Fans hoping to see basketball’s version of the red-headed stepchild once again jogging eagerly up and down the court in a green jersey for 13 minutes or so every night are in for some disappointment: according to multiple sources, Scal’s retiring and joining the CSN broadcast team.
The decision makes complete sense. As a player, Scalabrine’s playing time dropped over eight minutes per game when he left Boston for Chicago. Averaging under five minutes a game, Scalabrine’s numbers dropped below even one basket, rebound and assist per game.
Basically, that means Scalabrine played a little defense for the Bulls every game, and that’s all. And already 34, Scalabrine knew that numbers like that wouldn’t get him anywhere near the $3.4 million salary (seriously?) he earned with the Celtics for the 2009-10 season, or even the $1.3 million (again, seriously?) he took home with the Bulls last season.
Between diminished salary prospects and the demands of an again-81-game season, Scalabrine decided to hang up the sneakers for good. Taking the route of so many ex-athletes, Scalabrine took his talents to the broadcast booth, and what better place to do it than Boston?
Few cities know and honor the totality of their sports history the way Boston does. We don’t just know the greats, we know everybody. And because of that, second- or third-tier athletes who’ve played for Boston can always come back home.
Scalabrine isn’t the first non-star to become a Boston broadcaster or analyst. Ex-Red Sox David McCarty’s gig with NESN has extended his longevity long past what a player as inconsequential as he rightfully deserves. The same could be said of ex-Celtic Dana Barros, though at least Barros’ outreach work and youth camps gives him a little more street cred.
Scal shares the same place in Celtics lore as Barros, and McCarty holds a parallel spot in the annals of Fenway. That place, for lack of a more nuanced description, is at the bottom. Arguing that Scalabrine meant little more to the Celtics than as a bench-warmer would be ludicrous.
But who cares? It’s Scal! If CSN can keep him around the only fan base that ever loved him, why shouldn’t he come back?
Thank you for the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Thank you for fighting from the opening jump to the final seconds of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Thank you for keeping us riveted to our seats night in and night out.
I know how easy it would’ve been to check out during these playoffs. No one really ever believed you could win a championship. And when Avery Bradley‘s shoulder injury against the 76ers cost the team its only perimeter defender young enough to hang with the Heat, you could’ve basically thrown in the towel.
But that wouldn’t be the Celtics’ way. It wouldn’t be how Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have approached their entire careers. It wouldn’t have been “ubuntu.”
When it comes to predictions, sports reporters need to show conviction to be taken seriously. An “expert” might suggest how both teams could win a game, but ultimately he or she has to pick a team, then stick to it. There’s no room for “maybe.”
Saying “it will be interesting to see” can buy a play-by-play or color commentator time, but that’s quickly become an all-but-meaningless expression. I try my hardest never to use it.
I predicted before the Eastern Conference Finals that the Heat would beat the Celtics in six games. The voice of the analytical, objective observer that lives in the left side of my brain still argues the Heat will win in six, and for the same reasons: the Heat are too fast, too young, too strong and too deep.
But as I watched the Celtics pull out an edge-of-the-couch overtime victory over the Heat in Game 4, I could hear another voice in my head. It didn’t come from the part of my brain that thinks – no, it came from some deeper, rawer, part of my brain. A part that just “feels.”
And everything that voice said started with one word: “Maybe.”
The Boston Celtics threw everything they had at the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday night. They overcame two second-half Heat leads, played their Big 4 for 43-plus minutes each, and even got a career-best 44 points from Rajon Rondo, who played the entire game.
They did all that, and it still wasn’t enough.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 57 points, including 12 of the Heat’s 16 in overtime, powering the Heat to a 115-111 overtime victory over the Celtics. The series heads to Boston for Game 3 Friday with the Heat up 2-0.
Celtics Comeback Twice in Fourth
Miami reserve Mike Miller‘s three-pointer – one of Miami’s 10 – put his team up 84-77 with just under a minute gone in the fourth. Two Kevin Garnett (18 points, eight rebounds in 45 minutes) free throws and a three-pointer from Mickael Pietrus cut the deficit to one, then went up 86-85 when Rondo picked off a pass and sprinted for the fast-break layup.
The Celtics built that lead as high as five, going up 92-87 on one of 10 mid- to long-range jumpers by Rondo. He shot 16-for-24 and went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, fueling nearly all of his team’s offense Wednesday.
