Noonan: Boston Celtics Playoffs Thoughts and Predictions

Are the Boston Celtics ready to earn Banner 18? We'll find out!

 By Matt Noonan

Similar to the Boston Bruins, Noontime Sports has provided a few thoughts on the Boston Celtics, as well as their playoff chances. Will they win their 18th NBA title in franchise history? Who knows, but here is what we believe will happen with the Boston Celtics. 

Thoughts on the Boston Celtics: Well here comes another playoffs series, whoop-di-doo!

Are you excited? Revved up and ready for a championship run? Who thinks this Boston Celtics team has what it takes to go the distance?

Stop right there. Who truly believes this group of veterans and young guns has what it takes to earn Banner 18?

Unfortunately, I don’t feel the urge to root for this team primarily because every member of this squad, including head coach Doc Rivers and point guard Rajon Rondo haven’t gotten over the Kendrick Perkins departure from February. Instead of coping with it or learning to move on, the Celtics, who were [41-14] at the time of the trade, fell apart and finished their final 27-games with a [15-12] record.

A majority of their efforts were put into grieving over the loss of Perkins, who may or may not have been the true part of “Ubuntu.” Yet, Perkins was part of that starting five, which featured himself, Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett that never lost a playoff series. They were the ones who were able to boast about beating the Los Angles Lakers in 2008.

Yet, there were also times when the “starting-5” was missing Garnett or Perkins, but again, this was the core group of guys that defined Celtics basketball, especially in the 21st century, but again, Perkins was a key part to their success, despite all of his fouls and frowns.

On Sunday the Celtics begin their quest for Banner 18 without Perkins or the essential member of team “Shrek and Donkey,” (Glen Davis and Nate Robinson).

There are indeed some new faces, such as Carols Arroyo, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic and Troy Murphy, but is every Green and White supporter excited to see these guys contribute toward bringing Boston yet another championship? I don’t think so.

If you had the chance to catch part IV of ESPN’s “The Association,” which was a documentary series that followed the Celtics all season, the final chapter clearly summed up the fact that this team is not ready to contend for a championship. Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo again seem dumbfounded by the trade, but Kevin Garnett though hasn’t lost his mojo.

The Celtics are also faced with the daunting task of wondering how much Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal will help this club. Can they make a difference or be the catalysts in a possible downfall? Both players signed up as aging veterans who wanted one more shot at redemption or possibly the chance to play in a NBA Finals, but unless these two stars figure out a way to stay healthy, they could possibly go down as the two biggest busts in Celtics lore.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the team, but the only way we’ll find out what this team is made of is when the New York Knicks invade the TD Garden for games 1 and 2 on Sunday and Tuesday. After two games, the Celtics may provide us with some answers or ideas, but again, should we call Las Vegas and consider them a lock to win the title? Nope, please don’t!

Although, if Celtics fans learned anything last year, it is that the regular season can’t truly predict what will happen in the post-season or who is a guaranteed winner. Sure, the Chicago Bulls maybe the best team in basketball, but do they have what it takes to win a NBA championship?

Does Kobe Bryant have enough fuel in his tank to lead his Los Angles Lakers to the finish line or will the Miami Heat’s “Big-3” put aside their difference and win their first of possibly seven titles, according to LeBron James?

The NBA post-season is a long and enduring process, but again, who knows where this Celtics team can go, so just sit back, relax and wait until Sunday evening for some answers.

Prediction: Again, this Celtics team is a true “wild-card.” They could win it all or possibly flop out after round one against the New York Knicks. Doc Rivers is definitely one of the top five sideline generals in the NBA, so as long as he can keep his team motivated or focused, then they’ll advance. If any funny business occurs or if the team doesn’t respond to Rivers, then consider it another year without a championship.

The Celtics will most likely win their first round series against the New York Knicks in six games and then lose to the Miami Heat during the second round of the NBA playoffs.

NBA Finals Prediction:  Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs, (Bulls win the series in seven games, 4-3).  

