Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Yet apparently the C’s aren’t feeling the love, as the main theme in the locker room after the win was Boston’s determination to play with a chip on its shoulder.
“Most of us have been doing that our whole lives,” guard Marcus Smart said. “It’s not new for us. We understand we are a young team and we have a lot to learn, but at the same time we’re all competitors and we love to win, so we are going to find a way to go out there and compete every night.” […]
That underdog mentality starts with Thomas, who has been very vocal about his own lack of respect in league circles, even after being named to his first All-Star team this season. When asked why people don’t respect the Celtics, the 5-foot-9 point guard responded with a dig at one of his most recent critics.
“I guess we’ve got no superstar,” Thomas said with a smile. “No ‘foundation player,’ right?”
I’ve been trying to keep my expectations in check for this Celtics squad, but it becomes more difficult with each game. They’ve now won four straight games, 12 in a row at home, and 18 of the last 24. They’re 12 games over .500 for the first time in four seasons. Last night they destroyed the Blazers, who came in having won nine of 10, and they did it the intelligent way – pushing the tempo in the third quarter to wear down the visitors, who were playing their fourth game in five nights.
The buzz around the Celtics is about to get very loud as fans and media climb on the bandwagon. Yet, reading those quotes above, there’s no worries that they might let any recognition go to their heads. This team is hungry. They just threw down the “no respect” card, which is usually the prelude to “No one believed in us!” You can’t go there unless you’re already getting it done, and confident that you’ll do more.
These guys already bring energy every night. If they bolster that with a nasty attitude, who knows how far they might go? Maybe the edginess was there all along, and they just didn’t talk about it outside the locker room. Perhaps the stupid Tanguay/Dickerson comments brought it all to the surface. How ironic it will be if we have those trolls to thank for the Cs reaching new levels.
At the same time, Isaiah is still having fun with his critics.
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) March 3, 2016
Related: ESPN Boston – Isaiah Thomas, Celtics motivated by us-against-the-world mentality | CSNNE – No respect, no problem: Celtics earning it as they go | MassLive – Isaiah Thomas: NBA players, teams don’t respect Boston Celtics | WEEI – Celtics Playing Winning Hand With No Respect Card
On Page 2: Looking ahead to IT in the playoffs
A similar story applies to Isaiah Thomas, Boston’s leading scorer (21.4 PPG) and assist man (6.8 APG). Last season, the 5’9″ Thomas was simply the bearer of good vibes, arriving at the trade deadline and helping push the Celtics into the No. 7 seed. He found the playoffs to be much tougher sledding, as the Cavaliers’ long and quick backcourt defenders harassed him into 33.3% shooting during Cleveland’s four-game sweep. There was really no skin off his back: This was Thomas’s first exposure to postseason basketball after spending his first three seasons with the perpetually lottery-bound Kings.
But Thomas, who was selected to his first All-Star team this season, should welcome increased individual expectations this time around. Unlike last year’s 40-42 squad, Thomas will lead Boston into the playoffs with a clear identity: The Celtics play at the league’s third-fastest pace, they have forced a league-leading number of turnovers, and they have tabbed him as the clear No. 1 scorer.
Sports Illustrated – All-Bullseye Team: Five players facing playoff pressure
Speaking of buzz…This SI article is the national media saying, “Here are some guys who we’ll be watching when they’re in the playoffs. Not if they’re in – when.” And this piece was published before the win over the Blazers.
I’m not saying to take a playoff berth for granted. But with 20 games remaining in the Celtics’ regular season, the standings are looking pretty good.
FYI, the other players evaluated in this article are DeMar DeRozan, Harrison Barnes, Blake Griffin and Enes Kantor – all from perennial playoff teams.
On Page 3: Trade rumors never die
One of those stars whose profile intrigued the Celtics didn’t get to play in that game because of a strained knee. It’s been said Chicago’s Jimmy Butler would be a good fit here, and multiple sources told us the Celts made a strong move for the 6-foot-7 wing.
According to one source who was linked to a player involved in the potential transaction, the Celtics were willing to give up two first-round draft picks this year, the unprotected pick from the Nets and Dallas’ choice, which is protected if in the top seven.
So what if the trade deadline was two weeks ago? The shelf life on rumors is long. If the objective is to get a legit star in exchange for this year’s Nets pick, Butler would sure suffice. The Bulls are sliding out of playoff position, so expect to hear the rumor again.
And, finally: Larry the pitchman
Larry Bird was never one to turn down a chance to make money, so he was apparently open to making commercials for almost anything. This CSNNE article has a fantastic collection of Bird’s cheesy TV ads, including the one below (featuring Henry Finkel in a cameo appearance). The hat, satin jacket and snazzy sweater are probably all buried in one of my closets.
The Rest of the Links: