By Tom Lambert
Wednesday night was one of the few times that a calendar-circling game actually lived up to its hype. It was a very competitive game that revealed the good, bad and the ugly for the Celtics, their opponent and the officiating as well. What? Oh, excuse me, I’ve just been notified that I’ve received a defensive three second violation for typing that last sentence.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to have tickets for this tilt, during which I collected 10 things to share with you what I learned. I strongly urge you, however, not to confuse this collection with one of those other “10 Things We Learned” columns that are the rage on other media outlets. Basically, I don’t want the responsibility that goes with boasting I have 10 thoughts that educate anyone beyond myself.
Onto the ten things I learned after attending the Celtics-Pistons game on Wednesday night:
1. The pre-game rituals have changed.
Normally, I am not in my seat until right before tip off. As a result, I have not seen the pre-game introductions in a couple of years. The “old” intro’s had clips from past years mixed in with new ones. It was certainly the only time one would ever see Larry Bird and Tony Battie in the same highlight film. Now that the team has improved, however, there are enough current highlights to fill out the entire montage. Strangely, I found myself nostalgic for the old intro. I also found that I’m slowly morphing into an old man because I hated the pyrotechnics show put on before the Celtics players were introduced. I’d love to know where to find the suit, or scarf, who thought “Hey, let’s copy every other NBA team and have a light show.”
2. Rene Rancourt is a sight to be seen.
It is truly amazing to me that this guy is still rolling along. You can see the passion is still there with every note that he belts out. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that he now moves like he has a bath towel stuck around his waist: Stiff upper torso, slight leg bend with his head tilted forward. It makes me wonder if he’s ever left the dressing room without pants. Maybe there is someone on the Garden payroll that is responsible for making sure that Rancourt takes his bath towel off at the appropriate time. Probably the reason why they were forced to walk away from Dmitri Kristich a few years back.
3. Watching Drama Queen Hamilton move without the ball is a game within a game.
This isn’t exactly a news flash but it is still worth noting. I found myself focused on him two series before and then up until Ray Allen used a butt end of a shotgun to slow him down. At least, that was how Hamilton reacted. The whole scene reminded me of that Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown show where the woman burns her hand and her mother feels it 1,500 miles away (Ow!). I was convinced that somewhere, Manu Ginobli’s elbows started burning.
4. There was no way in hell the Celtics were getting past the Pistons in the playoffs with Eddie House as the back up point guard.
It’s a shame because I think I would pay $10 to watch him shoot jumpers in an empty gym. Unfortunately, this is Eddie’s only real skill. He is a below-average penetrator, passer and defender. It’s also been painfully evident over the past few games that the Celtics second unit has stalled. Regardless, I still see a Bobby Kielty-like role for House in the playoffs because of his ability to hit the open shot.
5. Trying to use the restroom during halftime is a bad idea.
The double lines that were once the norm during the Harrington-era Red Sox have now shifted to the Garden. Maybe the whole situation could be facilitated somehow but unfortunately, the Garden’s payroll is otherwise distracted with the RPM (Rancourt Pants Monitoring) initiative.
6. They could take Bird’s mustache clippings, place them in an empty pizza box and someone would bid $600 for them.
The flip side of this has been the tumbleweeds that have accumulated next to 2007 Patriots memorabilia this winter. Perhaps the only bright side of the Super Bowl loss is the fact that the memorabilia crooks that are taking a bath as a result.
7. Ray Allen had one of the most productive 1-9 shooting nights you will ever see.
8 rebounds, 5 assists and no turnovers. That’s 6 games this year where he has played at least 30 minutes and has not turned the ball over. Here’s another interesting stat. The Celtics are 16-4 in the 20 games that Allen has shot under 40%.
8. There is a fire lit under Rajon Rondo’s butt.
Even before the dunk, Rondo was amped up for this game. At one point he stared down Billups, which I thought at the time was a bit much. I like the fact that the dunk happened after this and after Wallace’s cheap moving pick.
9. You could say the same for Perk, but I won’t.
It’s nice to see Perkins string together a couple of good games. Unfortunately, there is a track record in place that tells us that he will play well for a few games and then revert back to his inconsistent self. If there has been one thing he has been consistent about, it’s been this. It should be noted the difference this time around is the competition. In the past, Perk’s great games have been against the Philly’s and Memphis’s of the world.
10. Be ready for when Opportunity comes knocking.
This applies to Sam Cassell, P.J. Brown or any individual Celtic. It also applies to me. While waiting for my train last night, I was approached by a homeless man. The following is an actual transcript of our discussion:
Man: “Do you have a cigarette?”
Me: “Umm, no I don’t smoke”.
Man: <long stare> “You are (age guessed) years old”.
Me: “Wow, that’s amazing. I am this age. I would give you my whole pack right now if I smoked.”
Man: <shorter stare> “It’s a good age….” <walks away>
Upon further reflection, why didn’t I ask this homeless Oracle how Cassell and Brown would mesh? Or how it would affect Perk and Rondo? Or Doc? Why didn’t I ask him what he knew about Rancourt? Of course, all these things came to mind mere minutes after our encounter. Clearly, this was a golden opportunity missed and one that probably won’t pass my way again. Hopefully, the same thing won’t be said about the 2007-08 Celtics.