By Kevin Henkin
I was trying to identify a respectable storyline to accompany coverage of the game on Sunday between the Celtics and the Miami Heat but absolutely nothing came to mind. After all, Dwayne Wade is gone for the season and Shaquille O’Neal is off to far greener pastures. Even Shawn Marion is out with a back injury. What was left to talk about? Another sort of homecoming for unpopular former Celtics Ricky Davis and Mark Blount? The beaming smiles of former Heat players James Posey and P.J. Brown? Clearly, what was left to do was run another set of stream of consciousness observations over the course of the game, which went as follows:
I flip through the Miami Heat Media Guide before the game. For the purposes of tonight’s game, it’s about as useful as a Rachel Ray cookbook, considering all of the roster moves and the rash of injuries that have occurred since the book was put together. The only information of value that I glean from the guide is the fact that Julio Iglesias is listed as a limited partner of the team. For some reason, the idea of Julio Iglesias introducing himself to Ricky Davis is hilarious to me.
The projected starters for Miami are Davis, Mark Blount, Earl Barron, Chris Quinn and Kasib Powell. On a combined basis, these five players average 34.6 points per game. I’m guessing Tom Thibodeau slept like a rock last night.
The legendary Pat Riley is absent from the sidelines, something about being busy scouting real players. Assistant Coach Ron Rothstein has assumed the head coaching duties in Riley’s absence. This seems like the most thankless job since Gary Cherone replaced Sammy Hagar as Van Halen’s lead singer, although John Carroll’s brief stint as a Celtics Head Coach also comes to mind.
The Celtics get out of the gates as quickly as expected. After the lead grows to 9-2, Rothstein calls a timeout and replaces Earl Barron with recent 10-day contact recipient Kasib Powell. Yeah, that’ll get the boys fired up!
Rajon Rondo misses an open 18 foot jumper from the left side. Kendrick Perkins takes a rebound away from Mark Blount and gets the ball back to Rondo in the same spot. Rondo doesn’t hesitate and this time he drains it.
Paul Pierce hits a three pointer and brings the lead to 18-4. This game is getting ugly even faster than expected.
Later in the quarter, as he’s flying out of bounds, Rondo does one of his patented bounce the ball off an opposing player at 90 mph moves. The opposing player this time is Kasib Powell. He looks mildly annoyed by the impact of the ball until he remembers that he still has 4 days left of getting paid NBA money on that 10 day contract.
A series of bricks from Eddie House and Sam Cassell keeps the lead from growing silly until Leon Powe foils the plan for a close game by converting on consecutive possessions.
At 6:08 left in the quarter, Garnett comes back into the game to get some exercise. Maybe run a few laps up and down the court, abuse Mark Blount for the fun of it.
As soon as I complain about Cassell’s shooting, he hits a pair of contested jumpers, including a three pointer. Back in the day, my complaining frequently had a similar positive impact on Trot Nixon. Maybe I should channel all of my energies into complaining about Tony Allen. I’ll get started on this right away.
At the end of the first half, the score is 50-30. Memo to Pat Riley: The Washington Generals called. They want their team back.
After a nifty pass from Pierce, Perkins floats under the basket and converts a nice little reverse dunk. What is more notable about the play, however, is the fact that Perkins did not A) dribble the ball after the pass, and B) did not bring the ball down below his shoulders. He has been doing this more and more often and I for one am thrilled by this recent development.
As has been the case all game long, the crowd remains festive but tame. It’s like sitting in a room at a party with a massive TV and a bad movie playing. After awhile, people collectively decide that it’s okay to talk over the movie and occasionally make fun of it. Hey, there are worse ways to spend a Sunday evening.
With 2:47 left to go in the third, the score is 66-42. If the Celtics were at all motivated, the lead would be 50. Seriously.
At 11:27, Tony Allen has a wide-open breakaway, with the nearest player thirty feet away. On his way up to the basket, Allen inexplicably gets the ball caught on the rim. This is a player who depends upon his lift and explosiveness to be effective. I’ll take this opportunity to state the glaringly obvious and say that I’m officially concerned that Tony Allen will never fully recover from that ACL tear.
At 8:30 to go and the score 77-51, James Posey dives to the floor and saves the ball to Sam Cassell. Forget Raymond. Everybody loves James Posey.
After Ricky Davis slips by his defender, P.J. Brown deftly shifts over in the paint and swats away the shot. The play is eerily reminiscent of Garnett and the kind of presence that he brings to the interior defense. It is this ability and presence down low that is the biggest upside of the recent addition of Brown.
With under a minute to go, Tony Allen knocks down an open jumper. He seems as surprised by it as anyone.
Game over. Celtics win 88-62. Although this game could never rival the excitement that was in evidence here as recent as Friday night against the Hornets, it was still fun to be here. Thus, as the old saying goes, I contend that the experience of attending Celtics games this year is not unlike pizza or sex. In other words, even when it’s bad, it’s good. Stay tuned for similar blowouts until the real second season begins.