I’ve spent a long time on Twitter debating the great Dan Shaughnessy’s latest article for Sports Illustrated. Shaughnessy writes that the Boston Celtics will beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, backing up his opinion with a few reasons. (Down below, Sports Illustrated emails the controversial piece to at least one Cleveland sports blog.)
The Celtics have the same starting five as the championship team of 2008.
Very true, Dan. Also valid is that Rajon Rondo is better, to make up for the declining Big Three. Unfortunately, Cleveland DOESN’T have the same starting five. The Cavs no longer have Wally Szczerbiak or Ben Wallace in their starting lineup; in the NBA, subbing those two guys for Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison is known as “a very good thing.” On top of that Shaq, as old as he is, gives them the added dimension of a go-to low-post player and still commands a double-team. And Anderson Varejao is approximately 2,742 times better than he was in 2008.
“No back-to-back games and plenty of down time — helps the old bones of Boston.”
Again, true. Boston is peaking at the right time, and part of that is the downtime of the playoff schedule. Of course, Cleveland doesn’t mind the rest, either. Shaq-tis’ old bones will be just as revitalized by rest as the Big Three’s. Still, the downtime helps the Celtics more than Cleveland because their stars are aging, while Cleveland’s star is a 25-year old combination of an airplane and a Mack Truck.
“But the Celtics know they can beat LeBron. And they know they can win in Cleveland (see Oct. 27, 2009).”
This was my favorite point of Shaughnessy’s. The Celtics have done it before, and they’ve done it as a unit. As accomplished as Lebron James is and as dominant in the regular season as the Cavs have been, they’ve never won when the lights shine brightest. “Deep down,” Shaughnessy wrote, “the Cavaliers know the Celtics can beat them.” I’m not sure how true that is, but I DO KNOW that the Cavs have never won a championship. King James has already been crowned, but never earned his throne. That’s not to say he won’t this year, but the Celtics have come through when it counts and the Cavs haven’t. That much is true.
“The Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace. As much as it hurts to say this, the mercurial ‘Sheed might be the difference against the Cavs.”
First off, I’m not sure how Rasheed Wallace qualifies as a “sniper.” That’s like saying Shaq is “a pure shooter.” Secondly, Sheed won’t be the difference against the Cavs any more than he has been against the Heat. Third of all, the best Shaughnessy does to back up his prediction of Sheed being the difference is, “We haven’t seen much of ‘Sheed during the Miami series, but the Heat have been so bad, it’s hard to notice any Celtics’ shortcomings. Maybe ‘Sheed will finally shine at the Q.” Look, I’m fine with him saying Sheed will make a difference against Cleveland, so long as he backs it up.
Shaughnessy did nothing to back it up. Literally nothing. John from Red’s Army agrees that Sheed will play a bigger role in the potential Cleveland series, and backs it up by saying Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are immobile enough to overshadow Sheed’s own immobility. I can see his point; it’s weird, but Sheed will actually be more athletic than the Cleveland frontcourt. I disagree that Sheed will make a difference, but at least John has a reason.That’s more than Shaughnessy gave us.
I don’t think Sheed will give the Celtics anything against Cleveland. Doc Rivers has lost all faith in him. Sheed can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and can’t slide his feet for the life of him. If Doc Rivers doesn’t have the confidence to play Sheed against Jermaine O’Neal and Joel Anthony, do you think he’ll have the confidence to play him against the Cavs? No chance. Not unless Sheed gets hot one game. Unfortunately for Sheed and the Celtics, he has about as much chance of getting hot as I do winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. (Okay, maybe that’s a bad example… even though I can’t dunk, I could have won this year’s slam dunk contest.)
Sports Illustrated emails piece to Cleveland blog
Not only did Shaughnessy write an attention-seeking piece probably designed to piss off some people and infuriate others, but Sports Illustrated actually wrote at least one Cleveland sports blog an email to notify them of the article. I’m not even kidding. Here’s the email from Time Inc., as received by Waiting For Next Year, a very good Cleveland sports blog:
I wanted to let you know of an article that appears on SI.com today that takes a close look at the likely matchup between the Celtics and Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. SI.com contributing columnist Dan Shaughnessy believes that the Celtics can exploit Cleveland’s weaknesses despite the NBA’s reigning MVP and the Cavaliers astounding record at Quicken Loans Arena during the regular season.
Shaughnessy writes: “The Celtics have the same starting five that won the championship two years ago. OK — Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen are not better than they were two years ago, but Rajon Rando is a much better player than he was in 2008, and Kendrick Perkins is two years stronger. Glen “Big Baby” Davis contributes much more than he did two years ago and the Celtics have added veteran snipers Michael Finley and Rasheed Wallace.”
If you have any questions or would like any other information, please feel free to contact me. The article is on SI.com now. Thank you.
Really, Sports Illustrated, you are THAT interested in stirring the pot? THAT interested in driving a little extra traffic to your website? You’re Effing Sports Illustrated, aren’t you a little beyond that? You shouldn’t have to stoop to that level. You’re better than that, SI, come on. I think we can all agree that Sports Illustrated should be A LITTLE past the point where it has to stir up the pot by personally emailing articles to sports blogs that might be offended by them.
Alas, this Shaughnessy piece wasn’t that bad. As far as predictions go, it’s a bold one, but most of his points make sense (clearly excluding the Sheed one). I’ve certainly written worse articles, I’m sure.
Shaughnessy is now the clear-cut leader of the Celtics bandwagon, and Sports Illustrated the clear-cut leader of hyping controversial articles via email. But I’ve got a plea for Shaughnessy and everyone else talking about Cleveland…
Let’s just get by the Heat first, eh?