Celtics

Wakeup Call: Buss' true legacy is Showtime everywhere

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Wakeup Call: Buss' true legacy is Showtime everywhere

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 19:

BASEBALL
Charlie Manuel takes the I'll-talk-about-this-one-time-and-one-time-only approach about his lame-duck contract status with the Phillies. But if he thinks that's going to put an end to the speculation about his future, well, history tells us he's mistaken. (CSN Philly)

No such problems in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates are extending Clint Hurdle's deal. (AP)

For the first time in history, all arbitration cases were settled before there were any hearings. (AP)

Boston or Oakland, Josh Reddick doesn't go anywhere without that WWE Championship Belt. (CSN Bay Area)

Roger Clemens says he's not losing any sleep over his failure to be voted into the Hall of Fame. (AP)

Dusty Baker looks and feels healthy after recovering from the mini-stroke he suffered at the end of last year. (AP)

One thing he hasn't recovered from, emotionally: How things ended for him when he was with the Cubs. (CSN Chicago)

On the present-day Cubs, Matt Garza is undergoing an MRI on that balky side muscle. (AP)

Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano -- who refused a trade to the Giants last summer, costing himself a World Series ring -- is preparing for the day when he's shipped out of town. And it's coming. (CSN Chicago)

The season has barely started and already the Brewers' Mat Gamel finds out he'll miss all of it . . . for the second straight year. (AP)

Russell Martin is taking advantage of the WBC to fulfill his fantasy of playing shortstop. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

BOXING
If Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson can hug it out -- and sell a little barbecue sauce on the side -- there's hope for the world yet. (NBC's Off The Bench)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The Pac-12 reprimands Cal coach Mike Montgomery for shoving one of his players, though it won't say exactly what the punishment is. (AP)

No. 25 Notre Dame bounces back from its surprise drubbing at Providence on Saturday with a 51-42 win at No. 20 Pitt. (AP)

Miami? No. 2 in the country? Really? (AP)

The team directly ahead of the Hurricanes in the poll, Indiana, should have guard Victor Oladipo back in the lineup for tonight's showdown with No. 4 Michigan State in East Lansing. (AP)

Former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe fought the law, and the law won. (AP)

R.I.P., Phil Henderson. (AP)

Brittney Griner scores her 3,000th career point as she leads Baylor to a come-from-behind victory over UConn in a battle of women's basketball titans. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
An external probe shows the NCAA just how messed up its investigation of Miami has been . . . (NBC's College Football Talk)

. . . which gives Miami school president Donna Shalala the opening to blast the investigation as "unprofessional and unethical" and demand her school go unpunished because "we have been wronged." (AP)

Oh, NFL docs? Marcus Lattimore says he's got a surprise for you. (College Football Talk)

Manti Te'o doesn't see why the dead-girlfriend hoax should affect his draft status any. (AP)

HOCKEY
The suddenly hot Canadiens win their fourth in a row, 3-0 over the Hurricanes. (AP)

And the suddenly cold Devils lose for the third time in four games, 2-1 in a shootout to the Senators. (AP)

The Flyers' road woes disappear -- for a day, anyway -- with a 7-0 romp on Long Island. (AP)

The time has come, says Chuck Gormley, for Alex Ovechkin to answer his growing number of critics. (CSN Washington)

It may be an "upper-body injury," but not that upper; according to reports, the Panthers' Kris Versteeg doesn't have a concussion. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

More good medical news: Springfield's Wade MacLeod, the ex-Northeastern star, is released from the hospital after suffering a seizure when he was checked into the boards during an AHL game Sunday. Not much word, however, on what, exactly, his condition is or how long he'll be out. (Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
Prosecutors say there's no evidence to support Oscar Pistorius' claim that he thought his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was an intruder when he murdered her with four gunshots through a locked bathroom door. (nbcnews.com)

An independent review of the Australian swim team's disappointing performance last summer in London reveals a "toxic", leaderless environment that featured "getting drunk, the misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit and bullying." Wow. (AP via nbcsports.com)

PRO BASKETBALL
Jerry Buss was the first NBA owner to recognize that the sport had to sell more than basketball to succeed, and his true legacy reverberates every night across the land in the "game presentation" that includes music, dancers and all the rest of the sizzle that goes with the on-court steak. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Still, asks Ray Ratto, how much credit for the Lakers' success does he actually deserve? (CSN Bay Area)

