- March 10: That's What He Said - Pistons at Celtics
- March 08: Stevens Excited To Enjoy Madness as a Fan
- March 08: Bradley Could Return as Early as Friday
- March 08: That's What He Said - Nets at Celtics
- March 07: Vitor Faverani Medical Update
- March 06: National Anthem Open Call Auditions
- March 06: Celts Lose, but Olynyk Continues To Evolve
- March 06: That's What He Said - Warriors at Celtics
- March 04: Post-ACL Rondo is Shooting the Lights Out
- March 04: C's Lose Wallace; Olynyk, Bradley Improve
- March 04: Gerald Wallace Injury Update
- March 03: Winter Warmth: Green Heats up in February
- March 02: That's What He Said - Pacers at Celtics
- February 28: Celtics Slammed With Laundry List of Injuries
- February 28: Celtics Sign Babb to 10-Day Contract
- February 27: Perfect Pair? Bayless, Rondo Excel Together
- February 27: That's What He Said - Hawks at Celtics
- February 25: That's What He Said - Celtics at Jazz
- February 23: That's What He Said - Celtics at Kings
- February 22: That's What He Said - Celtics at Lakers
- February 20: Quiet Deadline is Nothing New for Ainge
- February 15: C's Rising Stars Surprise in Starting Role
- February 14: Rising Stars Glad to be Teammates in NOLA
- February 13: Sullinger, Olynyk: Rising Stars to All-Stars?
- February 13: That's What He Said - Spurs at Celtics
- February 11: That's What He Said - Celtics at Bucks
- February 10: Jared Sullinger Named Player of the Week
- February 09: That's What He Said - Mavericks at Celtics
- February 08: Rondo, Bradley Remain Questionable for C's
- February 08: Sullinger Outshines Cousins, Leads C's to W
- February 08: That's What He Said - Kings at Celtics
- February 07: Celtics Sign Johnson
- February 06: Ainge, Stevens Discuss Rondo's Progression
- February 06: That's What He Said - Celtics at 76ers
- February 05: Celtics Recall Faverani from Red Claws
- February 04: Boston Seeks Payback versus Sixers in Philly
- February 04: Celtics Assign Faverani to Maine Red Claws
- February 04: Celts Faced with Tough Decision on Johnson
- February 03: Green, Bradley Find True Positions in Boston
- February 02: That's What He Said - Magic at Celtics
- February 02: Celtics Recall Faverani from Red Claws
- February 01: Stevens Pleased with Back-to-Back Practices
- January 31: Rondo, C's Eye February as Critical Month
- January 31: Celtics Assign Faverani, Blue to Red Claws
- January 30: Celtics Expect Bradley To Return for Sunday
- January 30: That's What He Said - 76ers at Celtics
- January 29: Sullinger, Olynyk Chosen as Rising Stars
- January 29: Rondo To Celtics: Enact Short-Term Memory
- January 29: That's What He Said - Celtics at Knicks
- January 28: Bayless To Return After Missing Four Games
- January 28: Celtics Sign Johnson to Second 10-Day Contract
- January 27: Pierce, KG: Nothing Compares to Sunday
- January 27: That's What He Said - Nets at Celtics
- January 26: Celtics Recall Faverani from Red Claws
- January 25: Prep for Emotional Night when C's Host Nets
- January 25: Celtics Assign Faverani to Maine Red Claws
- January 25: That's What He Said - Thunder at Celtics
- January 23: Survival Mode: C's Drop Wiz Amid Adversity
- January 22: Celtics Sign Blue to 10-Day Contract
- January 22: Johnson Shines in First Game with Celtics
Let's dispatch with the obvious, ok?
Yes, it's only eight games.
I mean of course it is.
But the eight games, the two weeks are all we have. And if you can't enjoy the fact that your Boston Celtics are the best team in the NBA, then you're not getting enough iron in your diet or something.
