Celtics Don’t Have The Magic

The Celtics lost a double-digit lead last night, and fell in Orlando to the Magic, 96-94. Kevin Garnett looked bad, failing to finish at least two lobs in front of the hoop, and getting beat baseline by Rashard Lewis on the game winning hoop. Garnett says his knee isn’t a problem, but it sure looked like it was.

Here are the top links from this Friday morning:

Celtics let another one slip away – A. Sherrod Blakely has the grisly details from the loss.

Loss to Magic highlights Celtics’ woes – Paul Flannery says that it doesn’t get any easier from here for the Celtics.

That’s the thing about Tom – Chad Finn has ESPN’s Tom Jackson trying to explain the undying love that he, and many others in the media have for Brett Favre.

Sharpe sides with Peyton – Bill Doyle has CBS’ Shannon Sharpe dishing out plenty of praise to Peyton Manning.

MLB coming to Connecticut? – Dom Amore examines some speculation from Peter Gammons that the Tampa Rays could end up moving to Connecticut.

Belichick, Brown go way back … – Albert Breer weighs in with a few thoughts on the Patriots adding former Notre Dame defensive coordinator (and Patriots player) Corwin Brown to their coaching staff.

Patriots in a rush for help – Ian Rapoport looks at Michigan defender Brandon Graham as one of several players available in the draft who could help improve the pass rush.

The unlikely path of Ryne Miller – Alex Speier looks at how the undrafted free agent has made himself a pitching prospect for the Red Sox.

Red Sox’ new metrics systems doesn’t compute – Ron Borges tries his hand at baseball, and mocks what he doesn’t understand.

B’s still have fight left – Mick Colageo says that the Bruins haven’t packed it in yet. 

Back to reality for Boston fans – Howard Bryant says Boston fans shouldn’t expect a repeat of the last decade.

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Week Log: Where The Games Went On

We’re going to open the doors and let in a few more national bloggers than usual this afternoon as we take a brief look at the aftermath of last Sunday’s AFC and NFC conference championships, then it will be back to Boston where no such game was held.

NFL

Neither championship game disappointed National Football Post, which marveled at Peyton Manning’s ability to see Austin Collie in the one, and Jim Nantz’s ability to see through Brett Favre in the other. Sunday did disappoint some bold prognosticators, as The Trenches has the Vikings pronouncing themselves NFC champs, while The Huddle has the Jets doing the same in the AFC. Brings back shades of a cold night in Shea Stadium many Octobers ago, doesn’t it?

Sports Central says it’s all about Manning, who no longer panics when he needs points. John Chandler says Manning has surpassed Tom Brady, much as the Colts have surpassed the Patriots as the AFC’s signature team. Hell, even Indy’s cops are tough – especially if you’re wearing Jets green – as Deadspin will tell you. Speaking of violence, Shutdown Corner has Rex Ryan telling his team to wear their hideous greens with pride and punch out anyone who laughs. Ryan may have penciled himself in as this year’s Super Bowl favorite, but The Rap Sheet has him not so sure about being the next AFC East Division champ.

We’re Just Saying has the NFC Championship with all the elements of a well-written story – one that lived up to expectations. Hot Clicks is thankful for Favre’s season-killing interception because now we won’t have to endure the Brett lovefest for two more weeks, while Boston Sports Blog finds it a most comfortable ending to an intolerable story line. Surviving Grady says the Saints’ plan to brutalize Favre worked. Joe Posnanski reflects on some comical instances where Favre has refused to run in the past, and it makes him ask, Why? The Sporting Blog wonders if all the Favre vitriol is in reaction to the media’s over-the-top fawning over Number 4.

Last, but not least, some good Patriots introspection as Tom E. Curran looks at the D-Line for CSNNE’s Patriots Offseason Game Plan, and Chris Price’s Patriots By Position feature examines the linebacking corps on It Is What It Is. Both are appointment reading.

Bruins

We’re not in a good place here. Eight losses in nine games has The Old Bruins Fan talking about Armageddon. Wicked Bruins Fan laments a frustrating season where the quit is coming too often and way too early in games. I’m Just Sayin’ thinks that if the B’s don’t start playing with more emotion, a change may be needed behind the bench.

The one silver lining to this dreadful stretch for Bruins 2010 Draft Watch is the continued slide of the Toronto Maple Leafs. ESPN Boston has GM Peter Chairelli vowing not to toss in the Toronto first-rounder even as the B’s stay very much involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. And forget Tuukka Rask, as Joe Haggerty has him also off limits in any trade deadline talks. With so much off the table, Hockey Independent is looking a level lower than Kovalchuk, where they find Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney an attraction. Kathryn Tappen says that, when it comes to trade rumors, there’s no telling what the B’s brass has up their sleeve so forget about it. And for those who believe in the existing corps of B’s, some good news as Tea Party Throwdown sees a change in attitude at Ristuccia of late. Let’s hope it transports itself to TD Garden soon.

Finally, it will be soldier before Bruin for Zach McKelvie, as Kirk’s Call has the frustrated defenseman spending the past four years learning how not to quit and not about to start doing so now.

Celtics

A tough stretch awaits the C’s – four games in five nights, three against title contenders. A. Sherrod Blakely says the C’s are fortunate to be relatively healthy for these games and able to make inroads against both the Cavs and Lakers over the remainder of the season. Rich Levine has the C’s faring well against the cream of the NBA . . . the few times they’ve faced it.

Of all the potential additions the C’s could make at the NBA trade deadline, ESPN Boston Celtics Blog thinks none will be more helpful than the return of Marquis Daniels. CelticsBlog says Daniels’ return might spell the end of Tony Allen’s considerable contributions and make his expiring contract a bigger asset as we approach the deadline. Despite his leading role in trade rumors, Celtic Dynasty wants to see Ray Allen finish his career in Boston.

Evans Clinchy has KG likening himself to a 1976 Ford Pinto upon his return to the lineup. Now hold on. What kind of wheels does KG have, anyway? The last time I checked, Pintos weren’t fit enough to make it to the corner store and tended to explode upon contact, so he may need to rethink that analogy. Celtics Green has KG’s return not worthy of a glowing endorsement on its face, but there’s plenty to encourage them about the modest two-game winning streak.

Green Street has Doc Rivers equating Rajon Rondo’s defense to Brett Favre throwing a football across his body. Mass Hysteria rails against the lack of nickname originality by suggesting a few for Glen – f/k/a Big Baby – Davis. Celtics Stuff Live doesn’t have any ideas for a new nickname and thinks his old one has never been more appropriate, which, by the way, is exactly why he now wants to change it.

Red Sox

It’s all about the ones that were signed and the ones that weren’t. Clearing The Bases says there’s not much difference between recently re-signed Jeremy Hermida and Dustin Pedroia . . . in salary, that is. Better Red Than Dead tells us how the additions of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro will save the Sox 56 runs in 2010 – on paper, that is.

Utility Lou scolds the Sox for using surgery as a bargaining chip with Jason Bay and wonders why they had a change of heart in November. Yet, Full Count has Peter Gammons denying that surgery was a requirment for Bay’s further employment and insisting the Sox had genuine health concerns. Boston Dirt Dogs checks in on the Sox medical staff that let Bay get away

Fenway Nation sees trouble a-brewing with Tim Wakefield wanting in on the starting rotation. Ian Browne says Terry Francona is not about to put the cart before the horse in prematurely setting his rotation. If Circling The Bases had their way, Wakefield would get 54 starts with the rest of the rotation serving as mop-up. When it comes to Wake, Red Sox Monster says Sox fans have taken for granted the one we love.

One If By Land regards a contract extension for Josh Beckett as borderline insane, even for the deep-pocketed Sox. The Bottom Line smooths over some of the ups and downs in Daniel Bard’s 2009 season.

If winter’s here, can Truck Day be far behind? Not for Toeing The Rubber, who is getting worked up about the 2010 season. Closing on a public service note, Extra Bases has the skinny on tickets, which will go on sale starting Saturday.

Thanks to those who have reached out with new material. We said hello to another five Boston-based blogs this week. Keep them coming. I’m at bob02878@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @BobEks.

Celtics Hitting Big Stretch

The Celtics tip off a stretch of three games in four days tonight against three of their biggest rivals in the league. Tonight’s game against Orlando is followed by Atlanta tomorrow night and the Lakers on Sunday.

Scott Souza wonders why the league just didn’t go ahead and schedule the Cavaliers in for Saturday while they were at it. Jim Fenton also looks at the challenging stretch of games coming up. Chris Forsberg has the Celtics looking forward to this challenge. Steve Bulpett has the Magic looking for payback for the Christmas Day loss the Celtics handed them. A. Sherrod Blakely has tonight’s game a big one for both teams.

Mark Murphy has Doc Rivers holding himself accountable.

Paul Flannery makes his All Star reserves selections. Gary Washburn wonders if Rajon Rondo might get his first All Star nod when the reserves are named tonight on TNT.

Stan Grossfeld catches up with former Celtic Glenn McDonald, one of the heroes of game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals.

Patriots

Speaking as Vince Wilfork, Karen Guregian says that the nose tackle should absolutely hold out if the franchise tag is put on him. Glen Farley has Wilfork wanting no part of the franchise tag. Mike Reiss offers his analysis of Wilfork’s statements yesterday on WEEI. On Patriots Daily we’re wondering if the Patriots should even re-sign Wilfork.

