There is a saying “the more things change the more they stay the same,” and while cryptic, there is a grain of truth in this piece of backward logic.
When one takes a step back and looks at the history of North American sports, forgetting for a moment that every event is an individual occurrence, it is alarming how often history repeats itself. The Portland Trail Blazers made one of the biggest mistakes ever in 1984 when they selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, then did almost the exact same thing 13 years later, taking Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in 2007. The New England Patriots lost the 2007 Superbowl in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Giants, and then had the exact same thing happen again five years later, losing both games on last second drive be Eli Manning and spectacular catches by Giant receivers. One has to assume that these, along with countless other examples, are coincidences and nothing more. However with the way events tend to repeat themselves it is hard not to wonder, which is why one is forced to wonder if the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics are doomed to repeat the early 90’s once again.
There was still a good sense of optimism among Celtic followers going into the 1990-91 season. The Celtics had collapsed in the playoffs the previous year, losing to Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks despite holding a 2-0 series lead. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were all clearly on the back nine of their careers, and Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson were gone at this point. However, the Celtics had still managed to put together a deep and talented team in the early 90s. Reggie Lewis was starting to come into his own, and he along with Brian Shaw and rookie Dee Brown gave Boston a much needed infusion of youth and athleticism, which they used to score fast break points in bunches. Boston jumped out to a 29-3 record, but slumped in the second half and eventually fell to the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the playoffs. The story was much the same for the ’91-’92 season. Bird, McHale and Parish were all slowed by age and injuries, but Lewis and Boston’s strong depth carried them to the Atlantic division crown once again. However in the playoffs they again bowed out in the second round, this time in a tough seven game series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Does this sound at all familiar? Celtic fans may not want to hear it, but there is an eerie similarity between what was going on in Boston in the early 90’s and what is going on right now. Much like ’90-’91 the 2012-2013 Celtics enter the season with two dynamic stars who have admittedly lost a step or two in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Many argue that McHale was never the same after playing the 1987 playoffs with a broken foot just as they say that Garnett hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee in 2009. Pierce arguably has more left in the tank at this point than Bird did back in the early 90s. After all Pierce has been remarkably durable throughout his career while Bird was so hampered by back injuries in his final two seasons that he could barely stand up by the end. However, Pierce was never as good as Bird to begin with, so the comparison probably comes out pretty even. The early 90’s Celtics offset the aging process by assembling a younger, deeper, more athletic supporting cast thanks to the emergence of Lewis and the acquisition of Shaw and Brown. The 2012-2013 Celtics hope to do the same thanks to the emergence of Avery Bradley and the additions of Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Jeff Green. This could almost come right out of the script of Back to the Future. (more…)
BY RYAN DESMARAIS, Feedcrossing.com syndication
Fans of the Boston Celtics better be prepared to hear stories like this for the next few months.
While we await word of whether or not Kevin Garnett will return for his 18th season, we are already hearing that a team not named the Boston Celtics is interested in his services should he decide to lace up his ANTA kicks next year. The interested team is the San Antonio Spurs. (San Antonio Express-News)
The Spurs will consider everything and everyone this summer when free agency begins. But one option tossed out this weekend by one in the Spurs organization is not just another name.
Garnett could retire. He could sign another contract with the Celtics. Or the Celtics might not want to sign him so they can begin rebuilding.
Some will have more money to offer than the Spurs will. Some might have more young talent to put around him. All the Spurs could give Garnett is the closest thing to what he had in Boston, a veteran core with a chance to contend. (more…)
BY JON FRANK, Couchsideshow.com contributor
How? Was the first thing that came to my head. Miami’s got the three-time MVP (LeBron James), the NBA’s Batman and his Robin (Dwyane Wade), not to mention a semi-healthy Chris Bosh. Boston’s got what’s left of the Big Three and Rajon Rondo. This shouldn’t happen. It defies all notions of NBA logic. In professional basketball, superstars are supposed to strap in, go off for 30 a night and carry their inferior, but well-meaning teammates, along for the ride. But watching the Celtics win three straight against the Heat – and listening to Michael Wilbon and the boys’ postgame analysis – it made me remember how much of a team sport basketball is.
