Your Morning Dump… Where the pack is catching up | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
Red's Army

Your Morning Dump… Where the pack is catching up

Lebron and bosh
Associated Press Photo

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.

A five-horse race for the top seed in the East appears to be brewing and losses such as Saturday night’s 90-79 drubbing by the Chicago Bulls damage the Celtics’ quest for No. 1.

Just five games separate the top five teams in the East, and the conference-leading Celtics (28-8, .778) have been caught by the Heat (30-9, .769), despite Miami’s well-chronicled dismal start.

The Orlando Magic, who beat the Celtics on Christmas Day, are winners of nine straight, and the Atlanta Hawks are 8-2 in their past 10. There is an increased emphasis on the regular season, and scoreboard-watching has begun in earnest. Each time one of the other four teams drops a game, Boston realizes it has a chance to create more distance.

That’s why the Celtics can’t afford to waste opportunities, such as Saturday night’s.

“You gotta treat every game like [it’s crucial],’’ forward Paul Pierce said. “All these games are going to count coming down to the end of the season where you have three elite teams, maybe four elite teams at the top, all battling for playoff position."

Globe: East rivals catching up with Celtics

I disagree with the line before Paul's quote.  I don't see Saturday night's game as a wasted opportunity.  The Celtics lost what was their 5th game in 7 nights to a good team at their house and without one of your best players.  Even elite teams lose in situations like that. 

But the overall point is still valid.  The Heat are in a virtual tie with the Celtics for the best record in the East.  Orlando seems to have quickly put things together after their trades and both teams have now won 9 in a row.  And Chicago is right there with Orlando.  Meanwhile the C's hit a little bit of a skid to fall back to earth.  

I'm not so worried about seeding as I am about the team's overall health.  KG might be coming back tonight… Perk could be back in a few weeks and Delonte will be back soon after that.  And if the C's slip to 2nd or 3rd while they're getting their players back and getting healthy again… so be it.  I don't think we're going to see a repeat of last year and I don't think the C's will fall past 3rd without more injuries.

Full-strength Celtics are a championship team.  That's the team that needs to be ready in April, May and June.  Full-strength Celtics have too much in all the right places to expose the flaws of these other elite teams.  So I'm not going to panic when Miami goes on a run and takes the top spot in the conference because even if they get home court advantage… I still think the series would end in Boston.

Related Links:  CSNNE:  These Celtics play to win… Every night

On Page 2:  A blockbuster trade that could bring Melo to the East

After a final, furious push over the weekend that included near-deals, waffling, misunderstandings and growing acrimony between the two sides, the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets are close to completing a complicated three-team trade to send Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Nets and Detroit Pistons believed they had an arrangement in place Sunday that would’ve sent Anthony, Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups and Pistons guard Richard Hamilton to the Nets as part of the blockbuster deal. Once the Nets and Pistons worked out the details of a side component to the 13-player deal on Sunday afternoon, the two teams were surprised to find Denver general manager Masai Ujiri wanting to replace players in the framework of the overall trade, sources said.

[…] If a deal is finalized, Anthony is expected to agree to a three-year, $65 million contract extension with the Nets. His agent, Leon Rose, has worked relentlessly to help structure the package of players that will arrive in New Jersey with Anthony.

Anthony “wants to play with Rip,” one front office executive told Yahoo! Sports.

The proposed trade will send Anthony, Hamilton, Billups, Nuggets guard Anthony Carter and forward Shelden Williams to the Nets. The Nuggets will receive two first-round picks from the Nets, point guard Devin Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors, guards Anthony MorrowBen UzohStephen Graham and Quinton Ross. The Pistons will get Nets forward Troy Murphy and center Johan Petro.

Yahoo!: Nets close to landing Anthony

In what will forever be known as "The Shelden Williams Trade"… the Nets will end up with a decent squad.  And even at 10-27, the Nets are 5 games out of the 8th spot.  So getting Shelden…. along with Melo, Billups, Hamilton and Carter… will make them a playoff team.  Carmelo gets to be in New York… eventually… and the 3-year extension would give the Nets time to prove they can actually build a winner. 

The Pistons are getting nothing but cap relief and the Nuggets are throwing in the towel and trying something new.  Harris is a decent player and who knows what Favors will turn into… but both have potential to be good pieces to the puzzle.  Denver will end up being a team with good pieces and no star.  

One question just sticks in my side in all of this…

… why the hell does Melo want to "play with Rip"? so badly?  

The rest of the links: 

CSNNE:  Silent Garnett talks about knee … to Chinese  |  Celtics to face Rockets, Kings for first time  | Herald:  Celts' Baby taken to school  |  WEEI:  The running man: how Ray's constant motion drives the Celtics  |  MWDN: Celtics stay busy with Garden work  

Like this Article? Share it!

  • JD

    Nobody has really pointed this out, but there’s no way in hell Derrick Rose gets to the line 19 times with Perk and KG on the help side. Glen Davis and Shaq are probably my two last choices for being the bigs that help Rondo out on the pick and roll with Rose. Shaq just can’t move; numerous times he had good angles on Rose, but just got blown by and was forced to foul because he can’t move his feet. And Glen obviously can’t block shots and Rose is too quick for him to draw a charge. So no way in hell Rose dominates like he did with KG and Perk out there. Its one game that people are blowing way out of proportion.

