Talking With Celtics Blog

Kurt —  December 24, 2008
NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

For a little Christmas Eve treat, I went to the font of all Celtics knowledge, Jeff, the force behind the brilliant Celtics Blog. I asked him a few questions (and I answered a few as well at his site).

Enjoy.

1. What is Rondo drinking and where can I get some? Is the improvement in his game due to some a new wrinkle in his game, or is it just confidence?

The Rondo Cocktail:
1 part experience – I’m a big believer in the concept that most point guards need a couple years to learn the pro game.
1 part familiarity – Everyone talks about the Big Three learning to play with each other. Few think about how well Rondo, Perk, and the bench had to learn their place in the flow of the offense.
1 part Championship swagger – Nobody puts this kid in awe, at least not anymore.
1 part coach’s confidence – He’s not looking over his shoulder anymore. He just runs the show.

Mix all these new ingredients with what he already had last year (speed, quickness, vision, savvy, creativity) and you have what he’s become. One of the best point guards in the league. It sounds odd calling him that without adding “the potential to be” before it. We’ve been waiting on young talent like Perk and Rondo for so long that it is almost surreal to see them realize their potential. There’s no other way to put it, we are all proud of him and we can’t wait to see just how good he can get.

2. Without Posey, how big a concern is depth? I see the starters are playing more minutes than they did last year, at their age how big an issue is that.

The bench has been up and down. Missing Posey definitely takes away a steadying veteran presence. So far during the regular season it hasn’t hurt us in terms of wins and losses (obviously). The true test will come in the postseason. We’ve counted on different players to step up from game to game and that is going to be even more important in the playoffs. There have been a number of games this year where nobody stepped up, so that does put more pressure on the starters. Doc has done a good job for the most part keeping the Big Three’s numbers reasonably down (the season numbers are actually not far off last year’s pace). But it would be nice if the bench could develop more of a rhythm and identity to take some pressure off the starters.

{ed. note, Jeff is right and I was off, the minutes for the big three are basically flat with last year’s season averages.}

3. The Cavs look good, just how concerned is Celtics Nation about them? Any one else that does or should concern you?

The Cavs were a PJ Brown jump shot away from knocking us out of the playoffs last year. This year they look a lot better. They have LeBron. I think most Celtics fans are very confident that we have the best team and we will win another title this year. However, nobody is looking past the Cavs. They are a very legitimate threat and if anyone is going to take us out, it would be them.

Nobody else really comes close. The Pistons are planning for the future. The Magic are good, but somehow they don’t quite click. The Hawks give us fits with their athleticism and matchups, but at the end of the day the Celtics are the better team and that matters in the playoffs.

Kurt

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51 responses to Talking With Celtics Blog

  1. Bring on the Celts! Merry X-mas guys and best of wishes for these holidays!!!

  2. Seeing as how Rondo has developed at a seemingly faster pace than has Farmar, what should the Lakers coaching staff do to mold farmar into an elite point guard? With Fisher’s age, and the prospect of Farmar not becoming an elite PG what are the Laker options at the position for the future? Any thoughts?

  3. I love how Kurt dishes out the compliments, while the C’s Blog is much more degrading:

    1) “Talking With Celtic Blog” vs. “Blogging With The Enemy”

    2) C’s Blog: “I want all Laker fans to receive a huge lump of coal in their stockings in the form of a Celtics stomping. “

  4. I think the tone most blogs is more a reflection of the person(s) who run the blogs. Kurt is known far and wide as an even handed blogger who doesn’t put up with rants and idiot shoutouts. Therefore, what he gets is more measured commentary and a reduction (not elimination) of the one-sided hair pulling.

  5. 2. I’m not sure if Farmar can be the PG we want. They can work to develop his defense and decision making, but at some point we need to accept he may not reach that level. Not that he should be given up on, but the Lakers need to think about this championship window of a few years and how best to get titles in that time.

    Personally, I think we can get an affordable vet free agent PG for the MLE next summer. Look who is available: Kidd, Andre Miller, Mike Bibby, Marquis Daniels, just to name a few. Not saying they are all perfect fits, but I think that is a better way to go unless a great trade falls into our laps.

