ESPN - Celts celebrate as Pistons shrug - NBA
I didn't catch the entire Celtics-Pistons game at Detroit just the other day as I still don't have a TV set and I'm not inclined to pay for subscription TV anyway. I did manage to catch a few clips, and knowing the histories of these two franchises and some of their players (particularly principals Garnett, Allen, and Pierce on the Celts and Billups, Rasheed Wallace, and Hamilton on the Pistons), some commentary:
* Ray Allen is decaying, and badly. He's showing his age, like, in dog years. Then again, he did have two ankle surgeries over the past few months so full recovery is still possible. On a different note, that's what they told me when I passed the 90kg range.
* Paul Pierce, and the bench, would be the key to get the Celts over the hump. KG as their Prime Mover can only do so much to get them there by setting the mood and doing all the little things, but he can't do everything, especially if he is on the pine saddled with fouls.
* KG for MVP. 'Nuff said. I always liked Tim Duncan's game more, but perhaps managerial ineptitutide has robbed the paying public of what could have been a really dominant force in the NBA.
* Did I just catch Chauncey Billups sourgraping? When do you start consoling yourself over a loss with something like, "this win meant more to them than it did to us." Uh, hello? Isn't this is what your fans pay you gazillion bucks to do? Put your butts on the line and try to win the game every time, every game? Come on - I admire the calm-come-hell-or-high-water approach of these fellows, but it won't cut it when you're looking for an edge. That being said, Billups has the competitive fire to lead this bunch, but unfortunately for him, I think he is buying more into the "Mr. Big Shot" reputation than he should instead of proving it on the court. (And oh, by the way, Mr. Big Shot had a big brain fart in the endgame. Figures.).
* Michael Jordan should shoot himself for trading Rip Hamilton. Of course, him being the legend at all, he'd rather shop Jerry Stackhouse first (and the Wizards did). Rip is the new Reggie Miller incarnate --- only he's cooler-looking when he wears the face mask. And he has a much-more developed mid-range game.
* Maybe somebody should have shown Rasheed the memo that talent won't be enough to get you over the hump. Get it done consistently, and that takes a lot of the mental juice (he may have the hoops IQ, but not the EQ). That said, I think his reputation as a whiner and brawler is much ill-deserved.
* Barring any spoiler job by LeBron and his Cavaliers (all apologies to Dwight Howard and the Magic, it's not your year yet), these guys should have established their rights to go at it for the Eastern Conference crown, and at this pace, I don't think the Western Conference representative would have much of an edge. Should Boston shore up its bench performance when its three stars are underperforming or Detroit hone its killer instinct in the next few months, these two teams would give the favorites --- the Spurs, Mavericks, and Suns --- a serious dogfight for the 2008 NBA crown.
(Other notes: I had an interesting conversation with someone when I asked, "Who is more valuable to Phoenix - Nash or Amare?" I said Nash, he said Amare. My premise was that if you replaced either one with another player at their respective positions, replacing Nash would be a bigger blow to Phoenix as Amare's strengths can be matched by distributing the scoring load among his teammates, while his suspect defense can be filled by a superior defensive player. After all, they did manage with Amare out and Diaw playing center. Marion did have a career year that time.
At some point, the other guy lost the point completely when he said that instead of replacing Nash with another point guard, he would start Leandro Barbosa, move Marion and Amare to the forward spots, and at center start Dwight Howard. I was tickled by the idea, of course, if you're playing fantasy or video games. Naturally the conversation lost all sense at this point. He did stick with the question "If you had to replace one player with another ---" Ah well, that's why sports arguments are more fatal than those in politics.)