Noonan: Thoughts on the Bulls and Celtics

The Bulls and Celtics have had some exciting rivalries, but what does Thursday's game mean for the playoffs?

By Matt Noonan

The Boston Celtics will travel to the “Windy City” on Thursday for an enticing regular season matchup that could possibly be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, but let’s not worry about the second season just yet.

The Bulls and Celtics are not the biggest rivals, but after the ’09 playoff series that went to game seven at the TD Garden in Boston, it almost seems that they are becoming the NBA’s greatest matchup to watch. Although, surely, one can name other NBA matchups that might be a tad bit more enticing, right?

Boston is not Chicago and Chicago is not Boston. Boston is a city that is passionate and loves their sports, but the same can be said for any person living in Illinois. While Boston and Chicago’s rich histories may not run parallel, they are indeed two great cities that are always competing for championships and glory.

Chicago had had the opportunity to celebrate a championship more recently than Boston, as the Blackhawks knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals last June.

Hmm… the Flyers, why does that team sound familiar?

Boston came close to snagging Banner 18 last June, but came up short to their hated NBA rival, Los Angles.

Yet, while both these towns have their own rich history, basketball has clearly has drawn these two historical cities together for one more regular season contest, but does this game mean anything?

Who will win on Thursday? The Bulls or Celtics?

Does this game have any meaning or impact on the playoffs?

Should Boston fans be a tad bit concerned about this particular Chicago team?

Ever since the Bulls grabbed hold of first place in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have begun playing catch-up, as well as played some lousy basketball. Losing games to Atlanta, Charlotte and Indiana isn’t what the Green and White should be doing at this point in the season. Instead of losing, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers needs to be making sure his group is primed for a possible win against the Bulls, but also, the playoffs.

Although, ask one of the Noontime Sports the Radio Show co-hosts, Jason Aguiar and he may say, “Doc Rivers is to be blamed for their most recent struggles.”

The Celtics finished the 2009-2010 regular season, [27-27], as well as weaseled themselves into a fourth place spot in the Eastern Conference. Yet, similar to the current Celtics team now, they too struggled to finish line last April.

Boston ended up winning just three of their eight contests last April and trust me, a majority of the fans were not expecting a deep playoff run, which ended up happening.

Boston has also begun watching the current “Big Three” start to slow down and diminish. In some ways it almost feels as if Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have already met the ghosts of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. The Celtics are not the same team that won Banner 17 in 2008, but instead a group of tired old men that are limping to the finish line for a second season.

Should we throw in Shaquille O’Neal? What about Jermaine O’Neal, where exactly does he fit in this equation?

Chicago is young, vibrant, as well as an up and coming squad. They can run laps around the old fellas and certainly, they know it. The Bulls have a player that has made many Chicago followers often forget the name Michael Jordan. Point guard Derrick Rose has had an exceptional season and is a major reason why his team remains locked in first place. Yet, with just a handful games remaining, Rose will certainly expect his teammates to “rise up” and be prepared for whatever challenges come their way.

Sure, some may think that Rose shouldn’t be even considered in the same sentence as Jordan, which is true, but as of recently, he has been the catalyst behind the Bulls “comeback to the playoffs party.”

Getting back on track, both the Bulls and Celtics need this particular win. The Bulls need it to extend their current three game lead on the Green and White, while the Celtics would like to get somewhat closer for the chance to be atop the Eastern Conference.

Although when it is all said it done, records and standings don’t matter, but instead, wins in the playoffs. If the Celtics proved one thing last season, sure they are old, washed up and tired, but when the game is on the line, they still know how to produce and win.

So, get excited for Thursday’s showdown. Grab some popcorn, get together with friends and cheer on the Bulls or Celtics, but just know, this is just a typical regular season game. Wait until next weekend when the wins will really have an impact on their season.

