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Your Guess…

…is as good as mine.

After a disappointing season, to put it mildly, the Boston Celtics get ready to play the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs later today.

So what are they going to bring to the table?

No idea…just as we have been saying ALL SEASON LONG.

We know they won’t be bringing Marcus Smart to the table.  Smart tore his oblique toward the end of the regular season, so it looks like there is no chance he will be playing in this series.

Is that a good thing?

On one hand, yes, because it shortens the rotation even more.  Coach Brad Stevens won’t feel like he has to give minutes to like 12 guys.  And reduce playing time for a guy like Jaylen Brown, who performed well in last years’ playoffs.

That should leave them with 8 players to give minutes to, though Brad will likely continue to give Semi Ojeleye 5-10 minutes a game for no apparent reason.  I’d love Daniel Theis to get some minutes…something about that guy I love.  But he would seem be the 9th man because they seem to love Aaron Baynes and he will be playing.  Of course, Baynes missed 31 games this year, so let’s not rule out him getting hurt.  But it’s also “just” Danny Theis, a clear role player off the bench, so he’s not going to upset any rotation even if he gets in there for a few.

One of those guys getting more minutes would be Gordon Hayward.  Who seemed to start finding more of his game in the (very) late season, coincidentally when he got…more minutes.

Was that a mirage?  Or was he finally showing real glimpses of the player he once was?  Sample size may be too small to measure.  BUT, it’s worth finding out more on.

Then again though, losing Smart may not be a great thing.  He’s one of the few guys that showed fire every day during the regular season.  Sure, he still can’t shoot and takes waaaaaaaay too many shots.  BUT, there is something about him that makes me feel like we need him on the floor.

Intangibles…blah, blah, blah…

But do “intangibles” actually mean anything to this particular team?  Maybe not.  So whatever…

Anyway, enough about Smart.  Let’s talk about the series.

The Pacers haven’t had Victor Oladipo for about the last half of the year.  And that sure as hell is a good thing…for the Celtics.

The Celts were 3-1 against the Pacers this season…and really should have been 4-0.  Oladipo ruined that loss with a three pointer with a few seconds left.  Two of the Celtic wins were blowouts.

Now, per usual, I am not going to tell you that I watched a whole ton of Indiana Pacers basketball this season.  But I will tell you that, despite finishing a mere game behind the Celtics in the standings, I am not all that impressed with their roster…the names or the numbers…or the stats.

But what do I know?

Just by knowing (“thinking” what I know?) about what the Celtics have, I feel like the Cs should cruise through this series.  But they won’t.  Cuz they haven’t cruised through ANYTHING this year.

And that’s why this series is so hard to pick.

The Boston Celtics would not surprise me if they all of a sudden flipped a switch, found the proper rotations, started playing together…and all that…and then went on to a championship.  They really wouldn’t.

On the flip side, it would not shock the hell out of me if they lost in the first round.

What do I want?  Well, a championship of course.  BUT, part of me is thinking “this team was pretty unlikeable this season, led by Kyrie Irving.  Why do I want to start rooting for them now?”

Sad, but true.

Also, part of me wouldn’t mind them losing early so I don’t have to invest any time in them.

On top of all THAT, part of me wants them to lose early so that Kyrie can take his act out of town.  I mean, he may anyway.  But an early round loss may make it easier.  Kyrie is a great, great, great player.  But the thought of listening to him for the five or whatever years his extension will be for kind of makes my stomach churn a little.  Ok, a lot.

And I don’t believe that Anthony Davis is coming here to pair with Kyrie and Gordo and whoever else to lead the Celts to the Promised Land.

Well, AD may come here…for a year anyway.  Wouldn’t surprise me if Danny Ainge made the trade with the New Orleans Pelicans this summer regardless of what Davis (and his Dad) say publicly (or privately).  Ainge will most assuredly have the stones to think he can talk AD into staying here after next year.  And he may be able to pull it off.

But I still think Davis goes to the Lakers in the summer of 2020.

I guess who knows though.  The players in this league change their mind when the wind blows.  Hell, maybe Irving does re-sign and Kevin Durant comes over as well.

WHAT??!!

Well, we’ve all heard the rumors now that KD “doesn’t feel appreciated in Golden State” and “isn’t getting the credit he deserves” and is going somewhere else after the year.  New York with Kyrie or wherever.

Hey Kev, what did you think would happen when you joined the Warriors?  Those guys were already winners without you.  So they didn’t even NEED you.  The table was already set.  You think winning two more with them would make you that much more important?  Sorry, no…

So enough about the offseason.  We will cross that bridge when we get there.

