Of Pops and Jake and a Villanova love-in
Five down, three to go and it’s almost time to get serious.
Until then …
Three Things I Learned
They could be in better shape
I know a few of ‘em haven’t had a whole lot of practice – actually just Turk and Bosh – but I have to say, the Raps as a whole could use a bit of physical fine-tuning.
There’s a lot of time left, after tonight they’ve only got two games in like 13 days before the season ends, and I’m betting Jay’s going to be huddling with strength and conditioning coach Francesco Cuzzolin to get some of these guys on a fast-track program to optimum fitness.
It’s not that they’re slovenly as a group or anything. It just looks like they could use some oomph or something.
It was really noticeable in the first six or seven minutes of the third quarter when the Celtics seemed to run by them almost at will.
It’s got to be a priority in the next week.
Sign of the times?
No, they didn’t run too many screen and rolls against Boston – it’s such a basic play they all know that it won’t take long for them to work it out -- but what they did run was mildly interesting.
I think about half a dozen times in the first half, and a couple right at the start of the second, the ran post-ups for Bosh, with Turkoglu making the entry pass.
Of the three bigs, it looks like Bosh may be the inside guy, which plays to his newfound strength, actually.
And, no, he didn’t pass out of it very often last night but I wouldn’t worry about that. That game, and the four before it and the three to come, are for working on things and if he’s working on moves – a baseline fade off the left block looks like Job 1 – everyone’s okay with that.
How about KG’s knee?
It’s virtually impossible to get a true read off the Celtics from that game. It was the second of a back-to-back for most of them, Rasheed didn’t play and Garnett, Pierce and Allen only played a bit more than half a game.
To me, Garnett didn’t look hobbled at all but it was interesting that they used him primarily on Bargnani and put Kendrick Perkins on Bosh.
The other two? Allen didn’t make a shot in the first half, Pierce never really got going and it was like an extended workout rather than an intense outing.
And now for our regularly-scheduled stuff
Are you guys ready to tear the roof off the joint tonight?
It’s Legend Night at the Air Canada Centre.
As in The Legend Pops is back.
Now, the love for him was hardly commensurate with his production but it was love like there’s been for few others.
My take on Pops, as it’s always been, is that he’s an energetic rebounder who always looks to be having more of an impact on the game than he actually is.
Good guy for the couple of months he was here trying to gain permanent employment – which tells me he knows how to play the game. Rotation player on a playoff team? I’m not entirely sure about that.
Here’s one to watch tonight. When Houston’s Kyle Lowry’s on the court, make sure Alvin Williams is actually cheering for the Raptors.
I joke, of course, but the bond between the two Villanova guards is strong. Very strong.
Williams spent a huge amount of time last year and in the summer of 2008 working with Lowry, who I think is going to be a very solid player for quite some time.
Speaking of Houston, the notebook from my buddy Jonathan Feigen suggests Rockets coach Rick Adelman isn’t quite in love with the whole idea of this game.
What’s the first picture a guy sees when he walks into the press room at XL Center in Hartford?
Why a picture of a young Jake Voskuhl setting what looked like a rather nasty screen on someone during Jake’s rather illustrious UConn career.
And then you look around a little more and there’s pictures of entertainers and some pucks and some women Huskies but the only picture representing that storied men’s program is Jake.
No Ray Allen.
No Charlie V.
No Donyell Marshall.
No Khalid El-Amin, even.
And I imagine he was called for a foul on the screen he was setting.
Ran into my friend Bob Ryan at the game last night; it was his first foray into the land of Celtics after dealing with the demise of the Red Sox.
Here’s his take from today’s Boston Globe on what unfolded.
You know the little things that bug the heck out of you for no particular reason except that they do. Stuff that no one else probably even things about but stuff that drives you nuts? I’ve got one for you.
Elevators with floor buttons on only one side of the door.
Just spent two days in the Hilton in Hartford (trust me, it sounds a heckuva lot nicer than it is) and just about every time I walked into the elevator, I turned the wrong way and went to push a button only to get a metal panel.
Irks me no end.
(Now, if that’s not the all-time digression, I don’t know what is).
In Houston, this is what they’re reading about the Rockets; in Hartford, an old scout friend was telling me he saw them play already this pre-season and while he didn’t say they were terrible, he did say they were small and could be in for a long, long season.
A face in the Hartford crowd stood out.
Pete Babcock, who’s doing some scouting for Cleveland apparently.
Good guy, Pete. Had a long run as GM in Atlanta but hasn’t been too prominent of late.
If you’re sitting around breathlessly waiting for some update on Reggie Evans and the sprained foot he suffered Wednesday night, stand down.
With no media after their little Read To Achieve dog and pony show this morning, we’re not going to here any update until dinner time.
If I get a whiff, I’ll let you know but it’s probably going to be close to game time before there’s news.