If you did a bracket this year like I did, you may or may not be pulling your hair out. It was an exciting first round in NCAA play, no doubt, with a number of surprise upsets and struggles. In case you missed it, let’s highlight some of them:
- Miami let me down and dropped their match against Loyola-Chicago. Miami had the 1-point lead until Donte Ingram from Loyola hit the buzzer-beater three to win 64-62. Miami’s vice: free throws and turnovers.
- Buffalo handled Arizona the way I thought Arizona was going to handle Buffalo. It wasn’t even close, with Buffalo winning 89-68. They shot 55% from the floor and 50% from three. I mean, if you’re going to play a 4-seed, you have no choice but to play this way. Though, quite frankly, Arizona just didn’t show up.
- Right out the gate URI and OU blessed us with OT, and URI took the win 83-78. It was definitely a nail biter, with both teams wishing they could have performed better. URI only shot 39% from the floor AND three, but somehow still pulled out the win. I know people were hoping to see Trae Young go a bit longer but let’s be real, OU shouldn’t have made it into the tournament in the first place.
- Houston beat San Diego State 67-65, but it wasn’t easy. Houston’s Rob Gray had 39 pts and sealed the deal with a layup, leaving just over a second left. SDS almost tied it at the buzzer, but the shot hit the rim with no hopes of getting a friendly bounce. Hard fought game by both; not even mad about this one.
I know I missed some ‘thrillers’ but… you get the picture!
No Surprises, Just Domination
Tennessee, Kansas, Duke, and Villanova won their match ups outright. I think after the second half we knew there was no need to watch. Michigan and Florida kicked it into high gear in the second half, eliminating any chance for their opponents. Not saying these games were boring— it was exciting to see some good defense and efficient shooting. Oh yeah, and they REALLY helped out my bracket. Why bet against Duke or Villanova?
Day two of the madness kicks off today at 12:15 with Providence and Texas A&M starting us off. How will your bracket look at the end of today? Have fun streaming those games in the office, class or on a lunch break! Good luck to the teams and to all my fellow bracket-makers!
After taking pay cuts just to stay in New England, I guess enough was enough. It’s been reported by numerous sources that Danny Amendola is expected to sign with the Miami Dolphins. BRB, going to go cry now.
Getting Paid What He’s Worth?
Amendola definitely proved his worth this past season. After Edelman went down with a torn ACL, Amendola knew he was going to have to pick up the slack. When I say this guy was clutch, I mean it. He was catching passes for first downs on 3rd and long more than i can count. Oh and when Gronk was double-teamed, who was there to bail out Brady? Amendola. Last season in the last two minutes of (any) half, he recorded 11 receptions for 161 yards at an average of 15 yards and 10 first downs. This is the type of guy you need at the two minute warning if you’re trying to get down the field for a quick score. The Dolphins are definitely looking for a dependable receiver, slot or not, especially with the departure of Jarvis Landry. I hope Amendola gets paid, but the ‘Fins didn’t even want to pay Landry so I don’t know what to expect.
Will We Survive Without Dola?
Everyone, including myself are heartbroken. But let’s be clear, we have enough weapons to make up for the loss. We’ll have Edelman and hopefully Mitchell back healthy; we’ve got Cooks, Hogan, Britt and Gronk. Am I missing anyone? Point is, we’ll be okay. Our usual clutch guy Edelman will be back and ready to roll. Check out his Instagram stories every once in a while. He likes to keep us fans up to date on his progress and let me tell you, he’s looking great.
Thank you Danny, for everything. You will be missed and forever loved. I don’t care where you’ve been or where you go from here because in my eyes you’ll always be Patriot.
Stats: these are some of Amendola’s situational stats from 2017. Found on NFL’s website.
I developed a fondness for Donovan Mitchell when he came out of the draft as the 13th pick. He knew his stock was worth a much higher pick, but he used that frustration to show teams how wrong they were for passing him up. One thing’s for sure: the Jazz are happy and I don’t think they’ll be giving him up any time soon.
Mitchell Proving Them Wrong
When I was writing for Boston Sports Extra a few months back, I wrote an article about Jayson Tatum possibly being up for the award. But he has since hit his rookie wall and is now working his way back to early season form. Donovan Mitchell however, had his struggles early and has since been on fire:
- He averages just about 20 pts, 4 reb, and 4 ast this season
- Shoots 84% FT, 44% FG, 35% 3PT FG
- He’s recorded two 40+ point games
- He led his team on a 10 game winning streak, which included wins against TOR, GS, SA (2x) and NO
- He won the Dunk Contest at All Star Weekend
This kid makes too much of a difference for this Utah team not to take notice. Gobert has been off the court
most of the season dealing with injuries and Rubio has been inconsistent at PG. He does well on assists at roughly 5 per game, but is only averaging 12 pts this season. All I’m saying is it would be hard to compensate for those 20 points that Mitchell provides should he sit out.
