The Boston Celtics?

 Boston-Celtics-Logo

Yes, the Boston Celtics. And I hate the Boston Celtics, but more on that later.

The Boston Celtics sent my Philadelphia Sixers home packing in only five games after jumping out to a 3-0 series lead. The sometimes clumsy and always inconsistent Sixers practically gifted the Celtics Game 2 of their Second Round Playoff series.

Philly’s ancient rival had something to prove in the 2018 NBA Playoffs because everybody had hastily picked the Sixers to advance to a chance to beat LeBron, but it wasn’t meant to be. And then when they blew a late game lead in regulation and then completely lost it in OT in Game 3 to effectually lose the series, the Celtics knew that it was their time. The Sixers had something special going this season, and they were on the verge of something really special. But the Celtics had other plans. And now it’s the Celtics who are on the verge of something special.

The LeBron’s (a.k.a., the Cleveland Cavaliers) are NOT the Sixers, and yet Boston had a 29 point lead on these same Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But lest we forget, Cleveland lost Game 1 to Indiana in the first round, and we were asking if LeBron was out of gas then. And the answer was a unanimous “NO!” LeBron came roaring back to take out the Pacers, and they just thumped the hapless Raptors in a surprising sweep. Now LeBron finds himself in the Eastern conference Finals once again.

So, the question is this: can the Celtics, who are playing without Kyrie Irving, win the East and beat King James, the reigning King of the NBA pop culture?  LeBron is still LeBron, and one game aint no series. So we’ll see.

And in case you didn’t know, I’m from Philly, so I HATE the Celtics. I just love to hate them. And that’s where the whole love your enemy like your neighbor part comes in.  Did I get that right?  Anyway, since I’m from Philly, I mean, I just have to hate all Boston teams, right?

The Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving Trade: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Isaiah Thomas celtics- I don’t get it.

Boston parted ways with one of its most beloved players, Isaiah Thomas, in exchange for Cleveland’s most bemoaned player, Kyrie Irving, in a late summer, blockbuster trade that’s rocking the NBA world.  After the season ended, Kyrie DEMANDED to be traded, so Cleveland had to do something. 

So I get it. I really do. Kyrie was damaged goods in Cleveland, and Isaiah, coming off of hip surgery, was a question mark for the upcoming season, at best. Kyrie burned his bridges in Believeland and Boston saw an opportunity to cement their standing as the No. 1 seed in the East. Now beating Cleveland should be a fait accompli.  Right?

But then again, I don’t get it. Isaiah played his heart out for Boston, and Kyrie won a NBA Championship in Cleveland. So why leave? And why part with a fan favorite in Thomas when he’s the heart and soul of that team?

I get it. Sports is a business. Sports teams are not family anymore. Professional sports teams are organizations, not chummy chum chum kinfolk. The bonding and the binding and the belonging that comes with a sports team that resembles a tight knit family is no more.  It’s in God’s playbook, but not NBA owners. And that’s a shame.

Even though the Kevin Durant signing turned out swimmingly, this was a TRADE, not a free agent signing. So there’s no guarantee that this swap and switch-aroonnee will work.  What about the chemistry between Kyrie and the other veteran Boston players? And will little Isaiah be “big” enough to handle playing with LeBron?

 I don’t get it. But then again, I get it. Once again, we see another example of how sports is like life and life is just like sports. On one hand you scratch your head and wonder.  And on the other hand, you just gotta believe.

Kyrie Irving and Demanding Children

Kyrie Irving Trade

There was a time when people — and for the purposes of this blog, people are athletes — were almost always respectable and correctable, reputable and commendable. But not now. There was a time when folks and sports figures were almost always faithful and forthright, dependable and reliable, tried and true. But not now. And you already know I’m speaking of Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving has demanded — that’s right, DEMANDED — a trade from Cleveland to anywhere in the NBA. Or almost anywhere he wants to go.  What the what?  There was a time not too long ago when no one would have blamed him. But not now. Now he plays with LeBron “King” James. Now (or most recently) his team went to the NBA Finals and represented the Eastern Conference for the past three years. And just last year, his team beat the Golden State Warriors to win Cleveland’s first NBA Championship, ever. And now he’s demanding a trade? C’mon MAN!

Why is Kyrie’s situation different than any and all of the other players who jumped ship and skipped town and got out of Dodge to go to another team? Because THEY were free agents, and they didn’t have two years left on their contracts. That’s the difference.

