Author Archives: maneikis

Friday Fives: 5 Questions Heading into Game 2

 

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I think we can say we are officially back. For now.  Time for one of our favorite past-times: Friday Fives.  Here’s how this worked. I, Maneikis, posed 5 questions to our panel (Me, Will Weir aka “The Fedora’d One” and Taylor “I now prefer TJ” Simpson), and what you will read is our email exchange regarding each of these key questions heading into the critical Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Fun drinking game alert: every time we refer to Lebron by a name other than Lebron or anytime you feel we are being complete homers, you drink.  Prepare to get dnruk.

  1. How do we stop Tristan Thompson?

Will: Tristan has been bashing us over the head with a mallet like a kid playing Whack-A-Mole in an arcade for about 2 or 3 years now.  Feels like every game he gets about 20 rebounds vs. us and we are just powerless.  Having said that, they need to try something.  Rebounding has been a sore spot for C’s all year, not a secret.  Amir Johnson? Child Please. Tyler Zeller? I’ll pass.  Traditional big men are out.  Unfortunately, we can’t have Al guard both him and Kevin Love, so I think the answer has to fall to primarily Marcus Smart and maybe even a dash of Jae Crowder.  At this point, the best hope is that these 2 can be bulldogs and, at best, slow him down.  Marcus seems like he’ll get 1st billing, Jae doesn’t have the speed to stay with LBJ (Step up on up Jaylen!), but maybe he has the strength to battle with Tristan like he did with Morris last round.

Maneikis: Will, I totally agree per our conversation last night.  Marcus can bang with the big guys as long as it’s purely physical play.  The moment you add skill to the mix, Marcus tends to struggle, but he relishes the wrestling matches.  I’d also like to see us try to exploit him on the defensive end by going small and giving Marcus an opportunity to run PnR with Horford.  That might force the Cavs into some unnatural defensive rotations (have Thompson and Love ever had to defend a PnR together?), and we might even get some of their bigs in foul trouble.  I don’t see us stopping Thompson from getting rebounds, but I do expect us to make him work for those rebounds and to make him uncomfortable on the defensive end of the floor.

TJ:  Tristan is a player who has the specific skill set that exploits the biggest weakness on the Celtics’ roster – offensive rebounding.  It would be like if in The Illiad the Trojans hired a mercenary to a $60 million dollar contract whose lone skill was throwing arrows at soldiers’ heels.  In the first round against the Bulls the Celtics made Robin Lopez look like Wilt Chamberlain, so an honest goal would just not to end up like any of Wilt’s famed 20,000 women – you know, completely fucked.  However as many basketball coaches have repeated to me throughout the years, there is no secret to boxing out; it just takes placement, intention and a whole lot of effort. Dedicate a spot on the floor to one of the Lunks (Kelly, Zeller, Amir) who sole purpose is to stay between the basket and Tristan Thompson.  Barring a sudden fix for what has been a glaring flaw all year, sign his step-sister Kendall to a 10-day. She fixed institutionalized racism with a mere soft drink, so I’m sure she can grab a few rebounds.

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Game 2 – Is This Even Worth My Time?

 

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I’ve had 12 hours to process the unabashed beat-down the Cavs handed the Celtics last night, and the main question I’m sure most NBA fans have can be found in the title to my piece. And let me answer this for you – the answer is yes.  And here’s why you should watch.

  1. The Celtics will win Game 2.  
    1. Mark this down as the night Celtics fans irrationally believed in their underdogs against the PED-machine, Lebron James (hot-take alert. I’m kidding obviously, but it’s not human what he’s doing).  In terms of pure atmosphere, the Garden-crowd will be worth tuning in for the lone Celtics victory in this series. There is nothing like a Boston crowd that believes in the little guy, and boy do we love our little guy. 
  2. Marcus Smart will cover Tristan Thompson. And it could be epic.
    1. I was watching the first half with one of my basketball players last night and within the first minute I said, “You will not see Amir Johnson in this series again. Marcus Smart is the only guy tough enough to box Thompson out.” Fast forward to the 3rd quarter and Stevens made this adjustment, and I think this will continue at the start of Game 2. Thompson and Lebron’s physicality sucked the life out of the city last night. And if it’s not at the start, then it will be a strategy used throughout the rest of this series. Marcus cannot defend skilled bigs with brute force (as we saw when Kevin Love worked him), but he can defend brute force no matter the size.  He’s the toughest dude on the Celtics and will love the challenge.  Thompson will have his moments, but he will not have the same effect he did in Game 1.
  3. Jaylen Brown will be in Lebron’s head
    1. I texted die-hard Boston sports guy Matt Liptak last night the following: Watch Jaylen in this series versus Lebron. You wuill be surprised at how well he matches up with Lebron’s athleticism. Game 1 showed why Jaylen was the #3 pick last year. The kid is going to be really good.  He has Kobe Bryant athleticism, and when he gets going, he can really change the game with it. Lebron will figure him out eventually, but Jaylen is the only guy who Lebron thinks twice about.  You can see it in Lebron’s body language. His decisions aren’t as quick or decisive because he hasn’t found Jaylen’s defensive weakness yet, and to be honest Jaylen’s weakness is not Lebron’s strength. Jaylen gets lost in roations and chasing people off screens.  Lebron is ball-dominant and Jaylen loves on-ball assignments.  Lebron can still find the switches he wants, but Game 2 won’t be the joke that Game 1 was.
  4. We are witnessing Lebron’s transcendence to GOAT status.
    1. If Lebron beats this Warriors team again, I am ready to say that he is at least tied with Jordan.  Save me your bullshit. What Lebron has been doing, regardless of his move to Miami, is unparalleled. If he beats the Super Warrior Brothers, then I’m saying it’s a tie. If he doesn’t, then I’m still saying he’s in the conversation.  Appreciate his greatness people.  I mean, when I am feeling extra existential-crisisy, I do two things to remind myself of how small and insignificant I am : look at the vast expanse of the night sky and watch this play.  This is the greatest play I’ve ever seen and it’s time to give this man the respect that he is due.

