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Showing posts from September, 2021

Battle of two lottery picks - Celtics vs. Knicks - October 20, 2021

The Boston Celtics face the New York Knicks on October 20, and one of the matchups will have me focused. That would be two power forwards drafted in 2014 - the Celtics Jabari Parker taken with the second-overall pick and the Knicks Julius Randle taken five spots later at number-7 . Why compare these two? Well, it took Randle seven seasons to reach the All-Star level , and he has found his place in New York. Conversely, Parker will be fighting for a roster spo t with The Green. Last season, Julius totally blossomed, averaging 24.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 6.0 APG - while hitting on 46% of his field goals and 41% on his 3-pointers . Those numbers earned him the NBA Most Improved Player Award , racking up 98-of-100 first-place votes. This could be Jabari Parker's make-or-break season, at least in Boston. Let's hope that Jabari's limited playoff performance (14.8 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 62% FG, 40% 3s) last season bodes well for a roster spot in Boston - and hopefully, a breakout

The Dynamic Duo that will achieve greatness

      Every year these two special young studs, aka The Jay Team , have improved in parts of their games. For this writer, it's time for them both to climb up the star chart. Time to dominate and take over games as they both did last year. Early on their careers both experienced success. They also experienced defeat to lesser teams, remember the bubble? Plus last season was a huge disappointment.       With new Coach Ime Udoka they both will not only improve, they will both play harder and with force. Their bodies are NBA developed, ready to dominate . Time to use those bodies, by going to the hoop and bringing the hammer! When you go to the hoop the refs should be forced to make calls. Unless that NBA bias is still in effect.            If both guys buy into the defensive end that will elevate their games to epic stature. Defense wins championships ! Wouldn't it be nice if this duo and group go old school, with a defense-first mentality . Defense leads to offense which leads

NBA TV's Steve Smith picks Jayson Tatum as "dark horse" MVP

 My planned article for this morning was going to be Jayson Tatum as "dark horse" NBA MVP for 2022, and guess what? I decided to watch this morning's NBA TV broadcast on the MVP race, and lo and behold, NBA analyst Steve Smith picked Tatum as his candidate to come out of the shadows to win the award this season. Granted, Smith did project that the Nets' Kevin Durant would actually win the MVA prize, but he cited Jayson's momentum and performance in last season's playoffs - that Tatum was "ripe to take another leap" - and have the wins under his belt.  It is well-understood that any serious MVP candidate needs major stats and sufficient wins to qualify for the award. Jayson had the numbers last season, but his team finishing in seventh place in the East with a 36-36 record didn't cut it for the rising star. Soon — Joey☘️ (@greenbean3742) September 28, 2021  So Jayson will have to oust reigning Most Valuable Playe

Al Horford's calming presence back in the fold

     Having Al Horford back in green and white is a sign of good things to come this season. An experienced, veteran who can calm the waters with a young team. A player who keeps his cool demeanor on the floor and locker room. He's won in Boston before, and now he needs to guide this team through to the next level. I Just love this guy. Always remember him counselling Marcus Smart on the sidelines after Marcus made a bad decision on the floor. Great gentleman. A much-needed commodity in today's world. — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) September 28, 2021           As seen here in my esteemed colleagues tweet. He has proven to be that counselor to guys like Marcus Smart, now the point guard this season. Will Al be able to help the Wolverine grow and become the facilitator this team truly needs? Does Al have that quality that Udonis Haslem had in guiding a young Heat team to the bubble finals?       Tatum and Brown are ready for that next step as stars. Al i

My concerns about Rob Williams may be groundless

 I covered the 2018 NBA draft for another blog, and when Rob Williams fell to the Celtics with the 27th overall pick, I was both elated and worried. Here's why (via Wikipedia): Williams fell to the 27th overall pick where he was selected by the  Boston Celtics  due to concerns about his work ethic. On July 5, 2018, the  Boston Celtics  signed Williams. [  Williams did not initially make a good impression, being criticized for showing up late and missing team functions.  His reputation for missing flights and video meetings caused him to earn the moniker "Timelord" on online Boston Celtics fandoms. These were not good initial signs. But, hey, Sam Jones missed his first team meeting following Red Auerbach taking him in the draft - and look how that worked out. On Sam's side, he told me no one informed him of the meeting, but Red's, "Where the f--- were you" had to be tough for the rookie. Then there were the knee issues. Restricted blood flow to the low

Jayson Tatum ranked sixth in Yahoo Fantasy. Is that too high?

