Papa Greggy P, or Mr. Popovich to you, decided that today would be the day to buy a young man a nice pony. Mr. Popovich, not being the pony-buying type of man, decided that with his mysteriousness, he’d leave a little bit of love to a helpful waiter in an expensive restaurant, McEwens Memphis. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t just a “little bit of love”. Popovich tasted some fine wine, got a little tipsy, thought his waiter was the man, and left him a whopping $5,000 tip for a pony. Well maybe it wasn’t for a pony – but the dream was there. Anyways, Popovich, known to be a man of few words, and a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, made one of the classiest of moves. Who would of thought he was such a empathetic bro? Or maybe he’s not; maybe he’s just the HIGHEST PAID COACH in the NBA at 55 million denaros. Actually dollars, not denaros.
This was a classy move, Pop. Classy.
– The Doctah
The Bulls beat the Celtics 111-97 on Tuesday to become just the second No. 8 seed to go up 2-0 on a No. 1 seed. The other: the 1993 Lakers against the Suns. The good news for the Celtics: That Suns team ended up reaching the NBA Finals. – Fox Sports
And now a live look in at Celtics fans after Tuesday night’s loss:
It’s one thing to lose the first two games on your home court, but it’s another thing entirely to get outplayed this badly against a team that won only 16 road games all year. After getting outrebounded 53-36 in game 1, Celts coach Brad Stevens made zero adjustments and the Celtics again gave up too many second chance opportunities to a team with a lot of offensive weapons. The rebounding disparity wasn’t as bad (43-38) but stats aren’t going to tell you the story of game 2. The Celtics played their best basketball in the opening minutes, but after that Rajon Rondo, Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez took over.
The Bulls hit a lot of shots, but most of those were open, and it’s not unheard of for a team to shoot 50% from the field and 40% from 3 point range, especially when many of those shots are uncontested. The Celtics are falling apart at the worst time, and are being outplayed at every position. Isiah Thomas is the Celts best weapon, but Rondo is whipping his ass at both ends of the floor. IT’s defensive holes were put on full display last night, as Rondo went for 11 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists and 5 steals. It’s a tough spot for IT to be in, because the Celtics need him on the floor for his offense. While Avery Bradley would match up better with Rondo and stop him from getting to the basket, the Celts need him to put constant pressure on Jimmy Butler. With this series heading back to Chicago, the Celtics may have just played their final game in Boston this year.
Our normal Celtics writer (who predicted the Celtics would win the East) is afraid of putting a voodoo curse on the team, so I’m stepping in to write up the round 1 playoff preview. The negative: my analysis will be based on stats, since I’ve only seen a handful of Celtics games this year. The positive: my pick for the winner of the series will contain no biases.
At some point you’d think that the streak Boston sports team are on would run out, right? The Patriots just won their 5th Super Bowl in the past 16 years and a little over two months later, both the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics are in the playoffs. While the only New England team I root for are the Red Sox (and the Bruins by default), it’s tough to write a playoff preview for your favorite team(s) when they’re not in the playoffs. 49ers and Mavericks, I’m looking at YOU. As a Mavs fan, the only good news we’ve gotten in 2017 is that Dirk Nowitzki is returning for his 20th season next year. Celtics fans have a little more reason to celebrate, as they enter the 2017 NBA playoffs as the #1 seed in the Eastern conference where they’ll take on the #8 seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round. Let’s see how the two teams match up.
First, the schedule:
Game 1 – at Celtics, Sunday, April 16, 6:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2 – at Celtics, Tuesday, April 18, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 3 – at Bulls, Friday, April 21, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 4 – at Bulls, Sunday, April 23, 6:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 5 (if necessary) – at Celtics, Wednesday, April 26 (TBD)
Game 6 (if necessary) – at Bulls, Friday, April 28 (TBD)
Game 7 (if necessary) – at Celtics, Sunday, April 30 (TBD)
On paper, you’d have a hard time believing that this was a 1 vs. 8 matchup. Unless you’re an avid Celtics fan, most of the guys on their team, including some in the starting lineup, won’t stand out to you. Isiah Thomas took the league by storm this year averaging 29.1 PPG, but even their big offseason signee Al Horford can be considered a role player rather than a star. As any fan who has watched the C’s under Brad Stevens knows, you can’t judge them by how they look on paper. Stevens and GM Danny Ainge have relied on building a squad that buys into the team philosophy, and instead of trading scrappy, young guys like Avery Bradley & Marcus Smart for household names, they held onto their core team and the players that remained have rewarded them with a #1 seed.
The Celtics have a deeper team and one of the best coaches in the league, but at times depend a little to much on Isiah Thomas to carry them on the offensive end. While you want IT to get his shots, you have to imagine the Bulls are going to do everything possible (similar to the Hawks last year) to limit his opportunities. The difference this year for the C’s is that their number two scorer Avery Bradley is healthy, and I think he’ll provide some breathing room for Thomas in this series. The keys to this series for the C’s are going to be spreading the wealth around on offense and refusing to let the Bulls play a fast paced game. With Butler, Wade & Rondo, that’s going to be easier said than done.
The Bulls have more star power, but it remains to be seen if that star power is in name only. Jimmy Butler is a bonafide all star, averaging 23.9 PPP, 5.5 APG, 6.2 RPG but the other two big names in the starting lineup are more of a question mark. Every basketball fan will know the names Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo, and Chicago is going to need them to play great basketball if they want to upset the Celtics. Rondo and Wade both know what it takes to win a ring, and Wade in particular shines this time of year, as he averages just under 23 PPG. Rondo has been a career long head case, but the positive for him in this series is that he knows how to handle a raucous Boston crowd.