  6. I’m back from a losing battle against my yearly cold….

    I agree with Kurt about Farmar and our future prospects at PG. Realize that after next season, Fisher’s contract expires and even if Farmar remains a viable contributor to our success, we will still need a PG in our pipeline to be a major contributor. If that’s an internal guy like Sasha or Sun (highly unlikely for both of those guys, imo) then great. If not, we’ll need to look at FA’s because I don’t think we need to draft another young guy and expect his learning curve to coincide with our window, considering the veterans that we have. (On a side note, this is why a small tear came down from my eye when Critt was included in the Gasol deal…he could have been the contributor that we’re looking for next season and for seasons to come. However, I still make that trade every single day and twice on Sundays.)

    As for the Celtics, this is a big game, no doubt. But it’s not the end all be all and is not the deciding game that wins us a title this season, so I think it should be treated accordingly. Will it give us a snapshot of how we measure up? Yes. But, it’s a snapshot in December, not in May or June. How both teams are playing right now may or may not be how both teams are performing come playoff time. And while the Celtics, to their credit, are playing great ball, we have not been playing great ball recently (though I did like last nights game against the Hornets). So, I don’t even see this game as a template for what both teams *potentially* are. It’s a great matchup, and a gift from the league to it’s fans, but beyond that, I’m not putting too much stock into it, pre-game. Talk to me after the game and I might have a different opinion or have some better insight into where everyone stands…

  7. if the lakers lose tomorrow while playing their best it’ll be alright with me, on the otherhand if they lose with little effort and lots of lackadasical D well that’s another story

  8. @Aaron (#3): Don’t take it too serious. We just appreciate the rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics. We just love to hate you… ;-)

  9. I’m looking for a competitive effort. They need to get over any psychological effects left over from last year’s finals…

    Some Laker Christmas tidbits…

    This will 35 times that the Lakers have played on Christmas dating back to 1949.

    This will be the fourth time playing the Celtics.
    (’51 L, ’55 W, ’70 W)

    The Celtics will be playing in their 25th game, only one of those games has been played in Boston.

    The team the Lakers have played the most on Christmas Day is the Suns (6 times)

    Among Laker opponents on Christmas are the Fort Wayne Pistons, Indianapolis Olympians, and the San Diego Rockets.

    In ’88, ’02, and ’03 the Lakers lost on Christmas and won the Championship

  10. I still think an interesting PG choice would be Luke. He knows the offense inside and out, passes freely, can (sometimes) make the open shot when his defender sags. He’s a liability on defense anywhere on the floor, so at least having a massive size advantage over opposing PGs against teams that are dumb enough not to switch defensively would be less of a liability, not to mention his sweet post game (read: lobs to Bynum/Gasol, with the odd layup mixed in) against opposing PGs/SGs.

    If they do defensively switch, then Kobe or whoever’s at the 3-spot will be covered by the opposing PG, giving them a nice defensive mismatch also most nights.

    In addition to all that, it gets rid of the logjam at the 3 so Vlad and Ariza can split time there. But I’ve been seeing Luke as a triangle PG since his rookie season. It fits his skillset and Phil likes big guards. A Walton/Kobe/Ariza/Odom/Gasol lineup would be a nightmare to defend–sweet passing, 5 (okay, I’m being generous, 4) three-point shooters, 5 inside presences, quality rebounding from everyone on the floore, and 1-4 could effectively switch up defensively against almost any lineup in the league aside from the really big 4s.

  11. Aaron (#3),

    That’s just how the typical Celtics fan (and New England fan in general is). You have to realize that most of them are new.

  12. Hey it’s me, Rondo, I was wondering what the plan is for defending me on Christmas day, so you don’t get Rondo’d like so many of our recent opponents?

    Happy Holidays.

  13. I agree, props to Kurt for being so complimentary and even going on the Celts blog and refusing to rise to some of the petty things said. It’s not necessarily Celts fans specifically, I’ve seen it everywhere – this blog truly is unique in being pretty even-handed.