Yahoo Fantasy Sports has the Celtics Jayson Tatum at the sixth spot in their rankings this season. I honestly didn't project that he would be quite so high in the rankings.  1. Nikola Jokic 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo 3. Luka Doncic 4. James Harden 5. Damian Lillard 6. Jayson Tatum 7. Karl-Anthony Towns 8. Paul George 9. Zion Williamson 10. Bradley Beal 11. Stephen Curry 12. Trae Young 13. Domantas Sabonis 14. De'Aaron Fox 15. Bam Adebayo 16. LeBron James 17. Joel Embiid 18. Julius Randle 19. Russell Westbrook 20. Kevin Durant 21. Fred VanVleet 22. Donovan Mitchell 23. Nikola Vucevic 24. LaMelo Ball 25. Anthony Davis My first reaction to the list is that Yahoo expects a bit of a jump for Jayson . But there is also some irony here. Does Tatum and Karl Anthony Towns together at the 6-and-7 spots a sign that the Minnesota big man may team up with Tatum in Boston?   And JT four spots ahead of his mentor, Bradley Beal , hopefully bodes well for the Celtics star going forward. Also, Ja

Garrison Mathews may be more than training camp fodder for Celtics

 The Boston Celtics have signed Garrison Mathews to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal . The 6'5" swingman will fight for a roster spot in the upcoming training camp. So the Celtics just signed Garrison Mathews to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal. He hit 39 percent of 244 threes in two years with Wizards 🔥 More highlights ▶️ — Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) September 24, 2021 Mathews went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft. As evidenced by the video, he gets his shot off quickly and high . His value to Boston would undoubtedly be as a dead-eye shooter off the bench .  His accuracy from 3-point range at the NBA level shows us that he may not be simply a workout partner for the Celtics players already locked into the roster. His performance in training camp will be followed closely by Celtics staff, players and fans alike. He certainly is an interesting addition to the camp mix. 

Rick Barry belittling Bill Russell on TV revealed the real fool

 It happened on national TV during the 1981 NBA Finals . Two of the announcers were Rick Barry and Bill Russell . When asked who was in a photo passed to Barry, Rick responded, "I don't know. Looks like some fool over there (referring to Russ) with the watermelon grin on. Russell repeatedly indicated the photo was of KC Jones , but Barry would have none of it. Worth watching. Russ vs. Rick Barry! The "fool with the watermelon grin" wasn't Bill. It was Barry. Don't believe it was racial, but the two didn't get along. Russ was clearly pissed. Rick Barry - Watermelon Grin via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) September 24, 2021 Bill responded with, "That was K. C. That wasn't me. That was K. C." Then Barry tried to pass the photo to Bill, and Russ wanted none of that either. "No. I don't want them" is how Russell responded, clearly pissed, but still maintaining that aura of class and composure. Alth

Celtics Training Camp additions

      Welcome to the new Boston Celtics training camp additions! Not sure if any of them will make the team but healthy competition is good! Unless there is a diamond in the rough?!      Maybe just maybe you strike gold with one of these guys and they take roster spot 15? All Celtics fans need to know for training camp is - we have some new faces wanting to make an impact! This roster and season are shaping up to be a fun times!.     Brad the Mad Chef is trying to see what ingredients are going to bring success to this roster! Now it's up to Ime Udoka and his staff to cook it up! 

The original and greatest Big 3 of all time

      The Original Big 3, in this writers opinion was the greatest trio ever put together. If your an older Celtics fan Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish are names that stir up great memories! If your on the younger end and hear Big 3 the names Pierce, Garnett, and Allen come to mind. Not bad in their own right, but nowhere near the Original.       In Larry Bird you had it all! He could pass as if he had eyes in the back of his head. He wasn't afraid to rebound and start the fast break! He had a killer instinct, his trash talk was legendary, not to mention he was a dive-on-the-floor, lunch pail guy! As a shooter he was feared by his opponents and was deadly from outside. Defensively Larry was willing to get his hands dirty, even if that meant throwing a punch. He literally gave his entire body and soul to the game of basketball.       With Kevin McHale you had a player who's post up game was so insane he named his moves! When he was on you couldn't stop him! Abs