If you're using this time here and now to worry about the inevitable losing streaks (check your schedules for March 14-22), the inevitable injuries (they will happen) and the sub-par nights from the top three that will dot the marathon (all part of the process), you probably sit around inside on sunny days because eventually, it's going to rain.
How good have they been? I'm not suggesting the Celtics are dominating or anything...but Don Shula thinks their record should have an asterisk.
(We kid because we care, Coach. Love your steakhouse, by the way.)
Through these two weeks, Kevin Garnett is the league MVP and Paul Pierce has been Paul Pierce. Eddie House is living a shooters dream, and making defenses pay for doubling down. Kendrick Perkins is skating his wing, Rajon Rondo who "can't shoot" is hitting better than 50% from the floor and has taken up residency among the league leaders in steals - a home he'll occupy all year. The C's don't win in Toronto without James Posey, and maybe not in New Jersey without Big Baby.
Oh right, and then there's Sugar Ray.
Ray Allen went the distance against the Nets, playing all 48 minutes in New Jersey.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty
And I don't mean the guy that brought the Contender to the Garden last week. I mean the one who's going to make the team that plays at the Garden contenders all year.
I'm not sure when I started calling him that during games, I think it was during the lockout season of '99. But if you wonder why, you've never seen him shoot.
And if you'd forgotten just how very good Ray Allen is, or just how much of a star he is in this league, you're not alone. I'd forgotten too.
Double ankle surgery can do that. A lot of 10:30pm starts in meaningless west coast games can do that as well. Out of sight, off of TNT and out of mind in today's NBA.
But as much as this remains Paul Pierce's team to captain, and his nine years in green have made him part of the tapestry of Boston sports, and as much as KG fever has gripped the Hub, jump starting the energy and enthusiasm that's been sapped from Celtics Nation slowly over the last two decades, Ray Allen has taken his place at the Celtics' head table in the same way he's taken everything else he's accomplished in his basketball life.
With quiet precision.
There are two kinds of competitors in the world. The ones who announce their intentions at the highest decibel. And the ones who are long gone with your wallet in their pocket before you have any idea it's missing.
Ray Allen is quite simply a stone-cold killer.
His demeanor never seems to change. His game plays more like a clinic. His interviews, even on the court after hitting a game winner, sound more like seminars. It seems like he should be talking to Tim Russert, not Tom Heinsohn. He can beat the press, or do Meet the Press.
All summer people pondered how the "big three" would mesh, wondering how it could possibly work. Well, it works when your best players do whatever needs to be done. For five games, no one's exemplified that better. When the Celtics have needed a bucket, he's gotten one. If they've needed a scorer on the floor with the second unit, he's done that. If they've needed someone to step up and play big minutes because of injuries, on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, against a rested team with a big three of their own?
How about 48 minutes at New Jersey.
If you thought the complete game was a lost art in baseball, in the NBA, it went the way of the setshot and the short-shorts long ago.
Why did he do it? Simply, because it needed to be done.
Pierce will remain an icon and a lightning rod. The legend of Garnett, mark my words, is in the early stages of a journey that will end alongside the very best to wear the Celtics uniform.
But as the #34 and #5 jersey sightings continue to grow exponentially around town, and Boston continues to take its rightful place back at the epicenter of NBA culture, let's not forget the rest of the equation.
For three months now, all three have had to answer questions, mostly the same questions, about fitting together, about taking the last shot, all of it, over and over. They understand why, they know the game. But it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that it's what makes them different that makes it work.
And while the squeaky wheel gets the media grease in the NBA, there's nothing about Sugar Ray's game that's ever going to squeak. It's too smooth.
It's only five games, but the Celtics are slicing through the NBA, just like Ray Allen has for a dozen years.
With quiet precision.
The Doctor Is In
It's hard, when you listen to talk shows or log onto websites, not to be struck by how vitriolic the rhetoric often is. The ease with which criticism is delivered. And how harsh its edges often seem. But while it's easy to write that off as people that "don't get it," I think we own some of the blame.