I don’t really have any other insight into the series though.  You came here to hear about X’s and O’s?  And specific Pacer players?  Hmmmmmm, ok…in any event, how could anyone pretend that they have any insight, what with the completely inconsistent way the Celtics played the entire year?

So it’s prediction time.  And again, it could be anything.

But I will say…Celtics in six.  Because it SHOULD go no longer than that…

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Random Musings…

Time for that bullet point format again:

*Following up on the NBA draft…the Boston Celtics did exactly what I thought they would do.  Nothing.  But this may be a good thing.  Some dude named Robert Williams fell to them.  Is this good?  I don’t know.  But the pundits seem to like it.

He is 6’10” and is apparently a “rim runner”…there are new terms coming out every day, folks.  But he is also apparently a “rim protector”.  A term of which I am familiar with.  Never actually heard “rim runner” before.  But maybe I’m just stupid and it has been around forever.  Entirely possible.

In any event, he’s someone who can defend the basket but also score around the basket.  So they say.  After his freshman year at Texas A&M, he was supposedly a pretty good lottery pick but decided to stay his sophomore year.  Then, he was still supposedly a pretty good lottery pick but dropped to #27.

Maybe doing stuff like oversleeping introductory conference calls and the like had something to do with the plummet.  Hopefully, it’s as simple as that anyway.

In classic Jay Bilas-speak, Williams has great length and a tremendous wingspan.

Ok, enough of all that crap.  The way I see it, if Williams can play defense around the basket and REBOUND, then we would be all jacked and pumped about him.  If he kept Aron Baynes off the 2018-19 squad, we would be ecstatic.  But we will see.  Brad Stevens will probably have him working on his three-point game this offseason.

In any event, it looks like the C’s got someone out of the draft that could be at the very least a rotational player.  Hard to argue with that at the end of the first round.

*Aside:  There are 60 people drafted in each NBA draft.  How many of those “make it”?  15-20?  Half?  Not that many.  Add in some undrafted guys and you get a few more.

How did the draft used to be like 8 rounds?  With fewer teams in the league?  This has always confounded me.

*One dude who WASN’T drafted was LiAngelo Ball.  My heart breaks.  I wonder how LaVar really feels?  I mean, that was a solid Foot Locker “One and Done” commercial, wasn’t it?  Sigh…

*Speaking of undrafted dudes…we present you:  Brad Wanamaker!!  Seven years in Europe and now apparently heading to the Celtics.  No idea, so don’t even ask.

But so much for the C’s going into next season with all the band coming back together (plus Williams) I am still not ruling out a major move.  But wouldn’t shock me if there were many minor ones.  A lot may depend on if Marcus Smart is back in the fold.  I believe this will happen.  But of course, there is a chance some team blows things right out of the water with a huge offer to him.  We all know there are a lot of stupid teams out there…in every sport.

*As for the other draft we wrote on last, the Boston Bruins did exactly what I thought they would do as well…draft a bunch of guys that no one has ever heard of.  And we will maybe or maybe not see some of them in 2 to 5 years.  I think I’ll leave my comments at that.  Since I have nothing else to say.

*In more positive news, the John Tavares talk has not quieted down.  He is apparently meeting with the B’s at some point.  I still see this whole union far-fetched.  But the longer it goes on, perhaps not?

The cap has increased and supposedly they would have room as the roster currently stands to actually sign Tavares to a deal.  Of course, they still need pieces, so players would still have to go.  But this is a positive development as far as I can tell.  I thought with all the bloated contracts the Bruins are carrying that they would no way in hell have space for a big-time addition.  Not to mention the fact that I doubted Don Sweeney would go after a megastar, but that’s beside the point.

I still don’t have any idea how in the hell they will be able to move guys like David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug (if they wish) with their no-trade and no-movement clauses.  I’ll let them figure that out on their own time though.

What a development that would be however if Tavares somehow actually came to town.  Again, I don’t see it.  But that just may be because I don’t want to get my hopes up.

*Thank God the NFL is kind of “off” for a while now.  I don’t want to hear any more of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.  Gronk may be the greatest to ever play tight end in the history of the NFL.  Brady may be the best ever period.  But shut up about having fun.  5 championships under the Bill Belichick regime is not fun?  Tired of hearing about it.

