Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Some notes from 30,000 feet on a less than ideal Celtics start…

Not brain surgery through two games but to paraphrase a former President who grew up in this part of the country…

It’s the defense, stupid.

After four years as the NBA’s best defensive team, the Celtics have started out as anything but in 2011-2012.  All the obvious asterisks aside, short training camp, new bench, tough road schedule and of course, the subtraction of their leading scorer and captain Paul Pierce aside, some pretty jarring numbers.

For example…

·         Last year, the Celtics were 26-0 when scoring 104 points. This year, 0-2. 

·         Last year, the Celtics were 36-4 when shooting 50%. This year, 0-2. 

·         Last year, the Celtics trailed by 17 just five times in 82 games. This year, 2-2..

Here’s the big one….

·         At one point late in the 3rd quarter, the Heat were shooting 70% from the floor.  The Celtics zone cooled them off, but it was still one of the worst defensive efforts of the 4+ year era.


.580 - VS. TORONTO – JANUARY 23, 2008

.574`- VS. DALLAS – JANUARY 18, 2010

.560 - @ MIAMI – DECEMBER 27, 2011

.559 - VS. PHOENIX – MARCH 26, 2008 (W)

.557 - VS. TORONTO – NOVEMBER 27, 2009 (W)

.557 - @ PHILADELPHIA – DECEMBER 5, 2007 (W)

.557 - @ DETROIT – DECEMBER 29, 2010

.551 - @ CLEVELAND – APRIL 12, 2009

.550 - VS. MEMPHIS – MARCH 10, 2010

·         It was the 16th time C’s have gone down by 20 in the New Big Three era…five of the 16 to a LeBron James team.


36 - @ CLEVELAND – APRIL 12, 2009

29 - VS. MEMPHIS – MARCH 10, 2010

29 - @ HOUSTON – MARCH 18, 2011

28 - VS. WASHINGTON – APRIL 9, 2010

25 - @ INDIANA – NOVEMBER 1, 2008

25 - VS. SAN ANTONIO – MARCH 28, 2010

23 - @ PHOENIX – DECEMBER 30, 2009

23 - VS. L.A. CLIPPERS – MARCH 9, 2011

23 - @ MIAMI – APRIL 10, 2011

22 - @ SAN ANTONIO – MARCH 17, 2008 (W)

22 - VS. ORLANDO – MARCH 8, 2009

20 - @ ORLANDO – NOVEMBER 18, 2007

20 - @ CLEVELAND – JANUARY 9, 2009

20 - @ DENVER – FEBRUARY 21, 2010

20 - VS. CLEVELAND – FEBRUARY 25, 2010

20 - @ MIAMI – DECEMBER 27, 2011

·         Celtics only made 12 3’s once last year, against Sacramento in the blizzard game on Jan, 12.  They haven’t made more than 12 since November of 2009, part of the hot start to the ’09-’10 season,  It was the 20th time in the New Big Three Era the Celtics had made at least 12 3’s, they had been 17-2 in the previous 19.


16 - VS. DALLAS – JANUARY 25, 2009

15 - @ MEMPHIS – MARCH 8, 2008

15 - @ MIAMI – JANUARY 21, 2009


14 - @ PORTLAND – FEBRUARY 24, 2008

14 - @ CHICAGO – APRIL 1, 2008

14 - @ DENVER – FEBRUARY 23, 2009


13 - @ WASHINGTON – APRIL 9, 2008 (L)

13 - @ INDIANA – DECEMBER 7, 2008

12 - @ TORONTO – NOVEMBER 4, 2007*

12 - VS. NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 29, 2007

12 - VS. CHICAGO – DECEMBER 21, 2007

12 - vs. Chicago – december 19. 2008


12 - VS. NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 14, 2008

12 - VS. CHICAGO – OCTOBER 30, 2009

12 - @ ORLANDO – JANUARY 28, 2010 (L)

12 - VS. SACRAMENTO – JANUARY 12, 2011

12 - @ MIAMI – DECEMBER 27, 2011 (L)

 But let’s also remember that as dominant as the Celtics have been, the Christmas road trip has not been their friend since winning the championship in 2008.  The Celtics go into New Orleans on Wednesday 3-10 in their last 13 games on the Christmas trip.

