Friday, November 05, 2004

C's and P's

The Celtics might officially get, as Bill Simmons would say, frisky. They lost game 1, and they did blow 15 points worth of padding, but somehow in doing it they showed a lot of promise. The fact is, with Paul Pierce, Gary Payton, and Mark Blount they have more talent than most clubs at the 1, 3, and 5. Doesn't seem like it should be true, but it is. If those guys can stay healthy and out of foul trouble they are going to be a tough little team. But that's a big i to the f. GP already has a sprained thumb, and spent a lot of Wednesday night in exactly the same position as The Ninth, on his rear. Mark Blount has also been known for foul trouble so far in his brief career, and that won't do. Blount's rebounding and ability to change shots under the basket is not replicated by any other Celtic, and without him on the floor Boston will get killed. Everyone keeps saying Lafrentz is a shot blocker, but he has yet to show, and I'm not sure he could board over Larry Flynt. Wheelchair humor! Also irreplaceable, Paul Pierce provides the only unstoppable scoring punch, and Payton is by far the most capable court leader. The drop off to the Allens, Banks', and Jiris of the world is too drastic to survive for more than 3 or 4 minutes. And one or two is not enough, these guys really need each other on the floor at the same time. Pierce without Payton in the 4th quarter was completely lost, as Philly was able to exploit the one great vulnerability in his game: unwillingness to pass in crunch time. Since Antoine Walker left, Paul has insisted being option one, two, and three in the 4th quarter and that simply does not work against a double or triple team. Payton would have gotten him better shots, but he had 5 fouls. But when those players were out there together, the Celts played some nice basketball. The sort-of running game got great percentage shots, mostly because Pierce was able to attack the basket before the defense could set up. Also, Blount got his gentleman 15 footers, and Ricky Davis was able to slash to the hole. This will keep working if they keep doing it. So often in the Ainge/O'brien Era (can you call two months an era?) Boston would have a few games like this, then a transition game stinker. This team can't play that kind of basketball, and that team really couldn't. Commit to the run and they will win games.

Patriots - oy vey. About Pittsburgh, all you can say is, it's tough to win without your best receiver, your best back, and your two best corners. And I'm not sure they're going to be able to do it this weekend either. One thing to remember though: Belichick loves this stuff. As Cafardo pointed out on the Zone this week, Bill loves to be over-matched and counted out, and so do his players. He has stepped up with a brilliant scheme in this sort of situation many times in the past, and he may do it again. You know he loves to stick it to Mike Martz. And don't we all really. I've gotten a lot of emails about the disappearance of The Ninth One (chance of truth: 0%), so without further ado:

The Ninth One, Patriots vs. Rams: Troy Brown.

Hey, Brady's got to throw to someone. Big comeback game for Third Down. Speedy turf gives him back the step he's lost. At least one TD.
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