Saturday, March 15, 2008

Luck of the Irish

Since it is St. Patrick's Day Weekend, I guess I have to write about the best team in basketball, eh? The Celtics have been otherworldly this season, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen looking as if they'd been playing together since high school, or at least in the off-season (which they kind of have been doing). I really like seeing the growth of Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Big Baby over the course of the season, further proving no one can draft like Danny Ainge.

The real stars who have made the difference with the Celtics have been the role players: Eddie House has been looking like Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson on the court; James Posey is a great defensive player who can take the ball to the hoop if necessary; and Tony Allen has been better than I expected, considering his knee was spaghetti at one point last season.

Say what you will about Doc Rivers, but his test does not start until the post-season. He certainly made the right moves in the past couple of weeks integrating Garnett back into the line-up, resting the starters in blow-outs, and getting Ray Allen pushing the ball to the basket now that he is healthy. Also, that Detroit game was the most exciting game at the Garden since the glory days of the run to the Eastern Conference Finals five years ago.

So, what do I expect? Nothing short of a trip to the finals. I expect Detroit and Cleveland will give them a heck of a fight, considering they both have been there and done that in the playoffs. I cannot guarantee, but I feel good about the playoff possibilities for the Green.

Emotional Healing

Doc: "So tell me about your issues, Mr. Bent."

Hal: "It's the damned Super Bowl. Eli Freaking Manning? I mean, 4th down and long and he turns into a cross of Terry Bradshaw and Kenny Stabler. What the..."

Doc: "Mr. Bent, please wipe the white foam frothing from the corner of your mouth and continue."

Hal: "Then this stupid 'Spygate' crapola. Every team in the league videotapes. Where did Belichick learn it from? The Tuna? Ray Perkins? Come on, the Patriots are taking the heat for the entire league, and the media just cannot wait to pile on. If I hear the words 'Matt Walsh' one more time I am going to explode. In fact, I will..."

Doc: "Mr. Bent, you are frothing again."

Hal: "Call me by my name, Doc. Mr. Bent is my dad."

Doc: "Of course, Harold."

Hal: "Forget it."

Doc: "What?"

Hal: "Nothing, go on. I'm paying by the hour anyway, you quack."

Doc: "Yes. So let us move on from football. The Super Bowl was a long time ago and you need to focus on the fact that the Patriots have the number seven pick in the draft, the team has cap space to go shopping for bargains, and Randy Moss is back at a relatively cheap price for a record-breaking receiver."

Hal: "Holy..."

Doc: "Yes?"

Hal: "Nothing. Just didn't realize you really knew what you were talking about."

Doc: "So basketball, Mr. Bent, I mean Harold?"

Hal: "Call me Hal, please.

Doc: "Hal Please?"

Hal: "Forget it."

Doc: "What?"

Hal: "OK, basketball. Well, I am a native New Englander so no one here cares about college basketball until the tourney starts, and I already got my e-mail from corporate HR in Boston banning gambling pools via e-mail, which is kind of uncool considering my last boss at my previous job was a Tourney Junkie who brought in a TV for the break room."
"The Celtics are relevant again, which is great for me since I've been sticking-up for Danny Ainge since day one on the job (do you hear that Bill Simmons at ESPN.com, you Hollywood sell-out. Say hi to Sarah Silverman for me, you phony, next time you're licking Jimmy Kimmel's shoes).

Doc: "We should explore this anger..."

Hal: "Nah, been there, done that. Love the Sports Guy when he writes like he did. Hate him when he goes all Hollywood."

Doc: "I meant the Sarah Silverman reference."

Hal: "I got a thing for chicks in those three-quarter length jersey shirts, what can I say?"

Doc: "Right, so on to the Celtics again?"

Hal: "Yeah. So I am all excited about them winning again, but I can feel myself slipping into that mode where I cannot handle a winning team in New England. Like the Red Sox and Patriots winning it all. It totally changed me. Now instead of being able to handle defeat with class, I am kicking things, throwing things at the TV, swearing, and walking around in a huff for three days after the Sox or Pats lose. Now I am doing the same with the Celtics."

Doc: "Interesting, you used the word 'huff'. Didn't you once say you had Aubrey Huff on your fantasy baseball team two years in a row? That could be significant."

Hal: "What the...?"

Doc: "Mr. Bent, I mean, Harold. This session is being taped for Sports Psychology Today, please watch your language."

Hal: "OK. Speaking of Aubrey Huff, right now I'm in two leagues for fantasy baseball and am in between drafts. One drafted last week, the next Monday night. After being burned by Alex Gordon and Felix Hernandez last year, I decided to change my entire draft strategy. I went to BaseballProspectus.com and downloaded the PECOTA rankings for every player in the league and drafted based on their VORP projections with EQA being the tie-breaker for positional players and WARP breaking ties for pitchers."

Doc: "What the hell are you talking about, you sabermetric nerd?"

Hal: "Doc, watch your language! Anyway, I decided to simply draft the player who had the highest ranking regardless of position."

Doc: "Ahh, and this is why you took Joba Chamberlain in the fourth round. I was wondering who the idiot was who did that and was getting lambasted all over the Yahoo.com fantasy baseball chat rooms."

Hal: "I didn't like it either. But I started to falter in the middle rounds and panicked and got away from my draft order and started filling positions instead of drafting value regardless of position. Granted, I took the highest ranked position player on the board ranked by VORP, but still, I felt dirty afterwards for not sticking to my plan."

Doc: "Did you take a shower? Water cleanses, washes away all your sins..."

Hal: "Just shut up, OK? This is my therapy. So anyway, I am excited about baseball starting, even though the Sox have that stupid trip to Japan and a killer schedule in April. But, even with Beckett tweaking his back, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I lke the idea of saving some innings for later with him."

Doc: "And your obsessive-disorder regarding the Yankees?"

Hal: "How many rings this century? Nuff said!"

Doc: "Ahh, our time is up. Easiest $25k I ever made."

Hal: "You take post-dated checks, right?"

Doc: "Cash or charge only!"

Hal: "Well, guess you have to catch me. Spider-man away!"

Doc: "He does know we're on the thirty-third floor, right?"

Hal: "Auuuuggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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