Snowy and cold and a dangerous game is lurking
It’s not exactly a raging blizzard here but the wind is way up, the snow is falling, the streets are greasy and it’s cold.
I’m thinking this is a day when I’m glad to have a boatload of work to do and a comfortable hotel room to do it in.
Remember in the middle of the week, before the Charlotte game, when it was suggested it was as much about how the Raptors played as it was about revenge?
Pretty much the same thing tonight.
The Raptors have tended to cower from the Celtics in the past, to back down from the yapping and the physical defence. It was seldom pretty to watch and everyone connected with the team knew it.
So the thing to watch for tonight is whether they stand up and fight – not literally, of course – or regress. It doesn’t mean running their mouths like the Celtics do, it doesn’t mean knocking everyone on their butts every time down the court.
But it means standing their ground and not backing up and it is perhaps the single biggest thing to watch for when the game unfolds.
If they do that and lose? Well, they’ve done that and lost. It’s not the end of the world but it’d be a good statement.
Garnett’s out, Pierce is out and the story today is that Rajon Rondo won’t play for Boston and that leads me to think one thing and one thing only:
Spurs by 12.
(Regulars will get it)
The fact is that this is now an officially dangerous game for the Raptors and their fans. Expectations will be huge given the injury-ravaged Boston lineup and I can feel some angst building already.
But here’s why it’s dangerous:
Doc Rivers is going to have to run out some combinations that the Raptors have never seen before and can’t have prepared for.
And just like that night in San Antonio, when the Duncan- and Parker-free Spurs used a small, odd lineup out of necessity that gave the Raptors fits, we know adapting to sudden change is difficult for a team to do.
If I know Jay and his staff, there was lot of time spent last night and this morning trying to guess what the Celtics might run or look like but that’s all it can be, a guess.
The real adapting will come when the game’s going on and it’ll be interesting to see what the Raptors come up with.
We’re dining and hanging with a couple of pucks dudes last night; they were in town for the big game down at Fenway.
And Young Tim Wharnsby, one of the greats who know plies his trade at The People’s Network Dot Ca, comes up with the line of the night, even if he didn’t write it.
Knowing I have a bit of a fondness for the team that usually plays at the ball year, he looks over as we’re having a postprandial cocktail and says:
“Marco Sturm scored wearing a bloody sock.”
Maybe you had to be there but that had ‘em rolling on the bar laughing.
In Boston, this is what they were reading about the depleted Celtics lineup in the Globe, after they got past all the pucks stuff.
Okay, maybe time to get a wee bit serious. What about those Washington Wizards?
In case you missed it, a report yesterday, which you can read here, says Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon drew guns in a locker room dispute over an unpaid gambling debt.
Now, we don’t know what actually happened and I would imagine it’s somewhere in between the titillating details of the story yesterday and the totally expected denials.
But I will say this: If this is true, it’s worse than the Detroit brawl and the NBA is going to have to hammer any offending player very, very hard.
Guns are one of the great scourges of society, in my opinion, and if the NBA really cares about making social statements it cannot abide even unloaded firearms stashed in a team facility.
Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, or the middle-age thing, but I can’t fathom owning guns, let alone bringing them to my place of work, let alone taking one out and pointing it a co-worker.
It’s perhaps the single most stupid thing I’ve ever heard of connected with the NBA.
Believe me, I’ve never seen or heard of a firearm around the Raptors, although I’ve equally certain some of the players who’ve come through have owned them. And that’s proved true by knowing that Lonny Baxter spent time in jail for shooting off a round or two outside the White House (now, there’s the single most stupid thing I’ve heard connecting Raptors and guns).
Anyway, once this investigation runs its course and we find out what actually happened, if it’s determined there were guns in the Wizards locker room and players had them out, those players need to be suspended.
And I’m talking 15, 20 games.
One last point: Abe Pollin, the late owner of the team, a guy who got the team nicknamed changed to Wizards from Bullets because of the connotation, a guy who helped revitalize the urban arena area to take it back from gun-toting thieves and punks, must be rolling over in his grave at this news.
We know return you to high comedy.
Or relatively inconsequential basketball.
So I’m working up this piece on Chris Bosh for tomorrow’s newspaper hung on the hook that he’s about to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Lots of solid stuff, it could be a good read but here’s one snippet. I asked him about being the longest-serving “best” athlete of any Toronto sports team:
“It’s cool. It just happened with Halladay leaving and everything; I guess in the next couple of months it might start to show the difference. I think it’s cool.
“Some people are like, ‘you’re the most recognizable athlete in Canada’ and that’s pretty funny to me.
“It’s a good feeling, I never really thought it would come to all of this when I was rookie, I just wanted to do my part and be a good player.”
Stay tuned for more.
Put Harpoon on the list of good local delicacies one can find covering NBA teams on the road.
Oh yeah. The airport. Security.
Well, except for the second layer of checks – the full body pat-down and repeat searching of the carry-on in the hallway by the gate – it wasn’t horribly intrusive.
Might have had to do with the fact it was New Year’s Day and there were hardly any travellers but it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.
Which means that the next time I go anywhere, it’ll take hours and hours for the process to unfold.