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.
Simultaneous losses by Detroit and Chicago reduced Boston’s magic number to zero on an off-night for the team.
So, what do the playoff scenarios look like?
Adam Himmelsbach breaks down several possible opponents.
Here’s his summary of Milwaukee:
Milwaukee Bucks (34-35, seventh place)
This could be tricky for the Celtics, primarily because Milwaukee is bigger at every starting position, and trees like Greg Monroe (6 feet 11 inches), John Henson (6-11), and Mirza Teletovic (6-9) will be waiting on the bench.
The biggest advantage the Celtics bring to this matchup is on the bench and in the form of Brad Stevens. As was once said of Bear Bryant, Stevens could ‘beat your’n with his’n, and turn around and beat his’n with your’n’. If Stevens were coaching the Bucks, I can pretty much guarantee they’d be doing better than a game over .500.
Page 2: Where Marcus Smart is making winning plays
At the other end of the floor, the ball swung to Bogdanovic beyond the 3-point arc and Smart rushed out to contest. Bogdanovic pump-faked then put the ball on the floor and slipped through Smart and Al Horford to get into the paint. But as he left the ground to go up with a layup, Smart reached out and ripped the ball from his hands.
The play improbably went into the official scoring as a block and rebound for Smart, who was fouled as he turned to head the other way. It was, essentially, a mugging. Smart made both free throws to push Boston’s lead back to double digits. And, in the span of 14 seconds, Smart had ensured the Celtics emerged with a key victory in the race for prime playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.
So, yeah, that’s Marcus Smart. I have no clue what this guy is going to look like in a few years, but I’m going to bet that he’s still going to want the basketball more than anyone else on the floor with the game on the line, and you’re probably not going to be able to keep it away from him if he can get his hands on it.
Page 3: Where Adam Silver works for the owners, and don’t you forget it.
‘‘Decisions of this kind … can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation and damage the perception of our game,’’ Silver wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press. ‘‘With so much at stake, it is simply not acceptable for governors to be uninvolved or to defer decision-making authority on these matters to others in their organizations.’’
‘‘Please also be reminded that under current league rules teams are required to provide notice to the league office, their opponent and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest,’’ Silver wrote. ‘‘Failure to abide by these rules will result in significant penalties.’’
One of the reasons why Adam Silver, initially, seemed like such a breath of fresh air is because David Stern was a sporadically micromanaging dictator who had long overstayed his welcome.
His response to these superstar back-to-back Saturday night ‘rest days’ is illustrative of a very simple fact: Adam Silver works for the owners, not the players, and any notion to the contrary should be dismissed tout suite.
Rather than acknowledge that the league’s throwback scheduling is in direct opposition to the year-round nature of the game today, Silver said, in effect, ‘suck it up, and be glad we’re shortening the preseason’.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you say, “MJ didn’t have rest days”, well, let me share a tidbit from George Plimpton’s time with the Celtics in the late 60s:
From the first practice he glimpsed the austere, straightforward existence of Bill Russell’s Celtics. They carried their gear in kit bags to Tobin Gymnasium in Roxbury, looking “like refugees from a rag-pickers’ convention.” They had only one sorry basketball until Russell arrived thirty minutes late, wearing street clothes. Russell looked bored while leading basic drills. He reviewed the same plays from the past two decades. Whenever he seemed unsure what to do, they ran laps.
Yeah, of course, those guys could play 48 minutes per game, day after day.
Times change. You’d get blown off the court if you prepped for an NBA game that way in 2017. But in 1968? That was how the best team in basketball practiced.
The bottom line: You can’t compare players across eras, so whatever MJ or Bird or Magic or Wilt or Russell did 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago just flat out doesn’t matter.
What you have today is a league that compounds its needlessly long regular season with a perverse torture device known as the ‘home and road back to back’. There is no earthly reason for this thing to exist. None. It is an excuse to cram players onto planes in the middle of the night right after they’ve finished a game because the NBA, for their own utterly nonsensical reasons, thinks this is good for the sport. Again, for emphasis, there is absolutely NO NEED for this thing to exist. Road back-to-backs are bad enough, but turning a home back-to-back and a road back-to-back into a home-and-road back to back and another home-and-road back to back is just completely and totally asinine.
“But what about the fans that bought the tickets???”
To the extent that owners jack up tickets to see marquee teams, then the players and coaches are using the only leverage they have. They’re staging ‘sick outs’, which is all they can do to protest a scheduling structure that makes no sense whatsoever and over which they have less than no control.
The rest of the links
MassLive: Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens on late-quarter situations, 2-for-1s: ‘We’ve got to get better’ |Boston Celtics rumors 2017: Pat Kelsey chosen as UMass head coach after Micah Shrewsberry drew consideration