Celtics

Three wishes for The Rapture

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Three wishes for The Rapture

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Well, it was nice knowing everyone.

And if you dont know what Im talking about, then I have good news and bad news.

Good news: Dont worry about paying any of those outstanding parking tickets

Bad news: Were goners.

In just about 24 hours, the Rapture will be upon us, marking the end of our days here on Earth. I know, kind of puts a damper on the weekend, but we had a pretty good run, right? I mean, at least we did better than the dinosaurs. And like the dinosaurs before us, its now our time to say wordaapp.

Anyway, its only fitting to spend our fleeting moments doing the same thing we did for most of our lives, so heres a hypothetical sports question to consider (inspired by producer Jim Aberdale):

If you were granted one Boston-related sports wish before were all sucked into the vortex, what would it be?

And you cant say: Bruins win the Stanley Cup or Celtics go back and play the season with Perk because, unlike everything else in this column, thats unrealistic. Theres not enough time for the NHL Playoffs to end, or for Danny Ainge to build a time machine. We have only one full day left, theres no time to get fancy. Actually, theres not much time for anything . . . so lets move on.

Here are three End of Our Days wishes:

1. I wish we knew what really happened with LeBron in last year's playoffs

Or to put it in wish form: I wish we knew what really happened with LeBron and the Cavs during last years playoffs.

And I dont even care about the fact that a player may or may not have slept with another players mother (even though thats still pretty amazing). Its just the fact that, whether or not the rumors are true, something obviously happened. And that something was big enough to submarine the best player in the world and change NBA history.

Lets not forget that the Cavs were the better team in that series. They were the best team in the conference. They had the best player, a very solid supporting cast, and most of all, maybe the best chemistry in the entire league. I was in the Cleveland locker room before a game that February, and left convinced that theyd win it all. Not that Ive been around forever, but Id never seen another locker room like that, and still havent. Not even the Celtics at the start of this year could match their visual chemistry.

Then it happened. Clevelands own little mini-Rapture. And that was that.

Who knows what would have happened if the Cavs, as they were supposed to, knocked off the Celtics in the second round? I bet Doc Rivers would have walked away. And then, everything would be different. And what happens with the Cavs? Maybe they win it all? I think LeBron would have left either way, but without this collapse maybe he doesnt handle it the same way, and maybe Cavs fans arent as apoplectic.

No one talks about this because the storys more volatile than Milton Bradley. Its a touchy, touchy subject, plus its not like anyone involved is willing to talk. But that doesnt make it any less interesting or important. Whatever happened there has turned the NBA upside down. Whatever it was that made LeBron go off changed the course of NBA history. And I think its only natural to want to know what that was.

Something tells me well find out at some point, but sadly, we only have a day before its all over.

2. I wish I could spend an afternoon with Wakefield

Sounds like a forthcoming Mitch Albom joint, but come on, were talking about the Rapture here. Theres no need for extra drama.

For the better part of the last 17 years, Ive wanted to get into the box against Tim Wakefield. For one, because Ive always wanted know what its like to face major league pitching, and Wakes the one guy I could dig in against without the fear of taking a fastball to the head.

But also, because this pitch is now responsible for one of the longest pitching career in Red Sox history. Its made Wake millions and millions of dollars, allowed him to stay active in this league longer than just about anyone not named Jamie Moyer (or Julio Franco), and made some of the best hitters in history look like Wily Mo Pena.

I want to look like Wily Mo Pena.

I want to know what its like to stare down the barrel of Wakefields whacky knuckler and live (for a day, I guess) with a complete understanding of what its all about; about what goes over those 60 feet-six inches.

Tim, my afternoons wide open.

3. I wish I knew the truth about Tim.

No, not Wakefield: Donaghy.

I want someone-in-the-know to go through Tim Donaghys book, or a transcript of any of his million interviews, and address each issue, step-by-step. Ok, thats true. Nope, that ones a lie . . . and so on.

And you know what? I wouldnt be shocked by anything. I wouldnt be shocked if most of what Donaghys said is true: That games were manipulated by execs, that referees played favorites, that everything is not how David Stern would like it to seem.

Of course, I dont want to. But at this point, Ill almost believe anything.

Theres just no excuse for what continues to happen. And I dont want to take away from how awesome the games themselves have been; its still unbelievably enjoyable. But the ref problem is an epidemic, and theres no end in sight.

