1) The Crepes of Wrath
The Celtics are performing like they did at the beginning of the year. Efficient. Angry. Flattening opponents to pancakes. Philly came into the Monday night game playing extremely well and intent on using the Celtics as a "measuring stick." It didn't matter. For Boston their high level of play has returned at the best possible time; just as the Texas road trip of doom approacheth. (Huh. I seem to have developed a temporary keyboard lisp.)
2) Speaking of That
The coming five game junket was supposed to have San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans on top of the marquee. A funny thing happened along the way: Now the road trip brochure reads, "Five Fabulous Games in Eight Nights, Featuring the Awesome Houston Rockets!" The Rockets have shockingly strung together 19 straight victories. One more and they tie the 70-71 Bucks with the second longest winning streak in NBA history. I don't care what their schedule's been, that's really impressive. Plus they've recently been doing it without Yao Ming (and without Gerald Green).
Meanwhile the Celtics have completely extinguished their only three game losing streak by running off 9 straight wins themselves. So here's where we are: Houston plays three more times before the teams meet up; at Atlanta, then hosting Charlotte and the evil Lakers. The Celtics have Seattle and Utah at home, followed by Milwaukee and San Antonio on the road. In the event that both clubs win out, the two teams will meet in Houston on March 18th with the Rockets on an incredible 22 game streak and the Celtics on their own 13 game run.
Now that every excuse from opposing fans about the Celtics success has been utterly debunked, they've retreated to the last barricade: They call us arrogant. Such as, "I would really like the Celtics except their fans are so arrogant."
Us? Arrogant? Please. They could not be more mistaken. It's simply that they do not recognize the obvious truth that of all the people on Earth we have been chosen by the Almighty Hoop Gods for a noble destiny that they can't possibly share. There's nothing arrogant about that is there?
5) Rondo's three
It wasn't exactly Danny Ainge dribbling through the entire Notre Dame team, or even Ray Allen's game winner against Charlotte, but it was pretty cool: Rajon Rondo's three at the end of the half in Memphis was my favorite early-in-the-game play of the season. With about 5 seconds on the clock and Rondo on the bench in foul trouble, Doc Rivers inserted the young point guard into the game. Rondo responded by dribbling the length of the court through traffic, squaring up, and draining the three. No one else on the roster was both fast and nifty enough to make that play. It was a great substitution by the coach and even better execution by Mr. Rondo.
50 wins that is. It's great that Doc Rivers and the team don't care and don't even seem to know the number of wins they have. But for the rest of us those numbers are a fine indicator of how far the club has travelled in one year.
Let's flashback. One year ago on March 11, 2007 the Celtics lost to the Chicago Bulls 94-78. Boston's leading scorer was Gerald Green with 15 points. That game made their record 18-44. (By the way I want to point that out that my own preseason prediction of 50 total wins has already been met and I'm ecstatic to be so ridiculously far off.)
I wrote about this in the fall. The Celtics have to get to 61 wins to surpass the 97-98 Duncan Swipers for the greatest season to season gain-in-wins total in league history. The way they're going the team might get comfortably above that mark. It could be a record that stands for many decades.
Sam Cassell was once Rondo. In 1994 and 1995 it was Cassell who was the young point responsible for leading a team of veterans to the NBA crown. Yes he had Kenny Smith by his side, but his situation fourteen years ago was very similar to what Rondo faces today: a highly talented team laced with all stars such as Olajuwon and Drexler, aching for a title, dependent on the poise of an inexperienced but talented guard running the club's offense. This is obviously history repeating itself.
9) Ray and Eddie
Funny thing. Ray Allen's got his stroke back and Eddie House has lost his. Before Eddie was taking his time shooting, which was good. Now he's rushing, which is bad. Conversely, before Ray was taking his time shooting, which was bad. Now he's rushing, which is good. Does that make sense? Unlike most guys including Eddie House, Ray just does better when he quick releases.
It's been many many awful, miserable, unsufferable bad-drafting bad-trading years. That's all behind us now. The first 3/4 of the season have been a beautiful experience. A lot of us had to shake the losing, lottery-bound thoughts from our heads. We've undergone a healthy catharsis, ridding ourselves of ping-pong poisoning and spiritually purifying ourselves for the coming post-season. Now we're ready to head down the stretch. Bring on Texas. Bring on April. Bring on the Playoffs.