James kept the Heat from crumbling late, however, earning and scoring six free throws in the final four minutes. His last two put the Heat up 96-94, and Udonis Haslem‘s 18-footer pushed the lead to four. Haslem led all reserves with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Celtics had another comeback in them, however, with Garnett’s alley-oop from Rondo (10 assists) cutting the deficit to 98-96. Following Wade going 1-for-2 at the line, Keyon Dooling drew four Heat defenders to him under the basket before finding Ray Allen behind the arc. Allen, who rebounded nicely with 13 points after a horrific Game 1, knocked it down to tie the game 99-99.
A similar story runs through both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Finals. Both series will match athletic, physically strong youngsters against experienced, cagey veterans. The brash and burly Miami Heat play the ancient and venerated Boston Celtics in the East, while the run-and-gun Oklahoma City Thunder play the super-synchronized San Antonio Spurs in the West.
Each teams stands just four wins away from a trip to the NBA Finals. A Celtics championship would write the perfect ending to the likely final year for their New Big Three, while a Heat championship would do away with all the criticisms LeBron James has endured about his lack of big-game effectiveness.
The Spurs would love to milk one more championship out of Tim Duncan, who’s already won it all four times since 1999. And a trophy by the Thunder would provide some hardware to match Kevin Durant‘s considerable skills.
Do brains conquer brawn in basketball? Do teams win in the playoffs by scoring or preventing scoring? Here’s my preview of the third round.
Celtics vs. Heat
Celtics fans desperate to believe their team can beat the Heat will no doubt look at the Celtics’ 3-1 record against them this season. You know who started all three wins? Avery Bradley. You know who won’t play basketball again this season? Avery Bradley. And without him, the Celtics don’t have enough perimeter defense to contain Dwyane Wade, especially with Ray Allen hurtin’ and the bench nonexistent.
The Celtics struggled with the 76ers’ strength and athleticism throughout their series. Doc Rivers even called them “Atlanta on steroids.” Well, the Heat are the 76ers on steroids: even stronger, even faster, even more durable. And they’ve had two extra days off.
Kevin Garnett won’t be able to dominate in the post as he did against the 76ers, and an injured Paul Pierce won’t be able to hang with James. Rajon Rondo is an infinitely better point guard than Mario Chalmers, but both perform best as facilitators, not scorers. And Chalmers just has better offensive options than Rondo.
The Boston Celtics built a big lead Friday night in Philadelphia, then quit.
The Philadelphia 76ers, on the other hand, never quit. And once they pulled back into the game, that sustained effort translated into unstoppable momentum, a 92-83 victory over the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and a 2-2 series tie.
Game 5 takes place Monday back in Boston.
Bad Third for Celtics Keys Comeback Fourth for 76ers
The Celtics built a 17-point lead on a Paul Pierce (game-high 24 points) technical just over two minutes into the third quarter. Elton Brand picked up the technical, but his physicality ignited the previously lazy 76er defense. Over the first seven minutes of the third, the Celtics didn’t score a field goal. The 76ers, meanwhile scored 10 unanswered to cut the Celtics’ lead to 50-43.
Pierce’s three-pointer (one of four) built Boston’s lead back to 54-46 with five minutes left, but Philadelphia played the rest of the game fully confident they could win. Boston held just a 63-59 lead after three, and Philadelphia tied the game on back-to-back buckets from Thaddeus Young to start the fourth.
The two teams traded baskets throughout most the final quarter, with neither team building too big a lead. Pierce’s free throws put the Celtics up 74-72, but Young tied it again, then backup point guard Lou Williams hit a jumper for a 76-74 76er lead.
Ray Allen‘s three-pointer – his only field goal of the night – put the Celtics back up by one, and Kevin Garnett‘s free throws stretched the lead to 79-76. But the 76ers answered again, with Andre Iguodala tying the game with a three. Iguodala scored eight of his 16 total points in the closing 3:11, combining a jumper with a three-pointer to break an 83-83 tie and put the 76ers up five.
The Celtics couldn’t answer the 76ers again, and the 76ers finished the game on a 9-0 stretch. They out-rebounded the Celtics 52-38 Friday, using a 17-5 advantage on the offensive glass to extend possessions and exhaust a Celtics defense that had held them to 23 percent shooting in the first half.
