A brief Sunday notebook to get you geared up for Game 4, which starts in just two hours:
• The Patriot-Ledger notes that the C’s are going for their first four-game sweep since 1986, when they swept the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Elias Sports Bureau provided ESPN with some other sweep-related stats, including this little nugget: The C’s have completed (i.e. won or lost) 20 seven-game series since that ’86 sweep. Only two teams have a longer current streak of consecutive seven-gamers without sweeping one—Atlanta (32 series), and the Wiz (26).
• Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston.com points out that Boston has never—not once—swept a first-round series best-of-seven sweep. The players want to finish the job, Forsberg reports:
“The mentality I have toward it is that it’s a 3-3 tie and this is a must-win game,” said captain Paul Pierce. “We want to be desperate. We don’t want them coming back to Boston with any kind of confidence.”
“We don’t want to leave anything behind,” said Pierce. “We don’t plan on coming back to South Beach probably until the summer.
“I’m a big fan of boxing and I’ve seen boxers lose 11 rounds, then knock a guy out in the 12th round. Anything is possible, like Kevin [Garnett] says.”
• In the Globe, Doc recalls what might still be Tracy McGrady’s most memorable playoff performance:
That would an interview before Game 5 of Orlando’s 2003 first-rounder against the Pistons, which Orlando led 3-1 when T-Mac said this:
“It feels good,’’ he said before Game 5, “to finally make it to the second round.’’
The Pistons won the next three games. It’s now 2010, and McGrady still has never played in the second-round. Doc reminisces about McGrady’s baseless arrogance:
“I didn’t like it, but it didn’t worry me. At the end of the day, you obviously wouldn’t want a player to say any of that kind of stuff, but at the end it didn’t matter. You still had to play. But if you’re going to talk it, you’ve got to put up the numbers, or your team has to bail you out.”
• Ben Hoffman, writing at The New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog, notes Kendrick Perkins’ fun line from Friday’s Game 3 win:
In Friday night’s win over the Miami Heat, which gave Boston a 3-0 series lead, Perkins grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. And he did nothing else, recording 0 points, 0 assists and 0 steals.
He attempted just four shots and did not have an attempt from the free-throw line.
• If you’re outraged by David Stern’s threat to suspend coaches or players who bash the referees, you’ll love this column in The Repubican.
The columnist, Ron Chimelis, criticizes the Stern edict as an un-American infringement on free speech rights:
But it is understood that in a democracy that allows free speech, some people will use it, leaving it to the rest of us to judge its merits.
Except in the NBA.
Of course, this ignores the fact that full free speech rights don’t really exist in most private enterprises. But it makes for great rhetoric:
Talk is cheap, but suppression of free speech by one man is not. Just because it’s sports does not mean it doesn’t matter.
This is still America, even if it means letting Rasheed Wallace say Dwayne Wade gets too many calls.
It’s one thing to make an argument that David Stern should allow robust discourse about the officials, which is really what Chimelis is doing. And even there, I think, there are nuances. There’s a big difference to me between Phil Jackson preemptively complaining about Kevin Durant getting calls and coaches questioning a call after the game, when they’ve had the benefit of replay. The former seems intended to manipulate; the latter is part of what should be a permissible discussion about the game.
But to say Stern is infringing on the big ol’ First Amendment is a bit much.
In any case, Game 4 starts at 1 p.m. Consider this your open thread. Tell us what you’re seeing, what the C’s are doing well, something new Miami is bringing to fight for its playoff life. Also, please take special notice whenever Jermaine O’Neal makes a shot. Because Elias provides us with this wonderful tidbit:
Jermaine O’Neal is shooting only .161 from the field in this series (5-for-31). Over the last 40 years, only two players have made less than 20 percent of their field-goal attempts in a postseason series (minimum: 30 attempts): the Lakers’ Willie McCarter in the 1971 conference finals (6-for-31, .194) and Washington’s DeShawn Stevenson in the first round in 2007 (9-for-46, .191).
Keep shooting, Jermaine!
Comment away, folks. Go Celtics.