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Dear Danny Ainge,

Thank you. You see, I’ve been a Celtics fan since the days I thought Todd Day was a good basketball player. I rooted for Dino Radja. I cheered for Vitale Potapenko and Tony Battie. I was obsessed with Dana Barros. I dreamed on Kedrick Brown. I even talked myself into Mark Blount’s expanding midrange game.  (Side note – as I was searching for Vitale Potapenko highlights on youtube, here is a list of suggestions I was provided before typing in the k in “Potapenko”:

Vitale P —> Vitale pranks, pro, pronunciation, pizza, pasta

Vitale Po —> Vitale pro hair relaxer, and bunch of other beauty products

Vitale Pot —> Laura Vitale potatoes, potato salad, potato soup

Then Laura Vitale dominates until we get…

Vitale Potape … Youtube has nothing

Vitale Potapen … still nothing…

Vitale Potapenk —> Oh we get it! Vitale Potapenko!!! Remember that time Potapenko dropped 8 points on the Bulls? This has me almost as excited as that time Kedrick Brown really made me think he was going to be providing highlights like this for an entire decade and not just one time.

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Side bar over. Being a young Celtics fan was tough, but I wasn’t born until 1989, so I didn’t really understand how special our franchise is until my teenage years and therefore didn’t know how tough it was for those we knew what the other side looked like.  To be honest, I didn’t really understand the Tim Duncan draft travesty until around the time the Walker Wiggle went out of style.  But you, Danny, took over, back when you could grow your own hair, and brought us Banner 17, and then somehow turned our aging Big Three into future top 5 picks.  These past 24 hours have been some of the most exciting moments I’ve had as a fan just thinking about all of the possibilities now that we know Markelle Fultz is ours.  And knowing you Danny, I know you are exploring all possible trade options, and yes Jimmy Butler or Paul George could be nice, and there are some out there who think we could trade down with say Phili, and snag Saric and #3 for #1, but I ask you to consider one you may not think is likely: Go get Anthony Davis! Scoff at my suggestion? Let’s think this over.

  1. What is New Orleans current plan?
    1. Build around Davis and Boogie in a league in which the twin tower model seems unsustainable despite their seemingly complementary skillsets. This could work just because of the talent, but they have NOTHING around them. I mean, the rest of their roster (minus Holiday) might not even compete for the final roster spot on the Washington Wizards. So, even if Davis and Cousins mesh, they don’t have the surrounding talent to help them contend.  And let’s face it, I don’t think many Free Agents are giving the Pellies a meeting. This doesn’t seem like a very promising future to me, and if I, an aspiring rapper and internet blogger can see this, why can’t the Pellies?
  2. What could we offer?
    1. A future the Pellies could sell to their fanbase.
      1. As we have seen in Philadelphia, promising your fanbase brighter days buys you time and eases tensions that come with underachieving despite high-level talent. So ask yourself: would you believe in a future that was led by say Markelle Fultz, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Demarcus Cousins? That sounds pretty good to me.
  3. Why it works for us
    1. Yes, we are giving up A LOT for Davis, but he’s a top 10, maybe top 5 player in the league and we have him locked up for 4 more years. So let’s take a look at what we’d be left with:
      1. Starting 5: IT, Marcus, Hayward, Horford, and Davis
      2. Next 5: Crowder, Olynyk, Yabusele, Zicic, Jackson
    2. Oh yeah, I’m assuming in this scenario Gordon Hayward is coming to Boston. Not guaranteed, but if we get Davis, then I’m choosing Boston and Stevens over Utah any day of the week.
    3. We still have Brooklyn 2018, and potentially 3 first round picks in 2019.
    4. Horford and IT are on win-now timelines and this trade (plus Hayward) puts us as favorites to knock off Lebron and gives us the talent to contend with Golden State.
  4. Why it’s risky
    1. Fultz could be special
    2. Isaiah might decline
    3. Davis is injury prone
    4. Just signing Hayward and bringing in Fultz, Gershon and Zicic might be enough to contend anyways
    5. Lebron is Lebron….(starting to talk myself out of it already so I need to stop this list)
  5. Why that doesn’t matter
    1. What is this franchise about? Banners. IT, Marcus, Hayward, Davis, and Horford can compete with anyone in the league and we tend to overvalue our own assets. Also, 2018’s Brooklyn pick is a great insurance policy in case we cannot resign Isaiah, so although it would suck to lose Fultz, we at least know we can get another Fultz-type next year while also legitimately contending in 2018.

