Time Out for Sports Talk: Ongoing File Maintenance
Todd: Another busy week in the sports world requires some opines on my part.
Starting with the world of hoops, as enjoyably memorable as the just-completed Celtics season was and as bright as their future appears to be, it still doesn’t make their Game 7 loss to LeBron’s Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals any more frustrating.
A 12-point lead in the second quarter quickly dissolved when the C’s shooting went so cold they probably couldn’t have hit the broad side of TD Garden. A team that relied so heavily on the 3-point shot (of course I could say that about the entire NBA, but that’s a rant for another day) failed when it counted the most as Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 3-for-26 from beyond the arc. The trio’s two-point shooting wasn’t much better (8-for-42), and the team as a whole shot only 34 percent from the floor and 18 percent from long distance.
On the bright side, rookie Jayson Tatum actually made over half of the shots he took in Game 7, including a fourth quarter dunk over King LeBron that will be replayed by Celtics fans for generations to come. Tatum’s talent and poise belie his years – how is this 20 y/o not going to be one of the league’s best players over the next decade? If it were up to me, Tatum’s play this postseason has earned him a lifetime contract with the Green. The fact that Danny Ainge landed this kid and an extra draft pick from the Sixers is downright Auerbachian.
Speaking of Ainge, this is the same GM who in 2007 acquired both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in deals that helped Boston win their 17th championship. Over a decade later, the draft pick Danny dealt to get Allen (and the same draft pick who later returned to the C’s years later in a trade that didn’t quite work out) got some revenge in Boston the other night. Who would have thought old friend Jeff Green would score 19 points and pull down 8 rebounds as LeBron’s sidekick du jour and end the Celtics’ season?
Then there was LeBron himself, who played the full 48 minutes in Game 7 and came up one assist shy of his fourth triple-double this postseason. His performance was enough to defeat the Celtics for the first time in 38 playoff series in which the Green had enjoyed a 2-0 lead.
Say what you want about LeBron, and I fully agree with those of you who feel he is hard to embrace. But it’s hard to deny he is one of the all-time greats, evidenced once again last night by becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a Finals game (he’s also the first of the six players whose team lost). For a 33 y/o playing in his career-high 101st game this season and featuring a supporting cast of teammates that include the aforementioned Jeff Green, you have to respect what LeBron is doing at this moment in time.
But talk about frustration if you’re a Cavs fan—Cleveland was already a sizeable underdog going into these Finals (a/k/a Cavs-Dubs IV), and yet looked like they might steal Game 1 in Oakland last night. But J.R. Smith channeled his inner Magic Johnson (see Game 2, 1984 NBA Finals) and dribbled away the Cavs’ best chance at scoring the upset. Instead, Golden State was let up off the mat and took advantage, pulling away in overtime. Have to wonder if that was the Cavs’ best shot to make this series go past 4 or 5 games?
Other quick thoughts – while the Red Sox still sport in the best record in baseball, I have my concerns. While I totally get all the decisions (both baseball and contract related) behind the release of Hanley Ramirez, will the Sox miss his bat at some point this season? No question Hanley struggled at the plate in May, but he was 7-for-18 with 3 HR and 9 RBI against the Yankees this season.
I’m also starting to wonder how much Dustin Pedroia will contribute to the club this year. He was a late scratch from last night’s lineup in a game the Sox lost to the defending champion Houston Astros (who I think are the best team in the American League). I realize it’s going to take some time before Pedey can regularly play on back-to-back days, but maybe this knee injury will affect him more than we think. Perhaps it’s also why the Sox chose hanging on to Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt instead of Hanley and his occasionally potent bat.
Finally, I realize between the Celtics deep playoff run and the Bruins pulling a hammy early in their playoff run that most fans around here have turned off hockey. But if you didn’t check the pregame ceremonies during this week’s Stanley Cup Finals, you missed out on what might become the new standard for arena entertainment. Leave it to the folks out in Las Vegas for putting on a performance that was part glitz and part WWE intro.
As for the actual hockey, the Vegas Golden Knights are the NHL’s story of the year. Twelve months ago, this first-year franchise was still anticipating the expansion draft to see what talent would be available for their very first roster. Remember old friend Reilly Smith? The former Bruin is now a top-line right wing for the VGK with 19 points and 3 goals this postseason, including one in Vegas’ 6-4 win in Game 1. Thankfully the Capitals bounced back in Game 2 to even the series, which assures all of us at least one more spectacular show next Thursday night. If you forget to set your DVRs, I’m sure Mike’s internet savvy will allow you to see it here.
Mike: I had a hot take in my mind as I sat down to write this, but then I actually watched the opening of the Stanley Cup finals from Vegas. I'm speechless. Flaming arrows, catapults, sword fights? Wow. That screams Vegas!
It really is the antithesis of Old Time Hockey - can't wait to see what they do if they win.
Anyway, here is the madness from Game 1
And, what the hell, let's bring out Michael Buffer for the "main event" intros...because, why not?
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