Buss' six children will continue to own the team, but -- since there's reportedly already discord between Jim, who runs the basketball side of things, and Jeanie, who runs the business end, over the refusal of Jeanie's fiancee Phil Jackson to return as coach -- will things begin to fall apart in what Kurt Helin describes as a "potential Shakespearian-level drama"? (Pro Basketball talk)

Jeremy Lin is "thankful" he wasn't voted into the All-Star Game because, he says, he didn't deserve it. (CSN Houston)

Last week, Derrick Rose said he might not play at all this year. Yesterday, he participates in five-on-five drills for the first team. What, pray tell, does it all mean? (CSN Chicago)

Sounds like the Sixers are finally getting fed up with this ridiculous Andrew Bynum situation. Join the crowd, boys. (CSN Philly)

In routine injury news, Mo Williams is back practicing with the Jazz, six weeks after undergoing surgery on his right thumb. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Darrelle Revis has reached the conclusion that the Jets don't want to pay him what he thinks he's worth, which means his days in New York are probably numbered. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Ravens expect to meet with Joe Flacco's agent at the Combine. (Pro Football Talk)

No one really understands why the Eagles brought in ex-Oregon QB Dennis Dixon, not when they'd already decided to keep Michael Vick and still have Nick Foles on the roster. But Dixon said he's been assured by his oldnew coach, Chip Kelly, that there'll be an open competition for the job and "may the best man win". (CSN Philly)

The Dolphins apparently aren't going to tag Sean Smith. (Pro Football Talk)

Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon when a handgun was found in his luggage at LaGuardia Airport. (AP)

TENNIS
Sloane Stephens' Australian Open upset of Serena Williams seems like a long time ago: She lost yesterday to Sorana Cirstea in the first round of the Dubai Championship. (AP)

Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

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Celtics' cup has runneth over so far this season

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are no different than the rest of us. They have a lot to be thankful for.
 
There’s the usual good health, family and friends. But they have a few more things to be thankful for, as well.
 
So as you take a brief time-out today from the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, here’s a look at five things the Celtics are thankful for this season.


 
KYRIE IRVING
 
The Celtics have had some solid players in recent years, but the addition of Kyrie Irving was a game-changer. He provides Boston with an unmistakable superstar who has a proven track record of success on all levels -- he's won an NBA championship and an Olympic Gold medal, and is also a four-time All-Star. Did I mention he’s just 25 years old?


 
AL HORFORD
 
His numbers will never adequately measure the impact Horford has had on the Celtics. The big plus with Horford was him simply agreeing to be a Celtic. For years this franchise has been built on the success of developing draft picks or trading for talented players. But rarely have they had the financial flexibility or, to be frank, the kind of appeal to free agents to go out and acquire a proven All-Star like Al Horford. His arrival has enhanced an already-established winning culture, one that has become a player on the free agency market ever since.


 
DANNY AINGE
 
Other than Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, it’s hard to imagine another front office executive having as good an offseason as Ainge. He rolled the dice to go down two spots in last June’s NBA draft, and wound up with arguably the most NBA-ready player (Jayson Tatum) among those selected in last June’s NBA draft. (Remember, the likely rookie-of-the-year Ben Simmons did not play last year after Philadelphia drafted him with the top overall pick in 2016.) The free-agent pickups of Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin have all had moments where they carried the team to victory. Even second-round picks like Semi Ojeleye and two-way players like Jabari Bird have contributed to wins this season. Fans may not like some of Ainge’s decisions in the moment but he deserves a lot of credit for the team we see today, one that has played at a level few envisioned they'd reach this quickly.


 
BRAD STEVENS
 
And to think, the Big Three (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford) Boston was planning to build around this season has played less than five minutes together. Stevens has been pushing all the right buttons, putting guys in unexpected positions to succeed with a cast that’s long on talent and well, well short on experience. Boston’s first win of the season came at Philadelphia, a game in which the Celtics played six different rookies. It’s not unusual for teams to use first-year players frequently, but for a team that was built to contend for a championship? That’s highly unusual. The biggest thing is despite the lack of experience on the floor, Stevens hasn’t allowed them to use that as a reason to fail. Instead, Stevens has had them lean heavily on film study and the wisdom of veterans, as well as empowered them to have a “next-man-up” mindset with one goal regardless of what they are tasked with doing: Get it done. No excuses.


