A heckler's guide to the Spurs


A heckler's guide to the Spurs

By Rich Levine

Its been three-and-a-half seasons now since the Celtics regained their NBA relevancy, and in that time theyve birthed more rivalries than Shaq has nicknames.

There's the Lakers (of course), the Pistons, Hawks, Magic, Cavs, Bulls, Bucks, Knicks and Heat, just to name a ton. Basically, since the day KG made the move from Minnesota, half the league has at one point considered themselves Celtic rivals. Its apparently the cool thing to do. Or maybe they just bring that out in people. Or maybe . . . I dont know.

But I do know that when making out that excessive list, you cant include the Spurs and thats disappointing, if not completely understandable.

On one hand, what are you going to do?

They play in different conferences. They only play twice a year, and even then, youre lucky if theres one game where both are at full strength. When you talk about the Celtics and Spurs, you talk about the NBAs Uta Pippigs (but far more sanitary); two teams who couldnt be more cognizant of the fact its a marathon, not a sprint. And while they constantly downplay the significance of the regular season, thats the only time they ever play. They make it hard to really get excited. Two teams pacing themselves against each other . . . lets get it!

For last few seasons, its felt like the Spurs were competing in some parallel NBA universe. Theyve been a team Boston fans have respected from afar, but never really feared. Regardless of their championship pedigree, and consistent success, the Spurs were never the team the city of Boston envisioned at the end of the road. It was never, Man, I hope they have enough to beat the Spurs this year. Weve kind of had tunnel vision in that respect, so in turn, CelticsSpurs never took on that extra special meaning; or at least not to the level of most teams of their caliber.

San Antonio and Cs have been like two wily, old great white sharks patrolling the same ocean. Their paths have crossed a few times. On occasion, theyve maybe even bumped heads. But theyve never faced off when theyre both starving for a meal as a seal swims by. As a result, their games sometimes lack that extra edge; they almost give off the vibe of a friendly between two esteemed European soccer clubs. More of an NBA exhibition. A showcase of two of the leagues more refined and presentable teams. The kind of game that shows up on national Sunday afternoon broadcasts. Sundays are PG-13 at best. Rivalries arent built on Sunday afternoons. And this one never was.

CelticsSpurs? Yeah, I get it. It makes complete sense.

But still, against all odds as opposed to the flash-in-the-pan Hawks, Bucks and Knicks rivalries that have haunted this team this is a rivalry that would be worth rooting for.

Between Garnett and Duncan, Rondo and Parker, the age and the defense, the PopovichRivers chess match and the recent history that would be at stake, this would an NBA Finals worth rooting for. And all things considered with the way each team has played, combined with the problems in L.A., the unproven big-game capabilities of Miami, the changing of the guard in Orlando, Caron Butler going down in Dallas and the Thunder still being a year away this really could be the year that it happens. The year Celtics vs. Spurs finally means something.

(Obviously, this whole columnseason rides on how Kevin Garnett comes back from his muscle strain. But for the sake of conversation lets just assume KG is 100 percent in the playoffs)

Of course, this seasons still very young, and no one knows that more than the Celtics and Spurs. But tonights game could very well be the first step in a season long collision course for these wiley, old great whites and Boston needs to be prepared.

If the Celtics and San Antonio are going to take this to the next level, so are the fans.

With that, and a little research, I rounded up some heckleworthy information on Los Spurs; a cheat sheet to cheap shots, if you will.

Please use with caution and please dont take them too seriously.

DeJuan Blair:

Reason to hate: Has done more with zero ACLs than youll ever do with two.

Embarrassing truth: Actually scored a basket for the Celtics last season.

How to get him: Every time he grabs a rebound, offensive or defense, start screaming, Go back up with it! At some point, hell get confused.

Tim Duncan:

Reason to hate: Set the Celtics organization back 10 years.

Embarrassing truth: Has admitted to an intense fear of sharks

How to get him: Jerry Tarkanian costume.

Matt Bonner:
Reason to hate: Will make your heart ache for Scal; was once tossed from a game for an altercation with poor, defenseless Kevin Garnett.

Embarrassing truth: He has a legendary obsession with sandwiches. Check out this blog

How to Heckle: Make the Garden bread free. Pitas, wraps and pockets only. To force Bonner to perform in a stadium void of sandwiches is to ask the impossible.

Manu Ginobili
Reason to hate: The FLOP

Embarrassing truth: Dead ringer for a bald Balki Bartokomous

How to get him: Invite your coosin Larry to the game. Also, be ready with a, Get off the floor, Balki! Last flight to Mypos leaves at 10! after he flops.

George Hill

Reason to hate: Colts fan!