Its such a blatant slap in the face, and Sterns so cavalier about trotting these guys out there, thats its clear that something isnt right. Otherwise, Bennett Salvatore wouldnt be reffing playoffs games anymore. Otherwise, we wouldnt have to deal with the same incompetent, attention-seeking divas stirring up all the chaos with no real ramifications.

And Im not saying this in relation to the Celtics series. Even if the Heat did get the benefit of some calls, they still deserved to win. I just mean this in general. Refereeing continues to destroy the NBA product.

And Id love to know why.

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

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

BOSTON –  The NBA has seen its share of early-season injuries, some resulting in guys out for the season (Gordon Hayward) while others missing just a couple games (Al Horford out two games with a concussion).

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And then there’s Kyrie Irving, who suffered a facial fracture that kept him for one game. He was supposed to wear a plastic protective mask for a couple weeks. Instead, it lasted one game and part of another before Irving decided to ditch it.
 
Kyrie’s mask got me to thinking … who are the best masked men in the NBA?
 
Today's Starting Five will include the top 5 masked men in the annals of NBA history, in addition to the top 5 teams, MVP candidates, rookies and defenders:
 
TOP 5 MASKED MEN


1. Rip Hamilton, Detroit – Worn initially for protection, his mask became an iconic look for the three-time All-star.

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – Mask worn in 2012, the last year Bryant appeared in the playoffs.

3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – He looked and played like a superhero in his first game with a mask in 2015, tallying 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Philly.

4. LeBron James – Ever the fashion-forward one, James wore a black, carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose in 2014.

5. Kyrie Irving - He played with a mask for 19 games in 2013, averaging 24.5 points and 47.5 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range.
 
TOP 5 MVP CANDIDATES


1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – The addition of Eric Bledsoe has helped rack up some wins, strengthen Antetokounmpo’s chances atop the MVP leaderboard.

2. Kevin Durant, Golden State – Shooting better than 50 percent from the field, Durant has stepped his passing game (career-high 5.0 assists now) up this season while continuing to pile up the wins.

3. James Harden, Houston – Not having Chris Paul around most of this season and still winning, is a reminder of how Harden has played at a consistently high level against all comers.

4. LeBron James, Cleveland – Three straight wins and the Cavs are well on their way to getting back into the thick of things, with LeBron leading the way.

5. Al Horford, Boston – In his last three games, he’s shooting 76.6 percent and has been a central figure in Boston’s rise to the top of the NBA standings.
 
TOP 5 ROOKIES


1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia - He has eight double-doubles and a pair of triple-doubles to his credit this season. He’s the rookie everyone is chasing now.

2. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas - You have to watch this guy play. Would be getting a lot more pub if the Mavs had a better record.

3. Jayson Tatum, Boston - Had a rough start against the Warriors, but bounced back and made key plays down the stretch helping Boston get the win.

4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers - The late first-round pick has been an absolute Godsend to the Lakers, able to contribute in a multiple of ways.

5. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers - He has been up and down like most rookies. But his court vision alone will keep him on the floor for many years to come.
 
TOP 5 DEFENDERS


1. Al Horford, Boston - He’s the best defender on the NBA’s best team defensively. It makes sense for Horford to be the pace-setter in this category.

2. Rudy Gobert, Utah - A towering presence, this 7-foot-2 big man will once again be a top-3 finisher when it comes to the league’s highest defensive honor.

3. Draymond Green, Golden State - The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Green is the rare player who can defend all five positions at a fairly high level.
 
4.  Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City - His ability to defend guards as well as switch out defensively is a huge plus to the Thunder.
 
5. Aron Baynes, Boston - You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who utilizes the NBA’s rule of verticality  better than Baynes.
 
TOP 5 TEAMS


1. Boston – Winning 14 games, that’s one thing. But to beat Golden State along the journey? That’s special.

2. Golden State – Loss to Boston be damned, the Warriors are still the team everyone emulates … even now.

3. Houston – Can score with the best of them, but until they defend at a high level their success will remain limited primarily to the regular season.

4. Minnesota – It’s still early, but it’s hard to imagine the Timberwolves going anywhere but up the Western Conference standings.

5. Detroit – Outside of Boston, there may not be a bigger surprise in the NBA thus far than Detroit.

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: