The saga begins . . . again

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The saga begins . . . again

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Jets Week, Vol. 3 officially starts Monday, but it wont take long for the hype to reach maximum velocity.

Actually, in the time it took for you to read that first sentence, it happened.

HYPE.

Lets get it going with a four mini-columns (some mini-er than others) on four story lines born from the Wild Card Weekend. Think of it as a quick refresher until the Jets re-open their mouths and crank up the machine. And away we go . . .

Its Not Put Up or Shut Up

Back in 2004, Curt Schilling sought out to shut up 55,000 New Yorkers.

On Sunday, the Pats will settle for silencing one New York coach.

But when it comes to quieting down Rex Ryan, you have wonder:

Is it even possible?

Since the playoff started, some in the New York media have called this postseason Put Up or Shut up time for Ryan. Basically, theyve questioned, and perhaps justifiably so, how anyone can take his act seriously if hes sent home early for a second straight year. No ones suggesting that hes coaching for his job, but instead, that if the Jets lose, Ryan will have no choice but to scale back the big talk.

To that, I say, Disagree!

Far be it from me to pretend like I can predict Rex Ryans behavior. I mean, when you're talking about the James Cameron of the foot fetish industry, you're talking about a serious wild card. Who knows what he might do? But with that being said, I dont think anything that happens this season will change who Ryan is. Even if the Jets go out and get killed on Sunday, youll have a better chance of convincing Bill Belichick to take the podium in a bikini top than you will of seeing Rex pipe down. Its just his way. Its all he knows, and its damn sure what he believes in.

And not only will he continue to talk, but hell continue to bring in players who fit that same mold, too. Basically, he has his vision for the Jets, and its instilled too deeply to just pump the breaks and hope for the best.

Its too late for put up or shut up. Now its sink or swim.

Dont mind LT. Hes just being LT.

The funny thing is, I remember late in the fourth quarter as the Patriots were talking and yapping about the game that night, and I said to a couple of guys, 'Guys, we'll be back. You guys got us tonight, but we'll be back.' And so for us, we're waiting on this opportunity.
Ladainian Tomlinson, after the Jets 17-16 win over Indianapolis.

OK, let me start with a disclaimer: In his prime, Ladainian Tomlinson was probably the deadliest running back Ive ever seen. I recognize that he was an all-time talent and is a Hall of Famer. Yada yada yada. End disclaimer.

But with all due respect to his greatness, is there anything funnier than LTs ever-expanding role as the Paper Champion of the Patriots Dynasty?

First, hes never beaten New England when it mattered most. A few times, he hasnt even showed up. In fact, besides Joey Porter, no other player in the league has been embarrassed by the Pats with more consistency.

On top of it all, LTs obsessed with this embarrassment. When hes trying to give his bulletin board material, its never: This is our game! Were the better team! Instead, its usually They were mean! They have no class! They ran up the score! They stole my friends dance!

Theres always something the Patriots have done to earn his disapproval, but theres nothing he can do about it except make passive aggressive threats about getting even for something that only he cares about.

Braylon has something to say (again)

All you hatin a people.... J-E-T-S. And let new England know we are coming.

Braylon Edwards via Twitter

So, Braylon Edwards is already talking his game. Fair enough. I guess thats about what youd expect. But heres my question: Do you think he remembers how close he came to fumbling away the entire season? Not that he should harp on it; after all, he did have the huge play down the stretch. But do you think there was any point where he thought, Damn you know what? I was one funny bounce away from letting everyone down . . . maybe I should just hold off on this ridiculous tweet and enjoy the moment.

Who knows? Maybe he did. Maybe his attitude isnt as entirely awful as it comes across. But either way, on the field, Edwards does create some scary match-ups for the Pats, and because hes such a royal pain in the ass, theres no one on that team who Patriots fans will be less excited to see in the end zone. He is salt to the wound.

Hell have to catch the ball first, though.

Spread Em.
The Patriots were favored by eight or more points three times in the regular season both games against Buffalo (-14.5 and -9 points, respectively) and in the Sunday night game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers (-14). In those games, they were only 1-2 vs. the spread.

Why do you care? Because the Pats are favored by 8.5 points on Sunday.

At first that seemed a little high. I was thinking maybe somewhere around 6.5 considering the familiarity, the fact that Revis is healthy, Shonn Greenes running better, the Jets have a ton momentum and so on but after one week hiatus I guess its easy to lose sight of just how dominant the Patriots have been this season.

I'm sure we'll be reminded all week. You know Rex will probably bring it up a few times. You know that every analyst on every station is going to pick the Pats to win. You know that Mike Mayock's going to do a 20-minute film session breaking down Tom Brady's near perfect decision making. And after all is said and done, by the time Sunday rolls around, 8.5 might not feel like enough.

Either way, glad I'm not picking until Friday. And in the meantime, enjoy the hype.

From here, it's every man for himself.

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

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”