    I was thinking about why it seems like Kobe is driving less this year, and I had a weird thought. What if he’s doing so purposefully, with thoughts on a rematch with the Celts? What I mean is this – last year showed Kobe that there is a team capable of blocking his driving lanes. If his jumpshot had fallen, the series might have been different. Maybe he’s slowly trying to remake his game so that he’s used to relying on the jumpshot, so that if he has to revert to it against the Celts, it’ll be an easier transition. Yeah, I know it was a weird thought.

    6 – Darius, good to have you back, really sucks that you have a cold at this time of year. Hope you feel better by tomorrow.

    Happy holidays to everyone!

  14. 11 – I think the plan is to send a man to trap and swarm you as much as possible. Will it work? Doubtful, because you’ve played out of your mind recently, and because we also have to pay that Big 3 attention, so we can’t focus on you like we did Chris Paul. There’s only so much you can do against a guy playing at Rondo’s level.

  15. I love how one championship in 20+ years brings out the trolls. where where these guys when Pierce was going at it alone?

  16. I see NBAtv is playing all six finals games from last year starting at 8pm tonight, and then again at 8am tomorrow. Putting family/holday obligations aside, who is ready to rewatch that series. The very thought of it makes my stomach drop. It would nicely ratchet up the intensity and expectations heading into an already epic game, though. Not sure if I’m prepared to have so much of my christmas day mood affected by the outcome of a december regular season game – but such is the lot of a laker fan.

    Back to last night – I thought we defended Paul and West reall well, which took them out of their preferred options on offense. Doing so came at the expense of leaving their wings constantly open for jumpers, but I agree that we can live with that. However, this underscores how critical Peja is to the Hornets. It’s much harder to negate Paul and West when Peja is roaming out there, as opposed to Butler, Brown, and Posey.

    Re the future PG situation. I think Farmar can develop into a slightly below average starting PG – something like the 20th best in the league (near Fisher territory). The problem is his skills are almost totally weighted towards scoring (he really has the complete scoring PG skill set – 3 point and midrange shooting, penetration and finishing), while the team presumably needs defense and passing from the position. I’d LOVE to sign Kidd for the midlevel and have him split with fisher/farmar. He’ll only shoot when necessary (a major plus given our higher efficiency options), is servicable from 3, would make the game easier for Kobe and our bigs, and, while too slow to defend speedy PGs, can effectively guard wings if Ariza takes the Paul/Parker/Deron types. He also just has the maturity and experience to do the little things and not shrink from intense moments. I know team building is silly in the middle of a promising season, but I’ve nevertheless been thinking about this for a while.

  17. As a staunch Phoenix supporter, I am refreshed to see that there actually are some Lakers fans who can have an intelligent basketball conversation, especially when the subject is the Celtics. As an impartial judge who really dislikes both teams, I would have to say the Lakers have the more mature bloggers. Now if we could ever have a similar healthy respect for the San Antonio Sterns ~cough~ sorry i meant Spurs, we might really be getting somewhere.

  18. I do not think Walton at PG is a good idea. Actually I think Walton on the bench is more appropriate. Obviously we have problems with fast penetration from opposing guards. What we need most from a PG is to be fast and stay in front of their opponents. Luke is one of the slowest guys on this team.

    Sasha is a perfect for this need only. He is fast and tries to run all over with opposing player while trying to stick his hands in the other player’s face. Not to forget that he is one of our best three shooters. It all comes down to his IQ

  19. Breaking news from Los Angeles, confirmed by Gary Vitti:

    The Staples Center medical staff has ordered 12 state-of-the-art, high quality wheelchairs for any Celtics player that may need one tomorrow. C’s fans can sleep sound tonight.

  20. @Mamula (#18): And that is where it get’s nasty. Not that I have seen to much of Vujacic, but the few times I saw him he looked more like a natural gunner, not like someone I would trust with running the offense.

  21. I think the Celtics win by a blow-out or the Lakers win a close one. As long the Lakers have Luke Walton on the floor guarding Paul Pierce they will get badly out-played. Luke Turn-Over cannot play defense, he cannot shoot, so the Celtics can easily double team Kobe or Pau and force him to shoot. He cannot dribble against athletic teams, as witnessed by Chris Paul picking him twice, and his blocked layup. I cant understand why this guy is in the league. Maybe he has compromising photos of Phil J? Ditto goes for V Rad. In my humble opinion I think the best move would be to put Ariza on Pierce and then when the game dictates put him on Rondo. I would like to see Powell get some quality minutes as well. To solve the point problem, put Kobe at the point and go from there.