My Kawhi Leonard comparison for Jaylen Brown continues

 One year ago I wrote that the once-alive Jaylen Brown-for-Kawhi Leonard proposed trade between the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics not happening was a boon for The Green. I expect this season will reveal my stand to be valid. Jaylen recently revealed that he dealt with a knee issue (tendinitis) last season , but that problem no longer exists, and he expects to have his superior athleticism on display once again. Brown has shown a number of similarities to the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, and I expect to see more of that in 2021. Jaylen Brown’s first All-Star season was something special 🤩 — Celtics Junkies (@Celtics_Junkies) September 21, 2021 The Klaw made his first All-Star appearance in his fifth NBA season, as did Jaylen. Their stats for their fifth seasons in the League are remarkably similar. Kawhi now has five All-Star nods to his credit and will surely pick up at least several more. Jaylen's numbers from last season follow: 34.5 MPG - 24.

The Boston Celtics still feel The Sting Of Death

     For the most historic franchise in sports history from this writers perspective, has any other team ever lost two transcendent players in a span of seven years? Give me another franchise who had such success and yet lost what could have been two players who could have been basketball Hall of Famers?             In modern sports generally, your transcendent players go in a few directions. They tend to stay with the team that drafted them, typically they win and make an incredible impact on that franchise and city. Sometimes they force a trade, or they choose to leave in free agency. Yet for the Celtics, they lost Len Bias in 86 due to a cocaine overdose. Fast forward to 93 and they lost Reggie Lewis to a heart condition/ usage of cocaine.          These two impactful moments in a franchises history lead to some very dark days of basketball in Boston and eventually led to the hiring of Slick-Rick-the-rat Pitino. Who chose to stick the great Red Auerbach into the cellar of the fr

Marcus Smart needs to play his full career in Boston

 Over the past 60 years, the Celtics two greatest players, Bill Russell and Larry Bird , never played for another team during their careers on the hardwood. And Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, The Jones Boys, Tom Heinsohn never played elsewhere. Okay, Cooz did a brief comeback as a player at the age of 41 when he coached The Cincinnati Royals, but I'm not counting it. Hell, you get the idea! First, let me get something straight! My moniker, The Wolverine , for Marcus has ZERO to do with the film series - and everything to do with one of the most ferocious critters to roam the woods (per Wikipedia):  It (wolverine) is a muscular carnivore and a solitary animal. [2]  The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself. Sound about right? "Muscular carnivore". ""Ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size." That's our guy. Smart admits to having a

Len Bias: What he could have done in Green.

      With the second overall pick in the 1986 draft the Boston Celtics select All American Len Bias out of Maryland! Say that again. The NBA champion Boston Celtics with Red Auerbach at the helm get Len Bias to go with the Big 3, Danny and DJ!!! Back to back champions is what fans saw coming their way.  Fans also saw the next great Celtic who would not only win rings with the Big 3, but probably challenge Jordan and the Bulls in the East.        Len Bias was a true talent He had amazing leaping ability and   his physical stature was a force. He was incredibly dynamic and was compared to Michael Jordan. With what basketball fans were able to witness watching MJ, if Len came even close to that the Celtics would have won several more titles. In 87 when the Celtics dealt with injuries, imagine Bias on that team and what he could have done. Yes Banner 17 would come in those 87 Finals over the Lakers.       "What if " is a question plenty of Celtics fans wonder about. Who says

Some candid analysis on Celtics sophomore, Payton Pritchard

  Sophomore Celtics guard, Payton Pritchard , may not be seeing many more minutes than last season (19.2 MPG) due to the signing of Dennis Schroder . But he showed poise and promise in his rookie season, and fans can expect an even better performance in 2021-22. Here are some tidbits from past and present NBA scouts via CelticsBlog  on Pritchard's future: “My immediate thought is his range is great. He’s got that (Stephen) Curry, (Damian) Lillard range." “The next thing I look at is his off-the-dribble game. He needs to develop a good pullup jumper. Guys his size have to have that."  "...can be a playmaker, or is he really a small two? I think Boston thinks he’s the second right now, because they signed (Dennis) Schroder in the backcourt with him." "But I think (Payton) Pritchard is already a better ballhandler than Seth Curry is. And he showed signs as a passer." “I don’t want to be the guy making the cheap, easy “white guy” comp here, but he was qu

Kevin McHale to Kevin Garnett on up-and-under move: "Your "up" sucks"!

