Sunday Column: Boston’s Playoff Return Shows Progress Under Stevens

Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics begin their postseason play on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after a semi-successful season, there is optimism surrounding the Green and White. (Photo Credit: Celtics Hub/
Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics begin their postseason play on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after a semi-successful season, there is optimism surrounding the Green and White. (Photo Credit: Celtics Hub/

By Matt Noonan

The Boston Celtics have returned to the postseason.

Yep, the “glory days” of Boston Celtics basketball has returned. However, don’t get your hopes up because Brad Stevens – the head coach of the month! – will be guiding a roster of second and third depth chart players against perhaps the ultimate favorite to defeat San Antonio in June (or Golden State).

Boston will once again see LeBron James in the “second season,” but unlike previous matchups, this particular series favors King James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Framingham’s own David Blatt.

That’s right, the Cavaliers are going to win this series, probably in four or five games.

Perhaps six? Well, that would depend, especially if the Celtics could win one (and hopefully two) game(s) on their own parquet.

Yet, no matter the outcome of this series – again, expect Cleveland to win – this is a huge step forward for a team that became the biggest revolving door earlier this season.

Give credit to Stevens and most of the front office as the Green and White became “pit-stop” for a slew of players over the past few months. Players like Tayshaun Prince, Nate Robinson, Jameer Nelson and Austin Rivers stole the headlines when they all landed in the ‘City of Champions’ during Danny Ainge’s ‘Wheeling and Dealing’ escapade. Rajon Rondo was a Celtic – he was on the opening day roster – but was eventually shipped to Dallas.

Once Ainge stopped shuffling the deck, Stevens had a chance to get to know his team – for the most part! – and teach them a style of basketball that resulted in a 40-42 record.

Boston won more games this year, outlasting their 2013-14 squad that captured 25 games, including 16 contests on Causeway Street. This season, the Celtics won 21 games on their home court, 19 on the road, and 12 divisional matchups. Boston also finished 28-24 in the Eastern Conference, but again, don’t let those numbers fool you because the Celtics won’t be playing basketball in May or June (I am sorry, Boston!).

I am a Celtics fan – always have been! – however, I just don’t think this team has what it takes to defeat the second best team in the East. If they were matched up against the Atlanta Hawks, well … I would think they would have a chance. Chicago? Forget it, I like the Bulls because they’ll contend for an Eastern Conference crown.

Boston – on the other hand – should enjoy seeing their beloved Celtics in the playoffs. It is extremely nice to have a winter team extend their season into mid-to-late April, especially after the Bruins’ collapse last weekend. We love having our teams compete in the postseason, we do, but this team won’t be riding Duckboats around Government Center. Instead, most of the players will learn from this opportunity and apply it to next season.

Year number two of Stevens and the Celtics has been a success. They won more games, were competitive with the league’s top teams – remember when they almost beat the Warriors? – and showed they can compete, even if they look like a squad that resembles a college intramural unit.

I am extremely excited to see the Celtics taking a step forward. And now, it is all about playing your best – at least giving your best effort, Brad! – and learning from the experience. I believe in Brad just like I believe in Boston. Better days are ahead for the Green and White, so consider this the start of something special.

All good teams have to go through a “rebuilding” phase in order to contend. Atlanta was a decent team a few years ago and now they’re number one in the Eastern Conference. Toronto wasn’t that good, even when Vince Carter played for the Raptors, but now they’re a 49-win team. And the same could be said for Milwaukee, but the Bucks won 41 games, not 49.

Let’s all enjoy this series – please do the best you can to enjoy it, but remember that while Cleveland is indeed the favorite, Boston will one day be in their shoes and ready to contend for Banner 18.

Daily Noontime – March 30, 2012

Brooks Laich netted the game winning goal on Thursday, which helped Washington escape Causeway Street, 3-2! (Photo Credit: Boston Globe/Barry Chin)


It’s Friday, and while we don’t need to break out into song and dance, let’s instead dish out some headlines and news from the Hub!

* Despite rallying to tie the game, Washington’s Brooks Laich netted the game winning shootout goal, which helped the Capitals defeat the Boston Bruins on Thursday, 3-2. Tim Thomas recorded 21 saves between the pipes, and held Washington scoreless for the first two frames. Had Boston won, they would have clinched a playoff spot, but luckily, the Black and Gold will return to the ice on Saturday when they travel to Long Island to face the New York Islanders.

Bobby Valentine told the media on Thursday that he’s expecting Carl Crawford to begin the season on a rehab assignment. The left fielder underwent wrist surgery this past offseason, and has taken part in bunting drills with the team. However, Valentine doesn’t believe he’ll be able to face living pitching until he possibly experiences “50 at-bats somewhere.”