  22. Is it me or do the Lakers have the whitest team in the league?

  23. As a Celtics fan, we see you as a huge rival and the taunting and stuff is all in fun. Sort of like some of the comments you see here or on lakersground.

  24. To the idea of getting Kidd, I must scream a resounding “No!” I cannot see a less ideal PG for the triangle, for our needs at this time. He cannot be relied on from 3 in the playoffs, one of his famous cold spells could doom us in a series. His rebounding is not particularly needed, with our deep front line. His defense is simply awful at this point, well below average, even among bigger players. He’s only a shell of who he once was. He could potentially help our 2nd unit fastbreak more, but that’s the only benefit I see. His time with the Mavs (especially last year, when they didn’t break every opportunity) has convinced me that he would be an awful fit in LA.

    Although, it’s hard to see an ideal PG out there. To me, Fish last year was ideal for our team. Scorching shooting, hard-nosed leadership. Bibby doesn’t seem like a great fit, he doesn’t play well off the ball. I hope this isn’t trade talk (I’m not pushing for a trade), but the PG I like most out there is Delonte West, for our system. Someone in Fisher’s mold, that’s what we need. Plays well off the ball, great spot-up shooter, unfazed by pressure situations, hard-nosed defender.

    I do think Sasha is our best option at PG right now. I think all he needs his a bit more playing time to get back into last year’s groove. The only key is that he has to play within his game, and not lose his head and force the issue.

    One of the things that hasn’t been talked about enough is our youth. I think that’s where the lack of mental toughness comes from. I loved Fisher’s steadying influence last year, and if we’re talking championship window, another solid vet might help.

    Can anyone see Horry, Fox, Shaw shying away in a series with Boston? Like Tex Winter said, our younger players lose confidence if they don’t play well.

    God, I would love to put Fox on Pierce, his strength would give him a great shot at PP. My prediction is that Kobe and Ariza will struggle with Pierce because of the strength disadvantage, but Fox would be a great fit for him. I love our youth, but sometimes I get nostalgic for our old veterans.

  25. Lakers guard Jordan Farmar will have surgery on today Wednesday to repair the torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Clarence Shields of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Group.Farmar was injured in Friday’s loss to the Miami Heat. He flew home in the middle of the Lakers four-game road trip on Sunday. On Monday, two doctors confirmed the initial diagnosis and recommended surgery.

  26. Starting line-ups December 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Starters?

    BOS LAL

    Rondo Fisher
    R. Allen Bryant
    Pierce Walton
    KG Gasol
    Perkins Bynum

    Do you think this is accurate, and if so is the Lakers only clear advantage at SG?

  27. Im picking the Celts tommorow to win, but I think its gonna be a really close game, the Lakers are gonna give them all they can handle.

  28. Starting Line-ups,

    KG vs. Pau would be at least a push. Pau’s length gives “Mr. 18 ft. Jumper” KG a problem. And Pau can score on KG. it was Perk who gave Pau some trouble, not KG.

  29. Pau actually scores in the post, like PF’s are supposed to.

  30. Breaking news from Los Angeles, confirmed by Gary Vitti:

    The Staples Center medical staff has ordered 12 state-of-the-art, high quality wheelchairs for any Celtics player that may need one tomorrow. C’s fans can sleep sound tonight.

  31. Props to most of the Celts fans (and the Suns fan) who’ve posted on here so far. Intelligent discussion is always welcome.

    I wasn’t criticizing the small taunts like the “Blogging with the Enemy” or stuff like that, I thought that was kind of funny. I agree no one should take things too seriously. It’s just that you won’t find a post here about “Most Hated Opposed Player” with creative names like Vujab****. That’s the difference I see.

    All I want tomorrow is to see Bynum attack Perkins. Play hard, tough, physical. Don’t shy away from contact. Those massive shoulders Bynum spent building up aren’t all that great unless he starts using them.

