Cold day? Read here to warm the cockles of your heart
|CHARLES KRUPA/AP PHOTO|
|Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen lands in the stands while chasing a loose ball during Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston. This might have been Allen's most visible moment of the series.|
After one of the great disappearing acts of recent times, the Celtics better hope their best three-point shooter finds a way out of whatever slump’s engulfed him or they’re going to have a short stay in the series against the Pistons.
Funny thing was, the Cavs didn’t do anything to make him a non-factor, no double-teams, no special defensive schemes, they just guarded him closely, didn’t give him space to shoot and watched him disintegrate.
All I know is this: The Pistons are an exponentially better defensive team than Cleveland is and it’s not going to get any easier for Allen, or even Kevin Garnett, to get going in this series.
Throughout the first two series – Altanta and Cleveland – there was a sneaking suspicion that the Celtics were playing with fire, hoping to ride their emotion and intensity to wins at home and hoping – just hoping – someone would take control of a road game.
The Pistons are old and experienced and tough, they’ve been though this kind of series for five years in a row and the Celtics, for all their yelling and screaming and gesticulating, had better simply play if they want to win.
I don’t know if there’s a Beantown switch that can be pulled, I get the feeling there isn’t, which is why I can see Detroit taking out Boston in six games.
I’m told not only is John Lucas likely to get an interview in Chicago (Cleveland reported this on the weekend) but Lucas is also in line to chat with Phoenix about that job opening.
What I’m sort of surprised about, given the breadth of their searches, is that neither the Suns nor the Bulls have thought about approaching Toronto about any of its three assistants, all of whom, I’d say, have as much chance at being a successful NBA head coach as some of the guys (Elston Turner? Tyrone Corbin? Bryan Shaw?) No disrespect to those guys (and I’ve always thought ex-Raptor Corbin would be a head coach some day) but surely teams would at least have an interest in the Toronto guys?
And I know all three would listen if someone called. And I’m sure the Raptors would give them permission to be interviewed if it came up.
But, before anyone gets up in arms about what this might mean to Lucas’s off-season training sessions and whether or not Bargnani will get some help this summer, let’s let the interview process play out and see if Lucas lands one of these jobs. I’d say it’s a long, long, long shot that he’s a head coach in either Chicago or Phoenix next year.
You check out Candace Parker’s debut Saturday? I did and came away hugely impressed.
That’s what 34-12-8 will do to a casual fan.
I have no idea how many, if any, WNBA fans there are out there (I would hope there’d be more than a few) but if you’re not, give a game a shot. It’s not the NBA so don’t go in with any preconceived notion but watch and I bet you’re entertained.
I don’t consider myself a huge WBNA supporter but women’s pro sports is entirely ignored in these parts and that’s a shame.
Here’s one from the mail:
Q: You talked about how players are now given workout regimens for the o off-season and are visited by staff. Just wondering if you know how long this has been going on. It's relatively recent, isn't it? I remember Bill Laimbeer famously and proudly never did anything in the off-season. Do you think it's getting out of hand? Or do the salaries now justify the year-round scrutiny?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: It is relatively recent, probably a decade old, maybe a little bit longer.
It’s not really out of hand for the very reason you suggest. Teams make such a financial investment in these players – and one mistake can set a franchise back a year or so – they need to know that the “employees” are doing everything they need to do to remain in shape.
Another thing to consider: Training camps are so short – about a week before teams start playing exhibition games – that there’s really no time for a guy to “work himself into shape” as there was back in the day.
Sam fondly reminds us about eleventy times a year that his coaches had about three weeks of practice before the pre-season began to work guys; he’s got about seven days only three of them – in a collectively bargained arrangement – can include two practices in a day.
This is borrowed (well, lifted) from Ross Siler’s end-of-the-season Utah Jazz wrap-up in the Salt Lake City Tribute. The whole blog’s too long and irrelevant in these parts to link but check this out:
"(Jerry) Sloan and (Deron) Williams both talked about the need for leadership and toughness. Williams suggested that for as much as Houston and the Lakers complained about the Jazz's physical play, the team could have been even tougher in denying easy layups.
"I think Matt Harpring said we need to sign Hoffa [Rafael Araujo] for a 1-hour contract," Williams joked.
I see a glimpse of Sam Cassell talking to Damon Jones at the end of the Celtics-Cavs series and all I can think is: Is there ever a moment of silence? And how would either know what the other was saying since neither of them are ever quiet.
Once more into the mail:
Q: Do you think that NBA players (or any pro athletes, for that matter) pay attention to their fantasy pool popularity/performance? I remember in Arenas' blog he told his fans to not drop him yet when he was re-habbing. So just wondering, if fantasy pools would affect the psyche/confidence of a player? Probably not, but just a fun one! (instead of trade talk!!)
Felix T, Loughbrough
A: I don’t think fantasy popularity has an impact on anything a player does but, believe me, everyone in the NBA knows about fantasy leagues and some players actually take part.
And if they don’t take part in basketball fantasy leagues, a huge majority of them are in some kind of NFL pool.
Is there a better way to end a long weekend than a Game 7? Get the yardwork done, the newspaper work out of the way, the Little League baseball practice over with and relax on the sofa with Chris Paul and Manu Ginobili.
The head says the Spurs should prevail – big-game experience and all – but the heart would love to see the Hornets pull it out. And I’m not sure we can ever doubt Paul’s ability to take over a game.