All posts by kfinny22

Celtics Show Signs of Success Early in NBA Season

During the heart of the NFL season and World Series drama, a different kind of action is taking place in the NBA, more specifically, in Boston. The Celtics have officially begun their 2016-17 campaign and the excitement around the team is very high with good reason. Boston has started strong in the very early part of the season and looks to continue the momentum into the winter months. Although it is early to take too deep of a look at the standings, there is reason to be optimistic about the start for the Celtics. The team is now 2-1 and on top of the Atlantic division, as well as fourth in the Eastern Conference. Their games included an opening night victory over the Brooklyn Nets, a loss in Chicago to the Bulls, and another victory in Charlotte over the Hornets. The Celtics next two games should be considered measuring sticks as they face some of the best competition in the East with back to back games starting with the Chicago Bulls and then a trip to Cleveland to face the defending champion Cavaliers.

The Celtics team chemistry has been evident through their first three games, something that has been an important part of their success of the past couple years. The addition of all-star Center Al Horford has appeared to have had no negative effect on the team’s chemistry, in fact, it has seemed to only make it better. Horford has the perfect skill set for this Boston team adding another big man that can stretch the floor and play solid defense. Along with Horford, new draft addition Jaylen Brown has shown glimpses of his worth as the 3rd overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Brown has been able to make a positive impact off the bench, getting to the basket and playing great defense. It spears that he will be able to help the team for many years to come. Many people disagreed with the Celtics choice to draft Brown, so he will be hungry to prove the haters wrong.

As for the familiar faces of the squad, all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas has continued his rise to the top tier of NBA talent. The 5’ 9” point guard has been a scoring machine once again, racking up 24.7 points per game, as well as 6.7 assists per game. It is clear that the offense runs through Thomas and with more attention on him, other players have been able to step up when needed. These players have included Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder, who finish out a solid starting five behind Thomas and Horford.

Overall, Boston has to be pleased with the start the team has had so far. Each player has played into their role extremely well and hopefully the excitement will continue throughout the year. The Celtics have high expectations, including predictions of over 50 wins, playoff series wins, and even an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals for a match up with the class of the conference the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Celtics want to accomplish these goals, they will have to continue to improve and establish themselves as a serious contender.

Momentum Swings Propel Patriots over Bengals

Another week, another victory for the New England Patriots, who are now 5-1 on the season and 2-0 since the return of Quarterback Tom Brady. On Sunday, the Patriots were able to capture a 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to retain the top spot in the AFC East, as well as capture the top seed in the entire AFC. The game also marked Brady’s first appearance at Gillette Stadium following his four game suspension, and the star did not disappoint. The crowd was electric in Foxboro on Sunday and it all started with a video montage that featured Brady highlights, pump up music, and a large Gillette Stadium welcome home for Tom Brady. Not only would that rile up the crowd, but the Patriots delivered what would end up to be a convincing victory over a resilient Bengals team.

The game started out slow for New England, with the defense allowing Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to connect all over the field. The Bengals were able to drive fairly easily in the first half, but a key goal line stand for the New England defense would swing the momentum in their favor. Midway through the 2nd quarter, Cincinnati put together a long sixteen play, 89 yard drive that appeared to be leading to a 10-point lead heading towards half time. With their backs against the wall, New England was able to stop Cincinnati on the goal line and force a turnover on downs. The Patriots would eventually convert an eight play, 75 yard touchdown drive that would propel them to a first half lead of 10-7.

It was not exactly smooth sailing for the Patriots in the first half and that trend seemed to continue at the start of the second half. The Bengals received the ball first and drove right down the field for a touchdown to give them the lead once again at 14-10. On the ensuing drive, the Patriots were once again forced to punt after a three and out, with massive pressure being put on Quarterback Tom Brady. It looked as if the Bengals were primed for another long drive to put them up by two scores, but Dont’a Hightower was able to break through the Bengals offensive line and take Quarterback Andy Dalton down for a sack and safety. The play would prove to be a momentum shift for the Patriots and they would not look back, outscoring Cincinnati 25-3 for the remainder of the game.

The game proved to be extremely positive for the Patriots, beating a desperate, under-performing Bengals squad. The offense looked to be getting back into their true form, implementing all their weapons into the game-plan. The defense looked a bit shaky at times, but stayed true to their “bend, don’t break” mentality, not allowing the Bengals into the end-zone very often and limiting star wide receiver A.J. Green. Overall, New England should be pleased with the effort put forth on Sunday and hope to continue their momentum into Week 7 in Pittsburgh against a Ben Roethisberger-less Steelers team.