But hey. Even if you stay the course, I love the direction we are heading.  You’ve given me and my friends so much to talk about, to bond over, and to hope for since you took over as GM, and it looks like we are built to contend far into the future.

Thanks for KG. Thanks for Ray Ray. Thanks for IT. Thanks for Brad. And thanks for exploiting an incompetent Russian billionaire.

Sincerely,

The kid who outcoached you in the Brookline summer league.

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PS. I totally talked myself out of the trade. Just sign Hayward and I’ll be happy.

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Dear Isaiah Thomas,

I’m writing this to you because no one has written the article I want to read. Or maybe they have, but I just can’t get enough of reading about “The King in The Fourth” (sorry Kobe, but IT already has a nickname).  This article is not about the recent tragedy that shook the foundations of your family.  It’s not about your contract.  And it is definitely not about your height.  This is all about how your performance in Game 2 temporarily made us forget about our city’s sordid, racist past and present.  Continue reading

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End of Season Awards

You won’t find many surprises on this list, but I decided to post this anyways.  This season was the most interesting regular season in recent memory, so I wanted to give these players their props for bringing excitement to my otherwise boring life in my 27th revolution around the sun.

MVP

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Wardell Stephen Curry was phenomenal from start to finish, capping off the greatest offensive season ever with a ridiculous 45 points in three quarters while leading his team to the best regular season ever.  400 Threes? Check. Stop-What-You’re-Doing-And-Turn On-League Pass Heat Checks? Check. Clutch Shots? Check. 50-40-90 club? Check. This dude was the best player in the league almost every night, and no one else should garner any first place votes. Steph, I salute you. You are everything a man should be. (Leonard, James, Westbrook, and Paul round out the top 5)

Most Improved Player

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Kawhi Leonard has become a superstar.  He is the best two-way player in the league and now consistently plays with the greatness that he flashed two years ago when he won the Finals MVP.  He is by far the best wing defender in the league and shoots the ball with top 5 efficiency. He is the perfect player to carry the Spurs into the next era, and may be the reason the Spurs knock the Warriors out of the playoffs.  If he wins another Finals MVP, Kawhi will be the front-runner for next year’s regular season MVP award. (Curry, Crowder, Kemba Walker, and CJ Mccollum round of the top 5)

Defensive POY

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Draymond Green can literally guard 5 positions on the floor. People have been purported to do so in the past, but Draymond can actually do it.  I seen’t it! At 6 6, Draymond should not be capable of guarding centers, but in this era of small ball, very few bigs have the ability to take advantage of mismatches in the post.  Draymond uses his leverage to get underneath bigger players and has the length and quick-jumping ability to bother the fade-away jumpers that he forces in the mid-post.  His quickness on the perimeter allows the Dubs to switch most pick-and-rolls, and although some guards sneak by him, he can usually block their shots from behind with his Revisesque recovery speed.  He is the heart and soul of the league’s best team, and although Kawhi does many things better than Draymond, Green’s ability to guard 1-5 gives him the slight nod over Leonard. (Leonard, Whiteside, Avery Bradley, and Deandre Jordan round out the top 5)

Rookie of the Year

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 Karl Anthony Towns won me $250 on a $5 while I was in Vegas recently, so he definitely gets the nod here.  That jump hook on the baseline to beat the Blazers cemented Towns not only as the ROY, but also as an All-NBA performer in my ballot.  He is doing things that few rookies have done, and seemingly got stronger throughout the season.  He is already a two-way player, and he has the skill set to be the league’s premiere big man for the next 15 years.  The T-Wolves have a very bright future and the rest of the league should expect to fear the bite of their top dog for years to come.

Coach of the Year

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Brad Stevens may have some stiff competition for this award, but I left Isaiah Thomas off of my All-NBA teams, gave Leonard the nod over Crowder for MIP and Livingston the edge over Turner for 6th man, so I had to make at least one homer pick here. I mean it’s my blog and no one is really paying attention anyways, and even now as I type this sentence I’m resisting the urge to give all of these awards to my boys in green.  Stevens has maximized the potential of the entire roster and has the Celtics feeling good entering the playoffs after that insane comeback victory over the Heat.  His ATO plays are legendary and his unchanging demeanor is rivaled only by Jay Wright. Dear Danny Ainge: if you give Stevens a superstar, he will give you a championship.

6th Man

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Shaun Livingston has really impressed me all year with his steady play anchoring the Dubs all-time bench.  He shoots his shots every game and allows Steph to play off the ball for extended minutes, which significantly reduces Curry’s energy spent and increases floor space with all of the attention Steph garners off of the ball.  Livingston also wins the Stephen A. Smith award for NBA player with the biggest forehead.

