Celtics Win OT Thriller Over Wizards! Now Winners of 7 Straight Games

Ohhhh boy, what a game we just witnessed. The Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards tonight in the nation’s capital with the final score in overtime reading 130-125. The game had more of a playoff type feel rather than your nonchalant mid-December matchup that it was.

Once again for this Celtics team it was “Klutch Kyrie” Irving coming up huge down the stretch with two massive 3 pointers in overtime. He finished with a game-high 38 pts and carried this team at points tonight when it felt like the offense was stagnant. It can’t be understated how impressive Irving continues to be for this team especially when the game is on the line. We all know he is a top 10 talent in this league when healthy, but when it comes to getting a clutch basket with the game on the line you would be hard pressed to find another player in this league I would rather have. He truly reminds me of another Celtic great Paul Pierce and how he would just force himself into the zone when the game hung in the balance.

As much as the overtime score of 130-125 would beg to differ, I thought this game was won on the defensive end tonight and was defined by huge hustle plays all around.  And as  per usual, no one embodied this more than Marcus Smart. He was all over the court tonight, coming up with steals and taking charges and overall just sacrificing his body for this win. Being a Celtic fan comes with a love/hate relationship for Marcus at times, we hate when he jacks up too many threes, but the hate can never outweigh the love we have when he is making plays like he did tonight. He truly does all the little things and there is no one else in the NBA outside of maybe Draymond Green that can completely change a game like he does without scoring the ball. (Something he also did tonight with 18 pts) I think at this point in the season we need to start viewing him as a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Speaking of defense, the Celtics new secret weapon Robert Williams aka Time Lord had himself a big night and is starting to look like he was truly a steal with the 27th pick of the NBA draft. This dude is an athletic freak, plain and simple. Watching how quickly he gets off the floor is unbelievable and reminds me of how Dennis Rodman used to do that and just get to the ball faster than anyone. He finished with 6 pts, 6 boards (3 offensive) and 2 blocks, but his impact seemed far greater with him also hustling all over the floor and providing a spark by throwing down a huge alley oop dunk from Irving that seemed like he grabbed the ball from the rafters to hammer it home.

Tonight was the first game that I think the Celtics felt the impact of not having some of their key players on the court with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown all sitting out tonight. Needless to say it was huge to have Marcus Morris step up once again with another big game going for 27 points and 9 boards. He just continues to always step up for this team and is proving himself to be a truly impactful starter in this league. His 49% FG shooting and 43% from three has been impressive to say the least and is something you can tell he has made a direct effort to improve on. He is a legit scoring threat on each possession and is helping spread the floor with other defenses having to respect that fact.

Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great night scoring but still made a huge impact leading the team with 12 rebounds. The kid maybe isn’t making the leaps and bounds in the scoring department that a lot of us predicted, but he is still putting effort in on a nightly basis and it feels like he is getting less discouraged when his shot isn’t there on a given night.

The Celtics won 19 games in a row last season, this streak now stands at 7. I’m not saying they are destined for another streak like that, but then again I’m not saying they aren’t. This team when firing on all cylinders can take down anyone in the league on any given night. When they were struggling earlier in the season I said to look out for a streak like this. I knew this team has the ability to get hot and rattle off a bunch of games in a row because they don’t necessarily rely on 1 or 2 guys like many other teams across the league do. They go 7-8 deep with players that can carry the scoring load and when you play like that it can make it very hard to get beat when you’re rolling.

One thing is for certain, this team has definitely turned a corner and are reminding teams across the league that there was a reason they were favorites to win the East and contend for a championship. These Celtics are showing all the signs that they “figured it out” and have made many Celtics fans back to drinking the Green Kool-Aid.

 

 

Is Luka Doncic the Next Larry Bird?

 

         Last May a 19-year-old kid from Slovenia had just completed and unbelievable run in the Euro League playoffs, leading his injury riddled team Real Madrid to a championship, all while becoming the youngest MVP in the history of the league in the process. He impressed many across the world with the beautiful style of play in which he possessed and already had the type of court vision that many NBA scouts drool over.

His age represented that of a boy, but he played like a man against players 10-15 years his elder. Averaging 12.8 PPG along with 5.7 REB and 5.o AST in a league that many consider to be the best in the world outside the NBA. A league that unlike the current state of play in the NBA, actually plays defense and can be known for its physical style of basketball.

Fast forward 6 months, that same 19-year-old kid is now setting the NBA world ablaze with the Dallas Mavericks. Steering them to a 14-11 record and leading a team that many figured would be in the midst of a rebuild, currently slated as the 8th seed in a loaded Western Conference. The rookie is averaging an absurd stat line of 17.8 PPG, 6.7 REB, 4.3 AST and has provided his fair share of jaw dropping moments already in his young career.

