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Irish Coffee: A Preview of Celtics Previews 10.18.10 at 10:49 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

 

Every publication from here to Los Angeles is rolling out its NBA preview, and the predictions for the Celtics are, well, pretty predictable: They’re old, but they’re deep. They coasted through the 2009-10 regular season, and they’ll do it again. If they can stay healthy, they’ll compete for a championship. See for yourself …

SLAM Magazine: “Get your jokes in about the Celtics while you can. Sure, the Big Three and Shaq Daddy may alternate using the wheelchair Paul Pierce used in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. They probably will take some games off in the regular season, as head coach Doc Rivers did last year to keep the team healthy for the playoff run. And Rajon Rondo’s jumper, though improving, is still broken like the NBA single-game scoring record Michael Jordan would be if he had played in his prime today. That said, this is a team that finished second in team assists and fifth in points allowed last season, and they have seemingly improved as a team overall. No squad in the NBA overcomes their deficiencies like the Boston Celtics, and they are serious title contenders in the 2010-11 season. Don’t say we didn’t tell you so if the Miami Heat cool off, the Orlando Magic disappear and Irish eyes are smiling after another magnificent seventh game between the Lakers and Celtics.”

That points allowed indicator — and, more specifically, point differential – has been a fairly good reflection of the C’s success the last three years. In the 2007-08 season, they ranked second in points allowed (90.3) and first in point differential (+10.2), resulting in a 66-16 record, homecourt throughout the playoffs and an NBA title.

In the last two seasons, during the 2008-09 campagin (62-20) and last year’s regular-season walkthrough (50-32), those numbers slipped.

To put the importance of those stats in perspective, when the C’s finished 24-58 in 2006-07 BB3 (Before Big 3), they ranked 18th in points allowed and 23rd in point differential. Keep an eye on those numbers in the first month of the season, especially considering the C’s brutal schedule through the first few weeks.

Ball Don’t Lie: “The team looks great. Kevin Garnett appears to be the picture of health, a chubbed-out Paul Pierce is as feisty as ever, Ray Allen looks about the same, and the team just oozes competitive spirit. But this is a team built to turn over a new leaf when there aren’t any leaves on the trees next spring, not when the foliage is blowing around and the days are getting shorter. It’s a long season, people get injured and things tend to even out. And, as was the case last year, those 50 wins would have little bearing on what happens in the postseason. This is a championship contender. Perhaps more than ever.”

I’m not exactly sure what they’re getting at when they call Pierce “chubbed-out,” considering he’s shown up slimmed down in each of the last two seasons. Still, they touch on an interesting point: The C’s competitive spirit. With the play of the second unit, a renewed focus on that two-year window and a vengeance factor for that Game 7 loss, this year’s team appears to have a competitive edge we haven’t seen since 2007-08.

Hoops Daily: “The Celtics’ Achilles heel remains health.  A lot of guys have played a lot of games, and a major injury to anybody inside the Allen-Garnett-Pierce trio would be catastrophic.  Rebounding, the Celtics’ ugly nemesis last year, could prove to be even more problematic with Perkins in street clothes for a while. And then there’s the departure of Tom Thibodeau, the guy who masterminded the Celtics’ dominant lockdown defense for the last three years, to consider as well. The team has the personnel and the experience to continue their defensive dominance, but it wouldn’t be a shock if they took a slight step back in that department. The Big Three are rickety and parts of their bench are downright old, but if you’re an Eastern Conference team dreaming of a Finals matchup with the Lakers, you’d do well not to run into the Green come May. Expecting 50-55 wins is probably best for a group that will likely go through the motions in the regular season before showing up gangbusters in the playoffs.”

Obviously, a major injury to any of the Big 4 (with Rondo) would be catastrophic. Then again, that can be said for the Heat, Lakers and Magic as well. I’m not sure if I’m buying the rebounding issue, either, considering that was the Celtics main focus in the offseason. I’m not sure if you know, but the C’s picked up Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal in the offseason, not to mention the addition of Semih Erden.

However, the loss of Thibodeau needed to be mentioned. That point differential statistic is largely a result of a defensive scheme he implemented, and the C’s will be integrating the O’Neal Brothers and Co. into that scheme without Thibodeau. How Rivers and new assistant Lawrence Frank incorporate the new bodies into the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” defensive system will go a long way in determining this team’s success. In his first two full seasons as head coach of the Nets (2004-05 and 2005-06), Frank’s teams ranked sixth in points allowed.