  32. Regarding Sasha’s ability to push the ball up and dribble, I do not think it will be a big problem. Against Hornets, either Kobe or LO was moving the ball when Sasha was in the game. We, as Lakers fans, do not really recognize that part of Lamar’s game.

  33. 17 and counting,

    About 13 of your titles came in an 6-8 team NBA. No free agency. Big deal. Your 17 counts for about 8 in real life.

  34. Let me stop. I feel like a troll. I feel obligated to protect our turf, though.

    Happy holidays to all. I’m going to enjoy my night. Talk to you after the game.

  35. I think the biggest mismatch is Rondo vs Fisher. Rondo is 10 times better than the last time we saw him.

  36. Kobe is better than Ray, but Ray hates Kobe (and vice versa) and played him as well as anybody in the playoffs (and outplayed him in the series). This year, Ray is healthy (he was playing with bone spurs in both ankles), where as Kobe has been in an obvious slump. I wouldn’t say Kobe is a “clear advantage” over Ray. A clear advantage in what Kobe can do vs what Ray can do, but not a clear advantage man to man, like Pierce vs any Laker SF.

  37. 35. what? Pierce had to cover Kobebean in the finals…. but Kobe was dominated any way you look at it.

  38. I think our clear advantage is Gasol/Bynum/Odom vs Garnett/Perkins/Powe. It comes down to how we play the game.

    We do not have to be very tough and aggressive, but just enough. Our front court is too skilled to not be able to score on the Celts.
    Boston has not yet played a team with the quality of the Lakers. Cleveland lost on the first night and they were definitely not ready. San Antonio has been coming off age only recently and there are no other teams in the league that belong to the top quality category.
    Furthermore, Celts have gotten used to blowing their opponents off by suffocating them defensively and scoring in bunches at the beginning of games and maintaining momentum.
    It will be interesting to see how will the Celts bigs swallow the fact that Pau and Drew (hopefully) will score on them more frequently than has been the case with other Celts competitors. Foul trouble and Free Throw disparity will be crucial in this game in my opinion. And Perkins and Powe, KG too to a lesser extent, can get into foul trouble easily because they rely on aggressive plays.

    I want to see what Paul Pierce will bring. He has been really coasting it lately, scoring in lower teens and playing less than 28 minutes. I do not think that PP will be guarded by anyone other than Kobe. And I hope Kobe eats him :) D-Fish can run around with Ray Allen and Ariza is athletic/strong enough to stay with Rondo.

  39. Although tomorrow’s match-up is just a regular season game played in December rather than an NBA Finals game played in June, I think the contest is very significant. When the Lakers were destroyed in Game 6 last year, there was quite a spirited debate on this board whether the Lakers, as currently constituted, would ever be able to defeat the Celtics in a 7-game playoff series. Many took the view that we had reason for tremendous optimism because we surpassed expectations without Bynum and Ariza, and both were returning to the hardwood this season. Others – myself included – questioned whether the team was fundamentally flawed because of an inherent lack of mental fortitude and toughness that cannot be learned. For me, tomorrow’s game will provide an answer – perhaps not a final answer, but nevertheless a telling one. If I recall correctly, many people dismissed the significance of the Lakers’ two bad regular season losses to the Celtics last year, but those games provided an unfortunate and all-too-accurate preview of the way the Celtics manhandled us in the Finals. Neither the Lakers nor the Celtics might be the same exact teams tomorrow that they will be in June, but their fundamental cores — passion, intensity, desire, commitment to team D — probably won’t change.

    So, paraphrasing what J.A. Adande said in his Daily Dime today, just because the Lakers’ roster (with Bynum and Ariza) is different today than it was last June, it doesn’t mean that roster is BETTER. I think tomorrow will be a good indication as to whether it is or isn’t. Here’s to hoping that what is new truly is better.

  40. As long as Rondo doesn’t get into the lane and Lakers wings (yes, you Kobe) don’t give help in the lane when defending on the strong side (leading to open 3 pointers from the opposing wings), we have a good shot at it.

    People talk about PG penetration (1. problem) and weak side help + defensive rotation (2. problem), but our 2nd problem is strong side help. I was watching the Florida Tour and only Radman was staying with his man on the wing, as you are supposed to. Kobe and the others were collapsing into the paint and leaving a free man on the 3pt line with an open pass lane, which lead to a lot of 3′s against us. So, I HOPE that we don’t do that with Pierce and Allen. Weak side help is not as bad…

    Also, we’re talking about offense when our main concern is defense. Bynum is not boxing out at all and we are overlooking it for some reason.

