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.
And now? Your Boston Celtics have cemented their hold as the leaders in the Atlantic Division with a thorough dismantling of the fading Philadelphia 76ers on Easter Sunday. If the Celtics close out their regular season in proper fashion, they will land as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, with home-court advantage in the opening round.
The 103-79 thrashing of the increasingly hapless Sixers gives the Celtics a three-game lead over their division rival with just 10 games to play. The only thing that could prevent Boston from capturing the division crown would be a collapse of epic proportions.
"They're getting strong at the right time," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "They're going to be a handful.
"I know everybody is looking at Chicago and Miami, but don't blink on Boston."
Don't blink on Boston. Feels good to be a threat again, huh?
Celtics fans should have tempered enthusiasm. We should be disappointed pissed off if this team fails to advance in the 1st round. As for the second round, they're good enough to scare the crap out of Miami and Chicago. Can they beat those teams in a 7 games series? I'm still not feeling it.
The I-told-you-so crowd needs to chill out. No one expected Avery Bradley to play this well. While the Rajon Rondo fan club was calling for more shots, no one expected an historic assist streak. Props for keeping the faith, but you're lying if you saw this coming.
Related links: Globe (Bob Ryan) – No dancing around it, right steps were made | Herald – Doug Collins latest believer in Celtics turnaround
On Page 2, how a 100 push-up wager motivated Rajon Rondo.
Heading into halftime up by 14 points, the Celtics should have been in good spirits. But not Rondo. He was upset after turning the ball over five times in the first half.
So, he made a bet with assistant coach Tyronn Lue — if he turned the ball over one more time, Rondo would do 100 push-ups. Good thing for the Celtics, he wasn’t in the mood for calisthenics. Rondo came out of halftime on fire — dishing out nine assists and didn’t make another turnover as the Celtics coasted.
“Yeah, I bet 100 push-ups. I didn’t want to do any push-ups today, so I decided not to turn the ball over anymore,” Rondo said. “I was really conscious of it. I try to play free as far as turning the ball over and not. But in the second half, I just tried to keep it simple. We ran one particular play the entire third quarter.”
No one is better at the lazy, reckless turnover than Rondo. The dude drives me mad.
Like I've written before, you have to take the good with the bad.
Related link: ESPN Boston – No turnovers help Rondo cash in
The rest of the links:
Globe – Celtics romp Sixers | Allen comes off bench again | Bass turns in big game | WEEI – With Philly reeling, Celtics deliver knockout | Pierce: It doesn't get any easier | CSNNE – Celtics keep rolling | ESPN Boston – Second unit defense has been first rate | Pietrus on return: A couple weeks, maybe? | Bass endures bombs, responds with buckets | Rapid reaction: Celtics 103 – 76ers 79 | Herald – Celtics finally solve Sixers | Thinking of Antoine Walker |
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images