and looked like the Tim Thomas from the regular season. The third line of Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly was in my opinion the best line the Bruins had all series long. They were aggressive and fought hard and even scored some big goals like Ryder’s OT winner in game three and all of Kelly’s goals. The first line struggled, but I think a lot of that had to do with the defensive pair of PK Subban and Hal Gil. They are two great defensemen and really shut down the Bruins top line. Although Nathan Horton did score two of the biggest goals of the series, the winner in OT of game five as well as the series winning goal in overtime of game seven. That is what you need from your top line, the ability to score when it matters the most. It was pretty amazing the ups and downs of this series as after game two people were already starting to talk about firing Claude Julian and getting rid of a lot of the core guys and get a fresh start. Then after winning both games in Montreal fans were talking about the possibly of getting to the Stanley Cup finals, then to before game seven where  the talks of if the Bruins were to lose the firing of Julian and a new core group of guys. This just shows the mentality of Boston sports media/fans of “what have you done for me lately”.

The Bruins only had two days between series’ and traveled to Philadelphia yesterday afternoon to take on the Flyers and came away with a very convincing 7-3 win. I would argue that this was the Bruins best game overall so far this postseason. The Bruins second line led them to the victory as they scored four of the seven goals. David Krejci had two goals and two assists, Brad Marchand had two goals and an assist, and Patrice Bergeron dished out three assists. The first line also played very well, led by Milan Lucic who was heavily criticized in the Montreal series. Although Lucic did not record a point he was very active and skated well and ended up with a +3. The Bruins need to get more games like this from him for the remainder of the series. Tim Thomas was again solid in net and they need him to continue to play well. Game two is tomorrow night and the Bruins could really take control of the series with a win.

– After a week off the Celtics open their series with the Miami Heat this afternoon in South Beach. This is one of the biggest hyped Eastern Conference semi-final match ups in recent history as the Celtics “big three” go against the Heat’s “big three”. Lebron James has yet to beat the Celtics in a playoff series, but he may have his best opportunity in this one as he has Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on his side, and doesn’t have to do it all on his own. The Celtics swept the Knicks, but the Knicks were very limited with starting point guard Chauncey Billups missing the final two games of  the series and Amare Stoudemire being very limited with a back injury. The Celtics did get great contributions from Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as each of them shot the ball very well throughout the series. This series might be a little different for Pierce as he will be covering James on the defensive end, so he might be worn out and not be as effective on the offensive end. The key to the series in my opinion is the play of Rondo. He has a big advantage at his position and the Celtics need him to take full advantage of that. There is still some uncertainty with the availability of Shaq, and he still isn’t ready to play but did travel to Miami. The Celtics do need him to come back at some point if they want to win a championship. The bench is another question mark for the Celtics, they need to get more from it. Glen Davis and Jeff Green need to contribute in their minutes to give the starters the rest that they need. Since they are all getting up their in age they cannot be counted on to go 40+ minutes every night. I do think that the Celtics will be able to get by the Heat as Rondo has a clear advantage at the point guard position and they have Doc Rivers, who is one of the best coaches in the league. Prediction-Celtics in six games. 

– This season hasn’t exactly gone as planned for the Red Sox. They struggled mightily the first two weeks, and then went on the west coast and things looked like they were finally turning it around, but since coming back to the east coast and and dropping tw o of three to the Orioles and then returning to Fenway and losing the first two games of the weekend series things aren’t looking as good. It is very frustrating to fans, and the team for their inconsistent start. There is no question there is a great deal of talent on the team, they just need to find the right line up that works and put it all together. The Red Sox are at home for the next eight games so hopefully they can get up going at Fenway. In those games they will host the Angels, who they swept out in California, and then the Twins who haven’t exactly got off to the best start either with all-star catcher Joe Mauer on the DL.