Possible Playoff Push?
The Jazz currently sit 10th, just two spots out of the playoff race. The Clippers sit in front of them at 9th and the Nuggets hold the 8th spot. But I think the Jazz may have a shot considering how fast the standings have changed in the West lately. If Denver, OKC and Minnesota can’t hold on down the stretch, the Jazz just may have a chance. Plus, their schedule looks pretty manageable, with a few tough teams throughout—all which they’ve beaten at least once before.
Donovan Mitchell’s ability to carry this team while consistently being a difference-maker speaks to his maturity. For most rookies, it’s hard to come in with that chip on your shoulder, hoping to live up to the expectations others have put in place for you. However, Mitchell’s situation is quite different in that he is the one who set his own expectations. While everyone was focused on Fultz and Ball, he showed them all that hype isn’t everything.
Continue that push for the playoffs Mitchell. Nothing is impossible!
The Celtics are officially on a four-game win streak, making them perfect since coming back from the All Star break. They took down the Pistons and the Knicks in a back to back, then came home and got the two easy wins they needed. This team is rejuvenated!
Contributions from Everyone
This Celtics team is looking more and more like the team we saw in the beginning of the season. You know, the one that went streaking? But actually, they may be slightly better than that team, as it appears that EVERYTHING is clicking for these guys on both ends of the ball. The defensive spark has been provided by Smart and Irving has once again proven himself a leader and true PG by breathing life into the offense. Just last night, the Cs provided a good old- fashioned butt-whooping, smashing the Hornets 134-106. Irving had 34 of those points in just 25 minutes of play (UNREAL) going 4-6 from three. Baynes also stepped up with 12 points and some grade-A defense. Monroe filled in for the injured Theis and went 6-9 with 14 points and 4 rebounds. Brown, Smart, Rozier and Morris continue to do what they do of course. And although Horford and Tatum only recorded a combined 12 points, they were a +27 and +18, respectively. THIS is a team you don’t want to see in a 7-game series!
Next Up: Houston
The Houston Rockets haven’t lost a game since January 26th… holy crap. They are rolling and leading the defending champ Warriors in the West by .5 game. The last time they played the Cs it looked like it was over in the first half, scoring 62 points in the first half. They unfortunately didn’t hold up in the scoring department, nor in defense. The Cs out scored them 61-36 in the second half to take it 99-98. But the Rockets won’t make the same mistake twice. They will be on their home court this time with a healthy Chris Paul. And I don’t if anyone has been paying attention, but when Harden AND Paul play, this team doesn’t lose. Well, they do, but it’s extremely rare. Both teams are better this time around, but both will definitely have their hands full.
Can The Celtics Win This Match-up?
They can win any match-up they want, as long as they fight for it. But they need a few things to happen if they want to take the series against Houston.
- Defense! They must defend the Rockets like they defended the last four teams they played. Giving up those easy baskets in the paint will get them beat, as well as the three. Make Harden, Paul, Ariza and Capela work for their shots.
- Bench. This group has made quite the turnaround. The production of the bench is key here. The Rockets seem to depend heavily on their starters so if our second unit can outscore theirs, we’ll be in business.
- Starters. They have to continue to do their job too. Stifling the Rockets Starters on defense and outscoring them as much as possible will be tremendous. I’m not worried about Irving or Brown, but Tatum has been in a bit of a slump lately. I want him to have a big game, or at least get back on track offensively.
Watch the three-game road trip begin this Saturday when the Celtics take on the Rockets in primetime. Tune into ABC at 8:30 pm, with pregame coverage starting an hour before on NBC Sports Boston.
After the struggle to come to an agreement and the long awaited ‘passing of the physical’, J.D. Martinez is now officially a part of the team. I personally thought this deal would NEVER get done, which would have been a shame because we needed a big bat. But Dombrowski came through for us, and with plenty of Spring Training games left.
Getting the Deal Done
Martinez was initially offered $100 million for five years. Then there was a lot of chatter and mixing up of numbers that was immediately shut down by the organization. But any type of deal was looking bleak for a while, and here’s why:
- Martinez, who initially wanted a seven year deal (and I’m assuming more than $100 million) became agitated. He thought he deserved more, but the Sox wouldn’t budge.
- Eric Hosmer then received his monster deal from the Padres at $144 million for 8 years. Now, many didn’t believe he deserved a big contract like that, which was why he was sitting there in free agency for so long.
Just looking at stats, the Hosmer deal was kind of a slap in the face. Martinez has been more consistent the past few years, plus he’s coming off of a monster season. Hosmer’s BA has been up and down, with last season not being all that impressive in comparison to Martinez. That’s business for you. But Martinez ended up getting a contract he could get behind (5 yrs/$110 million). No matter what people say, it HAD to be front loaded, along with all the opt out options and limited no trade clause. It’s a nice illusionary tactic. But really, he knew wasn’t going to get a better deal than he got. Not with next year’s free agency pool…(*cough* Bryce Harper *cough*).
