Ten questions and answers following a Boston Sports Friday to Forget...
(1) OK, the Celtics get humiliated, Josh Beckett channels Rick Ankiel and the Bruins can't seal the deal (to quote Gob Bluth) in Philly. Which was the worst performance in this parade of stinkers?
Come on. Not even close.
Should I have been surprised to see the return of the "Do we really need to be here?" Celtics that we pretty much saw for the entire regular season? I don't know, call me crazy, but is too much to ask for a team playing at home in Game 3 of a 1-1 series against the best player on the planet to act like they aren't playing the second night of a January home-and-home against the Grizzlies?
"Tonight we were awful," said Doc Rivers. "Just didn't play with a sense of urgency, and they played like with a Game 7 mentality. You could see it early. I thought we had two lousy practices. I thought our preparation was pulling nails. And so, that was the result."
If everything in that above quote is true, I guess I have just one question: How? If they don't have "a sense of urgency" at this point of the season, when is it going to arrive? (Maybe I had two questions.)
If this was a young team you could almost live with this loss. Could be a building block, have to learn to match the intensity of LeBron, all that junk. But there isn't a single member of the Celtics' core rotation that hasn't won a title. They know what to do. They know how hard they need to play. And on Friday night they just didn't feel like it.
(And if a Mike Brown-coached team played like the Celtics did tonight in that spot he would be blasted coast-to-coast. And they would all be right to do so. Doc's has to take a hit for this)
(2) Think LeBron's elbow will keep him out of Game 4?
Time to put the elbow talk to sleep, I think.
I'm just like everyone else my age (over 30 and under 45.) The knee-jerk reaction whenever anyone even suggests that LeBron may be as good as Michael Jordan is just to laugh it off.
But then he plays like he did on Friday and you have to admit that if he stays healthy he's going to wind up on the NBA's Mount Rushmore (which right now is MJ, Russell, Magic and Larry.) Just one of those "There is no way that I'm going to lose tonight" kind of games that can define a career. In a way it reminded me of Larry's Game 6 vs. the Rockets in 1986. That was also a blowout, but Bird played the whole game like it was a Game 7 and the two teams were tied. And that was LeBron in Game 3. The best player in the planet at his peak.
(3) Give me something positive about the Celtics. It can't be all bad, right?
Actually, it was.
Remember that great story a few years back about the kid with autism who scored a ton of points for his high school team at the end of his final home game? Watching Nate Robinson take 10 shots in 13 minutes was the bizzaro version of that story. No Tom Rinaldi piece with the sweeping music when Nate hit that big jumper to cut the lead to 34 points.
Oh, and Rasheed Wallace plays NO defense. As in none. He didn't play any in Game 2, either, but no one cared because he made a couple of shots. I'm still in Camp Shelden Williams.
(4) Come on, the only two guys you are going to blame for Game 3 are Nate Robinson and Rasheed Wallace?
Is it too late to take the 2008 NBA Finals MVP away from Paul Pierce? I don't know, maybe we can give it to Ray Allen or James Posey or even Eddie House's kid.
I get that guarding LeBron is rough business, but if the Celtics want to take a business trip to Orlando they are going to need Pierce to stop with this uncanny impression of a player that is over the hill. Three games in and Pierce is shooting 13-of-42 from the field (30.9 percent.) He's played 107 minutes in this series and has made 13 field goals, or one less than LeBron made on Friday night in 39 minutes (needing just 22 shots.)
(5) Should Red Sox fans be worried about Josh Beckett?
Postgame press conference with Beckett on Friday:
Dan Shaughnessy: Assess your season so far after seven starts.
Hard to argue. An ERA of 7.46, a WHIP of 1.66 (Phil Hughes' ERA is lower than Beckett's WHIP.) And there is no other way to describe Beckett's sixth inning against the Yankees as anything other than a total meltdown. I'm talking Aron Garica in the Little League World Series here.
Beckett gave up four hits, walked two and hit two batters in the inning. He walked Francisco Cerevilli with the bases loaded. He knocked a Yankee (Robinson Cano, HBP) out of the game due to his lack of control AND one of his own teammates (Jason Varitek, bone bruise on a wild pitch) for the same reason.
Beckett's struggles, of course, would be a much bigger story had he not signed a contract extension five weeks ago. But he's here until 2014, like it or not. And I suspect you'll like it again pretty soon. He was as sharp as he's been all year in the first three innings. And it's not like he's lost any zip on his fastball -- 95-96 MPH on Friday.
He'll never be the best pitcher in baseball, but he'll be closer to whoever that is than to what he is now by the end of the season. Pencil him in for a 14-10 record with a 4.22 ERA. Great numbers, worthy of a huge contract? No. But far better than what you've seen from Beckett to this point in 2010.
Just ask him.
(6) What's the most obscure stat from any of the games on Friday?
I like this one: On Friday night Beckett became the first Red Sox pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1928 to give up nine runs and strike out eight batters in the same game. The other link, of course, is that Tim Wakefield pitched in relief in both contests.
(A good sign that a joke might not be funny is if you tell it in your best Jay Leno voice and it works. See paragraph above.)
(7) Why do the fans sing "Sweet Caroline" when the team is down 10-2?
I'd imagine roughly the same reason a big "Yankees suck" chant broke out in the sixth inning when the Yankees were busy drilling the Sox Marathon Man style. Fenway Park is an amusement park. "Sweet Caroline" is a ride. If you go to a Yankees game, "Yankees suck" is a ride. Booing Jeter is a ride. Wally the Green Monster is a ride. The score of the game or the record of the two teams? Wholly irrelevant for a good majority of the people in attendance. Why does this bother me? No clue.
"So good, so good!"
(8) Why so long to get to the Bruins?
Because it's not anything close to fair to put them in the same category as the Celtics (or even the Sox.) This is a team that might have lost Game 4 but never stopped fighting. If anything, I have to think Bruins' fans (real ones-- not the folks that have just joined the party, such as the young lady in line at Dunkin' Donuts on Thursday who asked a man wearing a Bobby Orr shirt if the Bruins were playing "this afternoon or tonight?" Tons of weekday afternoon playoff games. Of course she was a solid Burlington 8.5, so the guy answered as if it was a question he got three times a day. Men are total frauds.) think even more of this team after this loss.
(9) Admit it, you thought Mark Recchi was going to score the game-winner in OT didn't you?
When Recchi was born Bobby Kennedy was still alive. Recchi is a year older than Sam Gash, who played 12 seasons in the NFL and has been retired for seven seasons. He's older than 60 Minutes.
Point is, a 42-year-old shouldn't be playing like this in the NHL playoffs. Two more goals tonight (six for the postseason,) and it just seemed inevitable that Recchi would complete the hat trick and enable to Bruins to advance to the conference finals. That was the best possible story. That should have been the script.
(10) How badly would Seattle like to have our sports problems right now? Or Kansas City? Or Toronto? How about Baltimore? Only about another 50 or so cities come to mind. Not so bad to have to dwell on a couple of playoff defeats and a loss in what is maybe the best rivalry in sports, is it?
And P.S., Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in the waiting room.
It's fine not to have perspective as a sports fan. Don't think about how other cities are suffering; at least don't think that way during the playoffs. Worry about that stuff later, when the season is over and you are stuck watching "Gary Unmarried." You'll have plenty of time to gain perspective then.
For now, just worry about winning.
Have a sense of urgency.
Who knows? Maybe the Celtics will follow your lead.