NBA Makes Right Call for 2010-2011 Season Opener

The NBA season lasts 82 games.  That’s a lot of games.  When a season lasts that long, it’s not unreasonable to say that the first game of the season is … well … worthless.  Somehow I don’t think that’s going to be the case for the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics come October 26, 2010.  The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Heat will visit the Garden for the opening game of the 2010-2011 NBA season, which will be aired on TNT.

This is a great move for the NBA.  Say what you will about the aging Celtics, but a 2010 Eastern Conference title says they’re the team to beat in the East until further notice.  The Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen have won an NBA championship and appeared in two NBA Finals in the last three years.  They’re tried.  They’re tested.  They define the term “savvy veteran” in every sense of the term.

On paper, the Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA — by far.  You could take Chris Bosh out of their lineup and they’d still compete for that title.  What makes this match-up so intriguing is that when the new Heat arrive in Boston on October 26, they’ll yet to have played a single game together.  They haven’t done much of anything together aside from dancing on stage in South Beach.  If Kendrick Perkins returns from the knee injury he suffered in the NBA Finals last season, the Celtics will be returning all five starters for the third straight season.

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Man Arrested for DUI: LeBron’s Decision Made Me Drink

As we could have anticipated, there are plenty of folks who are devastated by LeBron James‘ decision to take his talents to the Miami Heat. Cleveland Cavs fans are certainly heartbroken. Dan Gilbert feels betrayed. But what about Boston Celtics fans? Apparently, some of them took the decision pretty hard as well.

A 30-year-old man from Flint, Mich. was reportedly stopped by police early Sunday morning after they witnessed his vehicle drift over the center line. When police asked if he had been drinking, he admitted that he had been and provided a classic excuse as to why. According to the officers, the man said LeBron’s decision to play for the Miami Heat instead of the Boston Celtics was too much for him. I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the Celtics were in no way a part of the King James sweepstakes.

Either this drunk came up with one of the worst excuses for banged-up driving in the history of DUI stops, or he’s completely delusional. Let’s say that really was the reason he was drinking. He really thought there was a chance LeBron went to Boston and was crushed when he didn’t? Oh yeah, and he still wasn’t over it three days later? Unless he was just finding out about the news on Saturday night, he must have been on one hell of a bender. Let’s hope losing his license for a while helps him get over his dreams being shattered.

Man arrested for drunken driving after being disappointed in LeBron James’s choice to play for Miami Heat [MLive]
Another Thing LeBron James’s Narcissism Caused: One Michigan Man’s DUI [Deadspin]

Doc Rivers is Staying: What it Means

Less than 24 hours after Paul Pierce‘s agent announced he would opt out of the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics, word is surfacing that head coach Doc Rivers will return to the team and, at the very least, finish out his current contract.  For those of you who are interested in the Celtics and wondering what this means for their off-season plans, the answer is a lot.

The fact that Doc has chosen to return probably answers most of the questions that Boston had after the playoffs ended and is an indication that they plan on keeping their core in tact for at least another year.  Rivers has at times been given a bit too much credit as a coach when you consider the roster he was handed a few years ago, but there’s something to be said for being a players’ coach that a team responds to.  Let’s go over a few implications that the return of Rivers has for the reigning Eastern Conference champs.

1. Paul Pierce’s opt out doesn’t mean he’s leaving Boston.

The reason players have been opting out of the final years of their deals, regardless of where they want to play, has to do with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.  The current CBA will expire after next season and it’s pretty much a certainty at this point that it will result in the league’s top players making less money.  The ceiling for a maximum contract players can sign is going to be lowered, therefore players are opting out (when able to) and seeking a long-term deal under the current CBA rather than waiting until next off-season.

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Best Shooters May Win Game 7

The Boston Celtics were able to steal Game 2 of the NBA Finals from the LA Lakers at Staples Center for one reason — Ray Allen had an incredible shooting night. They could certainly use another if they want to win Game 7 and bring home their 18th NBA title. With news surfacing that Kendrick Perkins likely will not play in Game 7 with a sprained knee, the Celtics have to come to the realization that they are losing their best low-post defender. On the defensive end, they’ll have to make adjustments. However, with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom also nursing themselves back to full health, there’s no need for the Celtics to hit the panic button.