– The Patriots wrapped up the 2011 NFL draft yesterday. I would say they had a decent draft, not great but OK. Bill Belichick is so unpredictable when it comes to the draft and this year was no different, as fans thought that a pass rusher was the teams number one need, but yet didn’t take a pass rusher till the 6th round, and what are the chances that Markell Carter actually makes the roster? The Patriots selected offensive tackle, Nate Solder out of Colorado with their first pick (#17 overall) in the first round. I liked this pick as Solder reminds me of Sebastian Vollmer and he could be Matt Light’s replacement whenever he decides to leave New England. As was expected the Patriots traded away their pick at #28 to New Orleans for a 2012 first round. They will have two first rounders in 2012. The Patriots had the first pick in the second round and there was the spot where many thought they would take a pass rusher, but instead Belichick went with cornerback Ras-l Dowling. I am not very fond of this pick as Belichick has taken (and missed) on a number of cornerbacks in recent years with the exception of Devin McCourty. Next the Patriots went with two running backs back to back in Shane Vereen out of Cal and Stevan Ridley out of LSU. I understand running back was a need, but did they really need to take two back to back? Their next pick might have been the shocker of the entire draft as they selected quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has been scrutinized for his activities off the field and it was a bit surprising that the Patriots would select him. Some say that he could be Tom Brady’s replacement down the road. Mallett does have talent, including a rocket arm, but it still remains to be seen how well he will fit in the NFL. I will say that he has a great environment to learn in having Brady in front of him and Belichick as his coach. The draft was the last of the scheduled league activities that we know of as the players are still locked out. Hopefully this gets resolved sooner than later as everyone involved as expressed the need to have football.

Enjoy the next few weeks as it is a great time to be a Boston sports fan with both the Bruins and Celtics in the playoffs and the weather starting to get warmer so fans can get out to Fenway and enjoy some baseball.

Bruins complete comeback, series tied at two

Posted April 22, 2011 by hannable84
Categories: Bruins

After trailing all game long the Bruins finally got the lead at the most opportune time; sudden death overtime. It was a goal (his second of the game) by Michael Ryder that gave the Bruins their first lead of the entire game and a 5-4 win in Montreal that ties the series up at two games apiece heading back to Boston for game five on Saturday night.

The Canadians scored first just eight minutes into the first period on a goal by Brent Sopel. The first period was completely dominated by Montreal and the Bruins were lucky to only be trailing by a goal at the first intermission. The Bruins scored first in the second period on a goal by Ryder. The game remained tied for only a little under four minutes as Mike Cammalleri scored for the Canadians giving them a 2-1 lead. Just under a minute later Andrei Kostitsyn found the back of the net for Montrael and they were in control of the game. Following the goal, Bruins coach Claude Julien called time out, which in the end turned out to be the turning point in the hockey game.

Boston fought back for the remainder of the second period scoring two goals, sending the game into the third period tied at three. Andrew Ference scored the second Bruins goal, while Patrice Bergeron scored the third. The third period was set up to be the biggest in the Bruins season thus far.

It did not get off to a good start as just under a minute in Bergeron was sent to the penalty box for a hooking penalty and Canadian defensemen P.K. Subban scored giving the Canadians a 4-3 lead. The Bruins would not go quietly as they controlled the play in the third and finally got to Montreal goalie Carey Price as Chris Kelley beat the goaltender knotting the score at four, with just over seven minutes to go. The game was heading towards overtime, but not before the Bruins had to kill a penalty with just over two minutes to go as Dennis Seidenberg was called for interference. Tim Thomas made some big saves to send the game into overtime.

Just less than two minutes into the overtime session Ryder scored his second goal of the game giving the Bruins a 5-4 win. This evens the series at two as the teams will play game five in Boston Saturday night.

The Bruins showed a great deal a determination and resilience not giving up trailing the entire game. After the third goal, and subsequent timeout the Bruins turned things around and were a different team, playing their game and not letting the Canadians take control and force them to play theirs. This game was a great win for Julien. His timeout was definitely a game changer, and he very rarely calls time outs in the middle of games. Also, he stuck to his plan when many people called for Ryder to be benched in favor of Tyler Seguin. His patience paid off as Ryder netted two goals.

Thomas continued his shaky play as although he made some big saves they could have been prevented if he did not allow so many rebounds. He has had a great deal of trouble this series with rebounds. He has improved on his flopping on his back, and not been doing much of that of late, but rebounds are still a huge issue. He cannot expect to keep winning games when he is allowing so many rebounds. He has also allowed his fair share of “soft” goals. I would say the first goal he allowed tonight could be considered a softie. He needs to pick up his play in order for the Bruins to advance, because sooner or later Montreal is going to take complete advantage.

The road team has won every game in this series and the Bruins would like to change that come Saturday night, and now it is a best of three with the Bruins have the home ice.