 

All NBA Teams

1st Team: Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, James, Green

2nd Team: Paul, Lillard, Durant, George, Aldridge

3rd Team: Lowry, Thompson, Derozan, Millsap, Towns

Apologies to Isaiah Thomas and James Harden

 

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The 2015-2016 Boston Celtics

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We’re baaaaaaack! We’re back we’re back we’re back! We’re back, so back!!!!!!! It’s been almost two years since we last wrote something on this blog, but we’ve always been here, we just weren’t posting content to the site.  Thanks for sticking with us.

Following last season’s improbable playoff push, the Boston Celtics’ future looked as bright as any franchise in the NBA.  They had solid young talent, a “treasure trove” of draft picks from Danny Ainge’s shrewd sorcery, and the best young coach in the league.  The narrative was, and largely still is, that these three in conjunction could land Boston its next big name. Fans were dreaming about Boogie Cousins, Carmelo Anthony, and other headline grabbers because that is who the media was telling us could take the franchise back to its lofty standards. However, it did not happen over the summer despite reports of Kevin Love possibly switching allegiances, and it did not happen at the trade deadline, despite reports ranging from the realistic to the utterly absurd (no Gary Tanguay, Anthony Davis was never coming to Boston).  Meanwhile, the current iteration of the Celtics struggled to stay above .500 and seemingly could not close out games down the stretch.  It was frustrating to watch, and I’m sure it was even more frustrating to be a part of.  My friends and I kicked around trade ideas that could steal Paul George or Jimmy Butler away from their teams, and groaned as we saw well-executed plays resulting in missed shots in the fourth-quarters of winnable games. Still, as any fan that bleeds green would, I watched every game, and saw some signs that these Celtics were starting to become a problem for the rest of the league.   They were starting to become contenders.

It’s easy to be a prisoner of the moment and say that I’m writing this article due to the Celtics’ upset win in Oakland last night, but the Celtics did not get lucky last night.  They won because they deserved to win and this is becoming a delightful trend for Celtics fans.  They play the brand of basketball that has come to define their identity and is giving opposing teams fits. For the C’s, it starts with their defensive pressure in the backcourt and their willingness to play much bigger than their size.  When last season began, the Celtics’ three-headed monster of Rondo, Bradley, and Smart wreaked havoc upon the league for about five games, but then Smart turned his ankle, Rondo realized defense meant he had to try, and quickly the foundation of the team crumbled.  But they shipped Rondo out for an unheralded rotation wing, Jae Crowder, a supreme athlete who looked like he belonged on a football field, not a basketball court, and we started to see improvement.  Crowder struggled to fit in last season, but we could see his potential, especially on the defensive end.  He’s strong, physical, and versatile enough to guard multiple positions (traits he shares with many other Celtics like Bradley, Smart, Turner, Olynick, and Jerebko). Not only that, but he has great defensive instincts to complement heady play and intelligent team schemes. Fast forward to today, and that ball-hawking, physical potential has been unlocked and it keeps the Celtics’ competitive in every contest. For fans who love defense, the Celtics’ ability to “turn it on” is every bit as exciting as a “Curry Flurry” of three-pointers in Golden Sate. Check out these highlights from the first game against Golden State earlier this season.

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This is the type of intensity with which fans are falling in love, and this team plays this hard almost every night.  They are a collective of talented, ultra-competitive players whom Coach Stevens understands better than almost any other coach understands his players.  The Celtics will be down ten, Stevens will call one of his uncanny, momentum stopping timeouts, and Smart, Bradley, and Crowder will stalk onto the court with the body language of Fulton Reed and Dean Portman ready to turn elite ball-handlers into JV  point guards playing Varsity for the first time.  Whatever message Stevens delivers during those timeouts gets through to these guys and they quickly respond. It gets to the point where All-Stars like Damian Lillard do not even want to bring the ball up the court (seriously, he barely touched the ball in the second half the other night, but CJ McCollum stepped up big time), and teams are forced to have a secondary or tertiary ball-handler advance the ball past midcourt while wasting half of the shot clock.  It throws teams out of their rhythm at worst, and completely alters the game at its best. To be able to play full-court defense at the NBA level is something we may have never seen before to the extent that these guys can do it.  And Stevens knows it.  Anytime his team is down, he will go to a lineup of Smart, Bradley, Crowder, Evan Turner, and one of his versatile big men, and before you know it the Celtics will have made up the deficit. And this is when they decide to unleash the league’s best-kept secret and this team’s MVP.  Enter Isaiah Thomas.

