The Patriots Starting 5


The Patriots Starting 5

In general, team Twitter accounts are pretty lame.

They're too corporate. They're super-biased. They're unconscionably PC. If a player gets traded or signs a new contract, the team account never tweets out the news until it's 100 percent official which is typically at least 48 hours after the rest of the world has reported it.

I understand why they do it, but it makes it tough to compete. It's hard to engage your fans when everything's so hunky dory.

Anyway, for all that bitching, I'm writing this post because last night during the NBA Draft, @Patriots tweeted out a question that I thought was pretty interesting:

In honor of the NBA Draft, which five current Patriots would you draft to start your basketball team? New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 29, 2012

Here's my answer:

C: Nate Solder

The Pats have only four guys on their roster who are taller than 6'6: Robert Gallery, Kyle Hicks, Sebastian Vollmer and Solder. So one of them has to play center.

Gallery's out because there's not enough trust yet. Hicks is out because I've never heard of him. Vollmer is out because my medical staff red-flagged that cranky back (which means he already has a promise from the Celtics). That leaves Solder as the starting center, and really, that's not so bad.

I wrote about this last week in my two-sport athlete post, but despite his enormous frame, Solder is a ridiculous athlete. He played tight end and linebacker in high school (and was All-State in both). He was a two-year letter winner in baseball, and played on the basketball team (where he averaged 15 and eight as a senior for the Colorado district champs.)

Plus, Solder's super smart he graduated Colorado with a 3.52 GPA and a degree in Biology so you know he sees the court well. We're probably talking about the next Vlade Divac here, or more likely, the next Bill Walton.

PF: Roberto Gronkowski

Gronk is an automatic, but only under the condition that agrees to play while wearing a No. 69 jersey with the name Soy Fiesta on the back. (I don't think this will be a problem).

Who's a good NBA comparison for Gronk? I'm thinking he's a little bit of Andrew DecLerq, only with better hands, a softer touch and a little sneakier in the post. I bet he's the kind of guy who's generally pretty graceful, but just clumsy and excitable enough to really wear you down. I'm talking a few stray elbows. A couple really hard fouls. He'd do it in an innocent way, but he'd beat the ever-living crap out of you.

El est basketball.

SF: Brandon Spikes

There's no natural fit here, but seeing how Solder is a little too quiet and Gronk is a little too goofy, I want to round out the front court with some angry muscle. And while I like the idea of handing the starting spot to Jerod Mayo, Spikes has an extra inch (he's still only 6'2), and a lot more misplaced intensity.

SG: Tom Brady
Yeah, I know. He's too slow. He can't jump. He's too white.

Where have we heard that before?

When the game's on the line, I'm calling a play for Brady maybe run him off a SolderGronkowskiSpikes triple screen? and I guarantee we'll go home winners.

(Unless we're playing the Giants).

PG: Matthew Slater
He's heady, athletic and versatile. He comes from a great family. He's a man of God, and I always look for that in an assist man. Sure, at 6'0, Slater might be a little smaller than your ideal NBA point guard, but he's solid. He's sturdy, like a right-handed Derek Fisher. (To be honest, I'm not sure if he's a righty or a lefty because I've never seen him throw. If he is a lefty, even better.)

I just know how much Bill Belichick loves coaching the guy, and with all that Belichick and I have in common, I assume the experience would be just as rewarding for me.

So, here's the final roster.

C: Nate Solder

PF: Roberto Gronkowski

SF: Brandon Spikes

SG: Tom Brady

PG: Matthew Slater

Game on!

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

WATCH: Celtics vs. Thunder

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Thunder in Oklahoma City. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”