Friday, May 21, 2010

A Hiatus From Inside Boston Sports

Dear loyal readers,

I have been scooped off of the waiver wire my friends. Your beloved blog for Boston sports will be taking a break for the foreseeable future, as I have taken a position with another blog.

I will be joining and will be contributing with roughly three posts per week. This is an up in coming site as they have found a niche combining analysis of current events in Boston sports with perspective on past events.

The past several years have been tremendous for Boston sports as we have established ourselves as the greatest sports city in America. This site will help remind you of our successes even in the event of blowing 3-0 series leads or getting ousted in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

I hope you are able to follow my work over at Boston Sports Then and Now. Please feel free to keep in touch with me via Twitter @inbostonsports and if you are craving for my take on anything Boson sports.

Thank you for a great ten months here at Inside Boston Sports.

Until we meet again.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red Sox Sit at 20-20

 Beckett landed on the DL today to add injury to insult thus far.

I have admittedly been avoiding writing about the Red Sox the past 7-10 days. With so much going on with the Celtics and Bruins, coupled with the inconsistency of the Sox, it's been tough to get a grasp on what points to touch upon.

As a whole, the team has been inconsistent. The pitching, which is supposed to be the team's strong suit, is atrocious. They currently have the highest ERA in the American League (4.89) and have dished out the third most walks (160). Starters Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have been a pain to watch and John Lackey has been inconsistent. In the bullpen, Terry Francona can't trust anyone in a big situation outside of Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard and even these two have been have been susceptible to giving up the long ball early on.

Mike Lowell, the good soldier, is starting to talk his way out of town too asking for his release. In New York the past couple of days he saw the writing on the wall after David Ortiz was penciled in against lefty C.C. Sabathia. Now that Ortiz is getting hot, Lowell's small role as the DH against lefties appears to be fading. Lowell has only started 21 of the team's 40 games thus far and the aging veteran hasn't been asked to do much for this team since they acquired Victor Martinez last July.

There are too many loose parts on this team right now. They has been very inconsistent and it's impossible to pinpoint the problem. At 20-20, the Sox are reaching that point of the season where they will find out whether they are contenders or pretenders.

Celtics Take 2-0 Lead; Head Home

Pierce had the hot hand tonight.

The Celtics took down the Orlando Magic tonight 95-92 in enemy territory for the team's second straight road win. Led by Paul Pierce (28 points) and Rajon Rondo (25), the Celtics continued to defer to the hot hands.

When previewing the series, we focused on the necessity of the Celtics to rebound the basketball. Tonight the Celtics out rebounded the Magic 38-36 and when they do that they will be tough to beat. Five Celtics players chipped in with five plus boards on the evening and it will take a team effort storming the glass to out rebound the Magic.

The C's were up most of the game, but the Magic showed resilience and stuck around. However, the Celtics made some key free throws down the stretch and Orlando missed some clutch ones of their own (Vince Carter).

Despite the fact that Kevin Garnett (5-16 FGs) and Ray Allen (1-6) were not able to find their range, the Celtics were able to overcome their offensive inefficiencies on the night. In particular, Glen "Big Baby" Davis played 28 inspired minutes off of the bench. With all of the foul trouble the big men faced trying to guard Dwight Howard (30 points), Davis chipped in with an efficient 8 points and 6 rebounds while drawing some key charging fouls on Orlando.

The series will shift back to Boston for a Saturday night showdown at The Garden. The Celtics cannot let up. This Orlando team has held around and the team must continue to play inspired basketball against a now desperate Magic squad.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Celtics Take Game 1 in Orlando

A frustrated Howard.

Despite the Orlando's best attempt at a 20-point comeback, the Celtics held off the Magic this afternoon by a score of 92-88. The Celtics came out playing remarkable defense and held the rusty Magic to just 32 first half points. They forced turnover after turnover and continuously contested the Magic's shots.

However, the Celtics became complacent with the large lead as we have come to see. Their offense slowed down from their productive ball movement set to a possession style that attempted to milk the shot clock. As a result, the Magic led by Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and J.J. Redick clawed their way back and made it interesting. The Celtics' lead though was too much for the Magic to overcome and the Celtics took the first game of the series.

Paul Pierce and Ray Allen picked up the slack today on the offensive end on a day where Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett were quiet. Pierce and Allen combined to go 14-24 from the field, 4-8 from downtown, and 15-17 from the line on their way to 47 points. RR and KG couldn't find their strokes and they were a combined 8-28 on their shot attempts.

Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace did an impeccable job of shutting down Superman Dwight Howard making him look more like Lois Lane. Their great D allowed the Celtics to guard the big man one on one, as they held to just 13 points (3-10 FGs, 7-12 FTs) and seven turnovers. Wallace in particular did a good job of getting in Howard's head, as was evident by their mix up in the second quarter that resulted in a double technical foul.

Adjustments have to be made. That Magic played very poorly for three quarters today and the Celtics were the beneficiary of their lackluster play. Orlando was 5-22 from three point range and that very low percentage is not in line with their record breaking three point offense. This team can make the three ball and will not miss as many open shots as they did today.

The long layoff definitely hurt the Magic. They were rusty and did not look like a team that had won 27 of their last 30 games. Tuesday night is a big game for the Celtics, as they try and hand the Magic back to back losses for the first time since January.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Conference Finals Preview: Celtics vs. Magic

The Celtics, fresh off of their six game series win over the Cavs, now will face the streaking Orlando Magic. The Magic have won all eight of their playoff games and they are winners of 14 straight.