The Boston Celtics have asked so much of Kevin Garnett this season. They’ve asked him to play with few days off and even fewer days for practice. They’ve asked him to play center on team without a shred of depth at the big-man positions.
And with the Celtics’ best chance to close out their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Atlanta Hawks coming in Game 6 Thursday night at TD Garden, they asked him to carry the team home.
The Celtics asked, and as he’s done all season long, Garnett answered. Garnett scored 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked five shots and stole three passes, helping the Celtics edge past the Hawks, 83-80, and clinch the series in six games.
Garnett’s turn-around jumper with 8:41 left in the fourth capped a 7-0 fourth-quarter run that pushed the Celtics’ lead to 74-65. Having already played Garnett for 35 minutes, Doc Rivers subbed out Garnett two minutes later.
The decision proved costly, as the Hawks went on a 10-2 over the next 1:42. Now free of Garnett’s pesky defense, center Al Horford fueled the charge with six points. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in a Herculean 46 minutes.
Garnett came back in with 3:51 to go, but even that couldn’t halt Atlanta’s run, as Josh Smith (18 points, nine rebounds) and Horford put the Hawks up 79-76 with two more unanswered baskets.
Needing something from someone other than Garnett, Paul Pierce cut the Hawks’ lead to one with a layup with just over two minutes left. Garnett capped two straight Celtics defensive stops with two emphatic rebounds, then put the Celtic back up 80-79 with another turn-around jumper.
The Celtics crushed the Hawks in the paint, out-scoring them 42-30. They also out-rebounded the Hawks by four, recording more offensive and defensive boards.
Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson drained a jumper 19 seconds into Sunday’s Game 4 against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
The Hawks never led after that. What should have been a basketball game turned out to be a massacre.
Between Paul Pierce‘s lethal shooting and Rajon Rondo‘s mesmerizing passing, the Celtics crushed the Hawks, 101-79, taking a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Pierce Lights Up Hawks Early
Pierce only played about 16 minutes Sunday, but while on the court he couldn’t be stopped. The Hawks put as many as three players in Pierce’s face, and he still knocked down jumpers using his trademark step-back shot.
Doc Rivers didn’t have Pierce waste energy guarding Johnson on defense, and Pierce rewarded Rivers with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He knocked down four three-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots.
Pierce scored 10 first-quarter points, including the Celtics’ first basket on the first of 16 assists from Rondo. Between Pierce’s penetration and Kevin Garnett‘s domination in the low post (13 points on 6-of-8 shooting), the Celtics built a 32-19 lead after one quarter. Pierce continued humiliating the Hawks in the second, hitting two more three-pointers without even noticing defenders around him.
Paul Pierce might be nearing the finish line of a career that will end in the Hall of Fame and a spot in the TD Garden rafters. But if these are Pierce’s last games, The Truth wants to go out in style.
Pierce scored a game-high 29 points and recorded a career-best 14 assists, carrying the Boston Celtics to a 102-98 victory over the Orlando Magic and their fifth consecutive Atlantic Division title Wednesday night at the TD Garden. Avery Bradley backed up Pierce with 23 points, tying his career-high.
With home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs locked up, the short-handed Celtics can now focus on rest and recovery. Ray Allen hasn’t played in over a week, and Rajon Rondo sat Wednesday with a lower back injury.
Pierce Holds Back Magic in Fourth
Up 79-70 heading into the fourth quarter, Boston built their lead as high as 13, but a combination of outside shooting by Jameer Nelson (21 points, 3-for-6 from downtown) and dominating play inside (54 points in the paint, 17 offensive rebounds withoutDwight Howard) kept Orlando in the game. Orlando cut Boston’s lead to 92-90 with three minutes left before Pierce drew a foul and sank one of two.
A Glen Davis (27 points) steal and sprint to the basket – how many times has that ever been written? – made it 98-96 Celtics, setting up the play of the game. Pierce – who split ball-handling duties with Bradley Wednesday – brought the ball to the three-point line, nearly slipping and losing control of the ball.
With the shot-clock winding down, Pierce regained control and penetrated to just outside the foul line, hitting a 17-foot step-back jumper with 7.6 seconds left in the game. He also sank two free throws in the final seconds to maintain the two-possession lead.