Tuesday, June 17, 2008

17 and other thoughts

The Celtics were well on their way to raising the team's 17th banner no later than the middle of the second quarter, when the team did their best to break the spirit of the Lakers. For the green and white it wasn't a game, it was a statement. It was a statement to all the pundits that believed that the Lakers were a better team than the Celtics. It was an emphatic "in your face" to those who said the Lakers were deeper, those who said they had a better bench, those who said players like The Big Ticket was more Gar-not than Garnett.

There may have been no play that represented the desire of the Celtics old-timers better than the one Kevin Garnett had as time waned in the first half.

Late in the second, Garnett got knocked to the ground, and as he was falling, put a fastball off the glass and through the hoop. He finished the three point play. It was indicative of how more Boston wanted the game. It was part of a 26-6 run to close out the second quarter and put the team up by 23. It was shortly after the Celtics went ahead and started to get cutesy with the ball.

It appears they learned their lesson, forcing 11 turnovers in the first half.

For the first time in the post-season, the Celtics seemed to know how to stick the knife in.

By five minutes left in the third, the team was up by 30.

This wasn't a game. It wasn't a court. It was the slab in a morgue, and the Celtics forensic scientists dissecting the corpse that was the vaunted and heavily favored Laker team coming into the Finals.

By the fourth quarter the Boston was playing the part of doctor, while Los Angeles played...well...dead. Boston looked like they were playing a pick-up game in the yard while the Lakers looked miserable.

It was a celebration. A celebration for the lifers like PJ Brown, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce - all guys in their 30's, all guys that never got close to a ring. Now they all have 'em. They are part of a basketball legacy that accounts for more than 27 percent of the league's championships. And they were put together by a guy who was part of the last championship back in 1986.

For Boston fans it represented the region's sixth professional championship in the last seven seasons, spanning three sports. Joining the Patriots with three and the Red Sox with two, the Celtics have become the latest to earn the duck-boat parade through the canyons of downtown.

Somewhere Red Auerbach is smiling and smoking a cigar.

The Number Two -

Earlier in the evening Jon Lester continued his crusade to be considered among the Red Sox top pitchers and their top youngster. Lester, now 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA, dominated the Phillies for seven innings one day after Bartolo Colon was smoked for four runs in four innings, and the team lost a laugher to Philadelphia.

In his last six starts, Lester is 4-1, has pitched 39.1 innings and given up nine earned runs for a 2.06 ERA. That's not just good - that's a team's ace.

To put into perspective what Lester is doing - particularly in relation to the proposed Santana trade.

Lester is in his third season, has already started 16 games and logged more than 96 innings. Santana in his third season operated as both reliever and starter, and still only logged a total of 12 more innings than what Lester has already done before the All-Star break. In Santana's 27 appearances, he knocked out a 2.99 ERA and an 8-6 record. Lester's numbers compare favorably - and he's doing more for the team.

On a pace to have 18 more starts this season, should Lester keep pitching like this, he will win between 15 and 20 games and log 200 innings.

It's a long season and anything can happen, but until the Dice-man returns, the younger of Boston's cancer survivors is the team's ace.

Can't say I saw that coming.

One final pitching note -

Is it just me, or did the Sox jump on the first available excuse as quickly as possible to put Bartolo Colon back on the shelf (possibly saving him for the stretch run), in order to see whether or not Justin Masterson is for real?


Chris Stone said...

It wasn't a statement, it was a SLAP DOWN!

What bugged me? Phil Jackson sat on his butt. How many time outs were called by the Laker's in the second half? How many changes were made? It wouldn't have changed things.... the Celtics were on a roll... But it just seemed to me the players were left on the court to get fried...

well done... by the Celtics

Kevin Smith said...

I started writing this post in the second quarter of the game and posted it with five minutes left.

For a vaunted genius coach, I thought Jackson was out-coached throughout the series. As for calling time outs in the second half - I thought it was obvious the Lakers had pretty much given up...they didn't believe in their coach, the coach didn't believe in them, and they didn't seem to believe in each other - in spite of the fact they had come back from a large deficit earlier in the series when the C's had a big lead.

soxfaninmiami said...

I completely agree on Colon. I think Theo and co would have DL'd him for a hangnail. With Masterson pitching well and DK coming back soon they needed to free up a spot.