Two games into the second-round matchup between the Celtics and Heat, the fears of Boston fans and Miami haters are coming true. The Heat are clicking on all cylinders, and the Celts are looking like what they are -- an old basketball team.
Never mind banged-up Paul Pierce and Ray Allen's off night with a combined 20 points Tuesday. Miami simply ran all over Boston, and had more than enough legs to bury them in the fourth quarter.
What started to appear evident about a month ago -- the Heat playing the best basketball in the league, by far -- may very well lead this maligned collection of egos to an NBA title. LeBron James had that possessed look in Game 2, even stuffing Kevin Garnett at the basket. This was two days after he deferred to a red-hot Dwyane Wade in Game 1. The Heat are simply doing correctly now what they were failing to do in December, and outside of Rajon Rondo the Celtics don't have the gas in the tank that they had then.
But there's two other factors for Miami as well. Montreal native Joel Anthony has become an unsung hero; the blue-collar big man off the bench the Heat needed. Yet his stats don't tell the story. He's playing the fourth-most minutes per game for Miami after you know who, and has become a defensive anchor inside. He blocks shots, is active on the glass, and does the little things like set screens. In other words, he's something just about every NBA champion has off the bench.
The other surprise is the Chris Bosh-Garnett matchup. I figured the Heat could take out the Celtics when Bosh would outplay KG. And that's essentially what's happened in the first two games.
Twitter, in my belief, is a stupid thing in the hands of a celebrity. I'm not particularly interested about where Ashton Kutcher is eating lunch, or what a starlet's publicist has typed on their feed. However there are interesting exceptions, and one of them is Milwaukee Bucks swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts. CDR clearly tweets what's on his mind, whether it's questions about the intro to Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or more serious matters.
As news of Osama bin Laden's death was breaking Sunday night, CDR began tweeting questions that countered the spontaneous feelings of joy many were feeling. And for that he was crucified by many on Twitter.
"us athletes somehow got put in a box where we have to be politically correct ALL THE TIME. Which I feel is lying to ourselves," he eventually responded.
He's absolutely right. In an era of plastic, phony, PR-scrubbed celebrities, it's refreshing to see a pro athlete at least appear to be non-conformist. Whether you agree with his views or not, he should be free to voice them.
But the other side of that coin is others are free to criticize him for making them.
Stay of execution?
It wasn't one of his behind-the-back passes to Tom Chambers, but one of the best assists of Kevin Johnson's career may have come Sunday when he successfully lobbied the Maloof Brothers to keep the Kings in Sacramento for at least another year. Former NBA All-Star point guard Johnson, who's been mayor of the California capital since 2008, apparently convinced the casino owners, beset by financial woes, to give the city a chance to prove it can get a new "arena/entertainment complex" (as they're all known now) built.
With Monday's deadline coming and going for a league relocation application to move the team to Orange County, KJ and his hometown have bought some time. But I don't imagine an easy road is ahead for them. With the possible exception of Barack Obama and his week of legends, there's no politician in North America with enough political capital to get a pro sports facility constructed with public funds in the current economic climate -- especially in Sacramento, hard hit by the recession.
Add to the mix that Sac-town is a small city with limited corporate dollars, and you wonder if this development is merely delaying the inevitable. With newer arenas beckoning the Maloofs in bigger markets like Anaheim and even Kansas City, there's a very good chance we'll be discussing relocation a year from now.
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