Talking Points: Celtics lose players, game to Mavs, 89-73

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Talking Points: Celtics lose players, game to Mavs, 89-73

DALLAS Before Monday's game, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers learned that he would be without Rajon Rondo (suspension) for two games.

Once the game began, Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) went down.

Soon after that, Chris Wilcox (groin) was done for the night.

Injuries continue to be THE dominant theme of the Boston Celtics season.

So does losing, which is becoming somewhat habitual with this team.

The C's have now lost four in a row after falling to the Mavericks, 89-73. Make that six losses in seven games, too.

It's to the point now where the Celtics can't even be considered an average team, especially when they're now officially below-.500 for the first time since a Jan. 29 loss to Cleveland.

Even with the in-game injuries and non-basketball-related absences - Kevin Garnett was not with the team due to a personal matter - the under-manned Celtics managed to stay within striking distance most of the first half.

But as the half wore on, the C's lack of depth began to rear its ugly head.

The Mavericks had too many weapons, with the Dirk Nowitzki inflicting the greatest amount of damage.

Dealing with Nowitzki with a full roster is no easy task.

For Boston, it became damn near Mission Impossible with the two guys who could give Nowitzki the most resistance - Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass - not even in the building.

Garnett was away attending to a personal matter, while Bass is not with the team due to a left knee injury.

It's not all that surprising that Nowitzki almost had as many points at the half (21) as the entire Celtics roster (34). He finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points while Ray Allen chipped in 15 along with five rebounds and three assists.

HOT SHOT: Put it this way. Nowitzki had almost as many points at the half (21), as the entire Boston Celtics team (34). It was about as dominant a game without really trying to dominate the game, as you'll see from Nowitzki. He finished with a game-high 26 points along with 16 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. It didn't help the C's that the Mavs were coming off a loss to New York, and Nowitzki was clearly playing with added motivation.
IN-N-OUT: It's hard to be too critical of Mickael Pietrus who did a phenomenal job rebounding (season-high 12 rebounds) on Monday, but a big part of why the Celtics wanted him so badly was because of his 3-point shooting. On Monday, he was 2-for-6 on 3s which is actually an improvement over his last three games when he missed all 10 of his 3s taken.

SUPER SUB: There's a reason why Jason Terry seems to be a perennial finalist for the top Sixth Man every year. Aside from Nowitzki, no player made the Celtics pay for making a defensive gaffe, more than Terry. He finished with 16 points and six assists without a turnover, and managed to haul in five rebounds.

TURNING POINT: Trailing Dallas 20-17 early in the second quarter, Terry missed a 3-pointer but was able to get the rebound. Eighteen seconds later, Vince Carter scored on a driving lay-up. From there, the Mavs went on a 13-4 run and spent the rest of the game leading by at least 10 points.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - That would be the number of times Boston led on Monday.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I've been through this, you've got to be mentally tough. We can't put our heads down, feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to work harder and compete night-in and night-out."- Celtics Captain Paul Pierce.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.