Boston Red Sox Thoughts and Questions

By Brian Maloney and Matt Noonan

Noontime Sports was indeed watching the Boston Red Sox – Texas Rangers series and after digesting three painful outings, both Brian Maloney and Matt Noonan felt it was necessary to answer a few questions from what was on display.

Being a part of Red Sox Nation, fans know how susceptible people are to overreaction. While the Boston Red Sox began their season with three straight loses to the Texas Rangers, there is the general consensus that the sky is falling, but really, is it?

Well, realistically the season is far from over and with 159-games remaining and with a brand new series against the Cleveland Indians beginning Tuesday, here are just a few reason why all Bostonians, New Englanders shouldn’t get concerned or worried just yet.

Adrian Gonzalez is the “real deal:”

Brian Maloney: I think we’ll take three RBIs in three games. He struck out twice, which is huge for a middle of the lineup bat.

Matt Noonan: I was rather surprised with Gonzalez’s performance. I thought he would have struggled, but how about his stolen base too, Brian? Certainly, he will be fun to watch all season, but when will Carl Crawford pick up a bat and copy Gonzalez’s swing?

Should fans be concerned about Carl Crawford’s weekend performance:

BM: Crawford is a career [.296] hitter and it’s ignorant to think that his [2-12] start means anything.  Sample size means everything and twelve at bats do not make a season. Although, the market probably forced the Sox to pay more for him than what he was actually worth, so people are already seeing another J.D. Drew situation begin, but again, he will hit and run, so just give him time to find his swing.

MN: Couldn’t agree more, Brian, but again, it is only three games, so it is rather hard to tell what kind of impact he will have on the team come July, August and September. I do agree that the Sox may have dished out too much money for this guy, but hey, let’s hope he doesn’t take a page out of Shaquille O’Neal’s book. The “Big Shamrock” ended up getting hurt and just doing a bunch of celebrity appearances around town, but for all those Crawford fans, just know, he’ll be fine and eventually produce at the plate.

Jon Lester always starts slow:

BM: April has always been a bad month for Lester. His ERA is almost a run and a half higher in March and April, compared to his other career numbers, [4.95 vs. 3.58]. He is the “Ace of the team” and will slowly transition into “hero mode,” just watch!

MN: Brian, why are we so concerned about Lester? Similar to Crawford, he will be fine. Yes, Lester always starts slow and while we both ponder his unusual play during the early part of the season, let’s just admit that he’s still on pace to win 20-games, so again, let’s not worry because the lefty will snap out of his funk sooner or later. I also think that John Lackey and Clay Buchholz will follow in his footsteps, but again, while those are bold predictions on my end, let’s just sit back and watch Lester bounce back in his next outing.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia can hit:

BM: Ok, his career numbers don’t really support my theory, but trust me. This kid can hit.  He has “plus-plus” power and a fairly good eye, but also, he can produce from both sides of the dish, which is something the Red Sox will need out of him. If the Red Sox can bring out his potential or even most of it, the Nation will be ecstatic with Salty behind the dish until one of our prospects is ready for the big time.

MN: This guy has not been impressive, but certainly, he does remind you of Dustin Pedroia, who began his big league career incredibly slow, but then took off toward the end of the season. Remember when Pedroia hit that towering home run over the Green Monster during game seven of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians? Similar to Pedroia, I sure hope we can watch a similar story, but while his defense isn’t bad, it’s just his hitting that needs to improve.

How good are the Texas Rangers:

BM: They are indeed the reigning American League champions. It’s not like Boston was swept by Kansas City, but instead, by a team that could certainly win the AL West. Their trio of starters that the Sox faced included, C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis, who aren’t that bad, but also, let’s not forget to Neftali Feliz, who is a valuable member of their bullpen. The Rangers offense is quite impressive too, especially when a team has Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler.

MN: Texas is indeed coming off their World Series high, but it is too early to hand them the division crown. Let’s not forget about Oakland, a team that surely has potential. Also, whatever happened to Los Angles of Anaheim, weren’t they usually a lights out team? I completely respect your thoughts, but after only watching three games this season and yes, all three being Red Sox vs. Rangers, I cannot hand them the title just yet.

