One man's guess at five headlines you'll be reading over the next week ...
1. Pierce scores 36 in Game 4 OT win, Celtics-Cavs now tied at 2-2
Raise your hand if this is a Cavs team that really scares you. I mean in the way the Lakers or Bulls did. Not to me. They are really good, with an all-time great player, but I'm not ready to put any team with Mo Williams as its second-best player on the unbeatable level. You watched Game 1. Are you telling me that the Cavs can't be beaten four times out of seven? I think both teams hold serve in the first four.
Five thoughts from Game 1 ...
1. At some point we all have to get together and agree that Rajon Rondo -- not Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen -- is the most valuable player on the Celtics. And I'm starting to think it's not even close anymore. And sure, Chris Paul and Deron Williams might be better players, but show me a Celtics fan that would trade Rondo straight up for either of those guys. Pretty sure we won't be hearing Rondo's name being kicked around in trade talks this offseason (and how good does that five-year, $55 million deal look today?)
Rondo's playoff numbers in 2010: 16.8 points, 10.5 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals. And he's shooting 57.1 percent on 3's and 84.4 percent at the line.
2. Doc, time to give up the ghost on Rasheed Wallace. It's not going to happen. He played 13 minutes in Game 1, hitting 1-of-5 shots. That performance, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, was the worst 13-minute effort in any capacity since Hootie and the Blowfish's acoustic version of "Let Her Cry" at MTV Unplugged in 1996.
3. In a year filled with down moments, I think Wallace hit a new low when Anderson Varejao literally ripped the ball out of his hands in the fourth quarter. Just a telling moment, really. One guy who cares and one guy who doesn't. If I'm Doc I absolutely give Shelden Williams the minutes that Wallace would normally play in Game 2.
4. If I'm Mike Brown, there is NO WAY that J.J. Hickson plays only 12 minutes in another game during this series. He is a brutal matchup for the Celtics. If I'm Doc I'd rather see Shaquille O'Neal or Antawn Jamison on the floor in a big spot.
5. Uh, why does it matter if LeBron James is feeling any pain in his elbow? Really, why is this even a story? He's been the exact same player. Unless you are trying to sell me that LeBron would average 66-18-18 if he were 100 percent healthy I don't need to hear any more about this elbow. Sometimes (most times, actually) I think TNT, ESPN and all the other clowns want us to believe that stars are more hurt than they are so we buy into the "LeBron or Kobe or whoever fits is a hero" garbage. Point is, let's hold the story until LeBron's level of production drops, you know, even a little bit.
2. Cano, Jeter homer in Sunday night Yankees romp, Sox drop nine back
The Sox are 11-14. We've watched 25 games of this team. Think this club is going 5-2 against the Angels and Yankees? If you answered "yes," I'm guessing that you are a true Pink Hat and would have been dopey enough to tell me before the season started that Jason Varitek would lead the AL in homers per at-bat on May 2 (wait a second ...)
I'm not ready to say that this is a lost season for the Red Sox (too early for that,) but it is not too early to at least examine the possibility that this is not a playoff team. The Sox are getting nothing from the No. 3 and No. 5 spot in the lineup (how much money is Victor Martinez going to lose if he keeps this up?) John Lackey has a 4.50 ERA, which only looks swell next to Josh Beckett's 6.31. Jonathan Papelbon already has issued more walks than he did during the entire 2008 season (his WHIP is up for the third straight season) and in just two years has slipped from the guy that was knocking on the door of Mariano Rivera for the title of Best Closer in Baseball to someone that might just be keeping the real estate warm for Daniel Bard.
That's leaving out the rest of the bullpen (think Tim Wakefield is happy right now?) as well as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Bogar and all the other stuff that's brought the Red Sox to the point where they are closer to having the worst record in baseball than they are to being in first place in the AL East. They'll split with the Angels but lose two of three to the Yankees. That will put the Sox at 14-18 and probably eight or nine games behind both the Yankees and Rays. Better be careful, because those teams aren't coming back to the pack.
(And can we halt the Adrian Gonzalez talk at least until the Red Sox have a better record than the Padres? I understand that Sox fans think the rest of the baseball world is out there to make the their team better, but maybe the San Diego front office is thinking that it might want to make its fans happy -- just for a year -- before giving the most popular player since Tony Gwynn away for 50 cents on the dollar to a team with five times the payroll. Again, I get that 95 percent of the callers to WEEI think that a Hideki Okajima/Bill Hall package should do the trick, but if I'm the Padres I ask for Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz.)
3. Savard strikes again, Bruins take commanding 3-1 series lead
Remember the team that didn't have Marc Savard's back, the team with no heart? Where did it go?
Full disclosure: I picked the Sabres in five. So I have zero credibility when it comes to the Bruins. Also this: To suggest that I keep even one eye on the Bruins during the regular season would be a little strong. If the Bruins were a Shannon Tweed film I would say that the regular season is every scene that doesn't and the playoffs is every scene that does. I just can't get into regular-season NHL hockey. Sorry. I know I'm wrong about this.
But I think I suffered every injury J.D. Drew has had in the last four years with just one jump on the Bruins bandwagon after the Buffalo series. And someone with a hockey IQ higher than mine could, I'm sure, chop, slice, dice and puree the Bruins' chances of winning the Stanley Cup. But you know what? I hate to play this card, but tell me there isn't something about this team. I don't know how or why it happened, but the 2009-10 Bruins have become the team that you expect to pull off wins like the one on Saturday. That Savard goal, in a way, reminded me of Drew Bledsoe coming off the bench to beat the Steelers during the first Super Bowl run.
If the Red Sox continue to struggle, and the Celtics lose to the Cavs, and the Bruins were to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, it would be the first time I can remember that Boston would be an all-hockey city for a week or two. There have been a day or three over the last decade where the Bruins have been Topic A, but this would be new territory, at least in the Internet era.
4. Mickelson wins The Players Championship, Tiger finishes 18th
Phil Mickelson is the best golfer in the world. That might not be true six weeks or six months from now, but on May 2, 2010, it is Phil's tour. We've been asking for about 10 years what it would take to get a real rivalry going. Turns out all we needed was six porn stars, a couple of waitresses and 222,886 text messages.
5. Dolphins GM Ireland suspended for two weeks
Lots of "He said, he said" going back and forth between Jeff Ireland and Dez Bryant this past week. Ireland claims that he asked Bryant if his mom was a prostitute only after Bryant volunteered that his mother "worked" for his father, who was a pimp. Bryant denies this conversation took place.
(And yes, I did consult with my lawyer after this story broke to see if Rob Bradford violated any civil rights during my job interview at WEEI.com. Turns out that "Whatever happened to the girl from 'Fletch'?" checks out OK. And since that was the only question asked during the entire interview, I don't have much wiggle room when it comes to a suit.)
Here's why Ireland is going to be suspended. There is no way that he would have ever asked Chad Henne if his mother was a prostitute. And that's all the PC police needs to make a case. But also Ireland should be slapped with a two-week hit just for being a dummy. First of all, aren't there about 10,000 ways a team could find that out without having to embarass a kid? And second, why would it matter at all if Bryant had answered "yes" to the question? Would it make him any less of a prospect?
Time for Roger Goodell to use the Moron Clause and give Ireland a few weeks off.