Jeff Howe says that Bill Belichick can’t go wrong by naming either Matt Patricia or Pepper Johnson as defensive coordinator. Christopher Price looks at the Patriots linebackers.

Albert R. Breer has scouts questioning the NFL ability of Tim Tebow. Ian R. Rapoport has Pete Carroll learning his lesson from his stint in New England, especially when it comes to personnel.

Tom E. Curran says that the Pro Bowl has just gone from bad to worse. Steve Buckley says that this Super Bowl doesn’t need Brett Favre.

The Globe Patriots notebook has Wes Welker’s ACL surgery set for Tuesday at Mass General. Guregian’s notebook has more on the surgery. Rapoport’s Senior Bowl Notebook has the Patriots warning prospects about the potential evils of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Misc

Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins grinding it out at practice in an attempt to shake themselves out of their slump. Joe Haggerty wonders which door leads to success for the Bruins. James Murphy says that the return of Marc Savard will be huge on and off the ice for the Bruins. Steve Conroy has Peter Chiarelli declaring Claude Julien’s job safe.

Mike Fine has Tim Wakefield wanting to be a starter. Brian MacPherson has a good piece on catching prospect Luis Exposito. Tom Caron says that Mike Cameron will be a huge factor in the Red Sox clubhouse. John Tomase has Daniel Bard pleased to be working with Jonathan Papelbon for another year.

Former Harvard football captain Carl Ehrlich writes about his experiences playing football in Spain.

Bill Reynolds misses Pete Sheppard.

Afternoon Notes

A couple of notes from today:

The Beanpot is coming up over the next two Monday nights, and once again NESN has the complete coverage.

Coverage begins with Beanpot Hockey Tournament presented by SBLI beginning on Monday, February 1st.  The first game pits Boston College against Harvard at 5:00 PM followed by Boston University battling Northeastern University at 8:00 PM from the TD Garden. NESN’s coverage of the Beanpot championship game on Monday, February 8th will begin with Prelude to A Championship, a live, half-hour pre-game show starting at 7:30 PM.

Tom Caron and Andy Brickley will call all three games for NESN.

The championship game will also be available to 4.5 million homes in Canada on TSN2, which will rebroadcast the game in HD at 6:00 PM on February 9.

——
Pete Sheppard might’ve been the most high-profile radio guy to be laid off recently, but he’s not the only one. Yesterday WGAM Manchester/Nashua announced that producer P.J. Huot, who had been with the station since 2002, along with morning sports anchor Darrin Root and a traffic/production guy David Kimball had all been let go due to the economic conditions.

In addition, there is talk that the afternoon drive show with Mike Mutnansky could be cut back from 3-6PM to 4-6PM starting next week, though that is not set in stone just yet.

——

The biggest interview on Boston sports radio today was Vince Wilfork talking with Michael Holley and Lou Merloni on WEEI this morning, where the nose tackle voice his displeasure at his contract situation and that he does not want to be franchised.

Meanwhile on Patriots Daily, the question is asked: Should The Patriots Re-Sign Vince Wilfork?

Still Reviewing A Patriotic Decade

With the 2009 season coming to a close on Sunday Bowl Sunday, and thus putting the wraps on another decade of football, there is still quite a lot of looking back over the last 10 years by the media.

Today, Ron Borges names his all-decade NFL team, with former Patriot players Ty Law, Adam Vinatieri and Larry Izzo on the team, which would be coached by Bill Belichick. You’ll notice Tom Brady wasn’t on that list, and Borges explains why Peyton Manning is his QB of the decade in a separate column. He admits it was a very close, difficult decision, and he would be happy with either quarterback on his team. Kerry Byrne takes a look at the top 10 moments of the Patriots dynasty.

Ian R. Rapoport looks at Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel reuniting with Scott Pioli out in Kansas City. Tom E. Curran takes a look at the defensive line, while Christopher Price looks at the defensive backs. Mike Reiss has his Patriots mailbag.

You’ll be hearing this a lot this offseason: Jeff Howe says the Jets are going to be very good for years to come. Michael Felger says that both the Jets and Colts are miles ahead of the Patriots. Monique Walker has the Colts saying they’re happy to take a Super Bowl berth over a 16-0 regular season.

Mike Reiss did it last week, and today Albert R. Breer also talks to UMass offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, a native of Haiti.

Karen Guregian and Adam Kilgore has Matt Light talking about his dislocated kneecap that he suffered in the Denver game this season. Rapoport’s notebook says that Wes Welker’s ACL surgery still has not been scheduled.