Martinez’s Big Bat Dominance
A lot of people I knew didn’t believe we needed this guy. Everyone wanted Stanton, but he didn’t want us, so it was time to move on. Honestly, Martinez was the next best thing. Just last year he hit 45 HRs, had 104 RBIs, a BA of .303 and an OPS of 1.066 — and that was after being traded midseason. This guy had some solid seasons with Detroit, which was where he really started to come into his own. In three full seasons with them, he recorded 83 HRs, 246 RBIs, batted .301 with an OPS of .899. As long as Martinez can continue to post those Big Papi numbers like he did last season, the Red Sox will be a legitimate threat in the AL again.
I’m looking forward to an exciting season, and hopefully one that doesn’t end with a first round exit in the playoffs. Let’s go Sox Nation!
The Celtics have a two game home stand that starts tonight before they head out to Houston to face the Rockets. I know they are hoping to continue this winning streak, replicating what they were able to do their last two games. Well, they struggled a bit against the Knicks, but thy still came out with a win.
Return of Marcus Smart
Marcus sat out for a while with a hand injury he suffered on the west coast road trip in late January. His name was also thrown around during the trade deadline, with the Grizzlies hoping to get him for either a 1st round pick or Tyreke Evans. Now most thought that would have been ‘smart’, considering Evans averages about 20 points a game. I bet those fools are glad that Danny loves Marcus too much to give him up, because our defense has improved dramatically since his return. I know it’s only been two games, but you can see a difference in the team as a whole. Just go back and watch the end of that game against Detroit, where 8 missed shots were forced by the Cs — and Smart was on the floor for that. My point is, our defensive flame is back and burning bright.
The next five games look something like this for the Celtics:
- 2/26, v. Grizzlies
- 2/28 v. Hornets
- 3/3 @ Rockets
- 3/5@ Bulls
- 3/8 @ Timberwolves
The first two are winnable, and with the production of the bench as of late, the starters shouldn’t have to exert much energy. This is key with the road trip coming up. The Rockets and Timberwolves are no joke, even though the Celtics have beaten them AND held them under 100 points. The Rockets are nearly unstoppable when Paul, Harden and Capela play. The Wolves will be without Butler, but that won’t make a difference because the team is rife with talent. The Cs are going to need Monroe to shine in these games, especially with Baynes dealing with an elbow. He can’t keep missing those put backs!
Toronto’s next five games are VERY winnable. But I don’t expect the Pistons and Wizards to go down without a fight. Besides, the Raptors lost in OT to the Bucks, so they aren’t invincible. Though, I will add that if the playoffs started today, Toronto gets Miami and Boston gets Philly. I mean, of course we want the #1 seed, but as long as our Kryptonite sits at #8, we’ll take the #2.
It’s no secret that the relationship between the NBA players and the referees this season has been contentious. Just recently, Kevin Durant was ejected in his team’s win over the Knicks. He initially accused the refs of ‘picking on him’, but after having time to cool off he apologized for his remarks. But really, this is nothing compared to what’s been happening all season.
Technicals and Ejections for Everyone!
So far this season, we have witnessed some new faces become a part of the technical foul and ejection club. An emotional Steph Curry was ejected earlier this season for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of an official. Durant has also been ejected a number of times this season after having some outbursts over foul calls. Even LeBron James has been ejected this season for ‘charging’ at an official. Russell Westbrook was recently ejected for arguing a no call when he clearly got fouled. I know this isn’t all of them, but they are notable to say the least. I’m sure Draymond Green and Boogie Cousins are also shocked, considering they are usually the ones who lead the league in technicals and ejections. Though, Green has expressed his frustration with the refs, saying basically they should all be fired. He isn’t the only one; many of the players have been vocal about the refs, but out of respect for Commissioner Silver they have tried to rein it in.
Tension with Refs Leads to Tension with Each other?
All of this pent up tension with the refs has to be released somehow right? Well, maybe that’s what we can attribute all of the altercations among the players to. There has been a lot of chippy play (and pettiness) going on around the league, leading some ‘fights’. NBA players don’t really fight; they just exchange words and get in each other’s face, except for Aaron Afflalo of course. Anyways, it seems most of that pent up emotion was released on MLK Day. In just about every game someone had an issue, but the most memorable was the Rockets-Clippers showdown. Only two people out of the possible five that could have been punished were suspended. The whole situation makes you wonder: do players take it out on one another because they can’t fully express themselves with the refs? I think that may be the case.
There is obviously no type of trust or understanding amongst the new refs and the players. The players no longer have that group of refs that they’ve built relationships with over the years, which means they can no longer get by on minor violations, like travelling or a double dribble. These new refs call EVERYTHING, but they sometimes miss the big ones, and that’s where the frustration comes from. Hopefully this meeting at the All-Star break will result in some positive changes from both parties.