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The road just got longer…

So the Boston Celtics did not get Kevin Durant.  I think everyone knew that was going to be the end result.  Although, I admit, there was a small period of time last weekend where I think we all got our hopes up.  But realistically it was never going to happen, I’m sorry.

How do I feel about Durant going to the Golden State Warriors?  Well, I think it sucks, to be blunt.  On the surface, he took “the easy way out.”  He went to the best team in the league (sorry, Cleveland) in pursuit of a championship ring.  That’s his prerogative, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Durant did something he himself didn’t like several years ago, when LeBron and Chris Bosh went to Miami and joined Dwyane Wade to form a “superteam” that ultimately went to 4 straight Finals, winning 2.  KD put a tweet out essentially knocking the move.  But he now joins Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on a new superteam.  OK, it was only one tweet and times and minds do change.  So he probably didn’t need to take as much heat as he did for something he said like 5 years ago.  But still…

Not a lot of people thought Golden State would be the place.  Because they already did have the 3 studs.  How are they going to spread the ball around to FOUR guys?  With all that money invested in those 4, how would they even be able to fill the roster with any more talent whatsoever?  Why go to the team that just beat you?  Etc.

So he went to a true championship contender.  Most of the teams on his visitation list were exactly that.  Can’t fault a guy for that I suppose.  Money is nice, but I myself wouldn’t want to go to a team that was bound to go like 20-62 just because they offered the most money.  It is just disheartening that KD chose to go to a team that won the championship 2 years ago and also should have won it again this past year.  Barring injury, it’s almost kind of a lock that they at least make the Finals this year again, no?

Sure, I’m biased.  Of course I wanted him to come to Boston.  To help the C’s turn the corner into a legitimate championship contender.  Now, regardless of what the Celtics do the rest of the offseason, doesn’t it still feel like it’s Golden State and Cleveland and then everyone else is kind of pretty far away?  That it’s like no one else has a REAL chance?  Maybe this is the way the NBA is now.  Maybe this is the way the NBA always kind of has been.  But it still just doesn’t feel right.

Well, at least Durant did it quickly.  And he didn’t make a production out of it like LeBron did back then.  It’s disappointing for any Boston fans.  And any fans of teams other than Golden State, I suppose.  But if KD was pompous about it, then it would’ve made it worse.  So I have to give him that much, begrudgingly.

It is what it is and we just have to move on.  Again, most of us didn’t think he was coming here anyway, so we shouldn’t dwell on it.  But what is next?

The Celtics signed Al Horford to a max contract.  There’s a start.  But Big Al is like a 2nd or 3rd piece, not a lead dog.  And I’ve said it before:  If the Horford the C’s get is the version from last year’s playoffs?  Yuck.  Either way, even though I don’t love the contract, I don’t mind the move.  It’s another step in the right direction for the franchise.

There’s a lot more work to be done.  Even after renouncing the rights to Jared Sullinger.  Ha!  That was done kind of quietly, eh?  I never loved Sully.  But I never hated him either.  I did absolutely hate when he teed it up beyond the arc…every time actually.  I hated that he couldn’t get his fat arse in any kind of shape every year.  But he could rebound.  And this team still doesn’t have many guys that can do that.  I would’ve taken him back, at least for one more year.

But maybe Danny has something else up his sleeve.  He better.  Quickly scanning the remaining free agent list, I suppose it goes without saying that there aren’t too many gems left.  Sure, there are plenty of good pieces available.  But the Celts already have about a thousand of those.

I do have to say, I am glad Danny did not panic and sign some of these other free agents over the first few days.  Have you seen these contracts?  Horford’s 4 years for 113 mil is crazy, but Mike Conley getting 5/153?  Chandler Parsons 4/94?  Kent Bazemore 4/70?  Jon Leuer 4/42?  Timofey Mozgov 4/64?  E’Twaun Moore 4/34?  E’TWAUN MOORE?!  The list is actually endless, so I will stop there.  Silly money.  Pure stupidity in many cases.  I’m glad Ainge only partook in one of those.  Notice how I avoided the 4/70 Portland gave Evan Turner.  Ugh.  Wait, the Nets gave someone named Allen Crabbe an offer sheet for 4/75 and the Blazers matched.  Almost 20 mil a year…for Allen Crabbe.