2008 - 1-3 including the Christmas loss to the Lakers and the controversial “6 men on the court” loss in Portland.

2009 - 1-3, the start of the uninspired 27-27 finish to the regular season.

2010 - 1-2 plus the injury to Kevin Garnett

2011 - 0-2 start 

So yes, by the way, this is what I do at 2:23am, five miles above the gulf. 

Hug your kids close this holiday week, and hope for a better life for them.

The plane is beginning its descent. 

No doubt more than a few right now think the Celtics are as well.  We’ll see.

We’ll talk to you at 7:30 eastern time tonight from New Orleans on and WEEI. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011


There’s been a ton of debate, and consternation about the 66-game schedule upon which the NBA is about to embark.  And virtually all of it, is about the volume of games being “crammed” into a short amount of time.  And while it’s factual, two things to remember; the number of games only went “up” by ten percent  (3.7/week as opposed to 3.4) and it will be the same for everyone.

What’s getting no mention, is the change in strength of schedule.  And the fact that the unbalanced schedule will give certain teams an advantage and others, not so much.

Here’s what I mean.  57 of the 66 games will be the same for everyone (assuming that the East and West are relatively balanced, discuss amongst yourselves).  Everyone will play 3 games against teams from their own conference and 1 against teams from the other conference. 

The leaves nine games.

Can nine make that much of a difference from one team to the next?

You decide.

It was unavoidable that the marquee teams would play more marquee games. But how does that play out.  CBS Sports’ computer said the Celtics and Heat would have the toughest schedule.  And a look at their extra nine games shows us why.  But how does that compare to another, under-the-radar playoff contender?  Let’s take a look.

For example, my dark horse in the East is Indiana.  Small-market team, young, unknown head coach, so in theory, not a great television draw.  What do the Pacers’ nine extra games look like compared to the Celtics and Heat?  Do your own tale-of-the-tape.


BOSTON                               MIAMI                                  INDIANA

LA LAKERS                            LA LAKERS                            GOLDEN STATE

DALLAS                                  DALLAS                                  MINNESOTA

OKLAHOMA CITY                OKLAHOMA CITY               NEW ORLEANS

MIAMI                                    BOSTON                                 CLEVELAND

CHICAGO                               CHICAGO                              NEW JERSEY

WASHINGTON                     ORLANDO                             ORLANDO

TORONTO                              PHILADELPHIA                  PHILADELPHIA

INDIANA                               ATLANTA                               BOSTON

NEW YORK                            INDIANA                               MIAMI

It’s almost as dramatic for the Lakers in the West, whose extra games include Boston, Miami, New York and Dallas.

They say this season will be like no other in NBA history.

Looking at things like this…makes me think they’re right.

Friday, December 16, 2011


(Originally written for, December 16, 2011)

Every hall of fame athlete has indelible moments.

They’re what you see in slow-motion on Sportscenter over and over.

But without exception, those moments were born of passion, unparalleled work ethic and debilitating emotional and physical setbacks that had to be overcome.

In the new WWE DVD release, “Stone Cold Steve Austin”, we get to see how the Texas rattlesnake was no different.

The broad sketches of the Steve Austin are already legend.  The early days in Dallas, learning both the business and how to live on a budget.  The tumultuous years in WC, extraordinary in-ring work combined with the ever-frustrating politics.  The life-raft and free-reign of ECW that served as the turn from what was to what would be.  And the misguided start at WWE (The Ringmaster…Fang McFrost?) until a cup of hot tea, and the years of lessons learned led him to find his voice…and change the business.

But the DVD tells us why.

History is concrete.  But the moments that make are wet cement that could dry any number of ways.  “Stone Cold Steve Austin, the bottom line of the most popular superstar of all time” takes us to the moment that very nearly changed that history, the tombstone piledriver that went horribly worng at Summerslam ’97.

All of it leading to the Stone Cold Era that even now fans of John Cena and C.M. Punk happily replay in the DVD machine in their minds.

All-time classic matches with Bret Hart, Mick Foley and the Rock, resonating with the sound track of Jim Ross.

And the unforgettable Raw history of the most unusual, and maybe most successful feud of all-time with Mr. McMahon, one of bedlam, bedpans and beer trucks.

