It’s Boston; so it must be Big 3 time in Beantown.
The Raptors were swept in the season series last year and it will be a tall order on Friday to get a win. Why? Well, let’s look at the personnel.
I know they say KG’s healthy, but I’m wondering if he will ever be the same player he was before the knee injury that kept him out of the post-season this past spring. Something doesn’t look right to me.
In spite of that, Garnett is one player that always gives Chris Bosh a tough time. To boot, the Celtics have added the other guy that is as tough on: Rasheed Wallace.
When asked about facing his nemeses at shoot-around on Friday morning Bosh simply said: “They are going to be physical. It’s going to be a physical game. I just have to make sure I have more confidence in my game.”
Bosh added that he is expecting different looks defensively from Boston’s defence; and not just Garnett and Wallace, but Kendrick Perkins as well.
Speaking of the morning shoot, it did not take place at the TD Bank North Garden as the Boston Bruins have an afternoon match up against the New Jersey Devils. Instead, the Raptors ventured off to Suffolk University to have the morning chalk talk and strategic walk through before the game. It was nice to chat with the university’s athletic director Jim Nelson who played at Boston College in 1965 — under Celtic legend Bob Cousy. Nelson was there to let the Raptors into his basement gymnasium and told us about traveling to Hawaii back in ’65 to play in a tournament and sleeping in the barracks at Pearl Harbor where the Eagles and three other teams were housed for the event.
Nelson also relayed a story that the Lakers were not welcomed back in the gym after Phil Jackson’s complaints about rats.
A couple of numbers for you:
*** Since the start of the 2007-08 season when the Celtics Big 3 of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce arrived in Boston, its home record is 76-15 (.835).
*** Here is the career scoring average for each of the big 3 against Toronto: Allen 25.8 PPG in 34 games, Garnett, 20.3 PPG in 31 contests and Pierce 22.2 PPG in 38 games.
*** When the Bobcats made history against Toronto by posting its largest margin of victory ever against any opponent, the Raptors must have realized that if they don’t play with more awareness and intensity (particularly on the defensive end) things will get uglier.
Some Raptor players had “peeps” (family, friends, or significant others) in town and spent the time with them. Or you could always hook up with an old teammate as Jarrett Jack hung out with Marquis Daniels for his Thanksgiving feast. And then, there was football and basketball on the tube to keep you busy while doing your game prep before hitting the sack.
I’ll just add two words to the retirement chatter: for now.
Some team will forget his urgings about the ability to still play at a high level and with it the fact that he wants to be on the court for 40 minutes a game and be the focal point of the offence. Now, if AI decides he has a new answer to the problem and embraces the off-the-bench role that everyone wants him to accept, it could be a different story. The ball is in Allen’s court and he may have to change it up a bit and acknowledge that he can’t have his hands on the rock all the time, for the sake of his career.
My take on AI? If he doesn’t suit up again is that he was one of the toughest little men in the game. I have a picture on the wall at home that someone snapped of me interviewing him as a member of the Sixers. I stand 6’1 in bare feet and there is no chance he is the height he is listed at 6’0. I’m guessing he’s not the 165-pounds he’s listed at, either. But I give him credit because over the course of his career, injured or not, even though you may have liked the off court drama, the way he played, or the fact that he didn’t practice, nobody played harder every night consistently than Iverson.