It will be interesting to see how Brady does this upcoming year.  1.  He doesn’t have a threat to his job to help motivate him.  2.  He has skipped all voluntary work this offseason, which he does not typically do.  And therefore he has not established connections with the new receivers and backs like he had always pledged was very important.  3.  He is 41.  There simply is no evidence of quarterbacks succeeding much at or beyond this age.  Like it or not when we all talk about his age.  It has to be factored in.

Personally?  I think Brady will be fine.  Maybe it will take some work to build some rapport with some of the receivers.  But I’m convinced he’s doing the work he needs to do to be physically ready for the season.  Same with Gronk.  As much as Alex Guerrero appears to be a slimy dude, he got Gronk to stay healthy for an entire season last year.  THAT happens once every blue moon.  And Brady’s game was obviously MVP level last year.  Would he really fall that precipitously?  Doubtful…even at his age.

2019 though at 42?  I’m not making any guarantees.  That’s why I would have kept and franchised Jimmy Garoppolo last year, played him wherever possible this season and pretty much give him the keys to the operation next season.  But maybe that’s why I’m not in an NFL front office.  Actually, there are several reasons.  But we don’t need to go through those here.

*Speaking of “tired of hearing about it”, I’m not sure I want to relive Deflategate with this Julian Edelman appeal.  Jules is ready to battle to the end.  And probably eventually lose and serve the four games anyway.  Bud, you took something.  Everyone does.  You got caught.  Please take the penalty and save us all the nonsense.  Please…

Next:  Random musings, Red Sox style…

Thank You Celtics

What a season!  All the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Whoda thunk it??  Specifically, as the whole world knows, without their best two players?  Just a crazy ride…and a helluva fun one.

Sure, if anyone on the team could throw the ball in the ocean in Game 7 against the Cavs, we’d all be looking at a Finals matchup with the Warriors.  But who can really complain?  The future is bright, my friends.  Let’s enjoy this year for now, as the expectations will now soar for the future.  This year, I was not feeling anything going into Game 7, figuring even getting to that point was gravy.

Next year?  Us fans will be expecting more.  As we should.  And if they disappoint, we will sing a different tune for sure.

The Blowhard has a slew of thoughts about everything Celtics.  Truth be told, they were part of an e-mail response to friends two days ago.  So let’s make that a blog post!!  Nothing like repurposing some content.  But hey, it is what it is.  Of course, we have to tidy some things up.  And likely add some more.  But here’s my favorite bullet point format, in no particular order:

*Some may be disappointed that the C’s are not facing Golden State in the NBA Finals and that it would be interesting to see how they match up against the best of the best.  I am not sure I agree that it would have been great to see them keep playing…they would have gotten steamrolled/demolished/bludgeoned by the Warriors.  Game 7 was surely a disappointing loss, but I think a silver lining COULD be that these guys know they should have won this series.  This MAY light a little fire under the players this summer to work even harder than they already would have, knowing the missed opportunity that they had.

There is the possibility that if they won Game 7 and got to the Finals and then got smoked by Golden State maybe some players get their confidence shaken?  Or even worse, knew they wouldn’t beat the Warriors, mailed it in to some degree, happy to at least get to the Finals without Kyrie and Gordon, and all along telling themselves that if they did have those two, they would have won the whole enchilada.

I don’t know, maybe I’m reaching.  But I know for sure I would not have enjoyed them getting swept in the Finals, likely by large margins, at least in California.

*Many in the local area thought that if Houston was able to knock off Golden State, the Celtics would have a real chance to be NBA Champions if they got by the Cavs.  I think that is kind of a dubious assumption.  Even if the Rockets were to be without Chris Paul.  The series would have been closer.  But maybe 5 games instead of a sweep?  Perhaps I am wrong about all of the above.  But I feel like the train would have come to a screeching halt against either team.

*LeBron was LeBron in Game 7 and really, the whole series.  In all ways.  Punk move when he “blocked” (fouled) Rozier on the dunk attempt (dumb move by Rozier, by the way), then stood still and stared at what?  The guy is one of the best players ever, maybe the best.  But sorry, an absolute arseclown.  It’s antics like this that make me despise him.  Sure, all the greats have their “things”.  Although generally a homer, I did not care for whenever Paul Pierce did stuff like this…wheelchair, bandages and all that.  But LeBron takes these things to the next level with what he says, his mannerisms and everything all around.  And of course, I will never forgive him for that ridiculous circus called “The Decision”.

*There were too many unnecessary switches in this series by the Celtics defense.  And they all seemed to eventually end with Terry Rozier guarding LeBron.  There has to be a better way.