  Kevin McHale's signature up-and-under move only made #10 on NBA TV's Signature Moves rankings. Kevin thought he should be at #7 and even suggested if he was at #11, he wouldn't have to be on the show. Number-10 is about right for the move. It was so damn simple, and we know that any shot not a dunk or 3-pointer will never be highly-rated in today's League. McHale said he was only 5'10" tall at the start of his sophomore year in high school, and developed the up-and-under to score on bigger opponents. Then when he grew much taller (6'10" eventually), his main move was a jump hook , but against the "leapers", he would go to the up-fake and then the underhanded lay in (per McHale): "I liked shooting over two or three guys because it made Danny (Ainge) mad. Danny used to say, 'You got three guys on you', and I would say, 'Ya, but I scored.' " Back when Kevin Garnett asked to be taught the up-and-under move, McHale t

The 1996 UMass team should have won it all.

       This site that I'm lucky to write for is usually all about the beloved Boston Celtics, with a few pieces about other special players and teams. If you grew up in the 90s, UMass Basketball was at its peak . The greatest team they put together was the 96 Final Four team . The NCAA may have"taken it away" but this writer has the VHS tapes and memories to prove it! This team should have won it all!      Let's look at their coach, to each his own with opinions about him. For this writer he brought so much success, enjoyment, and memories to UMass hoops. He made UMass a power house! They had some of the most hard working and exciting teams in the 90s! John Cali[ari was a hard worker himself, which was evident in his teams!       Now we dive into the starting five. Marcus Camby could do it all on the floor. He could post you up, knock down midrange shots, and when need be go get that Alley OOP and bring the hurt to the rim! Defensively he could block any shot and u

What to expect from "The Spaniard" , team play and surviving (thriving in?) the 2021-22 season

  The Boston Celtics have added a Spaniard by the name of Juancho Hernangomez to the roster. What can fans expect from Beantown's version of "The Spaniard" ? I have little idea, and neither does anyone else. The 6'9" forward has been playing professional basketball since the age of 17 , and now at 25 years of age, he will be part of a team that is looking to survive, and hopefully thrive in, the 2021-22 season. Since the Celtics now have acquired "The Spaniard", I thought it appropriate to remind players & fans: "Whatever comes out of these gates ..., if we stay together, we survive." Team play works. Gladiator Move Clip - Work Together via @YouTube — Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) September 14, 2021 Love the movie, Gladiator   Hate the ending. But here's hoping the coming season ends well for The Green. Getting back to Juan, his best season occurred in 2019-20 with Minnesota , and the first hint with his seems t

"Average Al" Horford now termed "weakest link". Not buying it!

 The Boston Celtics returning center was sometimes referred to as "Average Al" Horford , and now has been labeled as T he Green's weakest link in the starting lineup .  I'm not buying it (per Bleacher Reports Greg Swartz): If Al Horford wins the starting center job, it's probably only a matter of time before Robert Williams III replaces him. The 35-year-old Horford is on the last fully guaranteed year of his deal, and he will have gone nearly seven months without playing in an NBA game  by the time the regular season starts . The 5-time All-Star needs more respect. Al has something to prove this season, and I believe he will be given the chance to do just that. He simply didn't work out in Philadelphia when he chose to leave Boston as a free agent. He then got fewer minutes (27 MPG) in Oklahoma City but still managed 14.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.4 APG and almost one steal and one block per contest. In Al Horford and Rob Williams, the Celtics have two of the best passi

Hopes for a more Dennis Johnson-like season for Marcus Smart

 Both the late Dennis Johnson and Marcus Smart are not generally thought of as elite athletes, but both have shown Celtics glimpses of vertical leaps and quick moves that seemed off the scale. There are other comparisons. DJ was such an astounding defender, Magic Johnson labeled him as one of his toughest opponent s. And no present NBA player wants to be guarded by The Wolverine. But now that the buzz of possible Marcus Smart trades have faded, he may want to watch some footage of Dennis in action. Red Auerbach was right. You can't turn a poor-to-mediocre shooter into a dead-eye marksman, K. C. Jones and Don Chaney being Exhibits A and B. Exhibit C would be Marcus . His 38% career shooting from the field and 33% on three-pointers needs to rise.   DJ shot 44% on field goals - but also a putrid 17% on treys - but to his credit, he rarely took the long shot. On point production, Johnson averaged 14.1 PPG, while Smart is at 13.1 PPG. They both show up with three or four boards per

Who grabs that 15th player spot on Celtics roster?

