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Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:07

Celtics Check-In: 2019 Draft edition

Anyone who’s paying attention knows that the Boston Celtics are going through some things right now. Mercurial star point guard Kyrie Irving had one foot out the door for most of the season – he won’t be returning to the C’s. And it’s starting to look like Al Horford will join him; the do-everything big man declined his player option and seems inclined to head elsewhere in free agency.

In the midst of all that uncertainty, general manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston front office had to deal with the draft. Despite the multitude of accumulated assets, the Celtics were unable to make the big splash for which many had hoped; it remains to be seen how well the players selected will perform in the Kelly green.

There were a lot of deals, with picks and players moving hither and yon. In the end, these are the players who were added to the Boston roster.

(Obligatory caveat: We here at The Maine Edge believe that draft grades are utter nonsense. Attempting to establish the specific success and/or failure of a draft – in any sport – before those players ever see the court/field is a fool’s errand. This is one man’s look at and thoughts on a team’s selections, nothing more.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 14:00

Celtics Check-In 2019 – Third Quarter

It’s maybe a touch early to be marking the three-quarter mark of the season – with a 37-21 record thus far, the Celtics are 58 games into the season. However, with the All-Star break serving as a convenient delineation marker, it’s as good a time as any to check in.

It has been a nice rebound since we marked the season’s midpoint; Boston has won 80 percent of their games since the last time we visited them. Granted, that strong stretch moved them up just one spot in the standings – from fifth to fourth – but they’re just a game out of third.

It’s a team that has slowly been getting better, though they’ve got more than a few obstacles still in their way. Injuries and inconsistency have been the watchwords of the Celtics season; it’s all going to come down to whether they can get healthy and get their heads right in time for the postseason.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 13:55

Celtics Check-In 2019 - Halftime

We’re just past the halfway point of this NBA season and the Boston Celtics have not been living up to expectations.

After 43 games played, the Celtics sit at 25-18, a mere seven games over .500 and a record good for just fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Worse, all four of the teams above them look poised to continue their relative success going forward.

It’s not all bad – the team has actually played significantly better since hitting the quarter-pole at a mediocre 11-10. It’s just that this team looked ready to take a big leap forward after last season’s successes. Instead, the C’s have stumbled backwards, though they might still find a way to turn it all around.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 14:09

Celtics Check-In 2018 – First Quarter

I’ll freely admit to being something of a late adopter when it comes to the NBA. As a general sports fan, I was always aware of the NBA, but my interest never really went that deep – I was primarily and baseball and football man.

But recent years have shown me just how fun the game of basketball can be. And when the hometown team just happens to feature a mess of exceptional talent, well … it’s easy to get excited. However, this year’s squad hasn’t managed to proper utilize that talent to meet the loft expectations placed on them.

Obviously, we weren’t going to get a repeat of last year’s start; 16-game winning streaks don’t grow on trees. But we all though this team would be better than 11-10 at the season’s one-quarter mark. It’s not a terrible record, but at just above .500, they currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference. They’ll get better, but when?

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports

It’s safe to say that the Boston Celtics of the 1950s and 1960s were the greatest dynasty in American professional sports. One could try to make arguments for other teams in other sports, but in terms of pure extended dominance, it’s tough to argue against eight consecutive championships and 11 titles in 13 seasons.

It’s also tough to argue against any two players being more vital to those victories than Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. But despite their brilliant dynamic on the court, their relationship beyond basketball is something a little more complicated.

Both aspects of the Cousy/Russell link are explored in Gary Pomerantz’s new book “The Last Pass: Cousy, Russell, and What Matters in the End” (Penguin Press, $28). Built around a years-long series of interviews with Cousy, the book explores the history of that dynastic time in Celtics history and examines an NBA that might have disappeared forever had Cousy and Russell not come along, all while also looking at issues of race in a particularly tumultuous time in our society.

Published in Sports

The Boston Celtics took fans on a heck of a ride last year, advancing to within one game of winning the Eastern Conference and heading to the NBA Finals for the first time in nearly a decade. Poor shooting on their home floor kept them from being the first team to keep LeBron James out of the Finals since … the Boston Celtics in 2010.

The 2017-18 Celtics arrived earlier than expected despite losing one big-ticket free agent acquisition (Gordon Hayward) five minutes into the first game of the season and the other (Kyrie Irving) with 20 games left. Yet with neither of their mega-talent additions on the floor, Boston still made the conference finals thanks primarily to huge leaps by youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the deceptive low-key excellence of Al Horford.

That team won 55 games and was the top seed in the East … and this latest incarnation is almost certainly going to be better. Maybe a lot better.

Published in Sports

There were rumors of potential paradigm-shifting fireworks from the Boston Celtics on draft night, but instead, Danny Ainge had a relatively quiet evening. All that happened was that a potentially lottery-level talent dropped into their laps at the back end of the first round.

The Celtics selected Robert Williams III, a 6’ 10” big man, out of Texas A&M with the 27th overall pick. The power forward, who will likely play small-ball center in the scheme of C’s coach Brad Stevens, was considered by many to be a high-level talent – potentially top-10 talent – but personal maturity questions led him to drop, which in turn led to Boston happily scooping him up.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:47

Celtics Check-in – Third Quarter

It shouldn’t be any sort of surprise that the Celtics have cooled off considerably since their blazing hot start to the season. This was never going to be a team that demonstrated that kind of dominance over the course of an entire year; the inevitable regression plus the elevation of performance by other teams has changed the dynamic of the conference considerably.

Going into the All-Star break – the NBA season’s “midway point” even though it’s essentially three-quarters over - Boston’s record sat at 40-19. It’s a solid record, though they’ve been overtaken for the Eastern Conference lead by the surging Toronto Raptors and have a reenergized Cleveland Cavaliers quad nipping at their heels.

The Celtics have been decidedly meh since the season’s actual midpoint – they’ve managed a .500 record (a notch below that, really). They’ve maintained their defensive strength (albeit not to the extremes of their early season performance), but their offense has dipped significantly. There’s no reason to panic – we knew that this team wasn’t going to win 60 – but there are some causes for concern.

Still, this is a very good team. They’re well-coached and are led by an elite talent. No one is going to want to face this group in the playoffs.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 14:07

Celtics Check-In – Halftime

I’ll freely admit that it’s shameful that it has taken me this long to start writing about the Celtics. As someone so attuned to the comings and goings of other New England teams and writing regular features on the Patriots and Red Sox, it’s weird that the C’s have gotten short shrift.

So call me a bandwagon-jumper if you wish – you wouldn’t be wrong – but I’m definitely paying more attention to Boston basketball than I have in nearly a decade.

Obviously, it’s a lot more fun to write about a good team. And with a 33-10 record as of press time – a record that gives them the second-best winning percentage in all of basketball and a spot at the very top of the Eastern Conference – there’s no disputing that these Celtics are very good.

Yes, the team has cooled down after their blazing hot beginnings, but there’s nothing wrong with a stretch of 15-6 following their 18-4 start. As we go to press, they’re riding a six-game winning streak. Again – a VERY good team.

Let’s check in.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 13:01

Celtics Check-in – First Quarter

It has taken me a while, but I’m starting to come around on the NBA.

Published in Sports
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