 
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
 
Boston has spent most of this season atop the NBA standings, fueled in large part by a 15-game winning streak -- the longest of the Brad Stevens era and the fifth-longest ever by a Celtics team. But within that winning streak, there have been some noticeable areas of concern (i.e., bench scoring) that have made games more challenging. And that's what makes these Celtics so scary to the rest of the league. If they’re beating teams consistently now, how much better will they be when the offense catches up or, at a minimum, gains some ground on what has been an impressive stretch of play defensively? That’s why as good as this first full month of the season has been, there's reason to believe they’ll only get better. The Celtiheircs have seen  share of adversity. They've played without their All-Stars. They have fought back from double-digit deficits to emerge victorious. This is a young squad, but battle-tested already. Because of all that, they have a certain level of confidence that regardless of the situation, regardless of the score, they feel they will find a pathway to success. And that, Celtics Nation, is something to be thankful for.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Blakely's takeaways: Moving on without the streak

Blakely's takeaways: Moving on without the streak

The streak is over! The streak is over!

We now return the Boston Celtics to their regularly scheduled pursuit of success without the growing pressure that comes with a historically relevant winning streak.

The 104-98 loss at Miami on Wednesday night brought an end to what had been one of the more unlikely winning streaks we’ve seen in the NBA for quite some time.

Boston reeled off 16 straight wins, many of which were the come-from-a-double-digit-deficit variety. In the end, the Celtics’ winning streak ranks as the fourth-longest in this storied franchise’s history.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said following the loss. “But we do have a lot of resolve.”

That resolve will surely be challenged with the Celtics taking Thanksgiving off, only to return and play three games in the next four nights beginning with Orlando on Friday, followed by a road game at Indiana on Saturday and a home date against the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

Here are five takeaways from the Boston Celtics’ 16-game winning streak.

KYRIE FOR MVP?

When the Boston Celtics traded for Kyrie Irving during the offseason, there was a sense that his presence would be a plus in some capacity, at some point. But few envisioned Irving would not only have a relatively seamless fit with the Celtics, but deliver in such a way that would catapult them to the top of the NBA standings and in doing so, establish him as one of the early front-runners for the league’s MVP award. This season, Irving is averaging a team-best 22.5 points and 5.2 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field but most important, the Celtics (16-3) have the best record in the NBA.

WANTED: BENCH SCORER

If you are a fan of good defenders, you probably love the Boston Celtics’ second unit. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are both ball-hawking defenders who can make some miserable times for opponents when they are on top of their game. Daniel Theis provides great energy on the glass and defensively. But the second unit needs a jolt offensively. Because as good as they can defend collectively, the Celtics have to have at least one starter on the floor most of the time because the bench doesn’t have an adequate collector of buckets that they can rely on consistently. Marcus Morris looks like an ideal choice for that role, but the left knee soreness that kept him out for eight games seems to be flaring up from time to time. Whether they address this with a trade or possibly with a player bought out, the lack of a second-unit scorer is very much an issue for this team.

BROWN EMERGES AS TWO-WAY TALENT

The plan was for Jaylen Brown to be an elite, shut-down defender this season. He has shown himself to be a good defender this season, but what has really made him stand out is the growth in his game offensively. The second-year wing has scored 20-plus points in three of Boston’s last four games. Doing that along with continuing to play good defense has him looking like one of the NBA’s promising young two-way talents.

TATUM’S GROWTH A SILVER LINING IN HAYWARD INJURY

You never want to see the Boston Celtics or any team for that matter, lose a player for the season let alone one who meant as much as Gordon Hayward to the Celtics. But if there is a silver lining in his ankle injury which is expected to keep him out all season, it is the opportunity it created for Jayson Tatum. The 19-year-old has been arguably the best player from last June’s draft class, playing major minutes with a major role for the team with the best record in the NBA. The opportunity to play around 30 minutes a game would not have been there for Tatum if Hayward didn’t get hurt. The challenge for Tatum going forward is to stay consistent, because now that teams have seen him for almost a quarter of the season, you can expect they will make some adjustments in how they defend him as well as try to attack him when he’s defending.

WE TALKIN’ ABOUT PRACTICE

During Boston’s 16 game winning streak, the Celtics played the last eight games in 16 nights. That’s a game every other night for more than two weeks. In that time, there’s little to no time for practice which has been a factor in Boston not being quite as sharp in the last few games, as they were at the start of the streak. After Thanksgiving, Boston plays three games in four nights with a pair of days off to follow before they return to action. There’s a very good chance that the Celtics will use one of those two days to practice, something this team desperately needs to clean up some of the minor mistakes that were big problems in their loss to the Heat on Wednesday.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE