Noticeable difference in last night's Celtics win:
Boston has Paul Pierce
Atlanta does not have Paul Pierce
...and there you go.
Okay, the Hawks were playing without their best player (Josh Smith, who is out for 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain) and did lose the guy replacing him during the game (Zaza Pachulia)...and none of this I really care about. Trust me, the Hawks are going to get by without Smith, although that is a big loss for them. They still have Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Al Horford, Mike Bibby (who I'm convinced Boston fans will boo until he retires), and, introducing, Flip Murray. So, this team will be able to probably maintain for the month Smith will be out.
Okay, with all that being said, what a win last night for the C's, their sixth in a row. Paul Pierce does it again...I really don't see any way of stopping him late in a game. It doesn't even matter who they're playing. It's just absolute ridiculousness...insanity if you will. Here we are with like three seconds left after Marvin Williams appears to hit the "dagger" three-pointer (by the way, when did he become the perimeter threat on that team?...4/4 from three?...interesting), thinking that it might be too late to pull off an heroics...and then...boom goes the dynamite (interesting note how it was Ray Allen inbounding to Kevin Garnett, who then handed it off to Paul Pierce for the winner...the Big Three strike again!). Speaking of Garnett...you think he likes this whole winning thing? I commented last night to my Dad that it could be a preseason game when the C's are up by 20, or a Game 7 when the score is tied...and he would have the exact same intensity. Some have described it as "scary"...I like to think that he is one of the biggest "gamers" I have ever seen...and scary too, I have to admit that. Leon Powe is an absolute animal down low. Getting offensive fouls, crashing the boards, getting to the line...he is a super-sub. Rajon showed improvement at the line, although that is a glaring weakness in his game. He also came through with a late jump shot in a critical point in the game, but still, the guy is not going to be like Kenny Anderson to give you 15 a game. Then again, in this offense, he really doesn't have to. All they ask Rondo is to play aggressive defense and to distribute the ball...my only concern is that he's been getting hit so hard in the first nine games that you have to wonder how long he can hold up continuing his ultra-aggressive style in terms of penetrating the lane. He's a big kid for a point guard, but going up against 240-25o pounders under the basket is still going to be a tall order for him the rest of the season. Great passing last night by everyone as well...even Big Baby had a great dish to Eddie House for a wide-open three. This is just a fun team to watch.
Speakin of fun to watch, the Bruins kept on their recent hot streak with a shootout win last night in Chicago (in terms flipping back and forth between two games, it did not get much better in terms of entertainment than C's/Hawks and B's/'Hawks...I know, two hawks...again, interesting). Tim Thomas was absolutely stellar in net, stopping 31 of 32 including a penalty shot in the extra frame. P.J. Axelsson, who, without looking this up, has to be the longest tenured Bruin, scored the winner in the shootout. Great action up and down the ice last night. Lots of good hits (most of them being turned in by Chicago). I was impressed by Nikolai Khabibulan in net last night as well (took me 30 seconds to get the name right...I know you're curious). The B's came in with some heavy fire, and he only allowed one to get by like Thomas. The one concern I guess I had last night was the power play, even though the one goal we got in regualtion was a PPG (power play goal). At times, I had to double check to make sure if we were still a man up or if the Blackhawks were back at even strength...and that's never a good thing when two teams are going up and down despite one being a man down. Other than that, this team boasts like ten guys who have flown under the collective radar and are making huge impacts on this team (Lucic, Wheeler, Wideman, Ference, Krecji, Sturm, Ryder to name seven). Really good stuff. It's one thing to have superstars like Zdeno Chara (NHL's opinion, not my own...never been a big fan...although he did knock a guy down with one punch last night...that was pretty damn funny) and Marc Savard (better believe he's in the elite), but to have the collection of guys on the different lines like the B's have...put it this way: the hot start, expect that to hold up for quite a while.
Alright, big game tonight: Pats/Jets (before I get into this, I just want to express my graditude to the NFL Network for putting this game on local TV so at least I have the option of staying at home if nothing works out...I have found out, however, that being a "fan," in the fanatical sense like I am during a Pats game with my parents around is quite the challenge (if you haven't seen this in person, it's quite a show of emotion...God help you if Wes has a big game)). Again, Brett Favre does not have the big numbers like som quarterbacks do, but in my opinion, right now, he is the MVP not only of his team, but of the league. Look, after the Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens fiasco from last year, the Jets were toiling on the brink of becoming the Dolphins of this year. But with Favre under center, and a revitalized Kris Jenkins anchoring an above-average defense, the Jets are tied with the Pats at 6-3 atop the division. Kudos. Also, you have to love the move of getting Ty Law before the game. This is desperation time, and I'm pretty sure that the Jets are fully aware that this is going to be their best shot at winning the division in the last decade, so why not pull out all the stops? This is especially true considering Tom Brady is back in Foxboro rehabbing, which means if he is good to go next season, you're looking at the Pats winning the East by five games at least (I said it). Honestly, I love the circumstances of this game. The short week really favors no one, because both teams have both youth and age on their teams, which I'm pretty sure affects them the same way. Plus, the Jets are coming off a game they scored 47 points in, including 40 in the first half, meaning there is only one way for them to go (that would be down if you were curious). Plus, it seems like the offense is coming into stride with the emergence of the "Law Firm" (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) running, and Matt Cassel looking like he has his head attached to his body in the pocket. They have been able to survive without utilizing the deep ball, something I have been calling for since...I don't know...Week 3? In any event, all this means is more Wes Welker...you know I don't have any problem with that (on that note, Josh McDaniels: Hey, let's keep the bubble screens to Welker to one okay? I think teams are sniffing it out). Also, the defense is coming into its own. Again, I have to point out Jerod Mayo's improving play week-to-week. Rivers going to Cincinnati could have been a blessing in disguise for this team. The Jets O-Line is probably the most underrated in all of football, which explains why Thomas Jones is having a resurrgeance this season. It will be tough blitzing Favre because...well, he's Brett Favre. He's really, really good...still. So, it will be a tall order for the secondary tonight to try and contain Lavernues Coles, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery (one of like 10 players in the NFL I would die to have on the Patriots...I feel a list coming on...)
Top 10 Players I Would Die To Have On The Patriots (of course, I'm keeping this reasonable...I would love to have Champ Bailey, but I'm looking at more feasible options here):
- Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona
- Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego
- Chris Cooley, TE, Washington
- Keith Bulluck, LB, Tennessee
- Jerricho Cotchery, WR, New York Jets
- Jon Beason, LB, Carolina
- Dunta Robinson, CB, Houston (yeah, like I was going to go a list without anything USC related)
- Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland
- Chris Hope, S, Tennessee
- Mike Peterson, LB, Jacksonville (yes, even with all the insubordination)
Alright, the dentist is calling (hopefully after the cleaning, maybe some employers would do the same?...please?), but I'll leave you with some quick picks for Saturday (quick note: I can't help but notice how incredibly lame the weekend's docket of game are outside of USC/Florida):
- Maryland (+2.5) over UNC
- BYU (-6) over Air Force
- South Florida (-7) over Rutgers
- USC (+21) over Florida