COAST TO COAST
So, the Boston sky didn’t fall after all
Despite my admiration for what the Boston Celtics have done the last two years, I couldn’t imagine them holding off hard-charging Orlando without the services of Kevin Garnett.
Nevertheless, that’s what they did, going 10-1 down the stretch, losing only at Orlando, which beat them, 84-82, after they came from 16 points behind in the third quarter.
With the Magic’s 103-93 loss at New Jersey on Saturday, the Celtics locked up the No. 2 slot in the East and will have home-court advantage in the second round, rather than going on the road to Orlando and then Cleveland if they beat the Magic.
Like a lot of people, or everyone outside of New England, I didn’t think the Celtics would make it out of the East, or contend for titles after this season.
From now on, I’ll believe they’re through when I see someone pound a stake in their heart.
With Suns owner Bob Sarver’s financial trouble (he has banks getting federal bailout money, so the team is actually one of his thriving properties), the question isn’t who goes, but how many?
Steve Kerr will remain as general manager after two years of hell, joking, “I knew I was jumping into the frying pan. Maybe I didn’t know it was this hot.”
Sarver would dump Amare Stoudemire in a heartbeat, but, after Stoudemire’s eye surgery, may have to wait until next season.
They want to extend the contract of Steve Nash, unhappy all season before thanking the Mavericks, who beat them, 140-116, for “putting us out of our misery,” raising questions about his faith in the program and tolerance for misery.
They must move Shaquille O’Neal, now zinging Sarver publicly and dropping boulder-like hints about playing for an owner, such as Mark Cuban, “who wants to win.”
This just in: No cooling trend in sight.
Aced the final
On their way up the charts ABG (After Blake Griffin):
Ricky Rubio, Joventut Badalona -- With pros split on all the smurfs, he’s the consensus No. 1 point guard at 6-4.
Ty Lawson, North Carolina -- May have climbed 20 picks. Skeptics say he’s not creative and if he’s the next Ray Felton, he’s the two-inches-shorter version.
Ed Davis, North Carolina -- Not in mix three weeks ago, in top five now, but says “I’m not ready.”
Hasheem Thabeet, UConn -- Longtime pinata for pros, now in top five but has skeptics, such as ESPN’s Chad Ford, who wrote that, aside from blocking shots, “It’s hard to see how his game will translate to the NBA.”
Of course, aside from scoring points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was no big deal, either.
Dikembe Mutombo, still blocking the occasional shot in Houston at 42, may have to die to get out of this league.
It remains to be seen whether Thabeet will wade in against NBA big guys, as Mutombo did, but he’s bigger, more athletic and tracking up.
DeMar DeRozan, USC -- May make top 10. One GM says he, Griffin and Thabeet are best shots to hit it big -- but he’s awfully timid for a budding superstar.
Stephen Curry, Davidson -- Lottery to teens.
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse -- Teens.
Jrue Holliday, UCLA -- Teens to low 20s. Pros think he’ll stay in.
Cole Aldrich, Kansas -- Might have been top five, but he’s staying in school.
-- Mark Heisler