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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

As has been noted in these pages before, I am not a huge NBA fan specifically. However, I am a fairly observant general sports fan, and so I do have a degree of awareness regarding basketball – just enough awareness to have opinions. Underinformed opinions, but opinions nonetheless.

And so – why not offer up an underinformed NBA Finals preview?

The Golden State Warriors are facing off against the Toronto Raptors in a best-of-seven series for the NBA Championship. The Warriors are here as Western Conference champs for the fifth straight time, having won three titles in the last four years. The Raptors, on the other hand, are here as Eastern Conference champs for the first time in the franchise’s quarter-century of existence.

For the casual fan, it’s a pretty solid matchup in terms of historic narrative. On the one hand, if the Warriors win, it’s a chance to experience a truly historic sports dynasty – only a scant few teams have ever had such a stretch of success. On the other hand, you’ve got a chance to see a title-starved city watch a team that they adore hoist a trophy. Either way is a win, really.

So which team is superior? Well, there are a few underinformed ways in which we can examine this.

Published in Sports

While the NBA postseason is rapidly hurtling toward its ultimate crescendo, the league isn’t quite done considering the regular season accomplishments of its players and coaches.

The league has announced the finalists for its six primary regular season awards – MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year – with the ultimate winners set to be announced on June 24.

Considering that the playoffs tend to feature a lot more space between contests than we see during the season, a discussion of these finalists is a welcome way to keep talking basketball even if you aren’t particularly invested in any of the teams still standing.

And so we’re going to do just that, offering up a basic look at a few of the award races and the contenders for each particular crown. Then, just for fun, I’ll pick a winner, though considering the casualness of my NBA fandom, we should be sure to call it what it is – a moderately underinformed prediction.

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, 20 February 2019 13:55

Basketball Hall of Fame announces 2019 finalists

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has announced the finalists for the Class of 2019.

The list – numbering 13 in all – includes four first-time finalists in Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal. The holdovers are led by Chris Webber; the list also includes Leta Andrews, Hugh Evans, Bill Fitch, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Teresa Weatherspoon.

The official class of inductees – everyone from this list who meets or surpasses the 75 percent voting threshold via the 24-person honors committee – will be announced during the NCAA Final Four.

It’s not quite as top-heavy a list as last year, which saw two of the NBA’s greatest point guards ever in Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Still, it’s a quality collection of talent.

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
Monday, 02 July 2018 15:44

Ball don’t lie – ‘Uncle Drew’

Sometimes, you see a movie trailer and think “That looks terrible.” Other times, you see a trailer and think “I’d like to see that.” And every once in a while – rarely, but it happens – you get one that makes you think “That looks terrible. I’d like to see that.”

“Uncle Drew” very much falls into that third category.

The film – based solely on a character played by Kyrie Irving for a handful of Pepsi commercials wherein Irving would don a bunch of old-age makeup and prosthetics and proceed to humiliate people on various basketball courts. Pretty funny bit for a couple of minutes, sure - but for 90? With a Space Jam-esque collection of NBA players making up a significant portion of the supporting cast? Obviously, it was going to be terrible.

And even more obviously, it was going to delight me.

Published in Movies
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