Daily Noontime – February 2, 2011

Looks like spring is on the way!

Happy Groundhog Day and according to our new best friend, Punxsutawney Phil, the United States of America should expect an early spring! That is awesome, especially since the entire country has dealt with global warming and … well enough of my political rant, here is your Daily Noontime for February 2, 2011!

Headlines:

* Boston Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal is clearly enjoying his time with the Green and White, but realizes that his time to end his NBA career will happen sooner rather than later.

* New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has won yet another AP Offensive Player award for his epic 2010 performance.

* Mother Nature put a damper on various travel plans for multiple professional teams on Tuesday and it can only get worse on Wednesday!

* Mississippi stunned #10 University of Kentucky on Tuesday during the final few seconds to secure the 71-69 victory.

* Former Los Angles Lakers great, Magic Johnson believes that his old team needs to make a deal to remain in contention for yet another NBA banner in June.

* Did you ever wonder what exactly the “G” stands for on the Green Bay Packers helmet?

Games to Watch:

* Dallas at New York Knicks (NBA) – 7:30pm eastern

* New Orleans at Oklahoma City (NBA) – 8:00pm eastern

* Portland at Denver (NBA) – 9:00pm eastern

* Los Angles Kings at Edmonton (NHL) – 9:30pm eastern

Video of the Day:

Are you excited for the Super Bowl ads this year? Do you think they’ll be good? Here is a sneak peak at some great ones to come!


Boston Sports Check-Up in January 2011

Look outside your window and what do you see? Snow? Ice? Freezing cold weather (not that you can tell or describe what “cold” or a temperature looks like), but exactly, what do you see?

Take that idea and apply it to our Boston sports scene. Currently, many New Englanders and Bostonians are continuing to mourn the Patriots exit in the NFL playoffs, which was provided by those New York Jets on January 16, 2011. Another reason to despise the New York sports teams!

Other fans are just happy that they can turn their attention to the Bruins and Celtics every night, as well as those who are eagerly waiting for the Red Sox pitcher and catchers workouts to begin in February.

Yet, no matter what, it is important to consider the current mood or feelings that are going around during this rather chilly time in January and check in on all four teams. So, here is our breakdown and current thoughts on the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, enjoy!

New England Patriots: Watching the Patriots early exit from the 2010 NFL playoffs is still somewhat hard to grasp and dissatisfying. Not only did they lose to an AFC East opponent, but a New York team, which really puts a bad taste in any Bostonian’s mouth. Yet, finishing atop the AFC with a record of (14-2) and knocking off the “heavy-hitters,” Baltimore, Indianapolis, San Diego, Pittsburgh and New York once, is quite an impressive accomplishment and clearly, they exceeded their pre-season expectations.

Going into the off-season, there will be a lot of items that need to be addressed, but first, the  biggest task of them all will be if commissioner Roger Goodell and his team of executives  can get a new CBA in place for a 2011 season. Pending that there is a season come next  September, the Patriots will be faced with the daunting task of resigning all-pro  tackle, Logan Mankins, who had asked for a long-term contract prior to the start of the ’10   season, but his wish was not granted. Instead, Mankins held out of mini-camp and training-  camp and did not return to the team until the first weekend in November. He played an  important role in protecting his quarterback, but also opening up holes at the line for the  running game.

Of course there are other names too that will be important to address, such as Matt  LightFred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Will  all these names return next season? Could we see some familiar faces in new places?

Then there is quarterback Tom Brady and his fractured foot, which could pose a problem f  for the upcoming season; yet, we shouldn’t doubt his toughness or love for the game. He,  unlike some quarterbacks is tough and mentally prepared every week to win, so don’t ever count out Mr. Brady!

