Sunday, January 30, 2011

Celtics Prove They Are the Best

The Boston Celtics might be aging, but they are the best team in the NBA.  The Celtics proved that today by going to the Staples center and beat the Lakers by 13.  The Celtics dominated the Lakers in the second half to win the game.  The main factors in the victory were assists and rebounding. Which is ironic, becasue rebounding is how the Lakers beat Boston in last year's NBA finals.  Rajon Rondo finished with 16 assists, 15 in the second half.  The Lakers whole team only had 10.  The Celtics did a great job of spreading the wealth around, unlike LA who had Kobe score 41 with 0 assists and a couple more players with a little above 10 points, Boston had 6 players in double figures.  Boston had three players score over 15 points and Rondo and Kevin Garnett both cashed in double-doubles.

  I know it is only the end of January and I know the Lakers beat the Celtics in the last NBA finals.  The Celtics will be able to get there revenge during this years NBA finals when they play the Lakers again.  It is going to be fun to watch the Lakers and Celtics fight it out for the third time in four years.  It is one of the best professional rivalries in sports and I am lucky to have the rivalry continued in my generation.

   Let me preface my argument by saying, a healthy Celtics team is the best team in the NBA. Although I think that is an obvious factor.  The Celtics are better than any team in the Eastern Conference.  The Heat are not consistent enough to be better than the Celtics.  They are not nearly as physical as Boston and do not have the bodies down low with as much size and talent as the Celtics.  The Chicago Bulls are definitely improved from a year ago, but I think they rely on Derrick Rose too much to be considered better the Boston.  The Orlando Magic have Stan Van Gundy as a coach, who is the most annoying coach in the NBA, and Dwight Howard, who is becoming the most annoying player in the NBA.  Orlando is a good team, but I think the Celtics are experienced enough and are slightly better overall.

   The Western Conference used to have a plethora of solid teams to choose from, but the balance of power has slighty shifted towards the East after this mega free agent season.  The Los Angeles Lakers are having a "down" regular season. (Sort of like when Albert Pujols has a "down" season when he hits .312 with 42 home runs and 118 runs batted in, and doesnt win the MVP.  I would LOVE to have a "down" year.)  The Lakers will be the Lakers and will be good when they need to be.  Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant are to great not win the Western Conference.  This being Phil's last year, so he says, it is too hard to bet against the Lakers in the West.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are the second best team in the West.  They challenged the Lakers in the playoffs last year in the first round and have improved greatly since last season.  Even though they added no one big in the off-season, they grew a year in experience which has proven to be all that they needed.  I think they are going to be a real contender in the playoffs this season, but are still not ready to take down the Lakers.  The Spurs and Mavericks fall under the same category to me.  They are good teams every year, but are always too old and just not quite good enough to do anything.  The Spurs do have the most wins in the NBA, but all of their losses this year, except for one, have come against teams that are going to be in the playoffs.  I know that should make them look good. But, to me, it makes me unsure if they are really good enough to beat the teams that are the best.

   When it comes down to it, The Celtics have proven they are the best team in the NBA, when healthy.  They only are going to get better as Kendrick Perkins slowly makes his way back into the swing of things.  They have the recipe to be the best team in the NBA and win another NBA title.  Rajon Rondo is the best assisting point guard in the league, averaging 12.5 assists a game.  The Big Three are a fantastic core that offer experience, leadership, scoring, and defense.  They have the kind of bench that will win them some big games down the stretch with players like, Shaq, Big Baby, Marquis Daniels, and Nate Robinson.  To me, the most over looked component Boston has is Doc Rivers.  He is a fantastic coach and motivator.  He preaches hard work, defense, and togetherness.  Doc is what keeps everything together for Boston and He is on of the biggest reasons why the Celtics are the best team in the NBA and on the road towards another possible raised banner.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

   Super Bowl XLV is a classic matchup.  It features the team with the most NFL titles, the Green Bay Packers, against the team with the most Super Bowls, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  This is the kind of matchup that is exciting even for fans who hate both teams.  We saw this sort of matchup in the 2009 BCS National Championship game between Alabama and Texas.  For basketball fans, this would be like Kentucky vs. North Carolina for the title.  It's a little different to have a Word Series matchup that is equivalent because the Yankees are so far ahead of all the other team in terms of overall greatness.  I think you understand that this is a classic matchup between two all time professional football heavyweights.

   Despite my hatred for the Green Bay Packers, I have to acknowledge that what they have done in the playoffs is excellent.  They have played their best football the past three weeks and that is what sets championship teams apart from the other teams.

   After a regular season that did not quite live up to the expectations set before them, the Packers had an historical playoff run that easily put them at the top of the NFC.  They are the first NFC team to make it to the Super Bowl as a six seed.  Going to Philadelphia and beating the Eagles is never easy, even if the Eagles were banged up and fading. The next week they flexed their muscles by smashing the Atlanta Falcons by twenty-seven points.  The reason that is impressive is because since Matt Ryan has been the starter in Atlanta, he has lost one home game...the Packers made it two.  Finishing off their run with a tough victory at Soldier Field was sweet for Packers fans.  Being a Celtics fan and watching them win the 2008 NBA title in LA was awesome, so I know how Packers feel about that.  

  I do need to point out that I am now an Aaron Rodgers believer.  Since he took over as the starter in Green Bay, I have known he was going to be good, but unlike the rest of the sports world, I was not ready to crown him.  I was still waiting for him to show me something more than just putting up good numbers.  After this season, regardless of a Super Bowl victory, he has proven that he is clearly the best NFC quarterback, and in my mind, the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.  I put him at four behind the obvious three of Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger. In that order.  Sorry Tavaris Jackson, you almost made it.

   Oh, please don't make me give credit to the Steelers and talk about how consistently good the are, and how Roethlisberger ALWAYS finds a way to win, and how Polomalu and his hair are always flying around making plays that few players in the NFL have the instinct to make.  I guess I will.
   This is just the same old song and dance for the Steelers under Big Ben's reign.  Make the playoffs as a top two seed, beat the Ravens somewhere in the playoffs, Roethlisberger connect with a receiver in some extremely odd fashion (3rd and 20 bomb caught by some guy named Brown against his helmet), then play a game in the five degree weather at Heinz Field to go to the Super Bowl.  As much as I like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and watching the Ravens defense play, the Steelers showed one thing...THEY OWN YOU. Especially in post-season play.  The Steelers made a great comeback to beat the Ravens and defensive co-ordinator, Dick LeBeau and his boys totally exposed the Ravens sub-par offense and quarterback Joe Flacco.  I will say, Ravens-Steelers is fun to watch, I don't care who you are. Well, unless you're a Ravens fan, cause you usually don't win.  

   After making such a great comeback against Baltimore, Pittsburgh was almost the victim of one against the Jets, after what looked like was going to be a blowout turned in to a five point Steeler victory after Big Ben made another clutch throw to seal the game.  Rex Ryan can now shut up! (Angels singing from Heaven!)

   So, the big game is in two weeks, and I do not know who to root for.  I hate the Packers because I am a Vikings fan.  I hate the Steelers too, because they are the Steelers.  I do think the Steelers will win the game, though.  It is the destiny of the Pittsburgh Steelers to win their seventh Super Bowl at the stadium of the Dallas Cowboys.  Not only at the Cowboys stadium, but the brand new Jerry World. What a sweet victory it will be for Steelers fans.

Steelers-30 Packers-24