Before the Finals began, Boston had to have prepared for a situation in which they’d be without their starting center. Perkins’ six technical fouls were a huge story to watch heading into the series. No one can predict an injury, but fortunately for Doc Rivers he was forced to prepare his team to lose a player that they indeed have likely lost, albeit for a different reason.

With three combined players from the two teams ailing — all of which happen to be around 7-feet tall — Game 7 of the NBA Finals could turn into a situation in which the best jump shooters win. Without Perkins, the Celtics will have a lot of shooters on the floor for the better part of the game. Rasheed Wallace, while not nearly as good as Perkins on defense, is a much more capable offensive player. His range extends to the three-point line and he adds an element on offense that the Celtics lack when Perkins is on the floor — an effective turn around jump shot. Kevin Garnett can provide a baseline turn-around jumper at times, but he’s a much better catch-and-shoot player.

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Wall Street Journal Analyzes Lakers and Celtics Whining Tendencies

The Wall Street Journal has conducted an interesting little study that examines the amount of belly-aching the players have done in the 2010 NBA Finals.  Some of the numbers are actually pretty surprising.  Maybe it’s just because Celtics-Lakers is such a heated rivalry, but there seems to be more complaining about officiating in these NBA Finals than there has been in the past.  I know, NBA officials take a ton of heat now — especially in the post-Donaghy era — but this year it has been noticeably bad.

The fact that Boston has two players (Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace) that are one technical away from a suspension has to say something.  What it probably says is that the Celtics cry to the officials more than your usual team, and that is indeed what the Wall Street Journal found.  Check out “The Whining Index” that they came up with by studying the first five games of the NBA Finals:

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If The Finals Ended Today, Would Kobe Be MVP in Defeat?

In 1969, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA Finals series that went seven games.  Lakers guard and 14-time All-Star Jerry West was named the NBA Finals MVP — in defeat.  It was the first time the league issued an award for a Finals MVP, and the only time a player on the losing squad has ever be given the honor.  Ironically enough, as the same two rivals face-off once again for an NBA title, we could find ourselves in a similar situation for the first time in over 40 years.

I’m not saying the NBA Finals are over and Boston should start celebrating; the Celtics have pushed LA to the brink of elimination, but the series now returns to the Staples Center for Games 6 and 7 (if necessary).  What I am saying is that if the Finals were to end after Game 5, Kobe Bryant would have to be named the MVP of the series.  Let’s have a look at the average stats of the MVP candidates through the first five games, not including Shrek and Donkey:

Kobe Bryant               30.2 (PPG)           6.0 (RPG)                4.4 (APG)                    2.0 (SPG)
Paul Pierce                 19.0                        4.6                             3.4                                0.6
Pau Gasol                   18.8                        10.0                            2.6                                0.8
Rajon Rondo              14.2                         6.2                             7.4                                1.6
Kevin Garnett            15.6                         6.0                             3.2                                1.8
Ray Allen                    14.0                         3.0                             1.4                                0.4

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Rajon Rondo’s Unbelievable Tip-In

Rajon Rondo has made a habit of creating highlight-reel plays in the 2010 NBA Playoffs.  The play against Orlando when he dove for a loose ball was a perfect example of what can happen when the point guard combines his incredible athletic ability with full-tilt hustle.  Last night, Rondo made another hustle play at a huge point in the game.  Check out the video of Rajon Rondo’s tip-in against the Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, courtesy of YouTube user rondo9celtics:

Phil Jackson told his players in a fourth-quarter huddle that the Celtics know how to lose games late.  If not for Rondo’s efforts, he may have been justified in what he was preaching.  This particular video is a bit dramatic, but it shows how the Celtics point guard came out of nowhere to make a play on the ball.  It also shows that he was fouled by Lamar Odom on the play. It’s plays like this one that have the Celtics in a position to win their second title in three seasons.

Video Credit: YouTube user rondo9celtics