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The Sports Daily > Red's Army
Your Morning Dump… Where the Celtics are still underdogs

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

“This is almost a reality check for us,” Bradley went on. “It’s like we forget that that’s what got us where we are. You have to play like that every single game. That’s the only way that we are the Celtics that are second place in the East.

“I don’t know what we are defensively, but we have to be up there in the second half of the season, and right now our defense doesn’t look the same. We’re not playing the same. We’re not communicating. We’re not sticking together. It was good in the second half, but that was too late.”

It appears that the Celtics’ brief stay at No. 1 in the Eastern Conference seeding fooled some people into believing they actually belonged there ahead of Cleveland, that they were actually capable of challenging for a trip to the NBA Finals.

Among those fooled may have been themselves. The Celtics forgot they were a bunch of rowdies storming the castle and began acting/playing as if they were the aristocracy.

Boston Herald

That’s Avery Bradley talking up top, and Steve Bulpett putting it more succinctly at the bottom.

In a couple years, maybe, the Celtics will be that top team. They’ll have grown into that role.

But they are plainly not there yet. The games against Atlanta and Cleveland fall into a pretty typical pattern with this team. A bunch of people start pumping their tires, and the next thing you know, they’re walking out onto the court with exactly the wrong attitude.

When this team doesn’t scrap, they don’t look good at all, and you can take that to the bank. When they don’t work their half-court sets to get good looks, when they don’t play team defense, well, they’re not a team that is going to wow anybody with their raw athletic skill.

So yeah, put that chip back on your shoulder, go listen to some airhead on sports radio (lord knows there’s not a shortage of them in Boston) and get your motivation back, guys!

Page 2: Where Chad Finn is more concerned about health than matchups

They have to remain healthy. This mysterious Jae Crowder elbow injury is concerning, as is Avery Bradley’s unfortunate history of dealing with some injury or ailment seemingly every few weeks. He’s missed 27 games this year.

I remain convinced they would have beaten the Hawks last year had Bradley – often their best player – not been knocked out for the series with a hamstring injury in Game 1. And remember, Crowder was basically playing on one decent ankle that series.

Bradley looks rusty after being hospitalized with the flu, so it would probably benefit him to get some reps these last few games. But I wouldn’t be averse to shutting down Crowder for at least a game or two. The degree of difficulty grows enormously when Bradley and Crowder are absent or ailing. Let last year be the lesson.

Boston Globe

This is a fair point. Finn doesn’t mention that the Celtics were without Kelly Olynyk last year as well. And Sully wasn’t in great health either, as it turned out.

Bottom line, the Celtics are getting out of the first round this season–unless multiple players get injured. They’ve got a decent shot to get out of the second round as well.

Finally: Russ matches the Big O, on the box score.

Russell Westbrook, a sort of Post-Postmodern ‘end of history’-ish Oscar Robertson as an ‘I don’t care what you think, I’m going to do my thing my way, and you can fall in line or get out of the way’ type of player, secured a spot right next to him last night. Westbrook will average a triple-double this season. An achievement that up until the past couple months seemed to be as unreachable as getting  a hit 56 games in a row, batting over .400, or hitting over 61 home runs in a season.

This is what Simmons said about Robertson: “Of all the injuries that determined the ninety-six spots of my Pyramid, I can tell you this much: Oscar Robertson’s broken heart resonates the most”

You can look at Oscar Robertson and wonder what would have happened if Bill Russell hadn’t been traded to Boston, and had started his career in St. Louis. Imagine spending your 20s, your first decade as an adult, confronted over and over not by subtle racism, but by blunt, in-your-face humiliation–and doing so while playing for a team that absolutely did not have your back, a team that, when you couldn’t stay in a hotel in Houston, stayed in that hotel just the same.

Now, that’s not to completely excuse Robertson for his negative traits–we are all more than what our environment tries to make us.

But how many of us could go through experiences like that and emerge with a better attitude than Robertson?

Robertson, yes, has been prickly for at least the last five decades, but he has also been willing to take on the establishment on eminently reasonable grounds:

Take his involvement in O’Bannon v. NCAA

Oscar Robertson is asked to affix his autograph to various items every day and he recently discovered a new one being pushed in front of him by fans…

This was not a product he recalled approving for his likeness to be used….

The NCAA had signed licensing deals with the companies without Robertson’s direct consent. The association maintains it has the right to control a player’s likeness in perpetuity. (emphasis added)

In the case of the 72-year-old Big O, that means 51 years and counting. He left UC in 1960.

“The arrogance of the NCAA to say, ‘we have the right to do this,’ … is what troubles me the most,” Robertson told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “The University of Cincinnati gets a fee each time my picture is used on a card. I don’t. When I played there, there was nothing like this ever agreed to.”

Yahoo Sports

It’s pretty hard to look at what the NCAA’s been doing and not be upset about it. If the players ultimately succeed it will be in part because Robertson (and later Bill Russell) threw their considerable weight behind what is a manifestly unfair practice.

It was also Robertson, in 1970, who sued the NBA to end that league’s ‘option clause’, which effectively gave teams complete control over their players. Robertson saw the lawsuit through to a settlement that led to the NBA’s free agency system. And while it’s easy to grouch about players leaving for more money elsewhere, it’s fair to remember that the system that preceded this was owners doing everything they could to keep more money for themselves.

So, yeah, Westbrook matched something Robertson did on the court, but there’s a lot of stuff that Robertson went through off the court that Westbrook won’t have to, and a lot of things Robertson did that Westbrook doesn’t need to.

The rest of the links

CSNNE: David Aldridge on how the NBA Draft will impact Isaiah Thomas long-term future in Boston | Crowder: Celtics have to ‘get back to hitting first’