Hornets-Celtics tomorrow at the Hive! So far this year, while we’ve handled the West’s elite, we’ve struggled against the East’s top 3, going 0-3. Tomorrow is our first opportunity to rectify that as New O takes on Boston which is fresh off a Texas Triangle sweep. The Celtics’ blog Green Bandwagon was kind enough to answer 6 questions about the team. [Update: Find my answers to GB’s questions over here.] The first three I’ll post right now, and the second three next Friday when we meet Boston in Boston. By the way, if you were ever a fan of the NBA Jam series (or its derivatives NBA Hangtime and NBA Showtime), you have to check out Green Bandwagon’s NBA Jam Chronicles. Ohhhh my! That’s the nail in the coffin! Boomshakalaka! Fancy Footwork! Hello! What a Debacle… And he lays a brick, my friend… And this is what they came to see today! At the Buzzer! No Goood!!!! Okay, I’ll stop now.
At the Hive: This question needs a resolution more than any other. I contend that if Boston were in the West, it would still be #1, but only a game or two ahead of the #2 seed (New Orleans, currently). Others, on the other hand, contend that Boston would actually be a 3-5 seed in the West, simply because there are so many more quality opponents in our conference. Boston has beaten up on some of the West’s best, but the logic is that playing Denver, Golden State, et al. over Atlanta, Indiana etc. would eventually take its toll. Who’s correct?
Green Bandwagon: I like aspects of both sides of the argument. I think the Celtics would still be a #1 seed because of the collective chip that Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers carry on their shoulders for being labeled as losers. They would attack the regular season to make statement after statement, which is what happened through December. However, in the process it would take its toll and the team would be far less effective in the playoffs guaranteeing a second round exodus. Yet that was not the case. For example about a week ago there was no longer a Celtic in the top 25 of minutes played because the second unit has gotten extended play over the last couple of months. Of course I’m incredibly biased and the recent sweep of the Texas teams has me elated. You could maybe get me to lower my pick to a #2 seed in this hypothetical situation. But Minnesota, Seattle, Sacramento, Memphis and the Clippers are still out West. That can’t hurt.
At the Hive: Here’s an easier question: what the heck is up with all these (possible) name changes for your arena? I’m hoping the “Garden” doesn’t become the “SBC Park, no wait PacBell… er, make that PacBellNet Park!” of the NBA…
Green Bandwagon: I feel like this kind of thing would have been a much bigger deal 20 years ago. Outside of Madison Square Garden I’m not even sure I know the name of any other basketball arena. Had they tried to change the Boston Garden to the Fleet Center or the TD Banknorth Garden things would have gotten interesting. It would be like the current Red Sox owners trying to rename Fenway Park. Those guys have earned a dime every way possible but even they know that’s off limits. But there is no attachment to the building the Celtics play in, especially since the team has been by and large awful since it opened. Also it was a big deal to move from the trough style urinal to the freestanding individual units. I’d take a building with name changes over scarring a whole other generation.
At the Hive: You guys did get Sam Cassell (oh, and thanks for keeping P.J. from us), but I thought it was really interesting the Celtics decided to go into the season with Rondo at the point. What attributes did they see in him last offseason that made them eschew bringing in a guy like The Glove, and how much has Rondo rewarded the Celtics’ decision? Where can he improve and is he the long term answer?
Green Bandwagon: Well I think part of it is what the Celtics front office saw in other point guards. Let’s be honest Gary Payton has nothing left. If he did he’d be playing somewhere – Golden State? Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo is a very interesting player. When the Celtics acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in the draft two seasons ago Dick Vitale absolutely killed the pick because Rondo had the reputation of being an awful shooter. That was a terrifying moment for Celtics fans because I’ve has Vitale ever criticized a player? And he was right about Rondo’s shot. It was not pretty. But that ignores some of his strong attributes. We started hearing that he had 20 rebounds in a college game once. And then he showed up with freakishly large hands, great leaping ability and the knack for making things happen. After last summer he worked on his shot religiously and now I feel pretty good when he shoots a mid range jumper from the baseline or from the free throw line extended. He is currently at 47% from the field. Also his game has improved by leaps and bounds during his sophomore campaign and he’s had plenty of big moments. He ripped a rebound away from Dirk Nowitzki to help ensure a victory over Dallas earlier in the year when Kevin Garnett was out. He had a statement dunk over Jason Maxiell in the most recent Celtics/Pistons showdown. Rondo also grabbed a huge rebound against San Antonio in the final 30 seconds last Tuesday to help seal the deal there. In fact his biggest strength might be that he has absolutely no fear. None. Over the long run he needs to make better decisions, finish a little better around the rim, continue to work on his jumper and pull his free throw percentage up a lot. But had there been a veteran option in place to start the season I’m not sure Rondo gets to develop as a player. And having said all that he only played 22 minutes the other night against Dallas and if I’m not mistake sat the entire fourth quarter. Still I think over the next few years fans of other teams are going to realize he’s pretty good. He’s no Chris Paul but who is?
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