The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “Meanwhile, Boston’s psyche is clearly in disarray. The eloquent Ray Allen spoke in short sentences after the Atlanta loss, using ‘I don’t know’ as a refrain when asked about the team’s recent struggles. The Celtics were left clinging to the power of positive thinking as Kevin Garnett insisted the team had no choice but to turn things around. Which is why Sunday’s game might be exactly what Boston needs. No individual win — save for maybe against Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland or a fictional fifth meeting with the Hawks — will do as much for the Celtics’ confidence and the sanity of their fans than a triumph over their storied rivals. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Beggars can’t be choosers. When Garnett returned last week, the Celtics put together back-to-back ugly wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. It didn’t matter how they looked, they were wins. Trouble is, Boston figures it’s going to take some of its best basketball to prevail. As Garnett opined after the Atlanta loss, ‘If we come up anything less than great [against the Lakers], we’re going to get our asses kicked.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “There was a time not that long ago when playing the best brought out the best in the Boston Celtics. This season . . . not so much. Instead of stepping up to the challenge, the C’s have squandered those opportunities repeatedly. Against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference — Atlanta, Cleveland and Orlando — the Celtics are just 2-6. When you look at how those teams have fared against one another relative to the Celtics, it’s not even close. The C’s are clearly at the back of the pack.”
Mark Heisler, L.A. Times – “Before this season, Coach Doc Rivers talked about playing a defense that would be remembered, like the ’85 Chicago Bears’, and players talked about breaking the Bulls’ record of 72 wins. Walking the walk, almost, they started 23-5, punctuating it with a win in Orlando on Christmas. Now look at them. No. 3 in the East . . . 6-10 since Christmas . . . limping home from losses in Orlando, where Rashard Lewis zipped around Garnett for the winning layup, and Atlanta, where the Hawks completed a 4-0 season sweep and the P.A. announcer called to the departing Celtics, “Now is it a rivalry?” Garnett, who has left for injuries twice, is ‘dragging his leg,’ as TNT’s Reggie Miller put it, and has it wrapped from ankle to knee in a mummy effect. Said [Bob] Ryan last week: ‘Good thing they won it in their first year. In two years, I can’t imagine where they’ll be. This is it.’ The way things are going, ‘this is it’ sounds more ominous in Boston every day.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “For two years, it seemed the Celtics were immune to adversity, and on the off chance they hit a turbulent patch – such as the puzzling stretch in which they couldn’t win a road game in the 2008 playoffs or the 25 games they played without Kevin Garnett last season – they dealt with it. But this past month, adversity has come in persistent doses: injuries, inconsistency, off-court distractions. The Celtics are 6-7 in January, having been outscored in the fourth quarter in all but three games. A loss to the Lakers today would seal the first losing month in the Big Three Era.”
Dave McMenamin, ESPNLosAngeles – “While Bryant chided his team a bit, Odom identified another weakness. ‘Cockiness gets in our way,’ Odom said. ‘It does. Sometimes if you’re a little too cocky then you wake up, look up and then you decide to turn it on, well, the other team already has it turned on. All their guys are hitting shots, getting to loose balls and the basketball gods are taking care of them the whole game. It happens to the cocky.’ A two-week trip away from their mansions, cars, beautiful families and perfect weather replaced by bus rides, late-night flights, hotel food and living out of a suitcase is a good way to bring back some humility. And with humility, the prospect of focusing on simply winning basketball games becomes a lot easier. ‘We got to respect the physical game and if we don’t meet their intensity, they’ll beat us,’ Odom said. ‘Time to put the caviar and champagne down and play tough.’”
Lenny Megliola, Boston Globe – “Luke Day figured it was inevitable. ‘I heard about him when he was in the eighth grade,’’ said Day, the boys’ basketball coach at Wellesley High. ‘He was good, but maybe not as good as people expected him to be because of his name. I was afraid of that.’ The name is Ainge, Cooper Ainge, yes, son of Danny, the former Boston Celtics standout and now the team’s president of basketball operations. ‘I was afraid people would say, ‘Oh, Ainge’s kid,’ ‘ recalled Day. Ainge, 16, is not setting the Bay State Conference on fire, but the 5-foot-11 sophomore is making an impact.”