All in all, their status here in January is somewhat quiet, but as they prepare for the NFL draft, look for the squad to continue to add pieces to this newly assembled defense and even add maybe an extra deep threat for Brady. Any chance that Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad OchoCinco could be a new member of the Patriots in 2011? The possibilities and thoughts will continue to run wild until kick-off next season.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics received great news on Tuesday, as they welcomed back center Kendrick Perkins, who not only returned three weeks earlier, but proved that he his hungry and wants another championship ring. Of course, Perkins has felt the sting from his injury, which occurred last June during the NBA Finals against the Lakers in game six. Had Perkins remained in the line-up, could they have beaten Los Angles and earned another NBA championship trophy and banner for the rafters? That’s debatable!

The Green and White have been hot as of recently and own one of the better records in the NBA. Having won 34 games and already past the mid-way point of the season, they certainly seem in prime position to go after Banner 18 in June. Although, there have been some great surprises thus far and they don’t all belong to Shaquille O’Neal. Forward Glen Davis has clearly matured and improved his game. Davis’s minutes have improved greatly, averaging close to 30-minutes a game. Other names that have been incredibly helpful this season are Von Wafer, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody.

Again, the Celtics own the best record in the East and clearly would earn the top seed to begin the conference playoffs, if it were to begin today. Yet, a big test will come Thursday, when they begin a four-game road trip, starting in Portland, Oregon. The NBA Finals rematch will take place on Sunday January 30, 2011, which promises to be something special. Besides, the Celtics want revenge, but can they get it?

As long as everyone remains healthy and Doc Rivers keeps coaching, then consider this squad dangerous for the remainder of the season, as well as in the playoffs too.

Boston Bruins: It seems that the Bruins constantly win, lose and win again, yet, what makes this team more enjoyable to watch compared to past seasons is their physical play and ability to skate for 60-minutes, rather than 40 or 45-minutes. Of course, there are certain games where fans want to pull their hair out and scream, but once they fully establish a decent rhythm, then this team will be ready to contend for their sixth Stanley Cup.

Head coach Claude Julien wasn’t too pleased with his teams performance a week ago against the Buffalo Sabres, especially since the Black and Gold played horrendous hockey in all three periods and didn’t have their usual, “pop” in them, which could be displayed when trailing in the third period. Julien did state during his press conference that the team was “flat” all evening. Great word choice, but in all honesty, they have struggled greatly against the Sabres this season and there may not be an answer to why that has occurred.

The recent injury to Marc Savard is certainly not good news and hopefully, the Bruins medical staff and trainers will help him remain off the ice, as well as let him take the remainder of the season off. Would it be wise to put Savard back on the ice in March or April? Also, goaltender Tuukka Rask can’t seem to win in net. His current record of (5-10-1) is nothing to write home about, but exactly, why do the Bruins played so poorly when he starts? At least Tim Thomas is succeeding between the pipes. Thomas is the top goaltender for the Bruins and owns a record of (23-5-6).

Finally, the Bruins do display their toughness, especially defenseman, Steve Kampfer, who has chosen to keep playing hockey and not have surgery on his broken nose.

The Bruins will host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday at the TD Garden and then enjoy some extra rest during the NHL All-Star weekend. The second half won’t be an easy beginning for a team that currently resides in third place in the Eastern conference, as Boston will face Dallas, San Jose, Montreal and Detroit to kick-off the second of their season, which may provide some idea about this squad, as well as help fans understand if they could be cup-bound in June.   

Boston Red Sox: It is not even April, but baseball is slowly creeping back onto our Noontime Sports radar. The Red Sox look ready to challenge the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, as well as win the division too. Yet, there are still a god amount of questions that remain, such as, can Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford remain healthy for an entire season? What will their impact be on the team? Will second-year pitcher Jon Lackey rebound from a rocky ’10 season and lower his earned run average? Can the bullpen shut down their opponents late in the game?

On the bright side, the club will be happy to have Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis back on the diamond and in the line-up, but they too are a year older and need to stay healthy.

Overall, it is still early, but pending how the team does during their February and March exhibition schedule could dictate a good or bad season.