Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Celtics Tankometer takes a hit from the Rajon Rondo/Avery Bradley backcourt duo

This week the Celtics dropped their final two road games of the season against Western Conference opponents, going win-less (0-15) out west for the first time in franchise history.

But they fought hard, losing by 1 in overtime to New Orleans (although they did mysteriously not foul in the final seconds), and falling by just 5 in Dallas.  The C's then knocked off the LeBron-less Heat in Boston behind a near triple-double from Rajon Rondo, and closed out the week with a 114-98 defeat in Brooklyn.

Despite winning only once in their past seven tries, Boston looks like a team that could be improving.  Avery Bradley scored 23 points vs Miami, then followed it up with a career-high tying 28 against the Nets.  Rondo and Bradley have played a total of just 186 minutes on the floor together all season after each missing extended time with injuries.  Over the past two outings they finally appear to be getting the chance to gel as a starting backcourt.

The Celtics have 12 games remaining on the schedule, and their upcoming opponents have a combined winning percentage of only .448.  That also includes two more matchups with the beyond pathetic 76ers, who are just 4 games away from the longest losing streak in NBA history (currently it's 23, the 2010-2011 Cavs dropped a record 26 straight).

Last week: 60%

Friday, March 21, 2014

How many phone numbers do you know off the top of your head?

It's been a little over a decade now since I had a phone other than my cell phone.  I believe the technical term for what I am referring to is "land line."  From the time I started programming them into my phone, the part of my brain that was previously used for remembering telephone numbers has long since been reassigned to other things (like the surprisingly low number of top NBA lottery picks who have led their teams to championships?).  Other than my own, I believe there are now just two phone numbers that still exist in my memory.  One is for the house I grew up in (which my parents still use), and the other is 1-800-54-GIANT.

The reason I bring this up is because I recently had a conversation with a person who still dials numbers -- on her cell phone.  This is somebody my age who when she wants to call her friend she whips out her iphone 5 and actually types in the digits.  She knows from memory all the phone numbers of people she calls on a regular basis.

On the rare occasions when I have to call something not programmed like my bank or the cable company, I usually have to think for a bit just to find the screen in my phone with numbers on it for dialing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's hard not to like beating Miami; Rajon Rondo's triple-double run will have to wait

At this point in the Celtics season I'm willing to admit that I am actively hoping they will lose games.  All Boston is playing for now is lottery position.  Having said that, it's still always enjoyable to see them knock off Miami (especially when it increases the chances of the Pacers being the #1 seed in the East instead of the Heat).  Even though the win was much less gratifying because LeBron didn't play, it did produce this wonderful photo:

Yes LeBron, Rajon Rondo just beat you.

It's also quite amusing that in this of all years the Celtics have now won the season series from Miami, two games to one.  I had a feeling on Wednesday that Rajon Rondo was due for his first triple-double since returning from his knee injury.  He finished oh so close, with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists.  With the C's up 3 and roughly two minutes to go, Rondo grabbed his 9th and 10th boards, and hit two floaters to ice the game.  On Boston's last possession he likely would have been fouled and had a couple chances for his 10th point at the free throw line, but he passed the ball the Avery Bradley.

Rondo is one of just four Celtics ever to have three or more triple-doubles in at least three seasons (along with Larry Bird, Bob Cousy and John Havlicek), but it's looking like his 4th may have to wait till next year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The NCAA tournament committee is really messing with me

The men's college basketball rankings (AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll) come out every Monday all season long.  But when the tournament bracket is announced on Sunday night, most people tend to forget/not care about the final regular season polls that are released the next day.

It's interesting to see how much the rankings can differ from the tournament seeding.  For example, Louisville is #3 in the Coaches Poll, but received a #4 seed in the tourney; meaning the committee thought they are somewhere between the 13th and 16th best team in the country.

