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News » Looking at the Pats, Celtics

Looking at the Pats, Celtics

Looking at the Pats, Celtics
It is way too early to talk football. Way, way too early. I know that.

Unless, of course, you're a fan of the New England Patriots.

Last year was exciting and, at times, fun. But it was ultimately unsuccessful. I am well aware that for many franchises, an 11-win season is a tremendous accomplishment. But, fair or not, we expect more here in New England. We expect to make the playoffs, which did not happen in 2008.

That said, I'm excited about a story in next week's issue of Sports Illustrated about Tom Brady. As most fans around here know, Brady missed virtually the entire 2008 season with a knee injury. Over the past several months, many columnists, both local and national, speculated that between the injury and his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, known to many columnists as "the millstone" (but not to me, Gisele!), Brady was already on the downside of his career.

But Peter King talks with Brady and it is evident that No. 12 has the same fire. If you don't get a chance to read this until publication of the story in SI next week, I'll say one thing: When King asks Brady if he's ready for next season, Brady does NOT say, "Ah, I'll have to check with the missus on that and get back to you."

No, our lad is ready. He has been working out all summer with wideouts Randy Moss, Wes Welker and the rest of the receiving corps. This, of course, is a huge relief. For most of the summer, all we saw were pix of Tommy and Gisele schmoozing at various social events or horsing around on some exotic beach. I confess that even I was thinking, "Maybe he won't come back. Maybe he'll just follow the wife around on her modeling jobs. He's certainly made enough money."

That doesn't appear to be the case. The knee injury also does not appear to be an issue anymore. I urge football fans to read King's story and see for yourself.

On another note, the postmortem for the Celtics of 2008-09 is a frustrating one, but I don't see how it could have turned out any other way in light of the injury to Kevin Garnett. The win over the Chicago Bulls in the East quarterfinals was, statistically, the most exciting playoff series in NBA history.

But even in that series, one could see the Celtics were having trouble stopping teams for an extended period of time. The Bulls ran the pick-and-roll from the top of the key probably 50 percent of the time they were in a half-court set, and, try as they might, big men Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins had difficulty switching onto the Bulls' guards.

I realize this is speculation, but my observations indicate to me that Garnett, who is quicker and more agile than either of his teammates, would have smothered that move had it been run on him. No big man in the NBA switches so aggressively -- and successfully -- onto smaller players. Had the Celtics been able to take that play away from the Bulls, I believe the series would have been 4-1, Boston. No overtimes, no crazy shots needed.

As for the Magic, we are seeing in this series against the Cavaliers how well coached they are. I'm not a huge fan of Orlando honcho Stan Van Gundy, but he managed to coach the Magic to a seventh-game win over the Celtics in Boston. After an overtime win in Game 4, he has put the Magic in position to defeat the Cavaliers. The 66-win Cavaliers, I might add.

In fact, had Cleveland superstar LeBron James not made a career-defining-shot in Game 2 of that series to win that tilt, this series would now be over. Phew!

So it was no disgrace to lose to the Magic in seven games. In my admittedly biased opinion, anyway. As one blogger on Fox noted, it appears the "real" East finals were between Boston and Orlando.

Hey, Van Gundy has Hedo Turkoglu playing defense almost every other play. (In his native Turkey, he was known as "Mr. Fourth Quarter". Here, for most of his career, he has been known as "Mr. 'I don't like to play defense anytime up to and including the' Fourth Quarter".) That alone may qualify Van Gundy for Coach of the Year.

To reach Derek Gentile:, (413) 528-3660.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2009


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