Anyway…so…Danny needs to deal to get his guy.  Still has plenty of assets.  I imagine there will be some deals on the table still.  Maybe the same rumored deals around the draft with Philly are still a possibility.  We will have to wait a little longer.  And I’m still ok with Ainge being patient, based on the new set of circumstances.  What else can we do anyway?

But they can’t possibly go to camp with the current group, can they?

The NBA season is finally over?!

Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers for winning the 2015-16 NBA Championship.  Really pains me to say it.  But after coming back from a 3-1 game deficit and winning 2 of the last 3 games at Golden State, where the Warriors only lost twice in the regular season, well, I suppose I have to give them their due.

And LeBron?  I’ll give him his due too…but not for Game 7.  James was certainly ballin’ in Games 5 & 6, pouring in 41 each time to get it to a Game 7.  Sure, he had a triple-double in the deciding game, but was he the reason they won?

Nope.

I’ll tell you the reason the Cavs won:  Golden State choked.  No two ways about it.  Certainly in their home games at the end.  Losing the 3-1 lead.  Game 7.  Add anything else to the list if you want.  Gag job.

Not having Draymond Green in Game 5 most assuredly cost them as well.  Having him available at home, up 3-1, may have sealed the deal right there, regardless of how awesome LeBron played.  But hey, Draymond earned that suspension.

But then having all hands on deck for Game 7 at home and losing that one?  Inexplicable.  Inexcusable.  Oh, and don’t give me “well, they didn’t have all hands on deck because Andrew Bogut was out.”  Ok, no one has actually said that, but I’m just making sure.  Although…Festus Ezeli started for Bogut, played 11 minutes, went 0-4, missing a few bunnies and was otherwise generally useless…so perhaps Bogut could have given them…SOMETHING?  Ok, probably not, so let’s move on…

I’ve got a few numbers for you:

5 for 32:  Harrison Barnes’ shooting in the last 3 games.  16%?  Yikes!!  Barnes seems to be a decent enough player and is still only 24.  Many people think he could get a max contract this offseason.  A max contract for the 4th option on ANY team?  Seems like a little much.  Either way, shooting 16% over the most important games of the year doesn’t seem like the way to go about getting that contract.

41 for 83:  The Warriors took 83 shots in Game 7.  Almost half of them were three pointers.  I’m wondering if there could be a stat for “foolish” three pointers.  Cuz a fair amount of those 41 could be classified as that.  In my opinion anyway.  I know, I know…this is their game, that’s how they play…blah, blah, blah.  Maybe they do fire up a lot of threes, sure.  But in the most important game of the season, shouldn’t they be a little smarter about the quality of those shots?  Side note:  Golden State should have won the last 2 championships and are no doubt a great team.  But if the league is completely trending to their style of play…which it very well could be…then this will make me dislike the professional game even more.  If that matters at all…

17, 14, 10:  Golden State turnovers in Games 5-7.  The Game 7 total of 10 is actually much better than their averages of 14.9 per game during the regular season and 14.0 per game overall in the playoffs.  I’m actually quite shocked at all of these totals actually.  Watching the games live it just felt like a ton more.  Especially down the stretch in Game 7.  Maybe it was some of their stupid forced passes that turned into kicked balls by Cleveland that kept the number low.  There were plenty of those.  But I also remember some stupid behind the back passes that sailed out-of-bounds as well.  I actually don’t have much of an argument here based on the numbers.  But they played sloppy down the stretch, no doubt.  There is no disputing that.