Celtics

A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics headed into their biggest three-game stretch of the season, with the Magic, Hawks and Lakers on tap between now and Sunday. Julian Benbow has more on this stretch of potential statement games.

Scott Souza has Ray Allen hoping to remain with the Celtics after his contract expires this summer. Mark Murphy also has Allen looking to stay here, and remaining unfazed by trade rumors.

Robert Lee looks at the All Star hopes for Celtics other than Kevin Garnett, who was voted in as a starter. Evans Clinchy says that the Celtics have felt the loss of Marquis Daniels, and look forward to his return.

Red Sox

John Tomase has Tim Wakefield once again in the position of having to prove himself. Art Martone has Wakefield planning on being in the starting rotation.

Michael Silverman and Amalie Benjamin have the Red Sox and Jeremy Hermida agreeing on a one-year contract.

Mike Fine says that the Red Sox like their organizational depth at the catcher position. Joe McDonald says that the Red Sox are expecting big things from prospect Ryan Westmoreland this season, at whichever level he ends up at.

Bruins/Misc

Steve Conroy has Milan Lucic still trying to return to top form. Joe Haggerty says that center Steve Begin hopes to return this weekend. Kathryn Tappen says that the Bruins players are the only ones capable of turning this team around. Fluto Shinzawa has Tuukka Rask struggling when called upon to relieve Tim Thomas in the middle of a game.

Bob Ryan offers a number of thoughts on the sports world.

NESN Announces Red Sox Spring Training Plans

We’re just a few weeks away from the start of spring training, and this afternoon, NESN announced their plans for expanded Red Sox spring training coverage which will begin with an evening edition of Red Sox Spring Break LIVE on February 18th at 7:00pm.

The show will be hosted by Tom Caron and Peter Gammons.

Here is the schedule for Red Sox Spring Break LIVE in February:

DATE PROGRAM TIME
Thu, February 18 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Replay 10:30 – 11:30 PM
Sat, February 20 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 AM – NOON
Replay 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Sun, February 21 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Wed, February 24 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Fri, February 26 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 – 11:00 AM
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Sat, February 27 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 9:00 AM – NOON
Replay 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Sun, February 28 Red Sox Spring Break LIVE 10:00 AM – NOON
Replay 1:00 – 3:00 PM

NESN will also broadcast nine Red Sox spring training games, starting with the annual game with Boston College on March 3rd. Here is the full slate of games:

NESN’s 2010 Spring Training Game Broadcast Schedule

DATE PROGRAM TIME
Wed, March 3 Boston College at Fort Myers 6:00 PM
Sun, March 7 Baltimore at Sarasota 1:00 PM
Sat, March 13 Pittsburgh at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 14 Minnesota at Hammond Stadium 1:00 PM
Wed, March 17 New York Mets at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sat, March 20 Baltimore at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 21 Houston at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Sun, March 28 Minnesota at Fort Myers 1:00 PM
Mon, March 29 Tampa Bay at Fort Myers 7:00 PM

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy will team up for their tenth season together in the NESN broadcast booth with Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney joining them for her third season with the network.

Tuesday Top Ten

Here’s the top ten Boston sports articles this morning from around the newspaper and web world…

A Ticket to ride – Frank Dell’Apa has Kevin Garnett returning to form as the Celtics beat the Clippers 95-89.

Warriors may offer Ellis for Ray Allen – Comcast SportsNet’s A. Sherrod Blakely reported that the Warriors might be interested in moving Monta Ellis for Ray Allen. He also says that this is not a deal Danny Ainge has given any serious thought to considering. (Don Nelson doesn’t appear to take it serious either…so where did this rumor come from?)

Allen’s first option to stay in Boston – Gary Washburn has Allen hoping to stay right here with the Celtics.

Five questions for the Celtics – Paul Flannery looks at some things that the Celtics need to address in the second half of the season.

Critics bite at Tim Tebow – Ian Rapaport talks to the Florida quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, who admits that he’s talked to Bill Belichick and asked him for advice on the pro game.

Brady always seems at ease – Mike Reiss admires Tom Brady’s polish and genuineness at a charity event yesterday, where he also talked a little football.

Could this be a gift from Saban to Belichick?? In the Boston.com Extra Points blog, Albert Breer looks at the Patriots possible interest in Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody – all 370 lbs of him.

Opportunity may come knocking for Hermida – Brian MacPherson has Jeremy Hermida OK with being the Red Sox fourth outfielder this season.

Healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka Hungry for Redemption in 2010 – Adam Hirshfield has the Red Sox pitcher telling a Japanese magazine that he injured himself while training for the WBC last year.

Going backward on the blue line – Fluta Shinzawa has the Bruins swirling down the Eastern Conference standings, thanks in no small part to the play of their defensemen.