Every Friday, Team Noontime — Matt Noonan, Andrew Pezzelli, and Zach Weiss — get together to record a weekly podcast on national (and yes, sometimes New England-based sports news). And this week, the trio shared their thoughts on the upcoming NBA play-in tournament.
All three believe this is a good thing for a league that included a play-in tournament last year when games were shifted to Orlando, Florida due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And as of this afternoon — Friday, May 14, to be exact — six of eight play-in spots are secured, including the seventh, eighth, and ninth positions in the Eastern Conference.
We’ll find out over the next few days as to which teams will secure the final two spots — one in the Eastern Conference and one in the Western Conference as the play-in tournament is set to begin next Tuesday, May 18 and will conclude Friday, May 21.
Additionally, Noonan, Pezzelli, and Weiss discuss the Boston Celtics’ current campaign, which finds the Green and White in seventh place in the Eastern Conference heading into the play-in tournament next week.The Celtics will most likely tip-off against the Charlotte Hornets, but could face the Indiana Pacers, pending results between now and Sunday.
Boston has two games remaining in the regular season against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Saturday, May 15) and New York Knicks (Sunday, May 16).
And while I don’t think so, many believe the Green and White will either be eliminated in the opening round or sent home in rounds two (or three).
Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics are not equipped for a deep postseason run. And a major reason is their depth, but also their health.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker are good players, but they cannot carry the Celtics to 16 postseason victories.
Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Daniel Theis could certainly help Boston win a series – perhaps it would be in seven games, not five or six – and the same could be said for Payton Pritchard, who has started twice this season.
Oh, let’s not forget Tristan Thompson, who has been so-so since arriving in Boston ahead of the 2020-21 season. Thompson currently leads the Green and White in rebounds per game (8.2).
Like many Boston sports fans, I am eager to see the Celtics win their 18th banner in franchise history – their 17th championship seems like years ago. Additionally, the 2007-08 team was much different than these current Celtics that lacks depth, as well as some leadership and accountability when needed.
Boston should have won last night’s meeting with Brooklyn, especially after taking down the second-best team in the Western Conference: the Phoenix Suns. But instead, I and other so-called “Green-teamers” are wondering if we will have to wait another year (or two or three!) to see this team truly compete for another banner.
As of this late afternoon, the Celtics sit in sixth place with 12 games remaining. They are currently in line to meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, a team they have beaten twice this season in three attempts. But as we all know, this potential match-up (or meeting) could change, pending how the next few weeks go.
Boston is slated to compete against five postseason teams over the next few weeks, including the New York Knicks, who have won nine of their last 10 outings. But before Boston worries about slowing down the Orange and Blue, they must find their grove against the Charlotte Hornets, who are currently in position for the NBA‘s play-in tournament.
A win tomorrow afternoon against Charlotte is just what Boston needs – in fact, 12 wins down the stretch would be great, but that is probably unlikely. However, if this Celtics squad can find ways to win games by not squandering opportunities and playing as a team instead of five individuals, then maybe – just maybe this particular group could surprise (or shock?) some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
It seems like ages ago when we celebrated a Boston sports championship – did one of those wins include quarterback Tom Brady? – so while I don’t believe this team is capable of a deep postseason run, I’ll remain optimistic like I always do for my hometown Celtics.
Happy Sunday, everyone – I hope this post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and enjoying a busy weekend of football.
I am back for my second-straight ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column – thank you to everyone that stopped by last week, and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and opinions on a few sports items, along with some podcast suggestions, too.
As mentioned last week, I am excited to produce some new content and look forward to writing this post every week. Additionally, I hope you look forward to reading this column, too – any suggestions or ideas are welcome!
So, without further ado, here is my thoughts and ideas on sports, life, and more for Sunday, January 10 – be well, stay safe, and think positive thoughts, everyone!
