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.
“My body language has to be better,” the Celtics guard said after yesterday’s practice at Temple University. “I know everybody looks to me to lead, and if my body language is bad it wears off on other guys. Complaining to the refs is not being happy, not smiling. I have to do a better job of that, knowing that everybody else is looking at me. Not to always put it on myself, but when I’m not out there having fun and joking around, my teammates follow my lead.”
Asked what the Celtics have done in the past to pull out of rough patches like this one, that’s Thomas’ answer.
“For the most part we have to get back to having fun and having that type of swagger about us,” he said. “It’s definitely easier said than done, but when we’re joking around and playing freely, that’s when we play our best.”
I’ll let the honorable Judge Smails handle this one…
“It’s easy to grin,
when your ship comes in,
and you’ve got the stock market beat.
But the man worthwhile,
is the man who can smile,
when his shorts are too tight in the seat”
It’s easy to be happy Isaiah Thomas when the Celtics are at full strength, playing lesser competition, and flying up and down the court in a high-speed, high-volume defense-leading-to-offense style of play. Angry, complainy Isaiah Thomas shows up when the shorthanded team’s lost 4 straight, dropped 2 spots in the standings, and may have lost home court in the first round of the playoffs.
You can’t have much swagger down 20.
The simple fact is that losing just about any player makes life tough on the C’s. I know this team has been a lot of fun, and a lot of fans didn’t want the team to make a trade at the deadline (including Mike Gorman, who told us as much in the last Rainin’ J’s podcast), but what we’re seeing right now is how precise everything has to be for the Celtics to succeed.
Firstly, Jae Crowder is probably the team’s MVP… which is something I can say pretty comfortably watching this team play right now. He’s their most versatile defender and his impact on the offense is much bigger than we ever thought it would be. Losing him is a killer on both ends of the floor. And because he’s so unique, he’s basically irreplaceable.
Secondly, losing Jonas Jerebko hurts more than you might think because it impacts the Celtics ability to play small. Their small lineup is probably their best lineup for many stretches of games because they can do a lot of switching defensively and they can get out and run off turnovers.
Without a star player to carry the team through rough stretches like this, the Celtics are basically cooked against anything above mediocre competition. Isaiah Thomas can only do so much, and no amount of smiling will change that. This team needs to be a full strength to be any good.
All that said, there is something to the notion of playing loose and free. There’s no doubt the team will play better when they guys are less tense about things. How much better? We’ll have to see. Taking on the Sixers will be a nice reprieve from the gauntlet they’ve just run… so hopefully we’ll see some shiny happy people wearing green tonight… and we can get one day closer to being full strength.
Related links: Globe: Isaiah Thomas addresses the complaint department | MassLive: Thomas on tough stretch: Things gotta change around here
Page 2: Philly is jealous of Boston’s rebuild
But here’s something some folks in Philly might not know about the Boston squad that will face the Sixers Sunday evening at Wells Fargo Center: At this moment, they’ll have the most picks of any team in June’s NBA draft and plenty of cap space to go after A-list free agents to pair with all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas.
“They are in a great position,” said a league executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If they want to make a trade, then they have a lot of picks to make a trade to get a good player.
“Meanwhile, everything has to go perfect for the Sixers to have a chance. They have to get the No. 1 pick this year. Joel Embiid has to be a star player. They have to get the [Los Angeles] Lakers’ pick. They have to have [Dario] Saric as a great player and [he] has come over. So everything has to be perfect basically for the Sixers.”
Unless this is your first time reading anything I’ve written, then you know I couldn’t have been more staunchly opposed to what Philly has been doing. This is a team that has won 46 games in THREE SEASONS… and I’m betting that anyone who pays attention to the NBA thinks that number seems high. They’ve been god-awful for a long time and a guy like Nerlens Noel has known nothing but losing badly for his entire career.
As noted in excerpt, the Sixers do have a shot at legitimacy, but all of these planets have to align for them for it to happen. Can Embiid be a star? Who knows? The guy hasn’t played yet and his reputation is taking hits (like the story earlier this season about his junk food and shirley temple addiction).
I’m rooting as hard for Philadelphia’s demise as I am for Boston’s success. It would give me great pleasure to watch Sam Hinke sit there waiting for lottery results as the Celtics prepare for the NBA Finals in the next couple of years (It would give me even more pleasure to watch Boston win that lottery through Brooklyn… oh what a great day that would be). I’m already happy that many in Philly have grown tired of “the process.” There’s only so much losing a team can do before it infects every aspect of the franchise. Frankly, I think that’s already happened in Philly, and guys have learned to just give up when things get tough.
It’s all they know to do… and it’s going to stay that way for a while.
Spurs-Warriors was an awesome game last night, and I’ll happily sign up for a Western Conference Finals between them right now. In fact, they should just play a 14 game series and call that the NBA Finals.
Think about this for a moment… both of these teams are undefeated at home. Mathematically, both of these teams can finish 72-10 and tie the Bulls record. At the very least, we’re looking at the possibility of two teams winning 70 games in an NBA season, which is absolutely f’ing ridiculous.
Few people are talking about how awesome a season San Antonio is having because Golden State is have an even better one… but both of these teams are out of control good and it’s a damn shame that one of them will not be in the NBA finals.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: C’s-76’ers preview: Building off Friday’s 3rd quarter | Blakely: Celtics rough stretch more about injuries | Stevens: Space and pace in focus around NBA | Deep Green: Game on with Jonas Jerebko | Courtside with Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn