The Celtics and The NBA’s Stretch Run To The Playoffs- Eastern Conference OutlookMarch 23, 2008
Although the the Hornets beat the Celtics last night one cannot argue that this last roadtrip now over was a smashing success. The Celtics smashed the Rockets streak, beat San Antonio and also the Mavericks to complete a Texas trifecta, very difficult for any club to pull off. The Celtics play team basketball in a manner and style that conjures up the Celtics teams of old and makes the ghost of their legendary coach Red Auebach smile from above. It would be obvious to say that Kevin Garnett, a perennial All Star big time, big man is the main reason but the emergence of unheralded little Rajon Rondo is equally important for without a defensive minded point guard who has elevated his offensive production what good is the rest of this club? Danny Ainge is a shoe in for executive of the year, not only did the oft maligned in the past GM trade for a franchise center, he parlayed the nucleus of Pierce and Garnett to pursued slick Ray Allan, classy guy and another lights out perennial All Star shooting guard to join the fold. Continuing to build the depth he added sharpshooter Eddie House, team player James Posey, heady steady veteran Sam Cassell, all supported by the young front court trio of Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis. This past week they added 15 year top flight defender, rebounder PJ Brown. Who did I leave out? Oh Tony Allen, not bad eh. This is the best ballclub front to back in the NBA in years. They still may not win it all. That’s never a lock. Guys like Kobe, T Mac, LeBron, AI, and Nowitzki can break anyone down and pile up points. Missed free throws, a twisted ankle, a bad call down the stretch etc and hey you lose, so Celtic’s fans lets not hang number 17 prematurely but this year has been alot of fun for sure. And the playoffs should be and I gaurantee will be exciting. Folks the reemergence of the Celtics, the most storied franchise in the NBA, is great for basketball here and abroad. All Boston is revelling in pro sports success this year and at the top of the hub sportswise with the Patriots, the Red Sox, Celtics and yes even the Bruins who are on the verge of making the NHL playoffs.
Ok well as long as I am rambling on high about the Celtics, let’s take a look at the NBA Eastern Conference as a whole. While the Celtics have already clinched the number 1 spot being equally successful at home and on the road, the Detriot Pistons are holding steady in the second slot some 5 games behind the C’s and 5 games ahead of number three Orlando. Detriot is led by Chauncey Billups and Richard Rip Hamilton both averaging almost 18 pts per contest. The starting five rounded out by Wallace, McDyce and Prince are really good but a pretty average bench is what seperates them from the leagues elite this year. The Orlando Magic have also clinched a spot and feature a monster in the middle in Dwight Howard who is averaging 21 pts and 14 rebounds and is a younger version of Kevin Garnett. Hedu Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are great scorers too at 19.9 and 18.3 and Jameer Nelson is a nice point guard but then things drop off alot and the bench is weak. When I say that, it’s not demeaning because this is a great club having a fine season but it’s relative to the other top tier clubs. And BTW they have great looking cheerleaders…The Cleveland Cavaliers are solid at number 4, 6 games behind the Magic but a lock for this spot. When LeBron James was in high school he was a man among boys. In the NBA today he is the man among men. He does what he wants on offense with strength and grace, inside and out. He also defends, rebounds, runs the court and dishes off unselfishly. He is the modern day Oscar Robertson, but better. Sorry O, it’s true. He will ultimately be on the NBA All-Time team , maybe even a starter. Zydonis Ilgauskas pardon me if I spelt it wrong , it is getting very international isn’t it, is a gret player and at 13.6 and almost 10 rebounds he compliments James well. The rest of the Cavaliers though have shortcomings and while Gibson is a good shooter and West is ok but really they only going as far as King James goes. The order of the next 3 teams is uncertain but it is certain that they will make the playoffs. Currently the Washington Wizards led by Antawn Camison and Caron Butler are hanging on to the number 5 slot by a thread over the Raptors and the 76ers. If Gilbert Arenas comes back this week as anticipated and can pump in 20-25 pts as is his usual they could be a surprise team. The Toronto Raptors have a sweet player in the paint in Chris Bosh, and I know that Prker, Calderon, Tj Ford and Barganani are good ballplayers but I don’t see them getting past the first round. The Philadelphia 76ersare right there record wise and definitely in the mix but again they are not going to beat a really good team in a series. Andre Iguadala and Andre Miller are both scoring well 19.8 and 17.1 respectively after that it’s a bunch of who’s that guy which either means I am not following the fantasy stats which means knowing every single player or they just haven’t made names for themselves outside of say Philly. Which brings us to the number 8 and final slot which is the one that is anyones guess between Atlanta, New Jersey, Indiana, and Chicago. These teams are 8 to 13 games below .500 so I will spare you the details.
Generally speaking you can still get some sort of tickets for all the teams even the Celtics for the last few games. In the old days of the Garden they had obstructed view seats which I used to score and then just wander around standing along the rails or sneaking into a vacant seat. The arenas of today are alot nicer, cleaner (no rats) and no obstructions so even nosebleeds are ok. If you want to sit in good loge or court-side seats though and you have the dough visit National Ticket Agencywhere you’ll find all the available after market seats. These are seats that brokers own or season ticket holders have sold to brokers including National. Reality is that between the seats, say two of them, parking , food, it will set you back 3 or 400 bucks but you are guaranteed to have a ball as in basketball. The game is exciting , the athletes are phenomenal and you should make it a point to at least attend a game or two and root for your team as we get down to the nitty gritty. If your lucky enough to have seasons tickets you will get first dibs on the playoffs and what many ticket holders do is sell off half the games to pay for the rest. It makes sense. In any event use your head and don’t over drink and drive please. it’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement but honestly it’s so not worth it to ruin your life over another couple beers. Cheers!
Next post will be on the NBA Western Conference playoff prospects. Also the NCAA march madness will be in full swing and I will report on that as well as the windup of spring training. So much to report, it’s all about sports. Yours truly, Joe Ticket.