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In last year’s hard-fought playoff series with the Cavs, the Celtics could not get buckets down the stretch.  The Celts turned the series into a wrestling match, which played to their own strengths, but in the end they could not score when it mattered  (after last night’s game, I’m thinking maybe someone was just wearing the wrong shoes).  The main reason: Boston’s best offensive player is Isaiah Thomas and he only stands 5 feet 9 inches.  The Cavs’ defensive stalwart Iman Shumpert bothered him with length, a logical strategy with which most teams try to minimize Thomas’ elite scoring ability.  We saw it often early in this season, but Stevens and Thomas have seemingly figured out how to combat his size disadvantage.  Isaiah really struggles against length versus a set defense, so getting him out in transition via suffocating defense is the best chance at getting him going and winning games. The Celtics couldn’t get steals and stops against Portland the other night, and that is why Isaiah struggled so mightily because Alan Crabbe had set help behind him and high, active hands all game. However, Stevens has done a great job game-planning so that IT gets switches in the high Pick and Roll and gets the ball out and back quickly so that he catches with a live dribble attacking a secondary defender at a downhill angle. Portland’s secondary defenders were much better on Thomas than Golden State’s were last night, but when Isaiah gets hot, it really does not matter who is guarding him.  The Celtics’ strategy is so simple, but it’s everything to their offense, and in that 3rd quarter last night Isaiah dominated the game more effectively than Curry’s long distance dance. Isaiah should be an All-NBA candidate this season, probably 3rd team, but he deserves it.

 

Quick side bar. Here are my choices for All-NBA (hopefully breaking this down later this season).

First team: Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, Durant, James

Second Team: Lillard Paul, Thompson,  Green, Jordan

Third Team: Thomas, Lowry, Harden, George , Aldridge

Apologies to Demar Derozan, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, and Dirk Nowtizki

 

 

Local media will tell you that Isaiah is not a “Go-to guy,” but I’m not sure this is entirely true.  This is Thomas’ first year as a starter in his age 27 season, often considered the first year of a player’s prime.  Yes, he does have his weaknesses, but what player doesn’t? Maybe it is time we start appreciating Isaiah for what he can do instead of focusing on the obvious fact that he is short.  Maybe it’s time to start kicking around the possibility that he can win games with the current pieces surrounding him and the best coach in the league.  This is the same thing that happened to Russell Westbrook as he was trying to figure out how to close games.  Critics complained that Russ had tunnel vision and needed to pass the ball to Durant.  Well, he is starting to figure it out and has learned how to highlight his strengths and minimize his liabilities. He is now a triple-double machine and a perennial MVP candidate.  Back to IT. Okay he’s diminutive, but he’s stronger than half the guys in the league.  He gets into the body of bigger defenders and forces contact through which he can finish, or he can draw fouls.  Unlike the Celtics’ previous PG, Isaiah shoots 90% from the line, so he loves driving the ball to the basket, and with the pressure this puts on defenses, the rest of the roster becomes that much more of a threat.

Most recently, we’ve seen Evan Turner benefit from sharing the floor with IT down the stretch.  Defenses are so focused on IT and weak-side action Stevens’  offense creates, Turner is often left to go one-on-one with the other team’s second-best defender.  And this allows him to thrive in crunch time because Turner can get to his sweet spots on the elbow and right baseline shooting his patented mid-range jimmy.  Turner will never be a number one option on a championship team, but with the other team’s best defender often on IT, Turner can exploit smaller defenders with his size and bigger defenders with his crafty ball-handling in a PnR situation that those defenders are not used to defending.  Turner is also a great passer, so when he is entrusted with crunch time play-making, he can use his size to see over the defense to find spot-up shooters on the perimeter or sneaky back-cuts along the baseline as the defense gets caught ball-watching.  It’s titillating to watch. (I haven’t written an article in almost two years, excuse the adjectives)

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Coming into last season it did not appear as if the Celtics had any shooters on their roster.  However, we’ve seen that this team (except Marcus Smart…please Marcus, please find your shot!) can shoot the ball and shoot it very well.  Crowder, Bradley, Jerebko, and Olynick are all reliable 3-point threats spotting up around the arc, while players like Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller can knock down the open 18-footer.  This affords Thomas and Turner the space they need to operate in the paint, and has made for some effective fourth-quarter offense.  Mix all of this in with Brad Stevens’ ATO plays, and you can see why the Celtics are 12 games over .500.  More importantly, what it’s done has given the critics less ammunition.  The Celtics are winning close games and doing it without “a superstar.”  They are looking like they could make some serious noise in these playoffs, and are setting themselves up to be an attractive spot for Free Agents over the summer.  This would mean they could keep our current roster, draft picks, and merely add a superstar rather than trade for one (Ask the Knicks how that worked out for them).  They could draft the most NBA-ready prospect (Buddy Hield), or they could take a chance on a high-ceiling prospect like Brandon Ingram, depending upon where they draft.  But free agency and the draft are in the summer.  What we should be focusing on are their chances looking like in this year’s playoffs? These players deserve our attention in the current moment.  They play too hard and with too much pride for us not to root for them with as much fire as we rooted for the KG era Celtics.

Well, it is going to be tough no matter who they play because the East, while lacking in upper-echelon teams, is stacked with parity.  Cleveland is far and away the best team, but they are mired in internal conflict.  Toronto has not proven they can win in the playoffs but boasts the East’s best backcourt.  Atlanta’s defense is tops in the league.  Miami has the talent to beat anyone.  Charlotte is winning.  Detroit is unique. And Indiana has the second best player in the conference.  They will avoid Cleveland until the semis or conference finals, so maybe the Cs can catch a break and see someone else shock them so they won’t have to.  But if they do face them again, Brad Stevens and his menacing group of defenders will be ready to show them what they learned from last year’s sweep.  They will be ready to prove that what happened in Oakland was no fluke.  They will be ready to show the world that Isaiah Thomas is for real and that defense and chemistry can take you a long way. They will be ready.  Will you?

