Category Archives: General

Celtics Season Preview: Is Contention Out Of The Question?

 

A new Celtic season is less than a week away. This year’s team figures to be better than the team last year – at least that’s how it seems on paper and in preseason games. Nobody is expecting a run in the playoffs, that’s for sure. But at the very least, green-teamers like myself would rather see this team contend for a low playoff seed, than tank for a second straight year. What does this team need to do to make that happen, you ask? Well, in this 2014-15 Celtics season preview, here are five things that the team needs in order to be successful this year, and contend for a playoff spot.

 

The Team Gels and Finds an Identity

The Celtics roster boasts some good young talent, and the current roster as it stands is cut out to run. The team is surprisingly deep across all positions. In fact, almost too deep, to the point where some players may see undeserving time cuts. However, many players on this team can play multiple positions which gives Brad Stevens the ability to mix and match more lineups. Jeff Green can play both forward positions as can Gerald Wallace. Rookie point guard Marcus Smart may see some time at shooting guard backing up Avery Bradley, and so will Marcus Thorton and newcomer Evan Turner, who is slated to back up Green at the small forward position. Also backing up Green are Wallace, and rookie James Young. The power forward and center positions are not much different, with Bass, Sullinger, Olynyk and Tyler Zeller, the only “true” center on the roster. Many players on this roster could start, but outside of Rondo, nothing is set in stone. It will be interesting to see if Stevens can get all of these players into a rotation that can click and play team ball at all times. The deeper the roster, the more difficult that can get. Stevens has his work cut out for him this year.

 

Rondo Has a Max Contract Season

Rajon-Rondo

It does not matter how many times Ainge says he doesn’t intend on trading Rondo, or how many times Rondo says he wants to stay in Boston. He could still get traded, especially considering Ainge is prone to pull the trigger on the right trade. The Celtics will look at all options to trade their veteran point guard at any sign of a repeat of last year. It certainly does not help that Rondo is slated to miss the start of the season after breaking his hand in the shower. The Celtics will only go as far as Rondo leads them. It’s clear Ainge wants him to be the man who leads this team for years to come. Rondo needs to prove he can do that this year. If the team gets off to a poor start, he could be gone come trade deadline. If he is dealt, the promising rookie Marcus Smart would likely assume the point guard position.

 

Jeff Green Shows Consistency 

Only 28 years old and in the prime of his career, Jeff Green could be due for a much improved season. Despite having an up-and-down year last year, he still has a high ceiling as a player and as a leader of this club. Stevens has boasted about Green’s swagger that he has seen from him coming into training camp, which is a very encouraging sign. His main issue last year was his consistency both in his game and his intensity. Last year, he was considered the go-to-guy on a team that didn’t have many other options. With more scorers around him this year, a lot of that pressure could be alleviated.

 

Evan Turner Finds His Role

Evan-Turner

 

Evan Turner officially inked a 2-year deal on Monday, worth $6.7 million. As of now, Turner seems back up Jeff Green and Avery Bradley at shooting guard and small forward. It’s unclear how much time he will see off the bench, especially with premium the Celtics have in the backcourt and at small forward. Turner was traded to the Indiana Pacers after what looked to be a break-out year for the 76ers. Coming off the bench did not suit Turner, as he struggled to contribute in a limited role down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs. The hope for the Celtics would be for Turner will find a way to make the most of his minutes off the bench as this team’s sixth man. I could also see him getting some action down the stretch in close games. He can possess a dangerous mid-range game and could gel well with the Rondo. But with Avery Bradley’s new four-year, $32 million contract this offseason, it’s clear who the main man at shooting guard will be.

 

People Can Understand Gerald Wallace

That probably won’t happen. In all seriousness, Wallace may actually find himself playing some power forward this year, on a team that lacks some depth at PF and C. He is an above-average defender with a big enough frame to defend the PF position. Wallace is the team’s most veteran player, and plays a bigger role than most think in terms of veteran leadership and the intangibles, something this young team really needs. It would also be nice for the Celtics to get the most out of his $10 million contract this year.