 NBA teams can have up to 20 players in the off-season, but that number needs to be cut to 15 by the start of the regular season . Boston currently has 15 players under contract , but that doesn't mean all of those present 15 will make up the final roster. Juwan Morgan recently signed with the Celtics but only as a training camp invitee . Ditto for Luke Kornet . Both will be fighting for a roster spot, as will Jabari Parker whose deal for the upcoming season is only partially guaranteed. Def happy with what Brad's done. Added a ton of depth and removed guys that weren't able to contribute consistently. Much better roster overall and much better support around the Jays. Unless something pops up out of nowhere I think Brad's going to wait and see how things fit. — StrengthIN#S (@StrengthinS) September 10, 2021 There will be other free agents at Boston's pre-season camp, and a trade is always a possibility. Brad Stevens has already indicated that any significant de

Can the Tatum/Brown pairing be this generation's Jordan/Pippen equal?

        Is it possible? Should this writer even go there?! This is what happens when you let the kid in you dream of possibilities that are endless. Clearly in this picture we see Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the present/future of the Boston Celtics! We also see His Airness, Michael Jordan , and Scottie Pippen who led the Bulls to six titles. Do the Jays have a few titles in them?!           JT has become a better player each year since he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. On the offensive end he can knock down the three. His mid-range fade-away game is becoming lethal . Has very good court sense to get to the hoop. Now all we need from him is to embrace contact and set up his teammates. We know he can D players up. He's clearly been bulking up this off-season which shows his work ethic. He's part of the Jordan Brand , now can he harness Jordan's alpha-alpha mantra and get the best out of himself and teammates.       JB is another player who had improved every year s

Only direct honesty from The Truth, Paul Pierce - what else?

     One of the greatest Celtics to ever play gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this Saturday! Now he has endeared himself even more to fans by going at ESPN and Lebron. This year's Celtics team could use his fire and spirit! There are a few Celtics who could harness that. Whether you love him or don't, Paul Pierce aka The Truth has never been afraid to speak his mind!       Most fans remember when ESPN was great, but now they have taken that turn where they coddle to certain stars. This writer remembers ESPN not being afraid to look at Michael Jordan's gambling . Anytime Lebron does anything questionable it's swept under the rug. Plus for them to "mandate" talking about Lebron is a joke. Good for him to throw that out there! NBA basketball doesn't start and end with LeBron . There are far too many past and present players who are better and deserve recognition!        Paul Pierce isn't afraid to hold a sports grudge! I'm sorry, but it

Ben Wallace, the 2004 Champ Pistons, Rob Williams and the Celtics upcoming season

 Just finished watching an NBA TV replay of the 2004 Title-clinching Game-5 between the underdog Pistons versus the multi-superstar Lakers . Detroit took the game and Championship with the final score being 100-87 in favor of the Pistons. My readers know my affection for that specific Detroit team. They had ZERO superstars , whereas LA had Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone (out for Game 5) and Gary Payton . Chauncey Billups voiced his feelings best on his supposedly out-matched crew: "People are not even thinking we had a chance to win one game in this series." "We do play the right way, and we are truly a team" is what Pistons Coach Larry Brown had to say about his troops. He was right. His players pushed the ball up court to make Shaq work harder, played extremely-tough defense , moved the bal l around and kept attacking the basket . It all worked, and Ben Wallace's play was astounding . I had honestly forgotten how tough and quick he was. And

Paul Pierce lived for contact. Jayson Tatum avoids it.

 Former-Celtics great, Paul Pierce, ranks 9th on the NBA's  all-time list for career made free throws . He made 6,918 freebies in his 19-year career.  The next long-term Celtic on that list is John Havlicek (5,369) , followed by Kevin Garnett (4,887) . The Truth would take-and-make mid-range shots and 3-pointers, but he never shied away from (actually thrived on) driving to the hoop for the score or the frequent foul. Not so for Jayson Tatum - at least thus far. This is Tatum's shot chart. It's a bit unusual for a guy to get 8 shots in the restricted area and no free throws — John Karalis 🇬🇷 (@RedsArmy_John) December 26, 2020 A rough calculation shows Jayson ending a 19-year career with a total of 4,545 free throws made - far shy of what Pierce put up. Tatum is slighter-of-build and not as strong as Paul, but is the better athlete. Whereas Pierce would fight through contact, Tatum avoids it.  Pierce was listed at 6'7" and 235 pounds

The Celtics roster depth should lead to success.