The key for the Bulls will be rebounding, as they dominated the Celtics during their four game series this year. Chicago outrebounded Boston 195-157 overall, including a 60-29 edge on the offensive glass. If Amir Johnson, Al Horford and other Celtic big men can’t get control of the glass, that means more opportunities for Butler and Wade to score. I think Butler is too talented to be completely contained, so the Celtics might focus on slowing down Wade and limiting Rondo’s ability to get to the basket.
Prediction: The Celtics were 30-11 at home as opposed to 23-18 on the road, so holding home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs is a huge asset for them. To make matters worse for the Bulls, the Celtics have been incredible at home over the last 20 games, going 17-3 in that stretch. The Bulls were pretty pathetic on the road this year, going 16-25, and as someone who has been to the TD Garden during a Celtics playoff game I can tell you that the fans have the ability to severely affect the momentum of the game. I’ve seen this prediction on most posts, but it makes the a lot of sense to me: Celtics in 6.
H/T USA Today, NESN, ESPN
As of today, March 20th, the Boston Celtics are currently 2.5 games games back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the #1 seed in the East (thanks, 76ers). Here are five reasons why I think the Celtics will eventually overtake the Cavs and win the East.
1. Remaining Schedule: With the regular season winding down, the Celtics find themselves in a tight race with the Cavs, Wizards and Raptors for the #1 Seed in the Eastern Conference. A Loveless Cavs team has stumbled against their recent opponent’s causing their #1 seed to become within an arm’s reach of the Celts and other teams. The Celtics currently have the #2 seed, but John Wall and Co. aren’t going to make it easy for them. Luckily the Celtics have an easy climb up the mountain with their remaining 13 Games. Out of those 13 games, 8 are against teams with a record below .500. The Celts also play 10 out of their remaining 15 games at home. Less travel could help conserve energy for the upcoming playoffs, and the Celts are 23-9 at home, compared to 21-17 on the road.
2. Full Speed Ahead: While injuries affect all teams, it is unfortunate that the Celtics haven’t been able to compete all year with a complete team. At the beginning of the year, Al Horford was concussed, followed by a groin injury to IT, and then Avery Bradley was on the shelf with a lengthy Achilles injury. After watching the recent game against Chicago, the full cast played like a dominant force. Defense, Offense, and Marcus Smart rebounding like a mad man showed this team’s full potential. A full roster also helps preserve IT’s body and playing time. He plays the most minutes on the team at 34.1 per game, and is clearly their most important as he leads the team in points and assists. If the Celts are going to have any success in the playoffs, they need Mr. 4th Quarter to be at full strength.
3. The Future Is In Brown’s Hands: I guess not accepting that invitation to the dunk contest really was the right choice, eh Mr. Brown?. Jaylen Brown has blossomed this season into an integral player for the Celts. The silver lining to all the Celtics injuries were that they gave Brown the opportunity to play more minutes and thus grow as a player. The past few months Coach Steven’s penciled Brown in the starting lineup, helping him transform into a major asset for the team. Brown released a statement advising that he bowed out of the Dunk Contest in order to work on his shot mechanics and help improve his standing with the team, and it’s paid off. While he’s struggled over the last three games, he averaged 10.5 points over the previous 10 games, including some key 3’s with the game on the line for the Celts. With Bradley back, Brown’s roll has shifted to a bench player, which is never a bad thing, as it allows Coach Stevens to have an emerging scoring threat on his second unit.
4. Catch Smart If You Can: I’ll admit it; I wasn’t the biggest Marcus Smart guy at first, but this season has really changed my outlook. If I had to pick any Robin to Isiah Thomas’s Batman, it would now be Marcus Smart. He brings toughness and a certain ‘grind and grit’ mentality to this team, and I don’t know where this team would rank in the standings without him. He’s another guy that stepped up tremendously when key players were hurt this season. Danny Ainge viewed him as untouchable at the trade deadline, and that trust is paying off. One of the season long flaws for the Celts has been their rebounding, where they currently rank 27th in the League. Although the numbers don’t show it, Smart has caused chaos under the rim for opponents by continually crashing the boards and making things happen.
5. In Steven’s We Trust: Why are teams successful? Besides spending millions of dollars to make super teams, there are other reasons for success. When I think of the Celtics, one term pops into my head: communication. Steven’s has always been a player’s coach dating back to his Butler days, and the Celtics currently have the 5th youngest franchise with an average age of 24.1. With their fiery play and ball movement, it’s easy to tell Brad seems to have a knack for bringing players together and producing a sensational product. The Celtics need to continue following his direction to finish the season strong and get out of the 1st round of the playoffs, a task they came up short on last season.
~Let’s Go Celtics! ~
Well I’m officially off the JJ Watt bandwagon. After my poor Mavericks and my sweet Dirk Nowitzki lost game 2 last night, JJ Watt decided to literally dance on their graves and twerk or whatever on the court. I’m all for players who play in a certain city rooting for other sporting teams in that city, but this is too far. Nobody dances on Dirk’s grave. JJ is just lucky Dirk didn’t see this or he would’ve demolished him on live TV. What’s JJ, 6’5 275? Dirk takes bigger shits than that. Unfortunately for Watt, he’s now my sworn enemy and I’m going to put the wrath of the Ryan Stink all over him. The one thing JJ Watt doesn’t want is for all my bad luck juju to follow him around this season, but after his cowardly display, I have no choice. Best of luck in hell, JJ Watt.