 

 

What this transfer window could spell for the Revs

As the Major League Soccer transfer window winds down here within this coming week we see the Revs finally make a move. A move in what many would argue the wrong direction, New England has sent Honduran international Jerry Bengston on loan to Argentinean side Belgrano. The Honduran has been known to frustrate fans since joining the Revolution as a designated player in 2012. Fans frustrations lie with the fact that Bengston appears to save his best performances for the international team having scored 19 goals for the Honduran side while finding a measly 4 shots in the back of the net for the Revs.

The Revolution have team needs which must be met if there are to be any hopes of pushing for the cup and a loan may be just the key. Moving Bengston gives him a chance to find his scoring form for a side that can afford to give him the patience to do so while allowing the Revolution to get his wages off the bill. A designated player’s wages gone means New England can splash some cash in hopes of bringing in a defensive midfielder and a consistent scorer.

Could Juan Agudelo be making his way back to New England?

Could Juan Agudelo be making his way back to New England?

One such consistent scorer whose name has been thrown around recently is none other than former American international and Revolution player, Juan Agudelo. Agudelo has seen his attempts at getting a work permit in England stall and as a result has become a free agent. Agudelo left New England on his own terms as the Revolution failed to offer him a big enough contract late last year. Agudelo has seen his potential plateau a bit in recent years however, at 21 he has the opportunity to become an established goal scorer in a league that is growing bigger with every passing minute.

Free Agent Frenzy: Shawn Thornton Heads to Florida

Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins

 

Well, Boston fans, it’s official:

Former depth forward and longtime Bruins fan favorite Shawn Thornton is headed south.

According to CBS Sports, the Florida Panthers picked up Thornton about an hour after Free Agency opened on Tuesday, July 1st.

Thornton has been signed to a two-year, $1.2 million dollar deal by Boston’s division rivals, which is only a slight raise from the $1.1 million he was receiving from the B’s. Quite a steal for Florida, who are still sitting under the salary floor two hours after negotiations began.

Boston is going to miss Thorty, who was not only an effective enforcer on the ice, but was a leader on the team in the locker room. Best of luck, and here’s to all the season matchups against Florida that will give Boston fans the opportunity to see one of the team’s favorite guys for the past few years.

Boston Bruins: Eastern Conference Semifinals By The Numbers

Coming into the postseason, the Bruins were expected to make another deep run and possibly contend for their third Stanley Cup in four seasons. Unfortunately for them, however, they ran into the red-hot Canadiens and saw their offense go cold at the worst possible time. Despite a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 at the Garden, there were still a lot of memorable moments in the series and, like always, plenty of interesting stats and facts to go around (and, yes, there are a lot). This series featured a record number of Game 7 meetings for the B’s and Habs, one Boston rookie doing something only one other player had done in the last 75 years, a new NHL record concerning consecutive seasons with a Game 7 appearance and Montreal’s netminder joining a goaltending legend as the only two to accomplish one particular feat. This, for the final time in 2013-14, is Boston Bruins: Eastern Conference Semifinals By The Numbers.

The Canadiens frustrated the Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and earned a series win in seven games.

The Canadiens frustrated the Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and earned a series win in seven games.

0: The Canadiens had zero players with a positive rating through Game 2.

0: The Merlot line had zero shots on goal in Game 4. And Game 6. And Game 7. Brutal.

0: Boston’s first line scored zero five-on-five goals in the series.

1: P.K. Subban’s game-winner in Game 1 was the first overtime goal of his postseason career.

1: Matt Fraser made his playoff debut in Game 4 after being called up from Providence earlier in the day. He scored his first postseason goal in the game and it was a pretty big one. In doing so, he became the first player in history to score an overtime goal in both the AHL and NHL playoffs in the same season, according to Elias Sports.

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Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers For 3/29/14

It has been a very exciting last couple of weeks in the hub of hockey as the Bruins went on a tear following the Olympic Break and became the league’s first team to clinch a playoff spot. While their winning streak finally ended at the hands of Montreal, their point streak is still alive. Also happening were a milestone game for a hockey legend, a milestone assist for a Merlot member, another NHL debut for one rookie, the first ever home win against one opponent and the third-longest winning streak in team history. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

Jarome Iginla has been absolutely on fire during the month of March and a major reason the Bruins won 12 games in a row.