He is currently the hands down favorite to be rookie of the year in the NBA and has many amongst the league scratching their heads and wondering how in the world they passed on this incredible talent last year in the draft. None more so than the putrid Atlanta Hawks who drafted Doncic only to trade him to the Mavericks for their pick (Trae Young) and a 2019 first rounder. The Hawks had a future rebuild in mind and wanted to compile draft picks, but they possibly missed on a generational talent in the process.

Sure, you could say the Hawks got cold feet when it came time to put all their marbles on the table and draft what many thought was an unproven European talent. They weren’t the only ones, the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings elected to go with more proven college talents like Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley respectively.

The Mavericks and Donnie Nelson are no strangers to taking a chance on European talent, Dirk Nowitzki was a player many also had questions about regarding how his game would translate before the 1998 NBA draft. He also landed in Dallas after a draft day trade and went onto become the greatest player in the history of the franchise and a top 20 NBA player of all time.

But even with all the similarities between the two talents, there is another all-time great who I believe is more reflective of the potential Luka has, no other than Larry “Legend” Bird himself.

It’s a lofty comparison that comes with some tremendously big shoes to fill and in no way do I think he will be as good or better than Larry was. Larry Bird is in my opinion on the NBA all time starting 5 amongst the likes of Magic Johnson, Micheal Jordan, Lebron James and Wilt Chamberlain.

Larry had an uncanny ability to see the floor and had a feel for the game that was almost unprecedented before he stepped foot on an NBA court. I believe Luka has shown some of those same traits already in his young career to go along with what has proven to be a deadly jump shot.

Larry Bird never looked like the supreme athlete we are used to in the NBA, he always looked a tad bit pudgy and if he were 8 inches shorter you might have mistaken him for a construction worker who was ready to drink a cold six-pack after work.

Luka certainly isn’t what many would consider a human specimen either, it was widely reported before the draft that his weight could become an issue with him already looking slightly overweight. An issue that I found absurd considering the modern-day NBA training regimen could get a sumo wrestler in shape. But nonetheless him and Bird certainly are not the most athletic talents we’ve ever seen.

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The biggest comparison between the two is that feel for the game I discussed with Larry Bird. Many NBA players over the years have had a remarkable ability to see the floor, many where great passers and racked up assists by the thousands.

But the true feel for the game is instinctive and isn’t something I believe can be taught. It’s the ability to see what is going to happen on the court miles ahead of everyone else, it’s when you are playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers. You can count the number of players that possessed that type of ability in NBA history on two hands. It’s an ultra-rare talent that is exclusive to the best of the best. Luka Doncic has that type of ability.

Larry Bird used that ability to not only be a terrific passer, but always be in the right place at the right time. Watching Luka play on a nightly basis you see those glimpses of his remarkable basketball mind always getting him in the right spots and playing the angles. When you aren’t a freak athlete you better know how to utilize your talent to get a step on other NBA talent and he certainly understands that. His ability to know when he can get by his defender and get to the basket or rely on his already NBA polished step back jumper is ridiculous for a 19-year-old.

Bird stepped into a franchise that was already legendary in the Boston Celtics and had very lofty expectations from the get-go, Luka differs a little bit here but is already being anointed as the next legendary talent in Dallas. With this most likely being Dirk Nowitzki’s last season in the NBA, the torch is being passed to Luka as we speak. Everything he has shown so far would provide confidence he is ready to step into that role and be the king of the city in Dallas.

In a city where the Cowboys overshadow the Mavericks by a million-fold, Dirk is maybe the most beloved athlete in town for his commitment to the city and never even considering finishing his career elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if a kid from Slovenia can take over that spot moving forward.

Larry Legend has never had to buy a meal in the city of Boston. His 62nd birthday was just last week, and you would think he was the Pope with the outpouring of love he received on social media. If Luka keeps this up, he may never need to buy a T-bone steak in the city of Dallas ever again.

Luka certainly is not Larry Bird yet, he has much to prove along with championships to win and legendary moments to create before he can truly be held in that same echelon. But the 19-year-old kid who will no doubt continue to improve, is the closest thing we have seen to the “Hick from French Lick” in my lifetime.

Luka has already proved to those that passed on him in last year’s draft that they made a huge mistake. Time will tell if that will be a mistake held in the same realm of the Blazers passing on Michael Jordan or the Hornets trading away Kobe Bryant. If he does go on to become the next Larry Legend, it certainly will be. He already has the once suffering Mavericks fans singing “HalleLuka” knowing they have found their next superstar.

luka face

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