No Brady, No Gronk, No Problem 

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled “No Brady, No Problem”. I felt that the Patriots would be in good shape for the duration of Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension. Last night, the Patriots took their biggest test without Brady, traveling to Arizona for a Week 1 Sunday Night Football prime time matchup with the Cardinals. 

Since 2009, the Patriots have played virtually every down with either Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski, or both on the field. Last night, New England took zero snaps with their two offensive superstars. Even with the lack of Brady and Gronk, the Pats were able to take down one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFL by a score of 23-21. 

The big storyline heading into Sunday night was how Brady’s suspension replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, would fare against a highly talented Arizona defense. The results were better than expected. Garoppolo got off to a flying start, slinging the ball up and down the field on his first drive, ultimately throwing an impressive dime down the left sideline to new Patriots acquisition, Chris Hogan for a 37-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. That was Garoppolo’s only touchdown on the night, but Jimmy G was able to lead some great drives that resulted in a LeGarrette Blount touchdown and three field goals to help secure a Patriots win. Jimmy G did have one big fumble that lead to a Cardinals touchdown, but he had a clean game otherwise going 24-33 for 264 yards and a TD. While Garoppolo was impressive in the victory, it would not have been able to be done without help from his teammates. 

One extremely valuable contributor was Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who showed his toughness and swagger. Edelman was crucial in getting open for the young Quarterback and converting key third downs. Number 11 was able to amass 7 receptions for 66 yards. Along with Edelman, the Patriots receivers as a whole looked solid. Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Malcolm Mitchell made some big plays and that was a good sign moving forward. 

Along with the receivers, the running backs and offensive line created a run game that helped alleviate some of the pressure on Garoppolo. Blount was able to run for 70 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown where he carried about 5 Cardinals defenders on his back. James White was surprising as well in the passing game, helping Garoppolo get rid of the ball quickly by heading to the flat. The makeshift offensive line did struggle at times, but overall, they did better than expected in keeping Garoppolo upright. 

Overall, the Patriots exceeded expectations in their opening game. Many experts doubted their abilities without their top talent, including the oddsmakers who put them at a 9.5 point underdog. The Patriots always have room to improve as head coach Bill Belichick will always suggest, but last night was a great sign and will be a game to build off, even if they were given a bit of good luck in the final seconds by a missed field goal. 

The 217 Million Dollar Mistake 

On December 4th, 2015, the Boston Red Sox made their free agent splash, making David Price the highest paid pitcher of all time. Boston signed Price to a record 7 year, $217 million contract to secure their ace of the future. It turned out that the Price was wrong that day as David Price has been average at best in a Red Sox uniform and that is being generous. In his first season as the Red Sox number one starter, Price had posted a 9-8 record alongside a 4.34 ERA, his highest since 2009. Some might look at that and say it is not terrible, but for a pitcher being paid the top contract in Major League Baseball, the Red Sox and their fans expect more. Price has been overshadowed by unexpected breakout performances from pitchers Rick Porcello and Steven Wright, who were not predicted to have much success in 2016.

The problem with Price has not been completely clear over the course of the season. Some have claimed that he has an issue with his physical mechanics in his throw, others claim he does not have the mental toughness to pitch in a Boston media and fan market that is very critical of their star players. Both factors could be large contributors for the pitcher’s struggles, but it is impossible to tell for sure. It seems to me that Price has been playing a bit scared and does not have the confidence in his pitches and overall ability as he has in years past. To be a dominate major league pitcher, you need to have a swagger that says you are the best and can sling it past any batter. Price has shown his soft side in Boston in 2016, appearing somewhat monotone and content in his post game press conferences.  While Price has admitted he has not played well enough for the Red Sox, he has shown no signs towards his effort to change and be the shut down dominate ace pitcher that he was for the Rays, Tigers, and Blue Jays. 

Overall, David Price has been highly disappointing during his time in red socks. Price has failed to take over the ace role of ending losing streaks, dominating the league’s worst teams, and winning the important close games. So far, the $217 million investment has appeared to have gone sour. Is there a chance David Price will be able to turn it around? Sure. But I will not believe David Price is good until I see it. He is a bum until further notice. 

Not to mention, he blocked me on Twitter for calling him out, don’t need our ace worrying about random people on social media. 

No Brady, No Problem 



It’s official, Jimmy Garoppolo is the “captain” now in New England. The third year Quarterback for the Patriots has been forced into action for the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL regular season with the controversial suspension of Tom Brady being upheld. 