    Now, what I would like to see early on, would be a hard foul on KG (flagrant if needed) to set up some spark. He’s their alpha dog with the chest pounding and the insane act… But he actually settles down a lot when someone’s barking back. LO is the only Laker I see who would be able to do so, and to send a message across, why not do it early on?

    (My first basketball memory is from a certain Lakers-Celtics Finals and Rambis getting clotheslined…)

  41. Kurt’s tone in the exchange juxtaposed against Jeff Clark’s is something worth noting. I work with three transplanted Celtics fans, and two of them are more or less like Clark was there–the other one is cool.

    As to the game, I will be looking at how they match up and what they try to do with Pierce and Rondo in particular. I hope to see some zone, and I want to see Odom and Ariza on Pierce and Bryant on Rondo. And, like everyone else, I will be looking at intensity and effort.

    Back to the famliy and holidays and best to all.

  42. Tomorrow will be a good game imo and I am looking forward to it. This blog has to be one of the best out here, no doubt about it.

    Recognize the joy of life and the preciousness of existence, everyday is valuable. Have a good year next year and celebrate the ending of this year all in joy.

  43. Just curious but when has Bynum been a scoring machine this year? Do you really see Gasol outplaying KG? Odom on the other hand is a wild card, I can see him performing well.

  44. Robinred I noticed the difference in tone too. You can see the same theme played out in the comments section of celticsblog – according to them it’s all said and done and the only question is how much they will win by.

    On a side note, one of my first comments on this blog came a few days ago and centered on Kobe’s lack of leadership skills. Since then he has called a players only meeting and the teams effort was much better as a result. I hope he continues to prove me wrong and maintains this throughout the year.

    Garnett’s getting a lump of coal in his stocking this christmas.

  45. the other Stephen December 25, 2008 at 2:49 am

    so at this point, are the celtics the evil empire, or are we the evil empire?

  46. Stephen,

    Regarding the evil empire comment… There’s 28 other teams in the NBA who wish they could have the type of storied history that the Celtics and Lakers possess. I’m sure there’s fans of neither team who’d agree that you could share that title.

  47. We’re the whitest team with the blackest(mamba) having the personal of Darth Vader, so yeah, we’re the evil empire.

    C’s, are more like the wookies or the other little tree-house gremlin-like creatures, those with interesting gadgets like the wheelchair… oops.

    Anyway, regardless of the outcome, having an intense regular season game is a blessing to all involved. It’s going to be fun.

  48. The Leprechauns are coming to LA on a roll, having flim-flammed and taunted much of the NBA with exaggerated stats in the win column. Don’t be fooled. The Ponzi scheme will be exposed.

    KG talks the talk, but this time Pau gets his full attention. He may get on the plane back to Beantown on all fours, flummoxed, realizing that he needs to learn a little Spanish with a Castillean accent when four letter epithets don’t work.

    Perk’s going to find that Andrew is suddenly all grown up the hard way.

    Pierce will lose to the Laker changes of pace like a wounded wrestler in a tag team match. Luke, VladRad, and Trevor will dance in his head-before Kobe puts him away.

    Rondo comes in as Bob Cousy, but will return home as Blue Rondo a la Turk, trapped and frazzled.

    Ray Allen’s shooting slump of last year will start up today. Sasha may give him some three point surprises.

    Their bench has gotten shorter, with their former 6th man Poseying for a team that the Lakers dominated a few days ago. The Lakers new 6th man should Lamar their rotations a bit at both ends of the court–and the transitions in between.

    I won’t be surprised by the opening of my Christmas present one bit this year. Santa knows his stuff.

    The Lakers will help both Leprechauns and Celtic fans acquire something that they badly need: humility.

  49. the other Stephen December 25, 2008 at 9:35 am

    23. and 48. the pacers and raptors are probably whiter.

    49. BLUE RONDO A LA TURK! speak the truth, brother drrayeye.

    i’m so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!