Saturday, January 24, 2009

January Thoughts

The last time I wrote about the Celtics they were heading into a Christmas day match up against the Lakers. I said they would crush the Lakers and Sasha would cry like the baby he is. Didn't happen, obviously, and the Celts dove into a tailspin in which they lost 7 of 9 while only beating the Wizards and Kings.

Since then the C's have won 7 straight and seem to be back on track but what happened during that 9-game stretch? Obviously their defense wasn't playing as well as expected and takes a portion of the blame but the offense was the real culprit here. There was no flow at all and it seemed as though everyone was just standing around and waiting for some one else to shoot it. When the ball isn't passed around in search of the best shot it leads to bad possessions that create fast-breaks for the opposition.
One of the reasons the Celtics' defense wasn't able to make the big stops it usually comes up with at the end of games was it was worn down at times. It thrives on the half-court style and having to cover a fast break more than you're used to tends wear on you after a while. This pressure put on the defense could be compared to an NFL defense having to run back on the field after a series of three-and-outs for its offense.
Simply put, when the Celtics offense plays well, they are going to win. They've only lost 1 game this year while scoring over 100 points. During the rough stretch they averaged just over 92 points per game while the win streak Boston has averaged over 103 points. OK, obviously it makes sense that while a team was struggling it was scoring less and the numbers go up during a good run.
The correlation? The fact that the Celtics gave up 92 points per game during the 9-game period and is giving up 88 during their current 7-game winning streak. I don't think it was a coincidence that Boston having a much more efficient offense has led to the defense letting up 4 points less per game.

-When I'm wrong, I have no problem admitting it. I predicted the Ravens would be able to score on the Steelers' defense last week. It's a really good thing I didn't put any money on this game because once Pittsburgh shut down Baltimore's running attack they made Joe Flacco wish he was back in Delaware. That was the first thing I was wrong about.
Secondly, I assumed the Ravens' defense would have a better showing. After making that point last week about the Steelers' defense not showing up at playoff time and being overrated, I need to seriously amend that statement. Other than 2000, how many times has the Ravens' D lived up to its reputation?

I still hate the Steelers but you have to give credit where credit is due. I'll have a full Super Bowl preview this week but I obviously don't think Arizona has a chance.

-I really am enjoying what is happening with Manny Ramirez. He is going to get his money. Probably over $20 million a year. But the way the league has reacted to Scott Boras's demands in terms of the length of the contract has been great to watch. Seeing his demands incrementally decrease shouldn't be a shocker considering there have been a few general managers who have been anonymously quoted as saying his second-half tear with the Dodgers made them even more skeptical about signing him. A player who has proven he has the propensity to "turn it on and off" can not and should not receive a long-term deal. Manny will get his 2 or 3-year deal and no one will bat an eye but if you remember, back in November Boras wouldn't accept anything less than a 6-year deal.

-If you haven't watched the MLB network, you should. It puts the NBA network to shame and is in the same league as the NFL network.

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