* The Boston Celtics will return to the hardwood on Friday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm.

* Celtics President Danny Ainge made his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI on Thursday, and told The Big Show that he’s not planning on forcing Mickael Pietrus to get back on the court. He’s expected to return to the lineup soon, but according to reports, the Celtics should have more information on his concussion he sustained last week in Philadelphia.

Daily Noontime – March 15, 2012

Kevin Garnett's late fourth quarter heroics lifted Boston past Golden State! (Photo Credit: Comcast Sports/Bay Area)


Good Thursday to everyone, and welcome into yet another amazing rendition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kick-start the day with some news from the city of champions!

* Kevin Garnett’s 20-foot jumper with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter provided the Boston Celtics with a 105-103 win on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors. Garnett paced the Green and White with 24 points, while Brandon Bass added 22 points. Boston is now 2-1 on their current eight-game swing, and will return to the court on Friday when they tip-off against the Sacramento Kings.

* Sources confirmed on Wednesday evening that Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox will undergo aortic surgery on Mar. 29, and miss the remainder of the season.

* Sources have confirmed that the Celtics are possibly considering trading Paul Pierce to the Portland Trailblazers. The NBA trade deadline is set to conclude at 3PM on Thursday, and it’s likely that president of operations Danny Ainge will pull the trigger.

* The Boston Bruins will look to snap their three-game skid on Thursday evening when they face-off against the Panthers in Florida. The Panthers enter the contest having won two of their last three matchups against Carolina and Toronto.

* Harvard University’s men’s basketball team will begin their quest toward NCAA glory on Thursday when they tip-off against Vanderbilt University. Also, UMass will play its second round NIT game against Seton Hall on Saturday, Mar. 17, at 11AM.

* Finally, the New England Patriots acquired former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene on Wednesday, as well as inked his name to a three-year, $12 million deal. Fanene has spent the past seven season with the Bengals, as well as ended this pasts season with 24 tackles, 17 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks.

Daily Noontime – March 2, 2012

Jason Varitek announced his retirement from baseball on Thursday, and will certainly be missed! (Photo Credit: Eagle Tribune)


It’s Friday, and before we break into song and dance, let’s dish out some headlines news from the sports universe… Boston, Massachusetts!

* On Thursday, Boston Red Sox catcher, (or should we say backstop) Jason Varitek officially announced his retirement from the MLB. Varitek thanked a variety of managers and front office members, as well as his teammates, too. Also, he stated, ” I decided that it’s best for me and my family that I retire, that I retire a Red Sox.”

David Krejci notched three goals against New Jersey on Thursday, which included the game-winner in OT, as the Bruins defeated the Devils at the TD Garden, 4-3. Boston hasn’t swept New Jersey in the regular season since 1985-86. Boston will return to the ice on Saturday when they host the New York Islanders for a 1:00pm face-off.

* According to various Boston sources – Boston Celtics team president Danny Ainge isn’t planning on shopping or trading Rajon Rondo. Although, ESPN’s Chris Broussard did report that the organization is “aggressively shopping” their point guard. The NBA trade deadline is rapidly approaching, March 15, and it’s certainly possible that the Celtics could trade their valuable puzzle piece.

* The Boston Celtics will return to the hardwood on Friday when they host the New Jersey Nets for a 7:30pm tip-off.

VIDEO: Should The Boston Celtics Initiate A Trade?


The Boston Celtics concluded the first half of their 66-game schedule on Wednesday evening against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who defeated the Green and White, 119-104.

The Celtics will now enjoy a few days off due to the NBA All-Star game on Sunday before returning to the hardwood next week when they travel to Cleveland. However, Boston certainly needs something or someone to spark their offense and defense, who’s won 15 of 32 contests thus far. Yet, what should the Celtics do? Should they rely on team president Danny Ainge to find their savior or keep things intact?

What are your thoughts on the Celtics? Would adding a new piece to the puzzle help Doc Rivers‘ crew reach the NBA Finals?

Share your thoughts below or post them on Facebook or Twitter.

Noonan: The Ups And Downs Of Boston Sports

Bobby Valentine has spiced things up in Florida! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been a while since a dark, stormy cloud drifted over the city of Boston.

For the past few weeks, Bostonians and New Englanders have appeared aggravated and disgusted with their four major professional sports teams because they’ve either struggled or disengaged.

Yet, let’s take a step back and realize that these particular days will pass because Boston is still technically the “City of Champions,” especially since all four major sports teams have won at least one championship in the past 11-years, right?