Boston is a great team. We knew they were great in years past, and most everyone expected them to do some damage. But few people expected this. Obviously, a lot has happened since people made their initial East Conference champions predictions. Namely, Derrick Rose’s ACL derailed the Bulls (honorable mention to Joakim Noah, the second best player on that team, who went down with a sprained ankle). Aside from that, how many people actually thought an aging Boston team would be on the verge of sending the ridiculously talented Super Team packing? Not me. Then again, I’m no NBA expert – not by a long shot. (more…)
BY ANDREW WITTRY, Feedcrossing.com syndication
After Chris Bosh’s abdominal strain that sidelined him in Game 1 of the Eastern Semifinals, and falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Heat were thrown into a must-win scenario in Game 4. It was the first time all season that Erik Spoelstra’s squad had been in danger of being eliminated by a non-elite team (any team outside of the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs). Their one-game deficit also marked the widespread realization of how important Chris Bosh is to the Heat. Bosh often gets discounted when it comes to the Big Three. Dwayne Wade is the long-time hero of Miami who brought a championship to South Beach. LeBron James is the four-time MVP who puts the Heat on his back night in and night out. And what is Chris Bosh? In reality he is an All-Star level talent who has 20 ppg and 10 rpg potential; however, the former Georgia Tech forward is the third scoring option in Miami and does not get the credit he deserves for the role he plays alongside D-Wade and LeBron. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Couch Side’s regular co-host, Craig Paul, makes his much anticipated to this week’s podcast. He joins regular host Wade McMillin for discussions about the Stanley Cup Finals, NFL Quarterback battles, the Roger Clemens trial, the NBA playoffs and sports memorabilia:
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
Couch Side baseball insider Brandon J. Smith makes his debut on our podcast to discuss the NBA playoffs, Stan Van Gundy’s firing, I’ll Have Another’s chance at the triple crown and Dallas Clark signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith and Couch Side host Wade McMillin also have a great baseball debate about who is the better player — Josh Hamilton or Matt Kemp. See who the pair picks as the MLB’s best by following the links below:
BY ALEX ROSE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
The day after each Oklahoma City Thunder game, the dedicated fan will grab their morning coffee and take a peak at the boxscore to see how many points Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored. They look to see how many blocks Serge Ibaka swatted. Maybe Durant and Westbrook combined for a massive 70 points (accomplished twice this season), or maybe Ibaka added another double-digit block game to his stash. However, when you come across Kendrick Perkins‘ name, the numbers look insufficient at best. For his career, Perkins has averaged a quiet 6.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. As a member of the Thunder, his numbers seem even more anemic as he averaged just 5.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in 65 games this year.
However, basketball is a game in which teamwork is hard to measure. There is no statistic that measures a player’s willingness to help their teammates succeed by doing the little things on the court. There is no statistic that measures the extra pass on the perimeter for the open 3-pointer when the defense is late to rotate. There is no measure that communicates how important a box-out can be so that a teammate can secure a tough rebound in the paint. Baseball is a game in which statistics can tell the whole story of a particular game. Teamwork is much less important. The major league baseball player is essentially left to his own skills when stepping into the batter’s box. (more…)
BY Couchsideshow.com staff
After two weeks off (apologies please), Couch Side host Wade McMillin welcomes in guest host Chuck Constantino to discuss the NBA playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback competition and Kyrie Irving winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. Also, Wade has a very special interview with former Wyoming Cowboys center Adam Waddell. The 6-foot-10 Cody, Wyo., native talks about his playing days at the University of Wyoming, his future and what’s ahead for the Mountain West Conference.
BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com writer
Despite being a few upsets in the first round, it’s hard to call my first round predictions a failure. Who saw Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah getting injured in similarly gruesome fashions? Who knew a Memphis Grizzlies squad that impressed everyone last year would get upended by the up and coming “Lob City”? Not this guy.
Still, now that we’re onto the second round, we’re starting to see some contenders truly hit their stride, and some others happy to be here. Without further ado, here are some picks for the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
• Writers Note: I understand two games have already been played in the second round, but in my defense, I wished to wait until the first round wrapped up before writing up this article. After all, it was pretty easy to miss out on the openers when there were two Game 7s to be had.
(4) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Philadelphia 76ers
Honestly, this is not the matchup anyone expected coming out of the first round. First of all, everyone thought Rose’s injury-prone season would be refreshed in the playoffs against a very sloppy 76ers team that was lucky to make the playoffs. Secondly, even without Rose, the Bulls managed to ride a wave of success during the season, earning the best record in the conference over much healthier squads. People forget Richard Hamilton was hurt a lot too, which forced Luol Deng and the Bulls’ front court to respond accordingly, and time and again, they did.
Just not in the first round against a 76ers squad that seemed to finally get back on track. Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand were beastly down low without Noah there, and Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and Andre Iguodala all proved to be too much for a severely limited Bulls backcourt. The Celtics, on the other hand, struggled more than I thought they would in the first round, but still came out triumphant despite a brief Rajon Rondo suspension and an injury to Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is playing like “The Big Ticket” of old, and it’s hard to see anyone stop this squad, especially after a comeback performance in Game 1 this past Saturday.
