Sometimes, and it happens in all sports, a very good team is forced to "play down to their competition." Watching the first half of tonight's Celtics-Nets game, I sat there saying "man, this is ugly." The Nets were doing their thing - dragging a weary Celtics team down.
I made my opinions known about the Nets in my NBA Rundown. I enjoy watching Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson play the game of basketball. Kidd's still amazingly a top 3 point man and Jefferson is one of the most steady, determined wing players in the game. Other than these two guys, and good old Darrell Armstrong, the Nets are the biggest heap of garbage I have ever seen. I can't stand Vince Carter and watching him writhe in pain after rolling his ankle last week was a microcosm for his career as nothing but a huge act. Vince loves to embellish, loves to whine, loves to self-promote, loves to dog it. I actually can't wait until he retires and goes away so I don't have to watch him waste his God-given talent anymore. I guess for now I'll have to settle with him being out indefinitely.
The rest of the roster is such a pool of no-talent ass-clowns that the Nets, despite having a point guard who can push, wind up playing some of the ugliest games night-in, night-out of any team in the NBA. And what else do you expect with such luminaries as can't-shoot Antoine Wright, Josh Boone (might be the ugliest looking dude in the league, never mind his game), a Collins twin, Jamaal "have you seen my career?" Magloire - I'll stop it right there. It's a miracle the Celtics won tonight, because they let the Nets roofie their drinks at the outset and subjected us to some horrible stuff. And the constant whistles from the refs didn't help.
The whistles affected the game in several ways: first, Rondo got sent to the bench early and second, Big Baby couldn't stay out there (9 minutes total). The Rondo thing was a shame - he was showing confidence matched up against Kidd, stepping into jump shots, slashing to the bucket, and finding excellent passing angles. When he left the floor, we had to watch Tony Allen play out of control again. Cooz described it as "careless;" I'm not sure if I'd even say that - Allen's just a guy that only plays at one speed - overdrive. That's great for a defensive stopper and energy guy off the bench, but not for the point guard position! Doc could've put Pruitt in - he can at least handle the rock, and it would've been good for him. But we didn't see it. Whatever.
In the end, the Celtics were able to assert their will in the second half and show they were the better team - FAR better team. The Garden was packed tonight and it was awesome to hear it come alive. PERK WAS A BEAST. 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 swats, a couple dimes and a steal even. Rondo was very deserving for the Tommy Award but I'm giving the ceremonial Fox Pelt to the big man - I've been waiting for him to have a game like this.
Parting shots: I heard Pierce did those pushups at the line to "channel his anger." I suppose it's better than going into the front row and nailing that dirty bastard Tinsley with a steel chair, but come on Paul, stop drawing attention to yourself. Just drop 31 and let that do the talking . . . how about the Cornbread - Bird catfight? I've always wondered why Max keeps giving players props over Larry - after some digging, I found that Larry thought Max dogged it in '85 and told Red to trade him for Walton. Wow. I suppose that might've caused a few hard feelings, but did anyone notice that was 22 years ago? They won two titles together. Their numbers are retired. Go do a Miller Lite commercial like this and enjoy the afterglow.