Back to the Finals


Back to the Finals

By Rich Levine

Spend some time today thinking about Game Seven.

It doesnt have to be a long time. But whatever it is, just make sure you remember how it felt.

I dont care if you only last 30 seconds, you MUST remember Game Seven . . .

And when you wake up on Saturday morning, fire up those memories again. And get ready for Sunday afternoon.

Thats when the Celtics and Lakers meet for the first time since that awful night in June, and while I think most of us have done a pretty great job of supressing those memories, on Sunday, theres no escape.

Basically, from the moment their coverage starts, ABC will paint the picture of Game Seven and the 2010 Finals in general and cram it down your throat. Theres going to be endless references and non-stop reminders. Fully produced video packages. In the two seconds its taken you to read this sentence, Mark Jackson has mentioned Game Seven twelve times. Magic Johnsons probably wearing a 2010 NBA Champions t-shirt on air.

You can imagine how that's going to feel.

And even if they never say a word, even if you watch this game on mute, youll still feel it. Its impossible to see these two teams on that floor and not have immediate flashback to the Finals.

But hey, that comes with the territory, I guess. Its one of the few lasting consequences of that crushing loss. Every time these two teams play or at least every time until the Cs somehow even the score Game Seven will be haunting.

Obviously, its something you deal with, because its CelticsLakers. Theyre still the best two games of the season. Nothing can match the energy, excitement, history and hype that come with this rivalry. Its always going to be special.

But right now, theres just a slight defect.

It's still great, but there are going to be some harsh moments.

It's like if a studio digitally remastered your favorite movie to feature random clips of your mailman singing naked in the shower.

But worse than that.

Either way, Game Seven was about as disturbing as they come. And really, we should know.

When you think back to each Boston team's most recent playoff appearance, all have ended in similar tragedy.

In 2009, Jonathan Papelbon blew a two-run lead in the ninth to end the season against the Angels. In 2010, the Bruins choked away a 3-0 lead to Philly. In 2011, the Patriots rolled over against the Jets. Throw in the C's and thats four epic failures.

Its been a carousel of swift punches to the gut, followed by lead pipes to the shin, and fastballs to the skull. Its been a painful stretch.

But still, nothings worse than what happened to the Celtics.

Obviously, it affects every fan differently. Some dont care about the Cs as much as they do the Bruins or Pats, so what happened in L.A. doesnt feel as tragic. But if youre looking on paper, if you lose all bias, its not even close.

In 2009, the Sox were already down 2-0, and already running on empty.

The Pats' loss was so painful because wed already sent them to Dallas; never even considered theyd fall to the Jets. But even if theyd won, there were still the Steelers and the Packers. There was a lot of work left.

Same with the Bruins, who obviously lose major points for the historically embarrassing way they went down. But that was only the conference semifinals. They still had a long way to go before hoisting the Cup.

The Celtics had 20 minutes and a 13-point lead.

Thats all that stood between them and the title. And for a bunch of guys on that team, it went far beyond just one title. It meant everything.

And they let it slip away.

To the Lakers.

Its not something anyone enjoys thinking about, but on Sunday there wont be a choice.

So why not ease into the boiling water instead of waiting to be pushed?

Game Seven. It happened. Let's just get it out there now.

And not let Stuart Scott and friends ruin an amazing Sunday.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster


Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster

As the Cavaliers fall further and further behind the Celtics, it appears there's some internal grumbling that the problems that have led to eight losses in their past 10 games aren't fixable with Cleveland's current roster.

Multiple reports indicate that a number of "prominent" Cavs  (and there's no more prominent player in the NBA than LeBron James) shared those thoughts with ESPN, Cleveland.com and TheAthletic.com.

