As some of you know by now, I missed seeing last night’s game live. Then I had a job interview today (another idiot is contemplating giving me a job), and a lunch date across the state, and finally I sat down and gathered my thoughts on a hideous Celtics win.
My first thought? Tony Battie!
My second? It seemed like the C’s were stuck on 68 points forever. At least points 69 and 70 were worth the wait. Those were scored on Paul Pierce’s “decent” dunk over Lou Williams. And by “decent”, I mean I contemplated running naked around Ninety-Nine restaurant in celebration. I don’t watch Celtics games in public often, and that’s a good thing. When I watch games with other people, it can be unhealthy. Very unhealthy.
Now, on to my other thoughts.
Jermaine O’Neal’s flu-like symptoms
If it isn’t one thing with O’Neal, it’s another. There’s a player I used to coach in summer league, who got hurt every game. One game, he’d twist his ankle. The next, his asthma would act up. The next, he’d complain about taking an elbow to the face. The NEXT, it would be a swollen knee. I’m telling you, this kid was as soft as expensive toilet paper, and about 100 times less functional. My co-coach and I used to take bets about what his next fake injury would be. (“I bet he gets pneumonia.” — “No way. He’s going to tear his labrum.”)
Maybe my player was faking his injuries, maybe he was just really soft, or maybe he had the worst luck in the history of the entire universe. Same with Jermaine O’Neal. I don’t want to call him a fraud, because he might very well have a serious injury, and he might very well have been puking all day yesterday. But there’s ALWAYS something. I bet he gets a concussion next.
Tony Battie still lives
Back in 2002, how hard would you have laughed if someone told you the following statement:
Eight years from now, Antoine Walker and Tony Battie will both be 34 years old. Battie will still be chugging along in the NBA, while Antoine will be fat, broke and playing for pennies in the D-League.
I would have laughed until I physically couldn’t laugh anymore. Thinking that Battie’s NBA career has lasted longer than Walker’s makes me think of a Good Will Hunting scene. I just want to shake Antoine by the shoulders and tell him this:
Fuck you, you don’t owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me. Cuz tomorrow I’m gonna wake up and I’ll be 50, and I’ll still be doin’ this shit. And that’s all right. That’s fine. I mean, you’re sittin’ on a winnin’ lottery ticket. And you’re too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that’s bullshit. ‘Cause I’d do fuckin’ anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin’ guys. It’d be an insult to us if you’re still here in two years. Hangin’ around here is a fuckin’ waste of your time.
Walker still has every basketball skill a big man could ever want. Even 25 or 30 pounds overweight, he can score inside or out, find teammates with ease, handle the rock like a guard, and shoot (though he still shoots too much). But he’s too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that’s bullshit.
Shaq hard foul
I have to admit, I’m in love with Shaq’s hard fouls. He doesn’t do anything malicious, never chops his hands at someone’s neck or anything like that. But he’s damn near 400 pounds large, and when he leans into someone *just a little bit*, it hurts. Ask Andre Iguodala.
Back in 2008, P.J. Brown averaged 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per playoff game. That’s it. Why are you a little surprised? Because you remember P.J. Brown being an absolutely crucial component to the 2008 championship, and those stats suck. But Brown WAS a crucial piece, and it wasn’t just because he hit a couple ridiculously clutch jumpers. He provided a physicality, a grit, that the C’s haven’t had off the bench since. When P.J. Brown as on the court, there was no such thing as an easy look. Opponents would be open for a layup, thinking they had an esay two points, and then — BAM! — they’d be on their ass. Brown didn’t do anything dirty, he just committed playoff fouls and protected his own hoop.
This year, they should. When Perk returns, either he or Shaq will be the bench’s enforcer. And whichever one comes off the bench will provide a presence, one that hasn’t been seen on the Boston bench since the days of P.J. Brown.
Avery Bradley played pretty well, but…
My little brother summed up Bradley pretty well, while commenting on two separate plays.
The first play involved Bradley running the Celtics’ offense. He looked uncomfortable, and, well, I’ll let my brother say it.
“Offensively,” he said, ”Avery Bradley’s awful.”
And right now, he is. Will he improve? I fully expect him to. He’s too quick and too athletic not to, and he seems like a sponge, hanging on his veteran teammates’ every piece of advice. But right now, his offensive game is completely lacking, well, everything. He can’t shoot, doesn’t have a great handle, and the next time I see him create a play for a teammate will be the first. Actually, I have yet to see Bradley make a single real basketball play. By “real basketball play,” I mean a reflexive move that just seems like it flows out of him. Nothing Bradley does on offense comes easy, yet.
But defensively? I’ll let my brother take over again:
“I’d pay to watch him play defense, and I normally HATE watching defense.”
I just wish Bradley’s offensive arsenal were more advanced, because it’d be nice to have his defensive tenacity as a regular weapon off the bench.
Glen Davis mismatch
The following account of plays barely mattered in the big scheme of yesterday’s game. But it made me question Doug Collins, and Rule #1 of my life has always been, “Don’t question Doug Collins.”
But Elton Brand went to the bench after his fifth foul, and Thaddeus Young was left as Philly’s power forward. Tony Battie was the center. Meanwhile, the Celtics played both Glen Davis and Semih Erden. Young would have to cover one of them. The 76ers chose for Young to defend Davis. Mismatch city.
My question is this: why have Young cover Davis, when he could have guarded Erden instead? Erden isn’t a threat. He’s taller than Davis, but he’s not a scorer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this: if a Celtics possession ends in an Erden post-up, even if he has a 6’8 small forward defending him, the defense has done its job. That’s exactly what the defense wants.
What the defense doesn’t want? Glen Davis abusing a smaller opponent. The first possession of Young-Davis resulted in a Davis post-up, which resulted in an easy Davis bucket. The next possession resulted in another Davis post-up, which resulted in a double-team, which resulted in a wide open three-pointer for Von Wafer. Wafer missed, but still — put Young on Erden! If the Celtics choose to run their offense through Erden — no matter what occurs after the fact – the defense has won. But if the Celtics run their offense through Davis, and he has a huge mismatch, the Celtics have the advantage.
I thought Doug Collins was better than that.
In other news, I’m pretty sure Paul Pierce was half-drunk through most of last night’s game. At least he sobered up by the fourth quarter.