Long story short?  Now that LeFraud has “gone home” and won his championship and all, every one of his apologists immediately came out of the woodwork and took aim at the “LeBron bashers.”  He finished up the series well, no question.  He won the MVP and that was likely the right call.  Although…only Kyrie Irving really merited any consideration otherwise.  So it’s not like the choice for that was excruciatingly tough.  He is clearly one of the best players in the game today, if not the best.  And is one of the better players in NBA history.

But in reality, how tough was this playoff “run”?  They advanced to the Finals through an extremely mediocre Eastern Conference, steamrolling through Detroit and Atlanta and while also burying Toronto with minimal effort as well.  Then they played a Golden State team that yes, went 73-9 during the season.  But then went a rather pedestrian (for them) 15-9 in the playoffs.  Quite honestly, they may have been out of gas from chasing the regular season win record (hello, 2007 New England Patriots?).  Steph Curry was hurt and maybe even more than he let on.  The Green suspension opened a door, although again, it was certainly deserved.  Not to make excuses for the Warriors, but let’s be honest:  The playoff Warriors were not the same team as the regular season Warriors.

So let’s give the Cavs and James their due, absolutely.  But let’s not get carried away.  And by “carried away”, think LeBron going down to the floor in Game 7 like he was shot and then hitting a key free throw anyway.  The wrist may have hit the floor, but didn’t seem to warrant the reaction a soccer player would normally cook up.  Wasn’t as bad as him flopping when teammate Tristan Thompson accidentally hit him in the Toronto series.  But ridiculous in its own right regardless.  Though…witnessing Anderson Varajeo continuously diving all series, in limited minutes, no less…and watching Marcus Smart do it all year here locally…I suppose this is also part of the game now…

Congratulations, City of Cleveland.  Congratulations, LeClown James.  Now go away.

Onto the draft…already some activity.  Can’t wait to see how much more goes down.  Feel like it’s going to be a wild night.  Hoping for it actually, certainly in the Boston Celtics’ case…

Not quite ready for Prime Time…

So there were plenty of fans around the region last week that were convinced that the Boston Celtics were going to hand the Golden State Warriors their first loss last Friday.  And with Golden State near the end of a road trip, without Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, being bound to lose at some point…maybe the stars had aligned?  I didn’t think so…of course that is easy for me to say nearly a week later…but I didn’t!  I did think the Celts would be able to hang in there anyway.

Hang in there, they did.  And they had a shot to win the thing a couple of times.  More on that later.  Sure, they didn’t get any help from the officials.  But what did they expect?  This is the NBA!  All the superstars and the great teams are going to get the majority of the calls.  This is the way it has been since the beginning of time.  So though you may have heard many Celtic fans complain about the refs, you didn’t (and won’t) hear it from me.

Since then?  A lackluster win against a mediocre Charlotte Hornets team.  A stinker against the Cleveland Cavaliers, without Kyrie Irving, but still easily the cream of the crop…in the East anyway.  And what appeared to be an abysmal defensive effort in a loss to the also mediocre Detroit Pistons…where someone named “Kentavious Caldwell-Pope” scored a career-high 31 points.  Ok, I suppose Caldwell-Pope must actually be ok if he is averaging about 14 points per game…but still.

Time for the next move Danny.

Listen, I have been a fan of what Danny Ainge has done to get the Celtics back to where they rightfully should be…among the NBA’s elite.  A little pompous to say that they SHOULD be among the elite?  Maybe…but they do still own the most Championship Banners…so I’m sticking with it.

Ainge has gathered up a lot of serviceable players (if not stars) and an extensive array of draft picks.  He has the services of a young coach, Brad Stevens, who seems to be universally respected.  The current lot of players play hard for Stevens, and rarely utter a blip about inconsistent minutes or anything of the sort.  They are buying in right now.  The Celtics are a competitive team, that will battle on almost every night, no matter how far they get down.  They’ll play until the buzzer and play hard at that.  They probably have a shot at being the #2 seed in the East, when viewing the vast mediocrity of the rest of the conference outside of the Cavs.

But they also have a shot at being the #11 seed.  Seriously.