Embarrassing truth: Found Internet fame last season when someone leaked naked photos hed taken of himself with camera phone.

How to get him: Odens filled more megabytes! Odens filled more megabytes!

Richard Jefferson

Reason to hate: The NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs 2002 and 2003

Embarrassing truth: Famously canceled his wedding, over e-mail, a week before the date

How to get him: Right before hes about to take a foul shout, lay a glass underneath some napkins and stomp on it. Lechaim! (Jeffersons Jewish, right?)

Tony Parker

Reason to hate: Spent three years married to Eva Longoria

Embarassing truth: Screwed things up with Eva Longoria

How to get him: Everyone sitting behind the basket throws on a Rays jersey, You should try Evvvvaaan . . . You should try Evvvvaaan . . .

And the Celtics should try winning. And thankfully, unlike last year, you can be 100 percent sure that they will. And if these two ageless contenders can keep their eyes on the prize and their bodies in one piece for the next few months, we may have a rivalry on our hands.

Thank God, too, because it's been at least 10 minutes since the C's had a new one.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure


David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure

The Bruins look like they’ll be without gritty veteran forward David Backes for at least the next couple of games, and probably more like the next couple of weeks.

It was announced that the gritty Bruins forward underwent a procedure on Monday remove the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that “his condition will be updated after the weekend.” The procedure is commonly performed when bursitis in the elbow becomes an untenable, and seems more like an injury that worsens over time rather than anything that happened in a particular game this season.

Backes’ effectiveness did seem to be impacted after he got into a fight with Nazem Kadri in the second game of the season in Toronto, but it’s unknown if there’s any connection between that sequence and the forward’s elbow issues. According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) website, it may take “10-14 days” for the skin to heal following the procedure, and three-to-four weeks before a doctor would clear the average person to resume normal activity.

The 32-year-old Backes is off to a good start for the Bruins with two goals and four points in five games prior to missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, and his absence makes an already-thin Bruins forward group smaller, softer and much less dangerous. With Backes on the shelf for at least the next two games against the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins have recalled young center Austin Czarnik after his short stint with the Providence Bruins.

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

BOSTON – The fact that the Bruins goaltending wasn’t up to snuff was well-documented in Tuesday night’s 5-0 home loss to the Minnesota Wild.

But the Bruins are also experiencing some major defensive problems along with injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and that has been a major factor in things suddenly taking a turn for the Black and Gold. Perhaps it’s also a byproduct of playing higher quality NHL teams that can exploit some of those issues, and that’s exactly what the Canadiens and Wild have done in scoring eight mostly easy goals against the B’s in the last two games.

“We give up two quick goals in that [second] period that just deflated us at that point. But you know, our game right now has to be better without the puck and the kind of goals we’re giving up are killing us. They’re taking momentum out of our hockey club. We’ve had some decent starts we haven’t been rewarded for,” said Claude Julien. “We haven’t scored first now in six games, so you’re playing that kind of a game and the minute you give up a goal you’re playing from behind.

“You’ve got to find a way to score that first goal but at the same time I think we need to be much better without the puck and respecting that part of our game a little bit better. Mistakes, or lack of coverage and not being in the right place [in the D-zone] right now, are doing a lot of damage to our game. It’s hurtful at the end because you end up with this kind of a result.”

The first goal allowed by Subban was a lost battle in front of the net as Charlie Coyle took the puck from Danton Heinen in a 50/50 battle, and then the B’s rookie goaltender allowed a fluttering puck to get through his pads on his glove side. Then 12 seconds later a really big breakdown by the Bergeron line and John-Michael Liles/Colin Miller pair left Chris Stewart all alone in front with a point blank chance in the slot.

That was a defensive punch to the gut that knocked all of the wind out of the Black and Gold, and they were never recovered. It was also an inexcusable mistake in a Julien-coached system that is supposed to suffocate any attempts by attackers to get into the slot area for scoring chances.

“It’s really, you know, getting away from playing the way we know how to. We talked about not cheating on the offense, not giving up the slot, and you know giving them the outside as much as possible. When you don’t do that obviously it’s going to be hard on the goalies,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You know obviously it’s a team game, it’s about everyone and [the young goalies] are definitely not to blame tonight. We talked about being a strong, defensive team and being tight in our zone. We did that in the first, I thought, and the second was ugly.”

Give Subban credit for making a stop on Marco Scandella after giving up the two goals in 12 seconds, but a soft power play score allowed to Ryan Suter resulted in the rookie getting pulled from the game despite whatever was happening defensively in front of him. For good measure, an Adam McQuaid turnover in the B’s defensive zone quickly turned into a Jason Tucker goal through traffic to make it 4-0, and the Bruins were well on their way to their worst loss of the season.