A loss befitting of their streak

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A loss befitting of their streak

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

ORLANDO, Fla The Celtics lost an ugly one on Saturday.

They lost a game in which they never found a rhythm. They lost a game in which they showed flashes of brillianceglimpses of the team that you hope theyll be come springbut couldnt hold it together. They lost a game that, outside of a few signature moments, lacked any lasting significance. (After all, its not even January and theyre not completely healthy). They lost a game that, for a number of reasons beyond your or even their control, left you feeling unsatisfied.

In other words, they lost a game completely befitting of the win streak that preceded it.

That might look weirdcomparing a 14-game win streak to an ugly 86-78 loss, but honestly, when you look back, wasnt the Celtics streak just about as odd and unsatisfying as the teams Christmas Day defeat?

Dont get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, but just as Saturdays loss wont change the way you feel about these Celtics, did the streak really change anything, either?

Did you feel any better about their chances to win a title on Christmas morning than you did on Thanksgiving morning? Did the fact that 14 straight games ended with the Celtics on top make you more confident that thats where theyll finish the season?

Sure, wins were better than losses. But the way those wins came never blew you away. From time to time, yes, there were games where the Cs flexed their muscles and showed you how great they can be. But just like Saturdays game, the streak was all over the place. They never really found a rhythm. Outside of KGs lay-up against Philly and Pierces game-winner at MSG, there was nothing that happened that will really stand the test of time; nothing that youll remember past this season. Nothing that happened was actually significant. After all, its not even January, and the Celtics werent completely healthy.

Even as recently as Wednesday night, Doc lamented how, despite all the wins, the Celtics werent improving. And as a result, neither were our expectations. It was the oddest feeling. The Celtics went a month without losing, but you couldnt feel any better about their chances. There were games when they played great; games when they just played well enough to win; games when they didnt even play well enough to win, but still managed to get the W.

But regardless of how it happened, most of the time, those wins just left us feeling neutral. When we spoke of the streak, it was never, Look out, NBA! The Celtics are on a rampage! It was How the hell do they keep winning all these games?

There was no rhyme or reason to how they were doing it. Sometimes the defense was great, but they also allowed more than 100 points in eight of 14. Sometimes the offense was clicking, but then it would disappear for long stretches. There were plenty of positives along the way. Of course, there were positives. And there certainly werent enough negatives to create any level of concern. But still, it was still strangely unsatisfying. You wanted to get feel better about it. But you just couldnt.

I guess thats just life with the 2010-2011 Celtics.

Basically, even though its only December, we already know what this team is capable of. We already have our expectations set in stone, and know that if theyre healthy, theres no reason why they cant get there. On top of that, we learned last year that what happens in the regular seasonespecially this earlyhas little to no effect on the end game. We wasted far too much time overreacting to the day-to-day grind of last season, and this time around, we wont fall for it. We know how good this team can be. And we wont let 14 wins or one loss change that. Nothing will.

And in the meantime, well follow intently and wait patiently for the playoffs to begin, becausewhether it's a gift or a cursewe now know that's all that matters.

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

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.