As an NBA team, we operate in what I call a velvet-rope existence. The flights are chartered, the five-star hotel lobbies are secured. The odds of having a face-to-face conversation with Paul Pierce at say, the Stop and Shop checkout line? Not real good. Players and coaches have never been more sheltered from fans, and vice versa.
Combine that with the explosion of fantasy sports, where every player becomes a series of numbers in a box score, to be added and discarded with the click of a mouse, and it's never been easier to think of the people you see through the television screen, the people you hear described on the radio as being, you know, people.
It takes something very dramatic now, often very tragic, to break through that barrier, the one that prevents people sometimes from seeing players and coaches for the very real human beings they are.
Doc Rivers standing on the sidelines coaching the Celtics last Saturday night in New Jersey, hours after burying his father in Chicago, was one of those moments.
It wasn't always this way; it's a unfortunate by-product of the evolution of professional sports. When Gil Hodges' wife gave berth fifty years ago, when he was the All-Star first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, her labor was community news. It was followed in the local paper, discussed at the barber shop, and when Gil was spotted on the streets of Brooklyn, or the subway on the way to Ebbets Field (as inconceivable as that seems today), it wasn't uncommon for him engage in conversation with fans about these most intimate of details. Players on a pro sports team weren't just a part of the community, they belonged to the community, like the postman or the dry clearner.
Way too often now, you get much more of an "us" and "them" feel.
During the 2005-06 season, when Doc was flying back and forth to Orlando to see as many of his son Jeremiah's games as a high school senior as he could, it was the soup of the day on the talk shows for a while, you may remember. Should he or shouldn't he, that kind of thing.
At the Garden one night, one of my all-time favorite humans, the Globe's Jackie MacMullen asked me what I thought about it. It being the idea that the coach of an NBA team would fly himself all over the country during the season's few off-hours, to watch his son play basketball.
I told her, paraphrasing a line from my favorite writer Aaron Sorkin, that I thought it was an extraordinary act of discipline, commitment and sacrifice...and a rather ordinary act of fatherhood.
It is hard sometimes, to see through the forest of the velvet-rope existence, to the trees of the very human stories all around us.
But when Doc Rivers manages to pay the ultimate respect, both to his family and his team, on the same day? When you realize that real life goes side by side with an NBA season? That it doesn't wait for the All-Star break? It humanizes even more the game we love. And reinforces that connection that at times it seems gets lost.
It makes you respect the man in the uniform, the man on the sidelines that much more.
And maybe as a result, love the game just a little bit more too.
FOR THE GEEK SIDE OF YOUR BRAIN...
For 19 seconds in overtime at Toronto on November 4th, the Celtics trailed. It was the only 19 seconds the Celtics trailed all day. For eight seconds last Friday, from Udonis Haslem's free-throw make until Paul Pierce's game winner, the Celtics trailed. Heading into Orlando for the early Eastern showdown game, they are the only 27 seconds the Celtics have trailed after halftime...in any game. On November 14, the Nets led the Celtics for 19:16 of the first half, the longest span of time the C's have trailed. In fact through eight games, the Celtics had played 389 minutes and only trailed for 34:48. Or 8.94% of the minutes they've played.
Over the past seven seasons, there had been just four Celtic single-game performances of 19 rebounds or better, topped by Al Jefferson's 22 at the Palace in January. Kevin Garnett did it twice in his first four games.
In the last seven seasons (500 games), the Celtics had never shot better than 60 percent from the floor. Last week they did it in back to back games.
The C's had recorded 10 wins of 20 or more points in Doc Rivers first three years as coach (246 games). This year, he's done it in four of the first seven games he's coached. The C's also led by 23 at New Jersey in his fourth game, only to win by 11. The largest margin (34) remains his first win as Celtics coach in New York three years ago.
** Doc's first win as Celtics coach
You can hear the voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande along with Cedric Maxwell call each and every game on the WEEI Celtics Radio Network. You can send him .