So, without further ado, let’s take a stroll downtown and check in with the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox, who’re currently stealing the spotlight from the New England Patriots, who ended their season a few weeks ago in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thoughts on the Sox: It’s way too early to deem the upcoming Boston Red Sox season a failure, especially since it’s only been two days of pitchers and catchers.

Manager Bobby Valentine has done a rather decent job with the club over the past few days, and appears eager to help everyone improve, especially Daisuke Matsuzaka, who according to the Boston Globe, played catch with his skipper on Monday. However, the highly touted pitcher isn’t expected to return the Fenway Park bump until midseason, as he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Carl Crawford seems focused and determined to improve his performance from last season, despite ending the year with 129 hits, 29 doubles, seven triples, 56 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Also, he struck out 104 times at the plate, too. Yet, similar to Matsuzaka, Valentine doesn’t want to push his leftfielder back into the lineup because he’s currently recovering from surgery on his left wrist.

Finally, a majority of the Sox position players have already arrived in Fort Myers, which is a hopeful sign that they’ve moved on from their chicken and beer rituals from last season. Boston is expected to conduct their first full team workouts on Thursday, and I’m sure after it concludes, we’ll have plenty to discuss around the water cooler in regards to David Ortiz to Cody Ross to Jason Varitek.

The aging Boston Celtics: Literally two weeks ago, I was sitting in the TD Garden watching the Green and White face a Memphis Grizzlies squad that probably should have won this particular clash, especially because they’re younger, quicker, stronger and faster. Although, Kevin Garnett denied the Grizzlies of a much needed win by turning in 22 points and nine rebounds, which helped Boston escape with a 98-80 victory.

Although, ever since that particular day, Boston has endued a 2-6 slump, which includes two losses to a struggling Detroit Pistons team that’ll most likely miss the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Can Danny Ainge salvage the Boston Celtics season? (Photo Credit: Flickr)

The Celtics are a complete mess, and need something or someone to spark their offense and defense, but what exactly should they do?

Should team president Danny Ainge create a blockbuster move or keep the roster intact?

What would Red Auerbach do? OK, that maybe the wrong thing to ask, but really, what would the former coach do in this particular situation?

It’s hard to determine what will happen over the next few weeks, but it’s pretty certain that a change is needed, especially if Boston plans to contend for some hardware in June.

The Bruins need to score goals: Similar to the Celtics, the Bruins are struggling.

They’ve lost two of their last three contests, and registered a goose egg (zero) on the scoreboard for the sixth time this season this past Sunday when the Minnesota Wild blanked them, 2-0 on national television.

However, Boston can salvage their current six-game road trip with wins in St. Louis, Buffalo and Ottawa, which might turn some frowns upside down.

Various reports on Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed that Nathan Horton is expected to remain sidelined, while Rich Peverley continues to be hampered by a knee injury. Also, Shawn Thornton has been battling an illness, which could prevent him from playing against the Blues on Wednesday.

Although, despite the various injuries, as well as bumps and bruises I think, Patrice Bergeron summed it up perfectly when he told the media that his teammates aren’t expecting the front office to locate a “savior” to assist the Bruins, who’re currently on par to snag the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

I don’t think a drastic change is necessary for this particular squad. What Boston needs to do is focus on scoring the first goal, and capitalizing on it. They also need Tim Thomas to keep his mind on hockey, not politics or social media.

The Bruins will be fine, but I’m not ruling out a potential trade that could help Boston in May and June.

Daily Noontime – January 20, 2012

Nathan Horton and the Boston Bruins capped off their road swing with a 4-1 victory on Thursday! (Photo Credit:


It’s Friday, wahoo! Here are some headlines and news to kick-start the final day of the workweek, enjoy!

* The Boston Bruin ended their four-game road trip with a 2-2 record, as they defeated the New Jersey Devils, 4-1. The Black and Gold notched four goals in the third period, as Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly all scored for Boston, while Tim Thomas deflected 30 saves between the pipes. Boston will return to the ice on Saturday afternoon when they host the New York Rangers at the TD Garden.

* Boston Celtics President of Operations Danny Ainge told WEEI, (Boston Sports Radio) on Thursday that he was stating the obvious about dealing the “Big-3.” Although, he did admit if there is a decent deal on the table, he’ll most likely pull the trigger.

* Rajon Rondo told the media on Thursday that he’s doubtful for Friday’s contest against the Phoenix Suns, which means Avery Bradley, will most likely be the starting guard.

* According to various reports – the New England Patriots are “believed” to be the AFC foe that’ll face the St. Louis Rams next year in London, England. The Patriots last played overseas in 2009 when they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.