Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ninth!

Hey gang, long time no see. The Ninth just got back from vacation, what’s your excuse? Oh, you don’t need one. So how about these Celtics, hu? In the last two weeks I’ve heard somewhat convincing arguments for Danny Ainge as Executive of the Year, Doc Rivers as Coach of the Year, Ricky Davis as Sixth Man of the Year, and Antoine Walker as League MVP. Oh, also Wyc Grousbeck as Dorky Owner Who Wants to be Mark Cuban of the Year. I like his chances. Last week, before the dastardly three game losing streak, The Ninth considered skipping a concert, which I had already bought an expensive ticket to, so I could watch the C’s play the Knicks! When’s the last time anyone’s done that? Of course, Boston lost, and I was happy I chose WHAM!. Proves the old adage: he who chooses WHAM!, chooses wisely. (How insecure do you have to be about your band to put an exclamation point after the name? You are FORCED! to be EXCITED! about us, even if you don’t care, because we used special PUNCTUATION! We are into GRAMMAR!) Fine, the Celts have lost their last three, but that should do little to tarnish what has been a miraculous turn-around. Antoine Walker has been a dream come true, staying on the block, rebounding the ball, helping old ladies cross the street. Pretty soon he’s going to cure cancer and we’ll all understand it as inevitable once he got out of Jim O’Brien’s offensive system. Paul Pierce has been balanced and under control, taking over the game only when necessary and consistently opting for drive over jumper. And Ricky Davis, well he might be the best player on the team. But that doesn’t really belong in this discussion, because he has been all year. Do you realize Danny got him, Chris Mihm and Yogi Stewart (both useful pieces in the GP and Toine trades) for Eric Williams’ Knees, Tony Battie, and Kedrick Brown? Makes the whole drafting Kedrick Brown in the first place thing hurt a little less. But there are a few warning signs on the horizon. Gary Payton is a little banged up, which everyone keeps saying is going to matter in the playoffs. Veteran leadership, presence, defense etc. Can I get an Amen for the intangibles? The thing is, Delonte West and Marcus Banks looked like they can handle the job, and wouldn’t you rather have the experience go to players that are going to be here next year? Another concern is the increasing mouth of the club. One rather unpleasant aspect of the Pierce/Walker tandem was always their delight in verbally reminding the other team how much better they were, even when they were losing by 15 points. It’s rude, stupid, and fairly amateurish. While #8’s return has lead to a more spirited bench and general increase in Boston swagger, it’s also made these guys a little less fun to root for. Pierce can’t stop talking, and their post-basket celebrations might have cost them win against Detroit. At the least, I would imagine more times than not it pushes their opponents into better play, not worse. It’s annoying, but compared to the team we had in January, The Ninth will take it. These Celtics are a greater surprise than any of us could’ve asked for. Greater than the Pats, maybe even bigger than the Sox. They’re rebuilding and competing simultaneously – one of the hardest things to do in sport, and nobody thought they would. Somebody even got Willow to bring Mark Blount back to life. The whole thing has been just a delightful cherry on the cake of the 04-05 Boston sports season. And they very well could advance in the playoffs. Yowza.

5 Days and Counting. 5.
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