Celtics face 'win or blow-up' scenario

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It was all worth it.

You have to tell yourself that, Celtics fan or no. The offseason that brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston next to Paul Pierce was a success, because it brought a banner, and there’s nothing that can be done to refute that. The NBA’s ultimate prize is worth the cost, whatever it is.

But in the Boston Herald, Danny Ainge is quoted hinting that the time for the detonation of this Celtics’ core may be coming sooner than anticipated, and that the remainder of this season, just two and a half years removed from that great summer, will determine the short and long-term future of this group of players.

“I’m constantly thinking about that,” he said. “But I think what happens beyond this season will be based more on how this team performs from here on out than what’s happened to this point.
“I think we’ll know a lot more about this team over the next few months. All we can do now is speculate.”

And be ready to cut in widely divergent directions based on the findings.
“I’m prepared in either scenario,” Ainge said. “We’ll either add to this team or change it.

That sounds an awful lot like a GM debating whether or not to blow up the plan. The Celtics have a terrible record against the Eastern elite, and in the face of the disaster at home versus Cleveland, the whispers have become shouts that the time has past for this alignment, and that the Celtics need to look to the future.

Talented point guard Rajon Rondo is a considerable asset, but he’s never shown to excel outside of the comfy confines of the Big 3. It’s probable he’ll continue to be an All-Star, but it’s simply not certain yet. Kendrick Perkins is a serviceable, if limited, center, and Glen Davis can flail around a lot. Outside of that, the Celtics possess no long-term players they can depend on or build around.

It was all worth it.

But you have to wonder if there could be, or will be, more.

Please print this to laugh at when the Celtics go on some sick run and make the Finals.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

AP
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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.