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Read More: Doc Rivers, Larry Siegfried, Lawrence Frank, LeBron James
Irish Coffee: Top 5 Celtics Rappers 10.15.10 at 10:43 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Other than the player’s union’ s legal action against the NBA over all the hullabaloo about technical fouls, it’s a slow Celtics Friday. Inspired by Marquis Daniels‘ new hip hop track “Something to Talk About,” I thought we’d do a little Celtics Idol with C’s turned rappers. Submit your vote in the comments section below. (Drum roll please) And the nominees are …

MARQUIS DANIELS (AKA Q6)

Song: “Something to Talk About” feat. Kevin Cossom
Lyric: “I plan to raise the game until my bank account impregnate.
The haters say I regulate. Cheese on that beefsteak.”
Simon Cowell: I Like this quote I dislike this quote“Not everybody is perfect, and I don’t think we should be looking for perfect people.”

SHAQUILLE O’NEAL (AKA Shaq Diesel)

Song: “(I Know I Got) Skillz” feat. Def Jef
Lyrics: “I got a hand that’ll rock ya cradle,
cream you like cheese, spread you on my bagel,
my Ford Explorer boomin’ with the clumped-up funk,
all you jealous punks can’t stop my dunks.”
Simon Cowell: “You’ve got quite a good voice, the problem I have is this looks to me like 10 years ago.”

DANA BARROS

Song: “Check It”
Lyric: “I’m about to snap, so you better give me room.
I’m blowing up on the hit when it go boom.
Mad dough’s what I made when I played.”
Simon Cowell: “A natural. A total natural. And I like you.”

GARY PAYTON

Song: “Livin’ Legal and Large”
Lyrics: “On my way to practice to work on my shot
’cause you can’t stop even you reach the top.
Check it, a lot of folks hate the fact that I’m the man
Got the mic to the left and the ball in my right hand.”
Simon Cowell: “Not in a billion years. There are only so many words I can drag out of my vocabulary to say how awful that was.”

BRIAN SHAW

Song: “Anything Can Happen”
Lyrics: “So, what I do, I keeps a lo-pro composure,
developing my skills without no exposure
Born in Oakland, California, raised in Richmond,
class of 1983, smacking opponents coming in my kitchen.”
Simon Cowell: “It was dreadful. No, no, really dreadful. I’m telling you to be kind, because you will never, ever, ever have a career in singing.”

AND THE WINNER IS … My vote is clearly for Dana Barros. Dude can rhyme. His song’s got a little old school feel to it, like a Naughty by Nature production.

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

Read More: Brian Shaw, Dana Barros, Gary Payton, Marquis Daniels
Jermaine O’Neal loves the Celtics 10.14.10 at 1:04 pm ET
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Boston Celtics' Jermaine O'Neal, left, blocks a shot by Toronto Raptors' Amir Johnson (15) next to Celtics' Glen Davis, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010, in Boston.

Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal can't stop praising his new team. (AP)

In a conversation with SLAM Online‘s Russ Bengtson prior to last night’s game against the Knicks, Jermaine O’Neal continued to heap praise on his new team:

  • “It’s hard to explain the chemistry that we have. I always try to picture words to express the feeling that I have about being here. You know, obviously the rich tradition of championships and all the guys that’ve played in this uniform. It’s definitely an honor and a pleasure to be involved in something like this.”
  • “Most teams you’re on you’re gonna dominate the guy that’s backing you up or the guy that you share time with. But here it’s like, OK, let me get stretched. Let me make sure I’m ready to go when Doc says let’s go.”
  • “Everything that I’ve pictured it would be, it’s been that way. But it’s been probably five times better. You look at the point in my career where the chapter’s coming to a close, and if I had to pick a group of guys to close it with, this is it right here.”
Read More: Jermaine O'Neal,
NBA Power Rankings, 10/14 10.14.10 at 12:12 pm ET
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Los Angeles Lakers1. LA Lakers: Lamar Odom hired his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, as his new manager. If the knee injuries to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum don’t spell doom for the Lakers, this could, as anybody who has seen “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” can attest. We’ll leave them in the top spot — until Kris makes Odom pose nude or something.

Boston Celtics2. Boston: After his jumper to beat the Knicks, Paul Pierce appears to be up to his old game-winning ways. And the Celtics bench seems to keep getting deeper and deeper. The play of Semih Erden, Stephane Lasme and Luke Harangody has been an encouraging sign. So far, the injury bug has only claimed Delonte West, and he’s suspended for 10 games anyway.

