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Irish Coffee: The Celtics Vengeance Factor

11.30.10 at 11:48 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

I love vengeance movies. Good (“Kill Bill”) or bad (“The Punisher”). I’ll watch it. And I’ll love it.

So, in the wake of last week’s Celtics victory over the Raptors and in the face of Tuesday night’s rematch against the Cavaliers, I got to thinking: How good are the post-Kevin Garnett-trade C’s at exacting revenge?

Examining the Celtics’ record over the last three-plus seasons in rematches against opponents following a regular-season loss in their previous meeting, it’s clear these C’s are pretty damn good at vengeance — like Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” good — especially against sub-.500 teams.

After losing to the Raptors by one on Nov. 21 this season, the Celtics handled Toronto during a nine-point victory in their rematch five days later. It marked their first shot at vengeance of the 2010-11 regular season.

Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Celtics have a record of 26-11 in rematches following a loss against that team in their previous meeting. Their average margin of victory in those 26 wins was 10.3 points.

Against sub-.500 teams during that same span, the C’s are now 9-0 in vengeance opportunities. Tuesday, the Celtics have another shot, as they face a 7-9 Cavaliers club that beat them 95-87 in Game 2 of the season.

The Celtics are favored by seven points in Tuesday night’s game. I’m just saying.

A CAVS TRAP GAME?

There’s no question that Thursday’s Cavaliers game against the Heat means more to Cleveland than Tuesday night’s rematch against the Celtics. And rightfully so, considering LeBron James‘ return to the town he dissed in his “Decision.”

But the Cavs are trying to avoid looking past the C’s, because — based on their comments to the Akron Beacon Journal — they expect the vengeance factor.

”We really took advantage of them playing the night before,” [Cavaliers guard Mo] Williams said of the first meeting against the Celtics. ”We ran, we ran, we ran. It was a new-look team at the time that didn’t know what to expect. I expect to see a better, more prepared Boston tomorrow.”

If the Cavs’ game plan against the Celtics was a secret before, it isn’t any longer.

”One of the reasons we were successful the first time is we got up and down the floor and put Shaq in a lot of pick and rolls,” [Cavaliers coach Byron] Scott said. ”That won’t change. We’ll still try to do that. If we do that like we did the last time, our guards will get wide open shots. We just have to keep it spread as much as possible and get the ball moving side to side.”

Well, then. I guess the Celtics don’t need to videotape any Cavaliers practices.

Oh, and speaking of LeBron’s return to Cleveland, if you haven’t already, read Adrian Wojnarowski‘s piece on James’ egotistical behavior. It’s probably the best insight into the Akron product you’ll read — including gems like these …

[Dwyane] Wade was one of the Team USA players who’€™d watch incredulously as James would throw a bowl of fries back at a renowned chef and bark, ‘€œThey’€™re cold!’€ Or throw his sweaty practice jersey across the court and command a team administrator to go pick it up. Everyone wants James to grow out of it, but he’€™s never showed much of an inclination for self-examination and improvement. And he’€™s never surrounded himself with people who’€™d push him to do so.

The fundamental problem for [Heat head coach Erik] Spoelstra isn’€™t that James doesn’€™t respect coaches — he doesn’€™t respect people. Give LeBron this, though: He’€™s learned to live one way with the television light on, and another with it off. He treats everyone like a servant, because that’€™s what the system taught him as a teenage prodigy. To James, the coach isn’€™t there to mold him into the team dynamic. He’€™s there to serve him.

BLOGGING, LAKERS-STYLE

I’m not sure why I do this to myself, but I’ve been following the 24-part series of profiles about the Lakers bloggers on the Los Angeles Times website.

Here’s what I’ve learned (in vast generalizations): Somehow, they’re all Lakers fans, yet none of them came from Los Angeles. Take one blogger’s story about how he became a Lakers fan as an example:

Born and raised in NYC, I didn’€™t really start watching much basketball until I found myself living in Cambridge, Mass., coming out of college and rooming and living with a crazy Celtics fan during the ‘€™85-‘€™86 season. I got one look at Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, and I was instantly hooked. I eventually found myself living and working in L.A. early in my film/TV career in ‘€™87, ‘€™88 and some of ‘€™89 where my love for the Lakers was truly forged. I have been following the team religiously ever since.

They all hate, hate, hate the Celtics, which I’m sure fuels their objectivity:

Opposing team, player you dislike the most: The Celtics and all things green. Paul Pierce and the ‘€œwheelchair’€ incident will always cause me to gag. More recently, however, Lebron and his now infamous ‘€œI’€™m going to take my talents to South Beach…’€ episode have trumped the hatred I have for the Celtics. I’€™ve never disliked a team more than I do this Heat team at the moment — I hate the Celtics, but I loathe the Heat.

Ladies and gentlemen, your L.A. Times basketball bloggers!

REMEMBERING RUSSELL

Sports Illustrated named Drew Brees its Sportsman of the Year. Back in 1968, Bill Russell became the first NBA player to capture the honor. Here’s what the former Celtics player-coach told SI about winning the award:

“My pride was being part of a team. If Red Auerbach had talked about me being a pioneer, I would not have taken the coaching job. He told me it was a Celtics Job. … Until that time I disdained awards. But they said Sportsman wasn’t about the best athlete or winning something — it was about contributions to society through sports.”

Since Russell, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1985), Michael Jordan (1991), Tim Duncan/David Robinson (2003) and Dwyane Wade (2006)have been named Sportsman of the Year. Brian Scalabrine was robbed in 2008.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James
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