In the regular season, the Magic beat the Celtics in three of their four games. However, this isn't the same Celtics team as the regular season, as we have come to see. Rajon Rondo has turned it into another gear and Kevin Garnett is playing his best basketball since the teams' championship run two years ago.

This is a DEEP Orlando team though; much deeper than the Cavs. They have a well rounded starting five and a very capable bench with starting caliber players.

Here are our keys to the series:
  1. Get Dwight Howard in foul trouble. Howard has averaged 4.75 fouls in eight playoff games and has been one of the many vocal about the NBA's officials. It's crucial to keep Howard, the league's Defensive Player of the Year, off of the floor. He is averaging 11.25 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game in the playoffs and the C's would rather have his back up Marcin Gortat on the floor. Hopefully Kendrick Perkins and his knees are up to the task of limiting Howard.
  2. Rebound the basketball. This is becoming a repetitive key for the Celtics, but they must continue to battle the boards after finishing second to last in the league this season. The Magic were the fifth best rebounding team in the Association this past year and rebounding will go a long way in determining the outcomes of these games.
  3. Guard the Perimeter. The Celtics are coming off of a match up with the Cavs that saw Cleveland shoot very poorly from thee point range. However, the Magic are lethal from downtown. They are hitting 11.1 of their 29 attempts in the playoffs and they led the league with 10.3 makes per game in the regular season. Every player outside of the team's centers have outside range, so the Celtics must step up and contest the many threes the Magic will put up. For what it's worth, the Celtics were fourth best in the league in the regular season, giving up just 5.6 threes per game.
This is a daunting task for the C's. The Magic are a deep team and are playing well, but so are the Celtics.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

The Puck Stops Here

After all of the ups and downs of the Bruins season, they still had a legitimate shot at reaching the Conference Finals. With a commanding 3-0 lead in the first period, the Flyers fought back as they did all series to make it a 3-3 game heading into the third period.

Then a crucial error deep into the third period did the Bruins in. With both teams firing back and forth in a fast pace and physical final period, the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice. Vladimir Sobotka skated off of the bench and found himself on the ice with five other skaters. Unfortunately, with seven minutes left in a tie game the refs whistled the penalty after letting the teams play. The Flyers capitalized with a goal by Bruins killer Simon Gagne that was the eventual game winner.

Perhaps the Bruins were complacent with their 3-0 series lead. However, the true turning point in the series was the hit on the Bruins leading scorer David Krejci in game four that broke his wrist and sidelined him for the rest of the series. The Bruins never truly retaliated after the brutal open ice hit and their offense certainly was stagnant from then on. Not to mention, the Bruins lost center Marco Sturm earlier in the series.

Only the truest optimists believed that the Bruins would be in a great position to head into the quarter finals of the NHL season after they snuck into the playoffs as the six seed. Fans would have been happy with a series win because this team, without a legitimate goal scorer like Phil Kessel, just wasn't a legit Stanley Cup contender.

This team got us going though. They took down the Buffalo Sabers and they looked poised to take down the Flyers. Then the team ran out of steam. Claude Julien's trademark team defense became sloppy and the passion to win turned into complacency.

No doubt, this was an epic collapse. No one expected this team to be in the situation they were in, but the fact is they were. Now one of three NHL team's to blow 3-0 series leads, the Bruins are in the wrong side of the history books.

We'll let this settle in.

Check back next week for a Bruins off-season preview.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Celtics Take Down LeBron and the Caveliers

What a team win tonight. The Celitcs buckled down and took care of business at home to send the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Doc Rivers and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau had a defensive plan and they made great in game adjustments tonight. The C's held the Cavs to 38% shooting and they forced 22 turnovers. Mo Williams torched the Celtics for 20 first half points, but the team adjusted and held the streaky guard to just two second half points. LeBron James had a monster triple double of 27/19/10, but he turned the ball over 9 times and made just eight of his 21 shot attempts. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Tony Allen combined with timely help defense from Kevin Garnett and others flustered James all night. Not to mention the Garden crowd chanting "New York Knicks" during his twelve free throw attempts, which certainly had to have clouded his mind.

On the offensive end, the Celtics stuck to what worked. What worked was the glaring mismatch KG was for the Cavs. To start off the game, the Cavs put Shaq on KG and Garnett easily hit jumpers over the lumbering center off of the pick and roll. Then when the team switched Antawn Jamison to Garnett, he backed down the soft, undersized defender. Kevin finished with 22 points (11-19 shooting) and 12 boards on the evening.

Rajon Rondo, as he did all series, did whatever he wanted to with the ball. Despite four early turnovers, RR did not give away the rock the final three quarters. He shot 9-15 and continued to take and nail the elbow jumper they gave him on his way to a 21 points, 12 assist, and 5 steal night.

Despite missing all seven of their first half three point attempts, the Celtics went 5-10 in the second half. Paul Pierce nailed three timely three pointers after sitting much of the first half with foul trouble and Rasheed Wallace canned two threes from each corner.

Wallace's three pointers were big en route to his 13 point night, but his defense was even better. He played with a heart we haven't seen up until this point tonight. His passion energized the team in the fourth quarter so much that Doc stuck with him the entire period. Tony Allen (10 points, 3 steals) also filled in admirably. With Pierce battling foul trouble, TA stepped right in and played crucial minutes off of the bench. He had a very good series off of the bench.

Exit LeBron James and the Caveliers. Enter Dwight Howard and the Magic. Game 1 Sunday afternoon at 3:30. Eight more wins...