Last week, I went into a bit more depth on my thoughts, but today, I am going to dish out a few more thoughts – 10, to be exact – and get right to the point, so here we go:
Thought No. 1: Is it just me or is watching Tom Brady in the postseason with another team difficult to watch? To be honest, I found myself rooting for the Washington Football Team last night because of Taylor Heinicke, but deep down, I knew the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to win. And last night’s win proved that Brady can win a postseason game without Bill Belichick.
Thought No. 3:Josh Allen is hands down the best quarterback taken in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Yes, I know that is an opinion, but he found a way to lead his team to its first postseason win yesterday since 1995. Allen has played great this season and deserves more credit for his improvement under Brian Daboll.
Thought No. 4: Due to Covid-19 protocols, NBC’s Mike Tirico was forced to call last night’s Tampa Bay-Washington contest from his house. And to be honest, he sounded great – I mean, he always sounds good, right? Tirico will be heard more over the next few weeks with the National Hockey League (NHL) starting-up its season later this week, but I think what we witnessed last night is the opportunity more networks (and maybe streaming services?) to allow their broadcasters to call games remotely. Of course, there is nothing better than calling a game in an actual arena or stadium – you do miss certain things when you’re not in the building – but if there is one thing we have learned these last few months it is that broadcasts (and other work) can be done from homes and apartments, along with studios, too.
Thought No. 5: A few days ago, I saw a great tweet – well, more some amazing career advice from Imry Halevi, who is the assistant director of athletics, multimedia, and production at Harvard University, about finding your way in this very competitive (and yes, crowded) sports world: “There is no ‘right way’ to get that perfect job. No straight line from A to Z.” I encourage everyone to read this tweet and share some thoughts (below!). Imry is someone I admire – he is innovative, as well as a great follow with tons of tremendous advice on the field.
Thought No. 6: The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a Covid-19 problem. And they need to do something about it as soon as possible. I am not saying this because of the Boston Celticsinjury report, which was released last night – is that game still happening later? – but because it is extremely hard to play basketball in a different city three or four nights each week. But as Austin Rivers of the New York Knicks explained, “If we do our job and remain available, it gives us a chance to win every night.”
Thought No. 10: I’ll take Alabama over Ohio State tomorrow night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Go Tide!
Podcast Interview Suggestion: Listen to Paul Liberman, who is the co-founder of DraftKings, on The VentureFizz Podcast, which is hosted by Keith Cline. It is a great interview that tells the story of DraftKings – you also gain some tremendous insight on starting your own venture, too.
Welcome to Tuesday, everyone – how is everyone doing?
The sun is shining (currently) but we do have some rain on the way so make sure to get some Vitamin D before the clouds arrive. And make sure to smile, too – smiling is important during unprecedented times.
Let’s have another great day by taking another trip down memory lane with a brand new ‘On This Date in History’ from your friends here at Noontime Sports!
1996: The Chicago Bulls defeated the Washington Bullets, 103-93, to conclude the 1995-96 regular season with a 72-10 overall record. Chicago would go onto win an NBA championship later that spring against the Seattle SuperSonics.
2001: The Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Michael Vick with the first pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. The Arizona Cardinals selected guard Leonard Davis with the second pick, while the Cleveland Browns picked defensive tackle Gerard Warren with the third pick.
Richard Seymour was selected sixth by the New England Patriots before the team snagged Matt Light in the second round.
2018: Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Manaea no-hits the Boston Red Sox while retiring 10 batters in nine innings. Oakland beat Boston, 3-0, thanks to Marcus Semien, who concluded the early season contest with three runs, two hits, and one RBI. Boston’s Chris Sale suffered his first loss of the season – the lefthander recorded 10 strikeouts but did yield three runs on six hits.
Linton arrived at the Dudley, Massachusetts campus after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he helped the Cadets with numerous tasks, including scouting reports to working with the wing players at practice to assisting with in-game strategy.
Before assisting the Army West Point men’s basketball program, Linton spent time as an assistant at both his alma mater, Clarkson University, and Bowdoin College.