*We have to all agree that it was a nice playoff run for the C’s.  But we cannot discount the fact that the East was WEAK.  My opinion, and perhaps my opinion alone.  But…Cleveland WAS LeBron.  Toronto choked, per usual.  Philly fattened up their record at the end of the season against a slew of noncontenders.  Miami, Milwaukee, Washington, Indy?  Meh.  There are some good players spread out over all of those teams.  But any one of them could beat any one of them.  I wasn’t impressed anyway.

*I have no doubt Danny Ainge won’t sit still this offseason.  This team does still need some tweaks (and HAS to have some tweaks, kind of), even with the return of Irving and Hayward (and Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin, if you wish).  I’m not saying he needs to make MAJOR moves, but I’m not ruling that out either if the right deal crosses his plate.  I’m not talking just Anthony Davis or Karl Anthony Towns or any superstar along those lines.  I’m talking any “right deal”.  Of course, anyone would do the right deal, so this is not a big stretch.  But still.  Most people want Danny to just bring back the same team next year because they went so far this year without two horses.  And I’m thinking he still may have one more huge one up his sleeve.

*I’d personally start by dealing Rozier…selling high if he didn’t torpedo any value he built up during the playoffs during his putrid Game 7.  Or if teams look closer at his road splits.  He is no more than a third guard to me.  And I choose Marcus Smart as my third guard.  Though Brad Stevens has to absolutely rein Smart in from shooting as much next year if he returns.  This is a must.

I don’t hate Rozier.  I don’t love him either…although I do love the way he rebounds as a guard.  I am also not giving him away for nothing.  But I’m thinking you can’t keep both him and Smart next season.  Rozier did take a huge step up this year and I think they can package him with something else for something of value in return.

Now, I realize “Scary Terry” is a mere 3 million next year and also that Smart thinks he is worth more than 14 million.  But Smart is a restricted free agent this offseason and Rozier will be restricted next season.  With Irving and Hayward coming back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum deserving some more minutes next season as well, Marcus Morris and Al Horford also deserving of a decent amount of time…doesn’t something have to give?

Of course.  And I think Rozier may have the most value of the guys listed above, that would be available I would say.  And if somehow both he and Smart return next season, and Terry is only getting 18-20 minutes a game, that may not end up well either.

If someone pays Smart what he wants, then all of the above is moot I guess…he won’t be here.  But I’m thinking teams will not pay him and he will be back.  I’ve been wrong before though…

*I’m also not sure Morris a lock to return.  I was just told that he is kind of like a mentor and big brother to Brown and Tatum though (thanks Mike F.!).  I had not heard this before.  And quite frankly, this scares the bejesus out of me.  Morris is a good player and had a good year.  But he is a lunatic.  Certifiably insane.  Not sure he is the guy that I want mentoring my young studs.  But maybe he is a softie in the locker room, I don’t know.

*Aron Baynes is absolutely brutal.  Worst rebounding form I think I may have ever seen from a big man.  Horrible touch around the basket (what’s his percentage on tip-ins?  33%?).  Defense?  Mediocre as far as I am concerned.  I simply can’t watch him.  And whose great idea was it to have him start shooting threes?  Cuz he made a couple against Philly?  Ugh…maybe I am being harsh.  But I’m thinking you can find someone with his skill set for less than the 4.328 mil he made this year.

*I’m not trading Tatum, under any circumstances.  It would be hard for me to trade Brown at this point, despite his ups and downs.  But there is room on Players #5-#17 (#18?) to make some moves to help the team, however minor if “minor” is the way that Danny ends up going.  Although “Player #5” would be Al Horford and I suppose if they were working him into a deal, his max contract isn’t exactly “minor”.

*If they want to fill a back-end roster spot, I’d re-sign that Jonathan Gibson dude that shot the lights out the last couple of games of the regular season.  If all this team wants to do is shoot threes, that guys shooting ability has to mean more to the C’s than a lot of other things, no?

*I’m not sure why Greg Monroe got buried as the playoffs went on.  I know, he doesn’t play D.  But he scores and rebounds.  Could have used a few of each.  Couldn’t he have played decent D against someone like Tristan Thompson in this series to “hide” him in that regard?  Some may think he looked completely lost when he was out there.  But I think they could’ve thrown him in there for a few minutes at a time and he could have been all right.

That’s about it…for now, anyway.  Great run and yet again it will be another interesting offseason.  Does Danny bring everyone back?  Does he just make minor moves?  Or is one more big splash in the offing?  He could go in any direction and no one really knows.

But with rumors milling around already about Ainge trying to move up in the draft and get a big guy or some other top talent it seems we are off to a flying start to the offseason!

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