Miami Heat3. Miami: First it was Dwyane Wade’s hamstring, and now it’s LeBron James’ leg cramps. I heard somewhere that if Wade really does miss the remainder of the preseason, the Heat’s Big 3 (do they have a nickname yet?) will have only played a few minutes together before taking on the Celtics on opening night. I think it’s just a marketing ploy.

Oklahoma City Thunder4. Oklahoma City: Larry Brown recently called the Thunder everything that’s right with the NBA: young, talented and well-behaved. I couldn’t agree more. This team should be fun to watch all season long, especially if Longar Longar makes the roster.

Dallas Mavericks5. Dallas: With this new technical foul rule, how much in fines do you think Mark Cuban will spend this year? I’m putting the over/under at $1 million. In other news, I love the nickname for Mavericks rookie Dominique Jones: DoJo.

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Read More: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, NBA, Paul Pierce
Irish Coffee: Tommy Point Taken 10.14.10 at 9:32 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

My biggest concern about the new technical foul rule that got Kevin Garnett ejected last night for laughing (GASP!!!)? Tommy Heinsohn‘s health. I mean, it’s only the preseason, and he almost blew a gasket. Only Tommy could sum up the rule so succinctly: “NBA: It’s Stupid!”

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski challenged the league’s stars — and therefore the biggest draws (cha-ching!) — to dare the refs to eject them from regular-season games. Fans won’t be too happy if they pay big bucks for the Celtics-Heat showdown on opening night (tickets are going for as much as $8,950), and LeBron James or KG are tossed a few minutes into the game.

Even before Jermaine O’Neal got a second tech in as many nights for (barely) reacting to a whistle last night, he expressed his concern over the stricter rules to Wojnarowski:

“These new rules are very, very excessive. They’re telling us the general public says we whine too much, but look at the way the NBA’s business is growing globally. I can see both sides of this. No one wants to see complaining over every call, but look at the rules. You can’t even make a hand gesture – never mind say anything. It’s going to be interesting to see the first two weeks of the season and how all this slows the pace.

“The message we’re getting is that this is about cleaning up the perceptions of the NBA. We never really know the reasons. We’re just a product out there that gets the memos.”

Just what the NBA needs: Referees with more power.

SHAQ’S WORD OF THE DAY: ‘PAU GASOLISH’

Video killed the radio star, and Shaquille O’Neal killed the true center. The New York media crowded around Shaq last night in hopes of getting a few precious gems from The Big Shamrock. And they obviously got them.

“I think I killed off all the centers, and now all the centers want to play the European-style basketball. There’s only 1.5 or 2 real centers left, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. Every now and then Yao Ming steps outside and wants to shoot jumpers, but it’s gone more toward the European style. The days of Patrick Ewing and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over, thanks to me.”

“I’ve never lost a series to a guy shooting jumpers — besides Pau [Gasol], but Pau has a couple of extra weapons with him. There hasn’t been a center that has won shooting jumpers. Pau is 60-40 — 60 inside and 40 shooting jumpers. So I think the centers are getting a little more Pau Gasolish.”

Shaq also reiterated his team goal (a 5th ring) and revealed his individual goal: passing Wilt Chamberlain in scoring. He trails Wilt by 3,164 points, so he’d have to average 19.3 points, playing all 82 games in each of the two seasons on his contract. The C’s can only hope.

Vin Diesel made GQ's list of most powerful bald men. Have they seen his last 10 movies? (AP)

AMERICA’S MOST WANTED … BALD MEN

KG and Shaq both made GQ Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Powerful Bald Men in America. Whoever made the list demonstrated their vast knowledge of NBA history by calling KG a three-time MVP, even though he only won one (in 2004).

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Jeff Van Gundy also made the list. If those four took a picture together, I’m not sure I could pick Van Gundy out of the lineup.

Wait a second, Vin Diesel made the list, and I didn’t? I’ve been rocking the bald look as a white guy since my hairline started running away from my face in college. A little respect.

VON WAFER WANTS MORE

Von Wafer is in jeopardy of failing to make the Celtics roster, but that’s not stopping him. According to SLAM Magazine, he not only wants a roster spot; he wants playing time: “I’m not just trying to make it; I’m trying to play, too. Just making it is not enough for me.”

That might be a tall order for an offense-first scorer who isn’t scoring … unless the C’s suffer six injuries at the guard spot.

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

Read More: Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Tommy Heinsohn
The ‘Amazing Grace’ of Alex English 10.13.10 at 2:56 pm ET
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Alex English may never have been a Celtic, but he played one in the movies.