The 76ers have showed glimpses this postseason of what they were earlier in the season, but against a veteran team that finally seems to be hitting their stride, it’s hard to see them winning the series. I expect a close series just because the Celtics’ legs will have to get tired at some point, but in the end, the Celtics are just too much for a team who have no place being in the second round.
Winner: Boston Celtics in 6 (more…)
BY MATTHEW VINSKO AND BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writers
If you would have asked us this past summer who we thought would win the NBA Championship, I’m sure we would have had three answers for you: the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, or the most likely scenario, no champion at all.
With the lockout breathing down the NBA’s neck, it was hard to have realistic expectations for a 2011-12 NBA season. Though the shortened schedule has led to its share of surprises (I’m looking at you, Utah Jazz), the older mainstays have managed to stay true to form and the young, upcoming teams have seemingly dominated a shorter, more physically daunting schedule (with the exception of the San Antonio Spurs; how does Popovich do it?).
Now that the regular season is over and the match-ups are set, it’s prediction time, and who better to run down the NBA playoffs than two diehard fans? We will admit our last article was a WWE-themed article, so it’s time to pop our cherry once and for all and tackle a real sport.
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Utah Jazz
Matt: I was a little disheartened to see the Jazz easily dismantle the Phoenix Suns this past Tuesday, breaking the hearts of Phoenix fans while ensuring Utah’s trip to the postseason. Now that it’s all said and done though, I have a hard time picking either of the two against the Spurs. Though San Antonio showed last year that one-seeds aren’t unbeatable, I don’t see them losing two years in a row in first-round upsets. Plus, Utah’s front court players (Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap) aren’t nearly as intimidating as Memphis’ combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol a year ago. Expect a pretty lopsided series in my eyes where the veterans show the young studs a thing or two about postseason basketball.
Winner: San Antonio Spurs in 5
Brett: I spent last Tuesday night at Matt’s house, watching the Suns/Jazz battle it out for a playoff spot while simultaneously writing our Extreme Rules predictions. When the triple zeroes hit and the Suns had lost and missed out on a chance for the final berth, I was left not heartbroken nor happy, but relieved. Because I knew that I would not have to watch the Suns endure a humiliating first round exit to the Spurs, which is what the Jazz will encounter. San Antonio is a deep team, starting with their Big 3 of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili (bleh) and Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward ever. Their bench is young and talented and the late-season acquisitions of Stephen Jackson, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw were solid. The Jazz are young but inexperienced in the playoffs and will have trouble containing the Spurs on both ends of the floor. This one should be a cakewalk for San Antonio.
Winner: Spurs in 5 (more…)
With March Madness, NFL free agency and baseball’s Spring Training in full swing at the beginning of March, sports fans may forget about the NBA Trade Deadline on March 15.
It may be a snoozer of a deadline as the playoffs begin just six short week later and as some general manger begin to question whether this is the right year to wheel and deal. The NBA lockout put a hinder on a lot of things and this year’s trade deadline may feel the negative effects the most. So NBA fans, don’t be holding your breath that your team is going to make that one move to put them over the top next week. It likely won’t happen. Be that as it may, deal will be done. They probably just won’t have that blockbuster title with them.
Obviously there will be a lot of discussion over Dwight Howard and the ongoing saga of him going to the L.A. Lakers. But other than that, the transactions will be at a minimum during this deadline. So with not much to work with and even fewer rumors, here’s Couch Side’s predictions on the top five players who could be dealt close or the day of the NBA Trade Deadline:
Throughout the season, Howard has been asked to be dealt. First, it was the Lakers. Then it was the New Jersey Nets. Hell, the L.A. Clippers were even up for discussion as a possible new team. Regardless of everyone wanting him, no one was willing to pay the price that Orlando wanted. Hence, the 26-year-old is still in black and blue and the Magic are the third best team in the East. So why would the Magic want to trade him? It’s simple. D-How does not want to be there. He wants to win a ring right away. And the only way he could do so is if he ends up with the Lakers, which is about a 50-50 chance right now, in my opinion. According to a handful of general managers, teams are actually waiting on Big D to be traded before they’ll even test the swapping grounds. So if Howard doesn’t get traded soon, the deadline may be even quieter. But L.A. will most likely be the front runner if anything happens at all. Howard would be walking away from $30 million if he accepted a trade. What’s even worse, to me, is that if he gets traded to another team that already has their superstar (i.e. Kobe Bryant with the Lakers) he won’t be the main dude in that city. I honestly believe the Magic can win the Finals as early as this year, but that’s only if Superman stays in Orlando. And the only way he’ll be playing in yellow and purple is if the Lakers are willing to trade Andrew Bynum, which a lot of sources say he will only be moved in a trade for Howard. So if L.A. is willing to part ways with their center of the future for basically the same thing only more talented, than Howard may just end up in L.A. by Wednesday. (more…)