Similarly Duke is ranked #6, but was handed a #3 seed that would put them in the 9-12 range.  On the other hand UMass somehow earned a #6 seed (teams 21-24), despite being well outside of the top 25 at season's end.

So why does all this bother me?  There are exactly two schools in this tournament I'm rooting for, UMass and Michigan.  The committee created a draw that gives them both a very good chance of being eliminated by Duke, the New York Yankees of college basketball.

Remember how much more it fun it was to fill out paper brackets?  From March of 2012:
The internet has kinda ruined tourney pools
NCAA Bracket advice: Nobody really knows anything

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#1 seed Wichita State is more likely to lose in the first round than win the NCAA title

The 34-0 Wichita State Shockers have earned a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament out of the Missouri Valley Conference.  Off the top of your head, how many teams can you name in the Missouri Valley Conference?  Over the course of the season Wichita St. played a grand total of zero top 25 schools.  They did beat St. Louis who eventually became ranked, but wasn't at the time.

Last season I wrote that it was a joke for Gonzaga to be the #1 team in the country because of their terrible strength of schedule.  They promptly lost their second game of the tournament, oddly enough to Wichita St.  Well this year the Shockers are the overrated club from a bad conference set to take a tumble.  Many "experts" are picking them to lose to the Wildcats in round two, whether it be Kentucky or Kansas St.  I'm guessing that Kentucky would actually be favored vs Wichita State, and unheard of possibility for a #8 seed vs a #1.

If the Shockers make it to round three they'll likely have to play Louisville, currently ranked #5 in the AP poll.  Last season's champs though they deserved a #1 seed this year, but got handed a #4 because the new "American Athletic Conference" that they play in isn't very good either.  Should Wichita St. somehow make it to the Elite Eight they'll probably be matched up with Duke or Michigan, two other clubs that could have earned a #1 seed had they won their conference tournaments rather than lose in the title game.

It looks next to impossible for the Shockers to even get to the Final Four, let alone win two more games after that and take home the national championship.

Teams seeded #16 are 0-112 in 28 years of tournament play.  A #1 has never lost in the first round, but it's going to happen someday.  Do I think the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs or the Texas Southern Tigers (the two squads have a play-in game Wednesday night for the right to face Wichita St. as the #16) will beat the Shockers?  No, but they'll have a better chance of winning that game than Wichita St. will of winning six.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day inspired Awesome Old Song of the Week: "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba

Ok, so Chumbawamba is English, not Irish.  But "Tubthumping" is about drinking, and they sing "Danny Boy" in the chorus.  That's good enough for me, especially when you consider that most of the people out there celebrating St. Paddy's day aren't Irish either.

I feel like Chumbawamba mostly gets mocked these days for their funny name and just having the one hit.  That may be true, but it shouldn't take away from the song's merit; it was huge in 1997, and still made me happy just now when I played the video.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jose Iglesias' injury is making the Red Sox look really smart right now

Yesterday the news broke that Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will be out until at least the All-Star break, and may miss most of the season.  The Tigers won't talk about what exactly is wrong with him, but ESPN is reporting that he has "significant injuries to both shins."  Apparently Iglesias has suffered from shin splints for years, but his condition has recently gotten a lot worse.

When the Red Sox traded Iglesias away last summer in order to acquire Jake Peavy, I was not pleased.  I said that they probably had to win the World Series in order to make it worth while.  Well that happened, and now Iglesias is dealing with serious long-term injury concerns.  Clearly the Sox made the right move.

In order to replace Iglesias, Detroit may sign Boston's other shortstop from last year, free agent Stephen Drew.  The Red Sox meanwhile are putting all their eggs in the Xander Bogaerts basket at that position.  Last week I wrote an article for Bleacher Report guessing the odds of Boston players to make the All-Star game, and many people complained that I gave Bogaerts only a 5% chance.  Their argument was that there's not a lot of quality competition at shortstop in the American League; and now with Iglesias out there is even less.

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