Demanding children are a product of our times. The Bible says that children will, in the last days, “be disobedient to their parents, unthankful, and unholy.” And all of this absolutely applies to professional athletes who are like children. These adult jocks are offspring of the sports marriage of owners and fans; they are essentially professional sports children who play for their professional sports “parents,” aka professional teams.

That’s why it’s unconscionable for me to even wildly imagine or dare to dream that I would have “demanded” anything from my parents, Elmer and Lerotha. And if I did, I was wrong for doing so. That’s God’s playbook.

Children are to respect their parents.  Peroid. End of discussion. Unfortunately, too many children today are dishonoring and disrespecting their parents, at will. Now, instead of parents raising children, today we have children raising parents.  

The reward given to respectful, reverential children is a long and fruitful life. And this absolutely applies to sports children of sports teams.  When I grew up, they taught me that what goes around comes around. And I just believe that athletes today who “demand” trades aren’t being the respectful, respectable offspring that they should be.

 

Warriors Win!

The Golden State Warriors are just better. 

They’re better than the Cavaliers by a country mile. Yes the Dubs have Durant, but that’s not their fault.  Truth be told, the only reason this series wasn’t over in four games was that unbelievable, super human, Herculean effort in Game 4  by the Cavs which they will NEVER be able to duplicate.

On the other hand, the Warriors can turn it on at will, and they wanted to win at home instead of on the road. Nuff said.

So congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, the 2017 NBA Chdmpions.  And congrats to Kevin Durant, the Finals MVP.  He got his well deserved ring, and I for one am glad he did.

Refuse To Lose

Kyrie Irving NBA Finals

Game Four of the 2017 NBA Finals could have been the highest high and one of the lowest lows for each team.  For the Cavs, they could have been swept right out of the Finals on their home floor.  Ouch.

On the other hand, for the Dubs, aka the Golden State Warriors, they could have won their 16th straight playoff game and gone undefeated in these playoffs. They could have run out of Quicken Loans Arena and soared out of Cleveland and galloped off into the sunset as the best playoff team ever. I said could have, aka shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Instead, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers mustered more than enough mettle and played like a pack of rabid, wild wolves protecting their young in order to avoid being swept out of the Finals.

Instead, the Cavaliers played with the resiliency of POW’s breaking out of solitary confinement and overtaking their evil captors en route to saving a town full of forlorn fair maidens.

Instead, the Cavaliers didn’t just stave off elimination; they made a collective statement by scoring the most points in a quarter and in a half in NBA Finals history. Wow. Who saw that coming?

So what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened; Kyrie Irving and Lebron James told their teammates that they absolutely refused to lose to Golden State on their home floor and they absolutely refused to be swept into insignificance. The Cavaliers refused to lay down and roll over, as they put on an impressive performance that has become one of the highest points of their not yet over season.

Kyrie Irving played with disciplined reckless abandon that was infectious and contagious. Now, it’s the Golden State Warriors who have to come out and prove that they are worthy of winning a championship. So where was this high wire, high scoring, center ring, almost circus act during the first three games?

Fear is a fierce motivator. Fear of failure leads to fight or flight. And last night, those Cavaliers put up a fight second to none. They got out to a big lead and anytime the Warriors even tried to get close, Kyrie and LeBron took out the hammer and lowered the boom.

The question is, can the Cavs play like this again in this series? The odds say no, but then again, the way they played last night, the Warriors better be wary of letting these rabid wolves come back from the brink and giving them an outside chance of doing the impossible.

Cleveland In 7? a.k.a, Do What You Should Before It’s Too Late

James and Kyrie Irving

If Cleveland wins Game 6, they will win Game 7. Period. It will be the first time that an NBA team has come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals. An epic comeback for sure and a storybook ending for LeBron James and the City of Cleveland, a championship starved sports town.

So, If I were the Warriors, I wouldn’t want to put myself in the position to HAVE to win a Game 7 in order to win the NBA Championship this year, even if I’m at home. If you’re the Warriors and you’re playing a Game 7, it means you let Cleveland back into the series after being up 3-1 in games. YOU just came back from being down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, so you know it can be done. Oh well. It looks as if Cleveland will get its championship, after all. Or will they?