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NBA Off-season: A BA 3-Way

Andrew Bynum reacting to the news teams still want him

A Written Podcast

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Going into the playoffs the narrative was that the Miami Heat were invincible. There was talk of them being the best team ever, being a dynasty in the making, and whether or not anyone would even present a roadblock in a Roseless, Rondoless East. But their path to the top was full of detours and potholes in the form of large, ferocious big-men who pounded the Heat into near submission.  It really was quite ironic because all of the talk was of the missing point guards, but in reality the biggest, most visible guys on the court were there to challenge the Heat all along. So even though the Heat eventually won the title thanks to some legendary basketball by one Lebrin Jones (Ryan Foley voice) and some legendary origami personification by Manu Ginobili, the rest of the NBA realized the chink in their once impenetrable armor.  The Miami Heat already faced a Hibbert-sized task of 3-peating by reaching their fourth consecutive finals, but now they need to do it by reinventing themselves for a third consecutive year.  If they go into next season without any major upgrades in their frontcourt then they will not return to the Finals. That a rapidly deteriorating Chris Bosh is their lone (somewhat)reliable two-way big spells doom for their dynastic aspirations.  Despite analytics favoring a turn towards small-ball, playoff basketball is too physical for most teams that do not employ the greatest athlete of all-time as their power forward, and even he has issues with it.  Is Greg Oden the answer? Maybe, but probably not.    So my esteemed colleagues: if the Heat are out as NBA champions next season, which teams have made the off-season moves to take a shot at the champ? Continue reading

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What’s Good Wednesday: “Smitty Todd”

First of all I want to apologize for my lack of coverage on a wacky and wild few weeks in the NBA.  So much has happened! Chris Bosh’s second title, Manu taking a poop on the Miami floor (as my Uncle Jim so eloquently described it), Doc asking out of Beantown, the craziest NBA Draft in recent memory (seriously Cavaliers? Anthony Bennett? Trade down if you want Anthony Bennett, don’t take him number 1), the official end of the Big 3 era in Boston, and the New York Knicks cementing themselves as favorites for next year’s title with the impending trade for the one and only Lebr..Andrea Bargnani! I have been on NBA overload and haven’t quite been able to process this wide spectrum of emotions.  I promise a well-written piece in the next week or so, but I’m finishing up my EP and I’m actually trying to make something more than three people will want to hear. So there’s my apology. Take it or leave it. Now onto the actual post…

Our interview series has been on the shelf for a couple of months now, but hey when we find someone other than ourselves whom we find interesting then maybe we’ll do an interview with that person.  But unfortunately you all are a bunch of good-for-nothing pickle chompers. That doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about something I find worthy of a few hundred words on a hot and steamy Wednesday afternoon back in my hometown of the high-and-tight fade, Dorchester, Massachusetts. For those of you who don’t know, Mike Smith, aka Smitty, or as I like to call him “Smitty Todd,” is the premiere barber in Dorchester.  Smitty held down his old cutting grounds, “Eddie’s,” for the past eight years establishing himself as a fixture of the Dorchester community, but he has decided to take his talents elsewhere (location currently unknown..dude knows how to build suspense).  But this guy absolutely hooks it up and anyone reading this looking for a place to get the best cut in town should seriously consider hitting up Smitty once the new shop opens.  And when the location is announced, BA will be all over that for you scraggly suckas.   Maybe we’ll even have a follow-up interview with the man himself. In the meantime, here is my favorite clip from Sweeney Todd.

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Glad as always to oblige my friends and neighbors! Peace!

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What’s Going on in Game of Thrones?

BY DEVIN KIRBY

Jesus, one Sunday later and I’m already fed up with Game of Thrones not being on TV. And, if you’re reading this, it means that you are too. So let me help you out by giving you a final big heaping portion of GoT.

Season 3 threw a lot at us. Some new faces showed up, some minor characters rose to prominence, and some major characters wound up with their throats cut and their unborn babies stabbed. All in all, it was a crazy—and beautiful—television event. And the possibility of a whole new season living up to (or dare I say, exceeding) the epic high bar set by season 3 is just…I don’t know.

Would you still read my blogs if I said arousing? Ahem.

So here’s what we’re going to do: go character by character, storyline by storyline, with my editor’s favorite scenes interspersed throughout and see what went down in the past 10 episodes…and what may or may not happen in the future.

With that, here’s what’s going on in Game of Thrones:

THE LAST DRAGON DAENERYS TARGARYEN

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Barristan Selmy: I just want to see this dude kill someone. Is that so much to ask?

Barristan is really going to make his money when the gang gets back to Westeros. He’s obviously still in high esteem there—every time he’s been brought up in the entire series he gets pretty positive reviews. I think he’s going to be a big player down the line.