After their loss to the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors Monday night in another Finals rematch, the third-place Cavs have dropped 7 1/2 games behind the Celtics and 3 1/2 behind the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

The complaints are a clear message to management that a change will be necessary at the trade deadline and, according to Cleveland.com, the offseason acquisition of Isaiah Thomas isn't going over too well. Thomas, who was out until Jan. 2 while he recovered from hip surgery after he was acquired from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, is shooting 36 percent and is averaging almost as many turnovers (2.4) as assists (3.4). But it's his defense that's hurting the Cavs more. Here's what Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reported a "league source" told him:

“Rotations are awful. IT is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane. There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”

Meanwhile, the guy Thomas was traded for has led the Celtics to an East-leading 34-10 record and become a leading MVP candidate.

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

Let’s get this out of the way: the Celtics should absolutely try as hard as possible to land Anthony Davis. Danny Ainge’s track record means any deal that ultimately lands “The Brow” would, at worst, be fair, and at best, be a steal.

That said, there are arguments to be made against an Anthony Davis trade. Here they are:

This is more important than anything else. Gary Tanguay cannot have this win. We can’t validate his reckless speculation with a Davis-to-Celtics deal. Banner 18 is not worth the years of Gary telling us he was right about this. All joking aside, let’s give Tanguay some credit for predicting this, even if it was luck.

Freedom isn’t free and neither is a 24-year-old mega-star. It’s important to realize that the Celtics are not the only team making this trade. The Pelicans will, justifiably, need one of the biggest return packages in NBA history in order to move Anthony Davis. For starters, say goodbye to Jayson Tatum. The C’s wunderkind looks like a future star and there’s just no way New Orleans makes this deal without him. Ditto for the Lakers/Kings pick acquired from the 76ers this summer and at least one more future first-rounder. Did we mention Al Horford yet? His salary is almost a must in any deal for Davis. 


I’m not positive a package of Tatum, Horford and every future pick of value is enough to convince the Pelicans to trade Davis. If I’m New Orleans, I’m asking for Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Horford and the LAL/SAC pick for Davis and the ridiculously expensive corpse of Omer Asik. So yeah, the Celtics have positioned themselves to pull off a deal of this magnitude, but it’s sure gonna cost them.

Including Horford in a deal for Davis lessens the blow of adding another max player; however, the Celtics will also be trading at least one of their rookie-scale starters, and that cannot be overlooked. Tatum and Brown aren’t just potential All-Stars, they are cost-controlled starters who the Celtics are paying a combined $10.6 million this season. The other seven Eastern Conference playoff teams (as of Tuesday) are paying an average of $36M for their starting SG/SF combos. Losing one or both of Tatum and Brown means the C’s will be pinching pennies to try and fill out their starting lineup. The calculus gets much harder when Kyrie Irving opts-out of his deal after next season.

Davis is an absolute stud when he’s on the floor. The problem is he’s often sidelined with injuries. Davis has never played more than 75 games in a season, averaging 67 games through his first five years in the NBA (he’s already missed seven games this year). Davis’ alien-like size/athleticism combo make him a devastating two-way force, but might also make him injury prone for his entire career. Similar to Joel Embiid of the 76ers, Davis sometimes seems too big and fast for his own good, crashing to the floor at a rate rivaled only by Kelly Olynyk.

Is Davis good enough to overcome reasons 1-4 on this list? Going by individual stats, absolutely. Davis has the third-highest career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in NBA history, trailing only Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But that individual success has only led to a 165-206 record and one playoff appearance for the Pelicans franchise. Before this season, the Davis-led Pelicans boasted a top-10 offense once in five seasons. It’s the same on the defensive end, with one top-10 finish in Davis’ first five years. If Davis is such a game changer, how come he hasn’t been able to impact winning at a greater clip? Most of that can probably be blamed on Pelicans management for doing a terrible job building around him, but it should be a question the Celtics ask before trading just about everything to acquire him.

The Celtics would be crazy turning down the chance to add Davis to a core of Irving, Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens, even if it does mean Tanguay can brag for the rest of his life. Ainge has assembled a super team before and you better believe he’s on the phone right now trying to do it again.