I’m a Golden State guy and Steph Curry dude, but the way they’re playing tonight, I don’t know if they have it in them to pull out Game 6 or even Game 7. Too bad. So sad. Again, Cleveland will get its first professional championship if it stays this way.

So what can we learn? What can we glean? What can we take away from this year’s NBA Playoffs and these Finals? For starters, just like Steph and Clay and the Warriors came back to beat Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron and the Cavs can come back to beat the Warriors. It’s that simple.

So don’t count your chickens before they hatch. It’s an idiom which means don’t plan how to utilize good results of something before those results have occurred. The Warriors had their chances. They only scored 11 points in the First Quarter. Eleven Points! Then, because of their offensive sterility and their defensive futility, they were down 20 in the first half of Game 6 but cut the lead down to 8. Then it ballooned back to a 16 point half-time lead. Oh well.

It the Cavs win this game and this series, and right now they look like they will, it will be because Kyrie Irving absolutely KILLED the Warriors. He torched them for 41 in Game 5, and he may score as many in Game 6. LeBron was great, but Kyrie was greater.

Well that’s it. I don’t know about you but I’m going to bed. Somebody wake me if the Warriors decide to play like they can before it’s too late. And maybe that is the lesson.

Do what you should before it’s too late.

“Delly!” From Guts to Glory: It’s Not If You Win, It’s How You Win

Delavendova

Winning is the decisive and definitive goal in sports. And winning “It All,” aka, winning the championship, is at the top of the list of things to do for all athletes everywhere. But I submit that it’s not just if you win, it’s how you win. And LeBron James and his new sidekick, Matthew Dellavedova, are showing the sports world how to win.

Before Sunday night, the narrative for the NBA Finals was essentially that the Cavs didn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry and Co. with Irving sidelined for the rest of the series. Yet after LeBron James let out an emphatic roar following the “emotional win,” you get a much different feeling. There’s reason to believe the script has been flipped. 

Fueled by a gritty defensive performance from backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, Cleveland’s beloved “Delly,” the Cavs showed resolve and willpower that the Warriors were lacking. And that’s how you win. To get the glory you’ve got to have, and spill, some guts. Winning takes courage and vigor and valor and that’s what the Cavs have, especially in the person of the fill in point guard, Matthew Dellavedova, who almost got cut from the team early in the season.

“I doubt this will happen again,” Curry said after the loss and an uncharacteristically ugly performance — 5-for-23 from the field, 2-for-15 from three-point range and 0-for-8 against Delly. It’d be too easy to label it a bad shooting night for the league’s MVP. But you’ve also got to give Delly his due.

Dellavedova has played lights-out defense on Curry and you have to wonder how much of it is Curry not shooting well or Delly “doing the do” on the MVP of the League, a shooting Don. And because of Delly, an unsung, come out of nowhere hero, the Cavs are going into Game 4 in Cleveland with serious momentum.

Can the Cavs win the NBA title without Kyrie Irving, their All-Star PG? You betcha. LeBron scored 44 points in Game 1 and had a triple-double (39 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists) to will Cleveland to victory in Game 2. Does James need to play at this level for his team to win two more games? Yes. But he’s been playing the alpha dog (increased shots) role all playoffs, as Irving was far from 100% and Kevin Love got sidelined.  Now there is no Big Three. This is James and a band of brothers that anywhere else would be a motley crew of castaways; rugged, rustic, role players at best – and not an all-star in the lot of ‘em.

But there’s something about this group — their grit and fire — that championship teams must have. How many times have we seen the more talented team get beat by the hungrier, more determined one? Plenty.

Maybe it’s the playing-with-nothing-to-lose aggressiveness or odds-against-us approach that re-instilled a fiery engine in the Cavs’ psyche. Maybe Irving’s gutsy Game 1 performance and subsequent injury provided necessary inspiration a la “Remember the Titans” sans Gerry Bertier.

And so clearly, the lesson is this: are you playing pretty and sassy and cute and cheeky or are you playing forceful and feisty? Jesus did. Yes He did. Jesus lived like everything was on the line. What our Lord did for us on Calvary was not pretty at all. It was all guts, and it led to His glory.

So, are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win? And are you mad enough to win? http: //godandsports.net/?s=Mad+enough+to+win Are you gutsy enough when it matters most? To get it done, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and play like, and live like, everything is on the line. 

Because it is.