Answering a few question about the Boston Celtics, fresh off Wednesday's 117-97 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks. With the win, the Celtics snapped a franchise-record streak of 18 straight losses
Showing some Celtic pride
The streak is over. And the euphoria over its demise should die down quickly. Do you believe in passing around the blame?
Yes. I like Doc Rivers as a coach. He has taken a lot of heat. I liked Danny Ainge's statement that Rivers is safe and "our guy." What that says to all the players -- you've got to listen to this guy. Secondarily, it says we're all to blame -- he's not the one who missed a free throw, and he's not the one who brought in the players -- what that said is that we're all in this together.
You have to decide if being .500 is good enough. The Celtics have to ask themselves if they think they have enough of an upside with young players to become a championship-level team. It appears that because of their youth the Celtics have flexibility, but soon you're going to have to pay those young players in order to keep developing what you believe is their potential.
In the win over the Bucks, Gerald Green, headed for the All-Star slam dunk contest, showed his catch-and-shoot skills, and Al Jefferson is already a fairly regular double-double guy with a nice running hook. Toss in Ryan Gomes, Rajon Rondo and Delonte West when considering the future. What do you think of them?
They have some young players who have marketability, but they don't have another Pierce in the pipeline. It really is arguable how good these guys are. Are they future stars in this league? Are they role players? Are they parts of a good team? These are legitimate questions.
Does Ainge think more of his players than the rest of the league does in trade discussions?
Ainge values his young players highly -- as any GM should. He picked them.
Are the Celtics likely to deal anybody soon?
It's difficult to do anything until you know if you're going to get one of the top two picks from the ping pong balls in the draft lottery.
Will Pierce remain forever green?
That's the question. Pierce is 29, and heading toward the end of his superstar reign. I love him as a player, but then you wonder at what point is he going to become frustrated (like Iverson), and at what point is he not going to be the same player. Very tough call.
Care to dispense some philosophy the C's can use next time they start floundering?
Winning is a habit, and on the flip side, losing is a habit. You may play well at different times, but if you have overriding feeling that you'll end up losing, you will. Then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially for a young team. This is basically a young team. Very difficult to break that pattern of losing.
Winning can be just as contagious, right?
When you're in the habit of winning, even when you're 20 down, it just happens. You win. Basketball is game where we talk in percentages of how much the game is mental. Well, I think these streaks are all mental, since it's been proven that worst team can beat the best team. The Suns and Mavs have been in habit of winning this season. Detroit now is in the habit as well. The Celtics need to get in that winning habit.
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Jazz guard Deron Williams (33 points, 12 assists) is fouled by Cavs forward Donyell Marshall (24) during the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's game. The Jazz beat the Cavaliers 99-98.
1. James Posey, Heat
Joe Johnson was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, replacing the injured Jason Kidd. Kidd is one of five All-Stars who will be inactive for Sunday's game in Las Vegas, joining Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer and Allen Iverson. The only other season in which as many five players were selected as All-Stars but did not participate was 1996-97, when the absentees were Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal.
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Pierce's 32 Helps End Ignominy
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Spurs guard Tony Parker drives past Chris Webber of the Pistons during San Antonio's 90-81 win in Detroit.
Quote of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
With starters Richard Jefferson and Nenad Krstic out because of injury, you'd think scoring would be a major focus for the Nets. Regular starters Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and the gang have stepped it up a bit. In fact, the only starter who hasn't is Jason Collins. Collins has scored a total of 26 points in 14 games since Jefferson's injury. Collins started his 51st game on Wednesday against the Raptors. He's averaging 2.5 points this season and has a total of 13 points in the past nine games (going scoreless in four of those games).
-- ESPN Research
Greetings from Las Vegas, where I exited my hotel with its 16-story portraits of Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas and drove past a Statue of Liberty (at the New York New York hotel) clad in an Eastern Conference All-Star jersey to track down a former NBA player drawing not one, not two, not three, but four paychecks.
Yes, Jerome Williams is still getting paid handsomely, but all that money is not the only thing enriching his life.
On Tuesday, as the rest of the NBA counted down the last couple days before the All-Star break, Williams was hard at work trying to make a difference in the lives of about 100 youngsters who gathered at the YMCA of Southern Nevada for the kickoff of the league's newest community relations initiative, NBA Fit (link is www.nba.com/fit).