Jorah Mormont: Dany’s right hand man since day 1, Jorah kind of wore on my nerves this season. I get that he is the calm hand to help Dany politic her way back to Westeros, but at some point the voice of reason just devolves into a repetitive drone—see also Dale from AMC’s The Walking Dead.

I think Daenerys is slowly outgrowing good old Jorah. She’s getting increasingly capable of taking care of herself, and she has adopted the attitude that risks need to be taken in order for her to be successful—like her ballsy call to take Yunkai. Both of these budding traits—Dany’s political maturation and her growing willingness to roll the dice—are becoming more and more essential to her quest for the Iron Throne, rendering Jorah’s counsel obsolete at best and counterproductive at worst.

There’s also the weird little power struggle between Jorah and Barristan Selmy. Barristan believes that Jorah, an exile from Westeros after selling men into slavery, will hurt Dany’s public image when she tries to rally support in the mainland for the reinstatement of the Targaryen dynasty. This obviously doesn’t sit well with Jorah, but I think the show did a poor job this season of reminding people that Jorah is head-over-heels in love with Dany—an emotion that I think is at the root of his political devotion to her.

Also, his dad Jeor died. He was the late Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch that gets murdered at Craster’s Keep. I don’t think this will amount to much for Jorah, but it still sucks.

Probably the biggest obstacle ahead for Jorah is going to come when they finally make it back to Westeros, which has finally a real possibility now that they have Yunkai. Earlier in season 1, Jorah was feeding information to Lord Varys in an attempt to get back in the crown’s good graces. He’s since stopped being a rat, but I’m sure Dany still won’t be too pleased if and when she finds out. Also I have this nagging feeling that he’s getting jealous of how close other men—like Barristan and now the exotic Daario Naharis—are getting to Dany. Jorah, usually the voice of restraint, isn’t my first pick to commit a crime a passion, but hey. Walder Frey wasn’t my first pick to kill the entire Stark clan either.

Daario Naharis: Probably the best looking man Dany has seen since Khal Drogo died, Daario Naharis came in as an enigma and, well, pretty much stayed that way. We do know a couple things about him, however: he loves the ladies, occasionally slips into the third person, and has sweet weapons—namely his naked lady-hilted dagger and giant sickle-sword thing. He also is the sole reason Dany has Yunkai, which is a pretty big power move on his part.

As far as what role he’s going to play in reclaiming the throne, I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind seeing him and Dany get down to business. But beyond that, this dude is a complete wild card for whatever lies ahead.

Grey Worm: I could watch Little Obama twirl his little spear around all day. His one fight sequence in episode 9 was probably the craziest weaponplay in the show to date.

Just please don’t let Grey Worm die. Please.

Daenerys Targaryen: Dany. Light of my life, fire of my loins. Stormborn and Breaker of Chains and She of the Nice Boobies.

Dany’s maturity as a leader has had a direct parallel to the age of her dragons, and now, like her dragons, Dany is starting to come into her own as a legitimate badass. I still maintain that her time in Qarth with Xaro Xhoan Daxos was a big step in her development as a leader. Since then, she has stopped relying on men (earlier, she leaned on her brother Viserys, then Khal Drogo, and finally Xaro Xhoan Daxos) and has emerged as a prudent negotiator and charismatic leader in her own right. I’ve absolutely loved what the show has done with her, and I think Emilia Clarke has done an outstanding job of bringing Dany to life.

So now the young queen has 8,000 Unsullied, 2,000 Second Sons, 3 dragons, 200,000 freed Yunkai slaves, and a crazy amount of gold (remember that Yunkai was willing to give her a chest full of gold and several ships just as a token of goodwill). She also has Barristan Selmy, an aforementioned hero of Westeros, backing her cause, for what that’s worth. I know I harp on the implied importance of Barristan a lot, but I really think that people underestimate what a spectacularly decorated individual he is, and how big of an impact his backing of Dany’s reinstatement will be.

Also, if she hurries up and gets there, Dany can save the day for Westeros. The White Walkers are marching on the Seven Kingdoms, and no one has any idea how to stop them—the Night’s Watch is so desperate they have called upon every single lord in Westeros to come to the realm’s aid. This season revealed that dragonglass—weapons forged from the fire of dragons—can kill the White Walkers. So, if Dany shows up with a bunch of dragons, I think the Seven Kingdoms will stand a significantly better chance against the oncoming army of the dead. And that would also make Dany a hero and savior of the realm.

I think that is the most likely course of Dany’s storyline, due to the fact that her and Jon Snow have to cross paths eventually (it is a Song of Ice and Fire). And what better moment to do so then when they both are fighting a common enemy, Dany is striving for the throne, and Jon is looking for revenge against the regime that has torn his family apart (which I assume he will after he finds out about some recent red developments). Are you pumped at the idea of a Stark-Targaryen superalliance? Yeah, me too.

THE IRON ISLES TROLLING EVERYBODY

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Balon Greyjoy: One of the three usurpers named by Stannis Baratheon, Balon recently declared himself King of the Iron Isles, effectively seceding from the Seven Kingdoms. He has also more recently seceded from his dickless son, to the disapproval of his daughter Yara.

