Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Celtic Notes

Two things real quick, both about the Celtics.

1) In my post the other day comparing the Celtics to the '96 Bulls I made a stupid. I stated that that team opened their season with a loss in Boston in Game One of the Rick Pitino Era. Nope, that was the next year's team. Why am I beating myself up over this? Mainly because I remember so well that 1996 Kentucky team which Rick Pitino coached. That team was loaded with NBA talent, headlined by Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Tony Delk, and I Love Waltah and spent their whole season it seemed crushing their competition trying to make amends for their early season loss to UMass.

UMass was the clear cut Number 2 that year, lead by Marcus Camby. The two were on a collision course to meet for the National Championship. But then the NCAA being the NCAA put them each on the same "side of the bracket" so they could only meet in the semifinals and not the finals. Smart thinking there. So as Syracuse and Missippi State (lead by former Celtic gunner/great Dante Jones) played in one semi, the two best teams in the country for the entire season played in the other. A complete screw job by the selection committee. It is one thing in the NFL or the NBA when a Conference final is a de facto championship simply because those are the breaks some years. But in the NCAA Tournament? Where it is totally avoidable? Come on now. The end result probably would have been the same either way (Kentucky as National Champion) but UMass should have at least had the chance to play them for it in the final round instead of in the semis.

And that is my long-winded way of saying that I should have remembered that Rick Pitino was coaching Kentucky in 1996. Not the Celtics. He waited a year to go in and sink that ship.

2) Another thing I want to bring up is the Celtics and their quest to beat the 1996 Bulls regular season record of 72 wins.

This is something that I think many of us - myself included - think is a very strong and real possibility assuming health.

After their game on Friday the Celtics will at best be 25-2 and at worst be 24-3. 27 games in is the 1/3 mark of the season and win or lose the C's will be on pace to beat the Bulls record. And here is where reality sets in. In order for them to get to 73 or more victories the C's need to keep up their current pace for the rest of the year. That is going to be really, really tough. I am not saying it is by any means impossible but winning 24 out of every 27 games is an insane pace to keep. Do I think they can do it? Yes. Do I think they will do it? Yes, I think that too. Do I worry that maybe KG or Paul Pierce might push themselves a little too hard with a nagging injury or something to pursue this record and help keep the pace? I worry about that also even if they would never admit it.

So what is the best way to 73+?

I say they are in great shape if they can sweep their next three games heading into the Christmas Showdown in LA. This puts them at 27-2. Then, even with a loss (I think they will win that game honestly) to drop them to 27-3 they will "only" need to go 46-6 over their final 52. It's not like that will be easy, but then again winning almost 90% of your games is not easy. Nor should it be for that matter. All the more reason to really, really appreciate the team if they can do it. Just no "73 Regular Season Victories" banner please if they don't win it all.

Oh, and if you want two fearless predictions about their next few games, here they are:

1) The streak will end at home against the Knicks on Sunday.

2) The Celtics will beat the Lakers on Christmas Day.

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