  • paul

    You have to give kudos to Pierce for getting what many don’t seem to get, and saying it – if we want to be just another good team, then hey, these losses are no big deal; but if we want to be champions, each one is a dagger. But why isn’t Rondo the one saying this? Rondo, it seems, has been more vocal lately, and is taking on a team leader role (for example, his comments about Davis’ bad game against the Bulls), but does he not get it that a near season low of team assists against the Bulls is a failure to be laid primarily at HIS door, regardless of his decent 8 assists? Yes, Rondo, people are expecting a lot more from you, and isn’t that what you wanted? Aren’t you the one who claims to be the best point guard in the league, who said he could do 20 assists a game? You are the one who, by virtue of your play and your words and your manifest importance to the team, has raised expectations about your play. So when we take a big loss, and you get badly outplayed by your opposite number, and our offense sputters overall and movement and passing becomes close to nonexistent in an offense that thrives on those things, shouldn’t you STEP UP?

  • paul

    Your comments are astute and helpful, and – in particular – Shaq’s recent play is troublesome to consider. He has gone from being a guy likely to start over Perkins, to third in the center rotation, if Jermaine is healthy, and maybe lower than that. In a way that’s ok, because we were only expecting him to be, ultimately, a role player, a bench guy anyway, a little extra size to clog up the middle, and other bigs, like Davis and Harangody, are coming on strong, and Perkins is coming back … but a Shaq who doesn’t rebound and a Shaq who cannot catch and finish in the paint may do us more harm than good – his famous defensive problems start to become very glaring then.
    Those who suggest that we shouldn’t overreact to one loss, have a point, but pointing to guys being out doesn’t necessarily help; this is an old team. We are very likely never going to be completely healthy. If we need to be completely healthy to win a championship, we probably won’t.
    It IS funny how unrealistic most folks become about athletes, in general. For us, what they do happens inside tv sets, or on a stage, in a kind of meta-reality where ordinary human frailties don’t seem to exist. if we think about our own lives, and about working 5 shifts in seven days, we all know that we would not turn in 5 sparkling shifts … there would surely be at least a couple of shifts that we had to pretty much drag ourselves through. So sure, how surprising can it be that our favorite team turns in a stinker in a 7 day span? They just didn’t have ‘it’ against the Bulls. It’s understandable.
    But then again, there’s a different context in which we see all this. The Celtics claim to be champions-in-the-making. That raises the bar, a LOT. From that perspective, a loss like the one to Chicago means a lot, and nearly cancels out the big win over the Spurs. It’s one game, yes. But championships are built a game at a time. You don’t really win championships, normally, by backing into the playoffs and then ‘turning it on’. Maybe Bill Russell’s teams did that, some years, and maybe this smart and motivated veteran team has something in common with the Russell Celtics, but if we see this team as a championship team, we can’t take losses lightly.
    On the good side, our Celtics have NOT been beaten by another team so far this year … with maybe the Mavs coming the closest. When we’ve lost, it’s been because we beat ourselves, so far. The culprits have always always been easy to point to – bad rebounding, bad defense, poor movement on offense; let’s face it: these guys don’t always have basketball on their minds when they step out onto a court, and who can blame them? They are adult human beings with complex lives. But we saw in the sixth game of the finals last year how costly the tendency to essentially ‘blow off’ a game can be. Despite everything, we had that series pretty much in the bag, despite not having homecourt advantage, despite being outsized by LA and outhyped by LA, despite KG not being 100% and despite the fact that none of the Celtics’ top players were having a great series … but then we basically didn’t show up for game six, and, well, **** happened.
    Rose’s monster game on saturday can’t be blamed on Rondo alone, of course. I’m less concerned about how many points Rose scored than I am about Rondo apparently being taken out of HIS game. Some of Rondo’s words of advice to Davis, about his poor showing in Chicago, apply well to Rondo himself. Just as Davis has apparently stepped across a line to where he has caught the attention of some of the better players in the league, who are now making a point of trying to school him, Rondo has himself stepped across a line this season. Increasingly, he is seen as a point guard to beat, or maybe THE pointguard to beat, and the key to his team’s success. Now, even the best point guards in the league seem to take beating Rondo as a key personal challenge, and other teams increasingly recognize finding ways to curb Rondo as key to defeating the Celtics, maybe the key. It’s a big compliment to Rondo, but a big challenge too.
    Rondo is knocking on the door to greatness, but the next phase of his career could be the hardest – and the Celtics’ championship hopes may hang on how well he responds to the challenge.

  • greenbeand

    teams w/o an identity have 0 chance in a 7 game series. can’t to get healthy and strike fear and knock some sense into the league.

  • DRJ

    Just remember that Rondo’s relatively low assist total in that game had a lot to with his teammates not hitting shots. When your team’s overall FG% is 38%, your assist total must take a hit. Another hit was the pace of the game, which was VERY SLOW. Neither of these factors are directly attributable to Rondo, yet both heavily impacted his line.
    The Celtics just didn’t show up. I think your analogy to Game 6 was apt. It wasn’t one guy. Not even ‘mostly’. They missed wide open shots, even bunnies, they had the wrong guy shooting too often, there was no ball movement, and they had no answers for Rose and Booz. Of course, injuries had a lot to do with all that. (Btw, I count Baby as “injured” on Saturday night too. Diagnosis: Brain Cloud.)
    To the larger picture: I believe the Celtics now are a DIFFERENT TEAM than the one that blew off Game 6. This crew would NEVER blow off a playoff game. (Just typing the words feels wrong.) Which is the primary reason I believe this team will go all the way this year.
    Health permitting.