A Daily Babble Production
Having already done an edition of "How the Other Side Thinks" during the Celtics' conference semifinal match-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with the need for all the green support we can get for an enormously significant Game 4 in Cleveland this evening, we've decided to change up the approach for tonight's Q&A: We're turning to our allies. The Connecticut Post's Tom "tenaciousT" Halzack is not only one of my favorite writers on the Web but a personal mentor of mine as well. It's always a pleasure both to read his work and to talk basketball with him. Recently, I had the chance to chat with Tom about a myriad of hoops-related topics, from tonight's Game 4 to David Stern to T's experiences writing for the Post this season. As always, he was insightful and entertaining, and it's an honor for me to be able to give this loyal readership a break from my rambling voice to let T take the reins for a few paragraphs. Enjoy!
SW: From nearly the moment we became acquainted during last year's 24-win debacle of a campaign, I began a legacy of giving you a hard time for what I call your ˜patented unbridled optimism." If anyone can take something positive out of Saturday night’s tour de force disaster performance for the Celts in Cleveland, it’s you, T. What good can the green faithful glean from Game 3?
TH: First, while my optimism is patented and I collect a small royalty, it is bridled.
That’s good. Start me with a nice easy one…..ummm…
How about...It‘s David Stern’s fault. He should have scheduled more home games.
Seriously, the obvious good is that we are still up 2-1 and have home court advantage throughout the play-offs. Na Na. That may be a bigger factor than we ever thought it would be.
The other good thing is that Boston largely caused its own demise with poor play in that game. I don’t want to take anything away from a solid effort by the Cavs. They did what they wanted to and did it well. Their defense was very good. But Wally and Delonte don’t create their own shots. If the Cs cover the perimeter players and make the rotations on defense, it’s a different ball game. These are fixable things. Ray Allen is 1-11 from the arc, Pierce is 3-13 from downtown, Rondo has lost his groove, and the Cs are up 2-1. The bad would take a few more paragraphs.
SW: Despite my interest in some classic T optimism for our readers, we would be hard-pressed to say that Game 3 didn’t bring up its share of concerns either. The biggie on everyone’s tongue right now seems to be the issue of winning on the road, which the C’s have yet to do in this post-season. How much of a concern is the Celts’ 0-4 start on the road in the playoffs, and what do you think is causing the problem? What other questions about this team did Game 3 raise for you?
TH: Of course, it is a concern. The team that wins game one of any play-off series wins the series almost 80 percent of the time. If a team comes in and steals game one, that puts enormous pressure on the boys in Green. That pressure is magnified if they can’t prove to themselves that they can win away from home. Confidence is a fickle thing. The Celtics have to be questioning themselves right now.
I listed some reasons I think are valid in my piece for today. They are: a) guard play, b) emotional leadership and c) coaching adjustments.
I would add here....composure and the leadership and play of the three stars. On one hand, this team is all about team. But the team will go as far as Paul, Ray and Kevin carry them. No matter how well Rondo, Posey and Perkins play, it is the three amigos that are driving this train.SW: What is the most important adjustment or improvement that the Celts need to make for Game 4 in order to avoid a repeat of what we saw on Saturday night?
The other thought is how the regular season cannot always predict the play-off performance of a team. Besides the Celtics’ problems, the Suns beat San Antonio three games to one, including once with Shaq, during the regular season. Yet they were no match in the post season.
TH: Defense rules for the Cs. A world of mistakes and underperforming offensively can be made up for on the other end of the court. Nap before the game, not during it. If they went into the second quarter down, say, seven points at 20-13, it would have been a different ballgame.SW: No matter what happens on Monday night at the Q, it’s still incredible to think about the fact that the last time we were at this point in the calendar cycle, we were eagerly awaiting the coming draft lottery. What a difference a year makes. What has been the best part of this year’s Celtics renaissance season for you?
TH: For me, being able to go to the games and see things from ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak, as a member of the press, has been enlightening. The best part is that they are trying to do it within a team work framework. Seeing Powe, Davis, Rondo and Perkins develop their games has brought special satisfaction. Watching Pierce’s game transform, as he said it would, has also been good.SW: As you alluded to above, it has been a year of transition for you personally. You moved up from Most Valuable Network’s Celtics 17 page to become the Celtics blogger for the Connecticut Post, and last we spoke, it seemed as though you were thoroughly enjoying it. Talk to me about what the experience with the Post has meant to you. What’s been the best part? The most trying part? Any particularly noteworthy anecdotes?
TH: First of all, I still have a day job. So this is all done around that. It is fun and eye opening, while at the same it’s not as glamorous as some might think. Still, covering a high-profile NBA team from pre-game to post-game is a unique experience. As you can tell from my articles, I enjoy getting thoughts and stories from the opposing team’s locker room as well. I find coaches particularly interesting.
Best part? Getting to know each player a little bit and getting to know my fellow writers a bit as well.
Trying part? The 3 hour drive I make each way for every game I attend. A snowy or rainy drive home at 1 am is no fun.
Anecdotes? Yes. Noteworthy? Not many. Brian Scalabrine getting upset at Sean Williams for coming into the Celtics locker room after a game to get some food early in the season was funny. By the way, I haven’t had reason to converse with him much, but Brian seems to be a terrific guy.
You get a sense of a locker room’s atmosphere as soon as you walk into it. The Bulls' locker room, post-Skiles, seemed to be the most unhappy one I was in all year. No one was smiling in that one. But again, is that news?
SW: Let's play word association -- just the first word or phrase that pops into your head for each term.
Boston Celtics: Bill RussellSW: Got a score prediction for tonight’s game? Any theorizing on how the rest of this series plays out?
Eddie House: surprising defense
Kevin Garnett: maybe too intense
LeBron James: manchild
Big Baby: 290 lbs of fun
Doc Rivers: integrity
Paul Pierce: spin move to the middle
Draft lottery: Christmas [SW: Not this year! ]
Atlanta Hawks: two years away
David Stern: Sorry, I'm not down on him
TH: Always the optimist...the Cs break the ‘road blues’ and win, 92-91. While this series is by no means in the bag, I expect the Celtics to hold home court and win it.
Thanks for the invite, Steve and the questions were fun to do. I see nothing but blue sky for Steve Weinman’s future. Your passion and skills will get you wherever you want to go. Best, T.Just as he has done for nearly the last year and a half, T is being far too kind to me. It's my pleasure to have him on, and it's always wonderful to get some good vibes going for the C's. Go green tonight!