Jarome Iginla has been absolutely on fire during the month of March and a major reason the Bruins won 12 games in a row.

1: Last Tuesday’s win over the Wild was the first time the Bruins have beaten Minnesota at TD Garden (1-6-0).

1: Corey Potter played his first game with the Bruins on March 18 in New Jersey.

1: With their win over the Avalanche on March 21, the Bruins became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth.

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NFL Week 12 Preview: SNF – Broncos @ Patriots

Manning travels into Foxboro for Round XIV against Brady on Sunday Night Football



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There’s a first time for everything. 2013 has been a roller-coaster ride for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The 24-20 Monday Night loss against the Panthers marks their second controversial defeat of the year. Just as the pieces finally came together before the bye week, the Pats faced the 2nd overall defense in the NFL and it certainly showed. Although TB12 started out hot, he finished the game 29/40 for 296 yards with 1 TD and the game ending interception as time expired. The Patriots were held to 107 rushing yards, as both Ridley and Blount failed to surpass 50 yards respectively. Ridley did however score a touchdown, marking his 5th straight game to do so. A ton of penalties crippled both teams but the athletic Cam Newton made just enough plays to earn the victory his career and city so desperately needed. AFC seeding aside, the win meant more for Carolina than the New England loss. They did not play well enough to deserve a win. What’s next? Round XIV of the Brady (36) vs. Manning (37) saga on Sunday Night Football. There is no way the under is clearing in this high octane AFC matchup. Brady is 9-4 in his career against Eli’s better half, who has thrown 34 TDs to Tom’s 14 – yikes. So while the Patriots come off a short week and a tough loss, the Broncos beat the streaking (9-0) Chiefs to restore order in the AFC West. Check out these three keys to victory for the Patriots come Sunday night:

1) Devin McCourty & DB Play: With CB Alfonso Dennard (knee) most likely out on Sunday, Duron Harmon will be thrusted into more snaps at safety. McCourty should be an integral part to the pass defense and will be lined up against WR Eric Decker and TE Julius Thomas. Aside from his play on the field, Devin needs to corral his defensive backs mentally in the locker room. Aqib Talib was a hot head on the big stage, losing his composure against rival WR Steve Smith early and often – putting him on the sideline for multiple key plays. CB Kyle Arrington will be lined up against Welker in the slot, who has been practicing since sustaining a concussion last week. Rookie Logan Ryan has proved to be a solid tackler but has not turned heads or his with ball skills. It will be a challenge to halt this offense but it ends with Devin McCourty. Assuming Gregory will be limited on Sunday Night, a big performance from our center-fielder could propel the Patriots to a victory.

2) Protection: From Brady’s pocket to ball security, the Carolina defense got to New England when it mattered in Week 11. A sack took the Patriots out of field goal range on their opening drive, forcing a punt. Ridley’s fumble in the Red Zone was also an early squander. New England escaped an odd first half down 10-3 and stepped it up in the second half as Tom only get sacked once more. There isn’t that much room to make mistakes against elite teams and there is no doubt that Peyton Manning makes you pays for costly errors. The Patriots will need to execute a clean and efficient gameplan to have any chance of beating the 39.8 PPG Denver Broncos. This starts with giving Brady enough time to dish it out and providing running room for Ridley, Blount and Vereen.

3) Attack: 20 points won’t beat the Broncos. Aforementioned above, they are averaging almost double that in PPG and have scored 51 touchdowns as a team – the Patriots have scored 26. Although New England slowed the pace down against Carolina to combat their league leading time of possession, I predict a high-tempo no huddle offense to start the game. The Patriots did not have a lot of chances to score given their methodical approach. Denver has been solid against the pass; however, the two top receiving yards totals against the Broncos this year were by tight ends Antonio Gates (62) and Jordan Reed (90). Gronk needs to get in the end zone, it’s a fact. If not, we need multiple touchdowns from our running backs.

Last week’s game was a challenging test for the Patriots. Manning’s ankles will be sore the rest of the year and Chandler Jones needs to exploit that on Sunday to force Peyton into some early decisions. Belichick has historically owned Manning but have the times changed? Don’t think so. In what could possibly be a more exciting game than MNF, the Patriots take it 31-30. Don’t chew off all your nails!

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