We hear from the all the key players in the evolution, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley, Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson and Jerry Brisco. All of whom played their parts perfectly.

But maybe the best part of the DVD is the constantly recurring theme.  That while it’s ostensibly the story of one man, one hall-of-fame superstar, the lesson is what happens when a promotion rallies around a star, and that star shines bright enough to put everyone on the team in the light.  In 1996 and 1997, WWE was in a life-and-death struggle with WCW.  The Stone Cold phenomenon put the spotlight back on WWE where a roster of future hall-of-famers was already delivering a better product.  The WWE and the roster helped make Stone Cold, and he in turn, made everyone on the roster better.

That’s how championships, and Monday Night Wars, are won.

And that’s when wrestling leaves its fans indelible images of an era they won’t forget.

I’ve been courtside for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, I’ve been lucky enough to call New Year’s Day bowls and national championship games.  They were never louder than the moment before a Stone Cold match when the glass broke.

You can talk about Sammartino, Andre, Flair, Hogan and the Rock.

But on wrestling’s Mount Rushmore, they’re all fighting for the spots next to Steve Austin.

I’m not sure we’d be saying the same about Fang McFrost

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celtics and the Unbalanced Schedule - Nov, 27, 2011

Posted on Twitter - November 27, 2011

Halftime break from watching Sanchez throw picks, one example of how the new NBA schedule changes?  Inter-conference play. 

Here’s what I mean.

If, and that’s a big if, the West is a tougher, deeper conference than the East has been the case for most of this new millennium, then the Celtics will benefit from a schedule that will nor feature more inter-conference games.  In a normal year, teams play 63% of their schedule against their own conference.  With 12 of the 16 games being cut from the schedule being against the teams from the other conference, that number now jumps to 73%.

How much shuffling of the original schedule will have to be done? Probably more than we realized.  While home dates will largely remain intact, opponents will have to be shifted around quite a bit.  For example, after Christmas, the Celtics would have had 25 games left Vs. the Western Conference.  That number now gets cut to 18.  So of the 13 home games originally schedules against western teams in 2012, four of them will now be changed to eastern teams.  And if, for another example, that changes visits from San Antonio and Dallas to say, Washington and Charlotte, you do the math.

Six western teams will not visit the Garden this year and the Celtics will not visit six western cities.

Just some morsels to digest while we wait for real news…like an actual schedule, the free-agent period or any international incidents J.R. Smith is causing around the globe.

Celtics and the Short Season - Nov. 26, 2011

Posted on Twitter - November 26, 2011

To commemorate today, the return of the innocuous Celtics stat. One that starts the debate on whether a short season helps or hurts.

The first, is the sobering realization that the Celtics (and everyone else I suppose) have lost the first two months of the season, a period of the season they have dominated at historic levels the last four years.

CELTICS – NEW BIG 3 ERA (2007-2011)

Games before Christmas: 94 -14 (.870)

Games after Christmas:  140-80 (.636)

Translation; They Celtics have been a 71-win team before Christmas, and a 52-win team afterwards.

Now, is that a factor of the lights, home-heavy early schedule, fresh bodies?  It will be interesting to see which pattern holds in the first few weeks.

We still haven’t seen the new schedule, but it will likely feature a healthy diet of back-to-back games.  For the first two-plus years of the New Big 3 Era, there was a misconception that the older Celtics struggled.  It wasn’t the case, but in the last two years, and in particular the second half of last year, it seemed to be catching up with them.

Back to backs 2007-2009: 29-6 (.829) (.767 with rest)

Back to backs 2009-2011:  19-28 (.404) (.744 with rest)

Last 10 back to backs: 2-8

So while most have felt the short season would help the Celtics, I’ve been skeptical given the struggles last year in back-to-backs.  But let’s remember that the last time we had the truncated season, in 1999, the regular season was more like the NHL’s, a race just to make the playoffs where momentum, not home-court, ruled the day,  The Knicks, an 8-seed, went all the way to the Finals.

So does the 66-game season, in the Celtics 66th NBA season, help or hurt?

The real answer is, we have no idea because we don’t know what the Celtics will look like after the free-agent frenzy begins in two weeks.  But what we do know is that there’s NBA basketball again, so let debates like this begin.