Right now, they seem to be stuck in a little bit of no-man’s land.  Therefore, the perfect time to take the next step.

What is the next step?  Damned if I know.  But Danny, Brad and all the other front office insiders should.  And with the way the rebuild has gone thus far, I trust that they do.

Going back to having a chance to win against the Warriors, the C’s just couldn’t close them out.  They don’t have a guy or two that can make THE shot at the end of the game.  Isaiah Thomas is your best player.  But SHOULD he be?  Nope.  He is a very nice piece.  But they need more.  Avery Bradley seems to be continually improving offensively, but is still inconsistent.  Other “shooters” the team has?  Erratic, at best.  They gave minutes to R.J. Hunter earlier in the year and since he got hurt James Young seems to be getting those.  But they are either not ready and/or are not the answer.  5-15 minutes per game for those two isn’t going to help in any event.

The big guys?  Jared Sullinger is rebounding well…but shooting like crap.  Including at the line…62% for a career 75% guy?  David Lee and Amir Johnson?  Useful, but…Tyler Zeller?  Nice burst last night, but otherwise 11th man timber.  I’m still not exactly sure what Jonas Jerebko does besides run around a lot and hit a couple of threes every once in a while.  Speaking of threes…I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…WAY TOO MANY!!  Sully has thrown up 52 of them…at a .288 clip.  At least he has gone from .269 to .283 to the current .288 the last few years.  But yeah, please stop Sully!  How is anyone letting Johnson shoot 26 of them so far (7-26, .269)?  Yeah, one a game shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is to me.  Why is a guy like him out beyond the 3 point arc at all?

Anyway, I’ve said a lot of the above more than a few times, I know.  So I should have some answers, I know that as well.  But I don’t.

What I do know is that you can’t possibly use all of the draft picks in stock.  Of course other teams know that as well.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t have value.

The question is, do those Brooklyn Nets picks have as much value as we all think (and have been told) they do?  Maybe.  I am aware that there are 50 plus games left.  But the Nets currently are tied with the Pelicans for the 3rd worst record in the league at 7-18 (Lakers are 4-21…side note…that always makes me smile…and the 76ers are an almost unbelievable 1-26…which after harkening back to the rivalry in the 80’s, also makes me smile).  There are a couple of other less than mediocre teams that could affect things, but I suppose the Nets pick would ideally be Top 5 anyway.

Is that a good pick?  Who the hell knows?  I admittedly do not know the impact players in the NCAA right now (and which will change once players start declaring for the draft and all).  But the scuttlebutt I am hearing is it is that Ben Simmons kid from LSU and not much else.  At least there isn’t much chatter about anyone from what I have seen.  If it’s the “Anthony Bennett” draft of 2013 (Caldwell-Pope at #8!!), what good are the picks?  Ok, so Victor Oladipo (#2), Ben McLemore (#7), C.J. McCollum (#10), Michael Carter-Williams (#11) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (the “Greek Freak”…I should’ve just said that) (#15) may very well work out long-term, to name a few.  And yes, I just looked those all up.  (The Celtics?  Kelly Olynyk at #13 and Colton Iverson (!) at #53).

Anyway, the Celtics have never had much luck with the ping-pong balls.  And if the talent coming out is questionable, maybe it’s time to start shopping the “coveted” Net picks?

NBA veterans?  You want DeMarcus Cousins?  I don’t.  Talent is undeniable.  But I am done with Rajon Rondo type players on my team.  You may say that there are boatloads of those in the NBA.  I would probably agree.  But I’d try to stay away from that ilk if I could.  Just takes one to bring down this thing Danny and Brad are building.  Dwight Howard?  With some of his recent comments, one may assume he is heading down that “bad attitude” road as well.  Kobe?  Haha…kidding.  At this point, it’s hard to know what NBAers are/will be available.  Things are pretty tight in the East and other than the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs, the same can be said in the West.

At least the Celtics are more entertaining to watch this year.  But let’s hope Danny can swing something relatively soon to keep the arrow pointing up…

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