Monday, December 10, 2007

Top Of The World, Ma! AKA Boston Sports Report Part Eight

I’m sure all of you that actually care know this, but as of right now Boston is the center of the sports universe. The Red Sox are grinding hard trying to guarantee that they have the pieces in place to contend for another World Series championship after the Detroit Tigers made a monster deal that will no doubt make them contenders this coming season. The two big stories in Boston right now are the New England Patriots striving for perfection (and giving Mercury Morris a heart attack weekly) and the Boston Celtics seemingly walking through competition in the NBA. Let’s start with the Pats and their remarkable (and potentially historic) season first.

Two weeks ago the New England Patriots had to find a way to win against the Philadelphia Eagles and barely squeeked it out by the score of 31-28. The Patriots had been beating teams so easily up to that point that sportscasters and NFL analysts began talking about how the Eagles had provided a “blueprint” for beating the Patriots. I was thinking that it couldn’t be a very good blueprint if the Patriots still won the game, but whatever.

The very next week, the Patriots had to fight from behind to win yet another close game versus an extremely physical Baltimore Ravens team with a veteran defense 27-24. Once again, the talking heads commented that the Patriots looked overwhelmed on defense and that they almost lost the game (focus on the word "almost" in the previous sentence). They forgot that the Patriots defense made the big plays when they counted most and the Patriots offense got on track to come up with the winning drive at the end of the game...again.

This coming week was the game the Patriots were supposed to finally lose. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the #1 defense in the NFL and they could run the football all day and they had enough good receivers and a good enough mobile, ball control quarterback that could potentially keep the Patriots offense off the field. The Steeler defense was experienced and physical, they would surely be up to the task of locking down Randy Moss...right? Of course, some young defensive player on their team who shall remain nameless guaranteed that the Patriots would lose the Gillette December...on Earth. Just say no to drugs, kids.

The Patriots ended up beating up on the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-13 as Tom Brady threw for 399 yards and 4 TD’s. Randy Moss went off for 7 receptions 135 yards and 2 TD’s. Tom Brady has now thrown for 45 TD’s this season, 19 of them being caught by Randy Moss and 8 going to new addition Wes Welker. Wes Welker also leads the team with 93 receptions. Considering how easily the Patriots scored on the Steelers and how they managed to hold them scoreless for the entire 2nd half all of the talk about teams finding the supposed blueprint for defeating them has dissolved. The way to beat ANY team is to try to keep their offense off the field...if you can’t score more than the other team or stop them from scoring then all of it is moot.

The New England Patriots are now 13-0, they’ve earned a first round bye and one more win can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their remaining games are the 16th @ 1:00PM vs. the Jets in Gillette Stadium, the 23rd vs. the currently 0-13 Miami Dolphins in Foxboro @ 4:15 PM and last but not least, the final game of the season on December 29th in Giants Stadium @ 8:15 PM. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this football season shapes up, now on to the surprising Boston Celtics.
I know what you’re saying...”The Celtics haven’t even played anyone yet!”. The “anyone's”’ in that sentence refer to the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs. It’s not the Celtics fault that none of these teams have appeared on their schedule as of yet, but in the 19 contests the Celtics have been in they’ve emerged with a 17-2 record highlighted by an impressive 10-0 record at home. Not only are the Celtics the #1 defensive team in the NBA but they’re one of the best at passing and shooting as well...that’s just fuckin’ scary.

They usually beat their opponents by double digits and the 2 games they managed to lose this season were by a combined total of just 7 points. The combination of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen sometimes go up by so much that they get to sit out most if not all of the 4th quarter fairly often. Leads have gone well past 30 points on numerous occasions...they’ve doubled up the opposing team so often that it looks like their playing Live 08 rather than real basketball on the court. Stars are also coming out in droves to see the much improved C’s ball...where were y’all last year? (Ellen Pompeo, I’m looking at you).

The league and many NBA analyst (who to be fair never really watched the Celtics play last year) doubted that Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins would be adequate as starters. They weren’t aware of the defensive prowess of either player (why do you think the brass kept ‘em?) or their individual strengths. Perk is a tireless worker on the defensive end and he crashes the boards. Not to mention he has great hands, footwork and court awareness for a big guy.

Rajon Rondo has improved his jumper immensely this season and when added with great hands, excellent court vision, tremendous athleticism and blow by speed, the ball in his hands is cause for havoc to the opposition. When Rondo has great shooters like Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, James Posey and Eddie House spotting up for jumpers and threes alongside big targets like Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Glen “Big Baby” Davis in the post his job is that much easier.

I knew the Celtics would be good this year but I never imagined they would be this damn good and dominant this early. Hopefully everyone can stay healthy and we can have a parade in the summer for a change in Boston. Oh yeah, l’m also tied for 1st in Dallas Penn’s Football Pick ‘Em pool and if the New Orlens Saints manage to win tonight’s game by 4 points or more I’ll be in 1st place all by my lonesome. Boston stays winning, I guess.


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