Coaching a program like Nichols certainly intrigued Linton, who is excited “to continue building on what has already been established” with the Nichols men’s basketball program.
“The chance to take over a program that represents excellence, both on and off of the basketball court was important to me,” said Linton when asked about becoming the new men’s basketball coach at Nichols. “Also, the growth potential of the program was equally intriguing, (as well).”
Nichols concluded its 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 mark. The Bison advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament earlier this year, thanks to postseason victories against Amherst College, Middlebury College, and Rowan University.
Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Coach Linton to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season.
As a former Division III, men’s basketball player did you always want to coach or become a head coach at this particular level?
Absolutely. I had the great fortune to play for Adam Stockwell during my first three years at Clarkson. I remember sitting in his office as a freshman and sophomore, and him telling me that I would be a college basketball coach one day. Prior to that, I had casually thought about the idea of it, but after (those conversations) I began to own that reality. Everything I’ve done since was aimed at this goal of becoming a Division III head coach.
What do you know about the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)? Are you excited to coach in a very competitive league?
I’m extremely excited to coach in this league. I know that it is made up of high-level coaches that have built some of the best and most competitive programs in New England. The talent across the board is impressive and something that I notice has improved since my departure from Division III. This is a conference that I believe should be a multiple bid league to the NCAA tournament (every season). I look forward to the challenge of being in that mix.
How did your experience with Army West Point shape you into the coach you are today?
I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at Army. The development that I was able to take part in both on and off of the basketball court was truly remarkable. It is the preeminent leadership development institution in the world. From the faculty to the cadets and all the variety of guest speakers that came through West Point, it truly was a hub for leadership development.
Basketball-wise, being able to coach at the Division I level just provides an amazing amount of time that you get to spend coaching and teaching the game to your players. We also fielded a junior varsity team at West Point, which allowed us as (to gain experience) being a head coach as assistants to the varsity. More than anything, being around the people day in and day out was the number one takeaway that I believe will shape me into the coach I am and hope to be.
Great coaches are great leaders. And great leaders are great people first.
What are some of the biggest goals/objectives you (and the men’s basketball program) hope to accomplish between now and the team’s first practice?
The biggest thing will be developing the framework for meaningful relationships with each other. That is from new staff to players and vice versa. It will also be amongst the current players as well. Acclimating the newcomers into the fold, while also continuing to develop even stronger bonds with your returning teammates (will be a must, as well). That will be our biggest focus prior to our first practice on October 15th.
A few quick-hitters, beginning with your all-time favorite memory of playing basketball.
Legitimately, no one believed we could get it done because there was honestly no prior reason to think so, but only the individuals in our locker room believed (we could win a conference championship) and that’s all that mattered. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since (and proves what) the power of belief can accomplish.
Who was a player you idolized growing up?
Tracy McGrady. Unfortunately for me, my teammates and coaches, however, I played nothing like McGrady, but when I got to college, I really enjoyed watching Rajon Rondo when he first started playing for the Boston Celtics. I enjoyed watching Rondo as a student-athlete with the Celtics – he was a big part of their resurgence. I played the point for Clarkson and I really respected how he played that position. And that’s probably why my three-point percentage was what it was, too.
Finally, if you could coach any basketball player, both current or past, who would it be and why?
Growing up in New York City, I was and still am a big fan of the New York Knicks. We’ve fallen on hard times for a good 15-20 years, however, as a kid, there were some awesome teams for me to follow.
I fell in love with basketball by watching John Starks play. I would always wear his number (three) whenever I could in youth tournaments and recreational leagues. The passion and swag that he played with was everything to me. He embodied what it meant to be a New Yorker, as well. He was hard-nosed, did whatever it took for the greater good of the team, and took the challenge of guarding the best players on the other team. He also jacked three-pointers, too, which was still a newer thing for the game during the 1990s.
John Starks is definitely someone I would love to coach.
Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage by following @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter!