Columnists :: The Boston Sports Beat
Playoff chatter by Brandon Simes
Managing EditorTuesday May 4, 2010 Apparently Boston sports figures are willing to do just about anything to win (see Bitegate and Towelgate), which brings a smile to my face.
An aside on the Bitegate, while biting another man isn’t something I would ever entertain doing on the ice - or anywhere for that matter, it does beg the question (FYI, this is the incorrect use of the phrase, which means that a question can’t be answered because it’s logically fallible, but oh well): "What was Carcillo doing putting his fingers in another man’s mouth?"
Anyway, back to more pressing matters. The Bruins now stand to win at home in Game 5 if they can split in Philadelphia over the next two contests, and they just might do it. At the same time, the Flyers play so hard (and dirty) that anything’s possible, and I’ll still not be surprised at all to see the series go seven games, with the B’s advancing.
Another aside: next year, both the Flyers and Bruins could be real contenders with a few shrewd moves, perhaps involving each other as trade partners.
The other Garden championship contender, the Celtics (yes, I’m calling them contenders now, more on that in a minute), are set to play a best-of-five series with the Cavs starting on Friday night. Yes, you read that correctly.
Thanks to the NBA’s infatuation with dragging out its playoffs to the point of making each series almost uninteresting, the Cavs and C’s have practically the whole workweek off until they play again in Boston. You would think that a game every other day ought to be a workable, entertaining schedule, but that’s not what the NBA Care$ about. Instead, we literally can forget about the last two games like they never existed, because they’re about as relevant as each team’s previous series. We now have a five-game series with Boston owning home court in games 1, 2, and 4. Cleveland does carry the trump card of hosting Game 5, however.
(Notice how you really don’t need to pay attention to the early games anymore, just like you don’t need to watch until the fourth quarter? I’d say long-term that’s something David Stern should be trying to fix, but he isn’t. Game 3 is when you generally need to start paying attention now in order to figure out who’s going to win.)
With LeBron underperforming/hurting depending on whom you believe (I think it’s both, and only because he’s unquestionably the best player on the planet and will go down as possibly the greatest ever), the Celtics stand a real chance at knocking off Cleveland. The Cavs didn’t mail it in like Boston did during the regular season, so these two teams are really closer ability-wise than you might expect. Boston is better at four of five starting spots, after all, and neither Antawn Jamison nor Mo Williams is really more than a good third wheel. The King is that good.
It’s also possible that the Celtics just couldn’t bring it like Cleveland could during the longer season due to their age and declining skill, but function better in the playoff format of constant rest. At the same time, I’m not sure the Celtics are good enough to beat Orlando or Atlanta should they manage to win this mini series they’re set to begin at the end of the week. But, since Doc Rivers actually did some coaching by calling out Rasheed Wallace in the media before Game 2 (Doc reminds of Terry Francona in that he has improved in strategic decisions such as playing Big Baby over the unmotivated ’Sheed and giving defensive whiz Tony Allen minutes over other underwhelming choices since winning a championship with a team that had superior talent compared to its opponents), it’s possible the C’s just gained an extra contributor for the remainder of the series. Along with Tony Allen and Glen Davis, that gives Boston a distinct second unit capable of giving the starters the 10 to 15 minutes of rest they require nightly (Rajon Rondo excluded, of course).
I’ll say this: the team that wins Game 1 (officially Game 3) on Friday will probably win the series, especially if it’s Cleveland. Let’s hope it’s Boston.