      So far, Celtics fans, Brad and the front office have shaped this roster - it has depth. There are plenty of players who can play multiple positions. Question is, are they done?        Let's look at the center spot. Robert Williams should be the starter and with his athletic abilities he will be very successful. He can block shots, rebound, make quality passes and has some offensive skills. Behind him you have Enes Kanter who can score and rebound quite effectively. Defensively he needs work. The wild card is Bruno Fernando who could be a dirt-dawg-type player with a KG edge.            The forward spot is led by Jayson Tatum who, as we all saw last year, can be an elite NBA player. He can score at will, pass the ball, rebound when needed and can get down on D. Al Horford is back and we know what his skill set offers. Good passer, defender and can score when needed. Then there are a few questions - will Jabari Parker get and utilize his minutes? Are there any minutes for

Bucks Pat Connaughton brings Championship trophy home to Boston area

Pat Connaughton with the much-deserved Larry O'Brien Trophy Milwaukee Bucks' guard, Pat Connaughton , is back home in the Boston area , and he brought the recently-won Larry O'Brien trophy with him. He was born in Arlington, Massachusetts and attended St. John's Prep in Danvers where he starred as a 3-sport athlete, prior to attending college at Notre Dame. Pat Connaughton with Sgt. Steve Fugere, Sterling (MA) Police Dept. The 2020-21 season was his sixth in the NBA, and the do-everything guard helped bring a second Championship to Milwaukee. How valuable was Connaughton to the Bucks cause in winning the Title ( per's Bradshaw Furlong )? Connaughton had a great regular season, put together an even better playoff run, and was an invaluable member of the rotation in every playoff series. The Bucks don’t win the championship without Connaughton,  that’s probably something everyone can agree with. Trophy topped by Fitchburg State University Polic

Juancho Hernangomez: Welcome to Boston

       In yet another move, the Celtics have acquired Juancho Hernangomez from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kris Dunn, Carsen Edwards, and a second round pick . Brad Stevens and the front office team have not stopped this off-season.       Most Celtics fans expected that Kris Dunn would be moved in a deal. Celtics fans were feeling this was Carsens last chance and they were right. Carsen never materialized into that guy off the bench. The question now is where does Juancho fit in to this year's team? Some might say he reminds them of Jonas Jerebko. Another big who has length and he's only 25. A guy who can space the floor for the Jays!  The 6'9", 214-pound Spanish import had his best partial season with Minnesota in the 2019-20 season, averaging 28.4 MPG, 12.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG . He can play both forward positions.      Needless to say this off-season for the Celtics has been busy! Question is, are they done? ! 

Finishing games, defense and Brown's catch-and-shoot stats keys to success

 The Boston Celtics remain mired in the middle of the pack in's latest Eastern Conference Power Rankings . The Green rank seventh , just after the New York Knicks and in front of the Bulls.'s John Schuhmann cites the Celtics' lack of ability to close out close games - a drop in last-season's defensive stats - and Jaylen Brown's impressive catch-and-shoot stats as focal points for the Celtics this season. "The Celtics played 43 games,  most in the league , that were within five points in the last five minutes last season. They were 17-26 (0.395, fourth worst in the league) in those games and 19-10 (0.655) otherwise, finishing 36-36 with the point differential of a team that was 40-32." Expect a lot of Jayson's-last-minute heroics  once again in 2021-22. He is a master at getting a decent shot off under pressure. Now to defense. "The Celtics’ defense saw the league’s third biggest jump in points allowed per 100 possessions, from 10

Still pissed at Pitino? Then read this!

 Do you recognize the top photo? Of course you do. That's Rick Pitino . How about the bottom photo? Probably not. That's the "immortal" Travis Knight , for whom the gracious Pitino granted a long-term, 7-year/$22 million deal - while allowing f uture-3-time Champion Rick Fox to head off to the rival Lakers. I am not done! Travis' most-productive season was in 1997-98 with Boston, averaging 20.3 MPG, 6.5 PPG and 4.9 RPG . Knight never achieved that again. He went back to Laker-Land the very next season and finished his 7-year NBA stint, granted via Pitino's 7-year gift. The Knight-in-lusterless-armor finished his career averaging 9.0 minutes per game and producing a mere 1.9 points and 1.9 boards .  Not done yet! How about Rick Fox in Los Angeles? How does three Championships in a row from 1999 to 2002 sound? He started all playoff games for LA in 2001 and 2002, averaging 35.8 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 1.9 SPG in 2001 .  People may forget that Pitino beca