Celtics

It's Lonzo Ball who stinks, not LaVar

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It's Lonzo Ball who stinks, not LaVar

This is going to be very dramatic, so buckle up. 

Remember when Jesse is in the hospital after Hank beats his ass and Walter offers him a 50-50 split of the Fring money to be partners and he turns it down? He says “I am not turning down the money. I am turning down you!”

Well, imagine me beaten to a pulp sitting in a hospital bed as I say this next part all Pinkman-like. Makes it more dramatic. 

I don’t dislike LaVar Ball. I dislike Lonzo Ball. 

As the Celtics prepare to play the other projected top pick on whom they passed, the Ball family finds itself in the news yet again. This time it’s over LiAngelo Ball’s arrest in China for shoplifting. What an idiot. 

And “idiot” is a term that’s been thrown around a lot regarding basketball’s brashest family. Usually, it’s slapped on father LaVar, the guy who, in addition to selling overpriced trash shoes and talking ragtime in front of just about any camera that’s been stuck in front of him, may or may not have gotten third son LaMelo’s high school coach fired. 

Yet if LaVar’s an idiot, I don’t care. He’s background noise we’ve chosen to put in the foreground. As far as I’m concerned, he’s no worse than Cheryl Hines’ character in “A Bad Moms Christmas.” He’s a parent who loves his family so much that it’s literally the only way he spends his time. He’s out of control, sure. But he’s not hurting anybody. 

My issue is with Lonzo, who’s also not hurting anybody, but is the actual main event here. He’s the reason any of us have even heard of LaVar. And if we’re going to care about anyone doing dumb stuff, it’s the actual player. And I’ve got my eye on Lonzo. 

Here’s what Lonzo has done so far: 

- Sucked at basketball (more on that below). 
- Actually fixed his mouth to say Future was better music than Nas and that Nas wasn't "real hip-hop." 
- Was part of this iconic photo. 

I take more offense to Lonzo disrespecting Nas than I do LaVar and his winning smile acting like Lonzo played well in the first game of the season. I take more joy in watching Patrick Beverley stand over a defeated Lonzo than I do watching LaVar be proven wrong for the billionth time. So if we’re going to trash anyone, let’s go with the guy who matters here.

As for the actual basketball part (boring), I’m invested in seeing whether all of this is too big for Lonzo: The hype, playing for his hometown Lakers, knowing that opponents are gunning for him. So far, the Lakers are good in spite of Lonzo’s struggles (he is shooting under 30 percent lmaooooooooooo), as 22nd overall pick Kyle Kuzma has been the Lakers’ best rookie. 

If Lonzo does amount to anything as a player, that will be a good thing. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry will have its next duo, as Ainge chose to go with Tatum over Ball. You can focus your efforts on rolling your eyes at the dad, but you’ll be missing the point. 

[Also, that Foot Locker commercial with Lonzo wasn’t funny and I lost all respect for anyone who pretended it was.] 

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

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A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).
 

Celtics-Magic preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

Celtics-Magic preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

BOSTON – The last time the Celtics were coming off a loss, they bounced back and won their next 16 games.
 
Could tonight trigger winning streak 2.0?

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If so, Boston’s defense will once again lead the way because the Orlando Magic (8-6) have been one of the better offensive teams in the NBA this season.
 
They come into tonight’s game shooting 46.7 percent from the field, which ranks seventh in the NBA. They also average 11.6 made three-pointers per game, which ranks fourth in the league.
 
One of the keys to Orlando’s offense is to play with a pace (103.16) that ranks among the league’s best.

Still, the Celtics have seen their share of elite offenses this season and more often than not, they have been up to the challenge.
 
For Boston, their defensive success begins with a starting unit that has been among the best in the league most of this season.
 
Boston has utilized a number of different starting lineups, but the one that has logged the most minutes (79) together – Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes – has a defensive rating of 85.8, which is tops in the league among all five-man lineups which have logged as many or more minutes than Boston’s five-man group.
 
But as well as the Celtics played defensively as the wins piled up, there were clear and undeniable signs that a game such as Wednesday night's 104-98 loss at Miami was on the horizon.
 
Of the 16 wins, the Celtics were down by double digits in each of the past three victories and five overall in the streak.
 
But getting behind consistently and finding a way to rally spoke volumes about this team’s ability to handle adversity.
 
“Obviously winning is good,” said rookie Jayson Tatum. “Just the fashion that we did it in and the adversity that we had to overcome. It brought us closer together and made us a tougher team.”
 
But it seemed self-inflicted adversity by way of slow starts, which was starting to become part of the narrative to this Celtics team.
 
The past three wins - games in which the Celtics trailed by 13 at Dallas, 16 at Atlanta and 17 at home against Golden State - collectively they were a clear indicator that Boston still had room to improve despite finding ways to win.
 
 “We have to get better, we have to get better at what we’re trying to do,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It’s a little bit, looking at the 16 straight [wins], as I said, it was a little bit of a mirage. We know we have to get better.”
 

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