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News » In futility vs. excellence quest, take Thunder

In futility vs. excellence quest, take Thunder

In futility vs. excellence quest, take Thunder
In this peculiar NBA season of haves and have-nothings, David Stern is punching tickets on the polar-opposite express.

Riding in style are the Boston Celtics, who — through the first third of this trip — are not on pace to win 80 games even though Cs fans reading this are screaming at their computer screens and insisting they are.

But the defending champs are a measly 25-2 at this point and only threatening to join Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls playmates in the more pedestrian 70-plus victory club.

By the way, we'll ask the 70-seeking Cleveland Cavaliers to take a bow, for now, although I expect the uniformed cronies of LeBron James to flinch a few more times in games that will remind us that LeBron's still capable of shooting crooked against a good defense.

How about those Los Angeles Lakers? Well, let's just say jolly ol' Phil Jackson was right ... again.

But that's about it for the gifted side of the tracks.

Riding while strapped to the top of another runaway train are the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose recent victory uprising puts them at a righteous three triumphs through 27 games. With their success window still looking as vast as a dollhouse peephole, interim coach Scott Brooks and his plucky Thunder are on a quest to avoid 70 defeats.

Are they capable of discovering victory in at least 10 more scheduled dates? Just feeling the need to raise this question suggests the potential for doom.

Anyway, with the Cs and Thunder as co-stars, we've been challenged to answer the following question: if these teams are riding separate trains and allowed to go speeding off in opposite directions, which team will reach 70 first?

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We also shouldn't discount the potential for karma-related disaster. For example, it's only a matter of time before Kevin Garnett pounds his chest without realizing he's holding an ice pick. The nasty puncture wound could cost him a game, at least. Eventually (and it might be this season), World's Greatest Player Paul Pierce and a temporarily bum leg will be carried to the locker room, where nobody figures out (until it's too late) that the door has been locked from the outside.

But the most severe challenge should occur when the Celtics make a Western swing in mid-to-late February.

The hayride begins in New Orleans, where Chris Paul and the Hornets will again try to demonstrate that Boston's defense really isn't exempt from dribble penetration.

The Cs take on the Mavericks in Dallas the following night, with a Jazz date in Salt Lake City scheduled a week later. Boston closes this journey with back-to-backs in Phoenix — where the Suns will either be flying high or blown up — and Denver.

I understand the focus and commitment of Boston's Big Three and am quite aware that Cs fans consider Kendrick Perkins the second coming of Moses Malone. I also have noticed that Rajon Rondo has become tougher to stay in front of than morning breath.

But while the Celtics certainly would be hard to pick against in June, I think they're a bit less reliable than the Thunder when it comes to reaching 70.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 22, 2008


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