The Patriots Starting 5

587828.jpg

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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

Shots don't fall for Celtics in frustrating 114-98 loss to Hawks

BOSTON – You hear coaches and players often refer to the NBA as a make-miss league.

When summing up what happened in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sadly it was that simple.

Dennis Schroder led the six double-figure scorers for the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Boston got many of the shots that they have been getting throughout this run in which they came into Monday’s game having won 11 of their previous 14 games.

The Celtics (38-22) have now lost three of their last four games. Life won’t get any easier for them with defending NBA champion Cleveland coming into town on Wednesday.

We have seen the Celtics make some miraculous comebacks under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, but Celtics fans understandably began hitting the exits with more than three minutes to play and Boston looking up at a 108-84 deficit.

Credit the Hawks defense which played with a greater sense of urgency, the kind you would expect from a team that had come in riding a three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Boston looked like the team that we have seen most of this season which relies heavily on their perimeter shooting to win games.

That’s not all that surprising against the Hawks whose interior defense is anchored by Dwight Howard.

Howard, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, also had a pair of blocked shots and altered many others.

But the Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with Howard out of the game.

Howard, an absolute unstoppable force for the Hawks all game, picked up his second technical foul (an automatic ejection) for hanging on the rim following a put-back dunk with 4:03 to play in the third and Atlanta ahead 74-65.

He had picked up his first technical foul for shoving Al Horford earlier in the game.

But with Howard out, the Celtics still couldn’t take advantage of an Atlanta team that was much more vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration.

In fact, Atlanta began to pull away and took their biggest lead up to that point of the game, 84-69, following a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. late in the third quarter which ended with the Hawks ahead 84-71.

And Boston’s struggles stemmed from their inability to make open shots.

For the game, the Celtics shot 39.1 percent from field which is a somewhat inflated figure considering the mini-run Boston's backups went on in the final minute or two of play.

Not even the usual high-scoring exploits of Isaiah Thomas could save the day.

The NBA’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter, Thomas had another sub-par night in the game’s final quarter of play.

He led the Celtics with 19 points, but only two came in the fourth quarter. And by failing to reach 20 points, Thomas’ franchise-record of consecutive games with 20 or more comes to an end at 43 straight.  

Reports: Blues trade Kevin Shattenkirk to Capitals

Reports: Blues trade Kevin Shattenkirk to Capitals

The Kevin Shattenkirk-to-Bruins rumblings are done for the remainder of the season.

Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch is reporting that the Blues have traded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the “main parts” the Blues will receive in the deal are 2017 first-rounder, a second-rounder in 2018 and Zach Sanford 

More to come. . .