|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
The Celtics’ last season did not end very well. Their extraordinary efforts were lessened from the latest championship season’s levels, and were further worsened by an uncomfortably long string of injuries. Now in the middle of the offseason, the Cs will have plenty of time to rest key players (especially Kevin Garnett) and think of new ways to play basketball to help them win an 18th title. With that in mind, here are eight key areas that the Celtics can work on to achieve the ultimate goal: an NBA Finals trophy.
A basketball is not something to make a Christmas gift of during a game. The Celtics have been giving points (and games) away by routinely racking up turnovers into the teens (at least) in games. I’ve seen passes that went straight out of bounds or steals that in football would pretty much be considered hand-offs.
I know you’re getting upset with the referee’s calls; we all are. But, they’re not going to change them. You’re only racking up fine after fine and giving away points on technical fouls. When I’m reminded of both John McEnroe and Howard Stern when thinking about you, you should probably turn it down a notch.
The Celtics have been getting artificially low scores by forcing shots. There is plenty of time on the shot clock but our guys keep shooting when they don’t have a good shot available. It started with Paul Pierce forcing threes, but now everyone seems to be getting in on the act. Even the usual three machine Eddie House has been doing it.
Take your time, line up a shot, and rack up more points. The one exception would be shooting from about half court on a breakaway, trying to get the extra point. If not, you’re still in front to get the ball for a lay-up. You don’t even have to shoot that hard since you (and the ball) are already speeding towards the bucket.
Speaking of Eddie House, it might be time to re-think your prime shooter, Doc. With Eddie and the Boston Three Party, other teams can easily know what you’re planning. Maybe give more importance to Brian Scalabrine (or Jackie Moon, as he has been called lately). He’ll be healed up nicely after the off-season, and when he’s been healthy, he’s been pretty hot himself. Knocking down threes even seems to be working well enough for Scal. Not bad for someone whose taken to playing center as of late.
When you can open up a gigantically massive halftime lead that fans can expect to be completely erased during the third quarter, you’re not a good team. When you get a big lead, try to hold it. At least stop embarrassing yourself by letting opponents embarrass you…especially opponents with dismal records.
This brings me to my next point; start defeating bad teams. The Pacers have been lacking lately, and they’ve been giving us problems. In the championship season two seasons ago, the Grizzlies beat us twice. This is unacceptable if you want to be taken seriously.
Remember how it took until the 2008 Conference Finals to win a road playoff game? Relying on home games will see you knocked out of the playoffs. At least the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference, where a 42-42 record can still get you the No. 6 or No. 7 seed.
I’ve noticed that during home and away games (especially away), the refs always seem to hate us. I’ve looked at abysmal calls and thought multiple times that someone was paying the refs off. Maybe if they called a fair game, “Step 2″ wouldn’t be an issue. Some have just been stupid calls, and some have been opponents acting like they were fouled (and not doing a good job at it even). The only way to fix this problem is to give opponents a taste of their own medicine. Here’s another area in which I’ve seen Brian “Jackie Moon” Scalabrine come through on before.