Prior to the C’s preseason win over Toronto, the Raptors assistant coach and NBA Hall of Famer recalled his fictitious Celtics career as Amazing Grace Smith in the 1987 cult classic film “Amazing Grace and Chuck,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Gregory Peck.

“It was kind of weird,” English said of wearing a Celtics uniform in the movie, despite playing in real life for the Denver Nuggets. “The best experience was just being here in the summertime for a week and a half. Red [Auerbach] was still here. I was hanging out with him for a few minutes. That was good. He was always respectful of my game.”

Red and legendary Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most also appeared in the film about a young Midwestern boy’s Cold War-era fears about nuclear war. Despite making just 18 3-point shots during his entire 15-year NBA career, English played a 3-point threat in the film.

Oddly enough, the basketball scenes were filmed during an actual preseason game at the old Boston Garden. English dressed as No. 31 in Celtics green, and the filmmakers asked him to put up a bunch of shots from beyond the arc.

“The character I played was a 3-point shooter, and I’m not a 3-point shooter,” English said. “I put them up. When you look at the movie, they all go in. I think I only made one.”

English auditioned for the part, beating out Magic Johnson and Bernard King among others. It was English’s first acting experience. Since then, he appeared in a two-part episode of the late 1980s NBC television series “Midnight Caller” as well as the 1996 film “Eddie,” starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Every once in a while, when the movie is showed on television, English will get a call from somebody, saying, “Hey, I saw the movie.” So, does he receive residual checks for his part in the film?

“I don’t know if they still have my address,” he joked.

Well, if anybody is looking for him, just scan the Raptors bench.

(WEEI.com site editor Rob Bradford contributed to this report.)

Read More: Alex English, Jamie Lee Curtis, Magic Johnson, Red Auerbach
Irish Coffee: NBA conspiracy theories 10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

It’s time for a conspiracy theory. I’m sure you’ve all heard about Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers — one of several games former NBA ref Tim Donaghy accused the NBA of rigging in order to squeeze an extra game out of the series. Well, after yesterday’s unrelated arrest of one of the Lakers-Kings Game referees, let’s take a look at the aftermath … again.

  • On July 20, 2007, New York Post columnist Murray Weiss reported an FBI investigation into Donaghy for betting on NBA games he officiated.
  • On Feb. 11, 2008, one Kings-Lakers Game 6 referee, Bob Delaney, spoke with ESPN about his upcoming book, “Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.” The former New Jersey State Police trooper admitted to these criminal activities during his investigation: “stolen property, loan sharking, gambling, purchasing of guns.”
  • On June 11, 2008, The New York Times cited court documents in which Donaghy called out NBA executives and referees for manipulating games, including the 2002 series in question. Keep in mind, Donaghy had already pleaded guilty to conspiring with gamblers at this point.
  • On June 13, 2008, we learned from ESPN’s Chris Sheridan that the FBI questioned at least two former NBA referees about another Lakers-Kings Game 6 ref, Dick Bavetta, more than they did Donaghy. In that report, the game’s third ref, Tim Bernhardt, said: “I stand by my calls in that game. I was right on. I believe in Dick Bavetta, and I believe in Bob Delaney, and I believe in the NBA for that matter.”
  • On Dec. 8, 2009, in an interview with Dennis & Callahan, Donaghy said, “I had many conversations with Dick Bavetta and he claimed that he was the NBA’s go-to guy and he was put on certain games to make sure a certain team win.”
  • On Oct. 12, 2010, according to WFIE.com, Bernhardt was arrested in Indiana for violating a restraining order taken out against him by his ex-girlfriend and allegedly burglarizing her residence.

So, to recap the facts, in the last three years the refereeing trio of Kings-Lakers Game 6 has: a) admitted to gambling with the mob, albeit during an investigation as a New Jersey State Police officer (Delaney); b) been the subject of the FBI’s questioning during their investigation into NBA referees (Bavetta); and c) been arrested and charged with burglary and violating a restraining order (Bernhardt).

While none of those incidents implicates any of the three officials or directly relates to the outcome of any NBA game, including Kings-Lakers Game 6, I give you this — in Delaney’s own words – from an interview with ESPN’s Bob Ley: “I have dealt with criminals and informants, and I know full well they are capable of doing and saying anything.”

Now, I know there are more holes in this story than there were in Sonny Corleone‘s car, but that’s why it’s called a conspiracy theory, right?

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Read More: Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Bernhardt, Tim Donaghy
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