An uncommon and unlikely scenario is now reality for the Patriots as Brady will not be under center for the first time since his injury back in 2008 where Matt Cassell took the reigns and just barely missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record. If 2008 is any indicator, it shows that the Patriots can be successful without their MVP-caliber field general. Luckily for them, the change will only be temporary as head coach Bill Belichick stated, Brady will return as the starter in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. For now though, New England’s full focus is getting Garoppolo ready for Week 1 in Arizona to take on the Cardinals. 


What a way to make a first start for Jimmy Garoppolo. Week 1, Sunday Nigh Football, In Arizona against the Cardinals, no easy task for any QB, but especially for one making their first start. While many people have already been chalking Week 1 up as a loss for New England, there should be some hope behind the young arm of Garoppolo. He could not be in a better situation as a first time starter. He’ll be coached by one of the best staffs in the league, as well as the best quarterback in the league as a mentor, and play with one of the best rosters in the league. While Garoppolo is obviously not up to the standard of Brady, he will only have to be a game manager and limit mistakes for the Patriots to be successful for the first four weeks. The talent of the rest of the Patriots should be enough to carry them until Brady returns. 

The Patriots also lucked out a bit with the opening part of their schedule. Aside from Week 1, the Patriots have three very winnable games, and to make matters better, they are at home. They will face the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills respectively. It is very possible that New England will go 4-0 or 3-1 to start off the first quarter of 2016. As long as the Patriots can weather the storm, they will still have a successful season and be serious Super Bowl contenders. 

Celtics Fireworks Don’t Seem to be Bursting

“Fireworks” 

“Fireworks” 

“Fireworks” 

No, it’s not the Fourth of July anymore. It’s the famous buzzword that’s been used by the Boston Celtics management to describe their plan for a big time move in offseasons past and present. 

Another offseason is passing us by and the term “fireworks” has been throw around once again. It is clear that the Celtics organization and their fans have been itching for a blockbuster trade or high profile free agent signing ever since the Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen left Boston. There has been no shortage of rumors for Celtics fans to speculate over as Boston has been linked to names like Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, and DeMarcus Cousins. Even top free agent Kevin Durant was apparently seriously considering a move to Boston before ultimately deciding on Golden State. Even with all the rumors surrounding the Celtics, still nothing has been done to make this team an immediate championship contender. This is especially frustrating for Celtics fans because of all the promises of more moves from the organization including from owner Wyc Grousbeck, GM Danny Ainge, and even their all star point guard Isaiah Thomas. 

The question for Celtics fans has slowly come from “when will the big move come?”to “if a big move will come at all?” It has been easy for us to praise the organization for the Big 3 trades and the rising success of the current squad, but it should also be easy to question the team for the lack of star power in Boston. It would be easier to sympathize with the Celtics for not getting more star players if they didn’t always promise this to the fans. At some point, you need to look at the management and question if they are handling the current situation the best way possible and if they have the ability to make the team as successful as possible. 

It is clear that Celtics fans will have to be patient as the itch for a championship contender in Boston continues to grow. 

Resilient Celtics Claw Back Into First Round Series With Game 5 on the Line Tonight 

After falling down 0-2 in the first two games of the 2016 NBA playoffs in Atlanta, the Boston Celtics have clawed their way back to tie the series at a two games a piece. The situation seemed dire as the C’s looked just downright awful in the opening games of the first round. They could not seem to bury open shots, turned the ball over, and allowed the Hawks to get to the basket with ease. To make matters worse, injuries to starting shooting guard Avery Bradley and key bench Center Kelly Olynyk took a huge toll on the Celtics rotation. Many people believed that the Boston run would come to a very early end, but once again the Celtics were able to silence to doubters. 

Two games back in Boston were just what the Celtics needed and they took advantage of playing on their home court in a big way. Game 3 proved to be the Isaiah Thomas show where the NBA all star dropped a career high 42 points en route to the Celtics first playoff win since 2012. Game 4 quickly turned into the Paul Millsap show as the forward for the Hawks seemed unstoppable, putting in 45 points. The resilient Celtics found their answers down the stretch, however, and were able to stifle the big man just enough to end up with a nine point victory to even the series at 2-2. 

 

The first round series has been a battle so far and it has shown no signs of slowing down. Now tonight comes a pivotal Game 5 in Atlanta where the winner will be one win away from advancing the the Eastern Conference Semifinals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. This game is especially important for the Celtics, who have struggled miserably on the road against the Atlanta Hawks this season and in this series. A road team has yet to win a game in this series, so a statement win on the road in Atlanta would be huge for the Celtics momentum. 

Once again, the Celtics have overcome adversity to give themselves a chance at success. If the Celtics win tonight, then my pre-series prediction can still hold true with Boston winning in six games, but a loss would force them to have to win in seven. Anything can happen and I guess that is why they play the game my friends.  

Celtics in 6.