Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Celtics had made the holiday trek to Orlando last year without Paul Pierce, who had developed an infection in his right knee that needed to be flushed (including once on Christmas Day as his teammates topped the Magic to improve to 23-5 overall). It was the first of a cocktail of injuries Pierce would endure, and the first of a spate of maladies the Celtics battled over the next four months.
Boston lost its first three games after Christmas, 11 of its next 17 overall and ultimately played .500 basketball over the final 54 games of the regular season. Two games after Christmas, Kevin Garnett got kicked in his surgically repaired right knee and looked hobbled again until the playoffs arrived, when Boston surged despite being an unheralded fourth seed.
Given the injuries they've already battled this season, the Celtics know how delicate NBA success can be. They've stockpiled wins like squirrels collecting nuts before winter arrives.
"The only reason we went on a slide — and no one wanted to hear that last year during the whole stretch — was that we had the whole team hurt," Rivers said. "It's not like we started playing bad. We started playing injured and we never really got healthy, completely. Then we made the conscious choice to shut bodies down.
Raise your hand if you expect the Celtics to fall apart after whooping Orlando on Christmas?
It's not happening this year. For starters, this team is gaining players, not losing them.
Jermaine O'Neal is expected to play tomorrow. Rajon Rondo will likely return at some point next week.
Delonte West could hit the court in mid-late January, and Kendrick Perkins will follow.
I think its perfectly reasonable to expect the Celtics to maintain a similar pace the remainder of the season. This team is winning 65+ games.
On Page 2, Lebron wants the league to contract teams.
"Hopefully the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the '80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team," James said. "The league was great. It wasn't as watered down as it is [now]."
In fact, James seemed to have a couple of ideas of which teams could go and some players that would make other teams better right now.
"[Contraction] is not my job; I'm a player but that is why it the league was so great," James said.
"Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league]. Looking at some of the teams that aren't that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren't that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league."
You think the head of the NBA players union is happy the game's most recognizable player is advocating for the contraction of teams and the loss of 24 jobs?
I agree with Lebron. Less is more.
The Nets aren't going anywhere. But a case could be made for Minnesota, New Orleans, Charlotte and the Clippers (my wishful thinking).
File this idea under – Not Happening.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Celtics celebrate holidays at BMC | CSNNE – Cs could end up with 5 all-stars | Celtics rookies ready to play on Xmas | Daniels home for holidays | WEEI – Ainge likes this team better | Ray likes playing on Christmas |