Balon, when the North plummeted into turmoil after the death of Ned Stark, seized the opportunity and started raiding the countryside. But there’s a new sheriff in town (or warden or whatever), and his name is Roose Bolton. And he’s not a guy who’s bad side you want to be on.

There is also the whole Lord of Light death sentence thing…we’ll get into that whole insane religious talk later (if you can’t wait, skip down to the STANNIS THE MANNIS section).

Yara Greyjoy: Yara (WHO IS ASHA IN THE BOOKS AND I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY THEY CHANGED IT?) is fed up with Balon’s mistreatment of Theon. She understands that he is somewhat of an outsider to House Greyjoy, having been raised by the Starks, but also acknowledges that Theon is, at his core, a Greyjoy—and heir to the throne of Pyke. Her father’s choice to let Theon die instead of give up the meager lands the Ironborn have taken in the North was the straw that broke Yara’s back, and now she’s taking the fastest of her ships and 50 of her best men to storm the Dreadfort and liberate her dear brother.

I want to spend some time with Yara next season. In season 2 she was painted as the best commander in the entire Ironborn navy (the people of the Iron Isles being some of the best seafaring folk in Westeros), and I’d love to see her live up to some of that hype.

Theon Greyjoy: Oh, poor little Theon. Never anyone’s favorite, Theon has spent an entire season in a Bolton dungeon getting physically and mentally tortured by Ramsay Snow. His dad gave him the biggest middle finger ever. He’s wracked with guilt over what he did to the Starks and Winterfell. Just generally not a good 10 episodes for Prince Theon.

But, help is on its way. Yara is en route to free Theon. And hopefully kill that weirdo Ramsay Snow.

Assuming Yara succeeds and Theon makes it back to Pyke in whatever can be considered one piece at this point, the Greyjoys still have a couple problems on their hands. Roose Bolton, now Warden of the North, has a bone to pick with Balon’s invasion. We’ve already seen the ridiculous lengths the Boltons will go to make their point, and I’m sure making an example out of the Greyjoys would be a move Roose would love to make.

There’s also the summoning of everybody to march north against the White Walkers. Balon doesn’t seem to interested in anything besides his own domain, so, if he did get a raven, I have a hard time believing he would commit to the greater good. But maybe Theon will think differently about it.

TEAM HODOR

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Bran Stark/Jojen Reed: Having split in two, this subgroup of Team Hodor has made it to the Wall and has been equipped by Sam Tarly with dragonglass to try to survive beyond it. Bran is still searching for his spirit-raven, and Jojen is still looking for answers about their powers. It is known to them that the Wildlings have been able to somewhat harness their warg powers—like Orell and his hawk—but this new magical ability is still largely a mystery to both Bran and Jojen.

I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen to these kids. Not even a guess. A raven is a messenger, and the three eyes suggest that it is a messenger for something supernatural. Is it some other superwarg’s spirit animal to lure Bran? I thought for a while they would be led to another cache of dragonglass and help the war effort, but that seems increasingly unlikely. It can’t be Wildlings they’re going to find—they’re all south of the Wall by this point.

So, uh. We’ll see I guess.

Hodor: If Bran does not warg Hodor and make him into some kind of mind-controlled superweapon I will consider season 4 a failure.

Meera Reed: Is she cute? I can’t tell. Not really? Hm.

Rickon Stark/Osha: Rickon and Osha are headed to Last Hearth, the seat of House Umber. House Umber have been longtime bannermen to House Stark, and Osha describes them as great warriors. Rickon might get some warrior training, and it would be cool to see the youngest Stark become a flag around which the remaining forces of the North—like House Umber—can rally.

Of course, this is assuming that House Umber wasn’t decimated like the rest of the Robb-loyal Northmen in the Red Wedding.

Whether or not Rickon’s presence at House Umber will amount to anything is a wild card. I doubt it will, but, like anything on GoT, you never know.

IT’S IRONIC THE LANNISTERS ARE LIONS BECAUSE TYWIN IS SUCH A BIG DOG

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Tywin Lannister: Well, he done it again. After promising to back Walder Frey’s vendetta against the Starks, Tywin merely had to sit back and let the Freys and Boltons do his dirty work for him. This move, as Tyrion points out, also leaves Tywin virtually blameless. Good game good effort Robb Stark. Match set point Lannisters.

Tywin has quickly taken control of King’s Landing, and has brought all four corners of the realm under Lannister control. His puppet Roose Bolton is Warden of the North. The Tyrells, who Cersei is set to marry, are Wardens of the South. The Arryns, who are Wardens of the East, will be brought to heel after Littlefinger marries into them. The Lannisters themselves are Wardens of the West. In short, Tywin has Boardwalk and Park Place. And hotels on both.

Now, the Night’s Watch calls for aid against an approaching undead army. Tywin is a practical man almost to a fault, but I think he will still recognize that the crown should respond to what he must view as an unreal threat to maintain it’s image. Or he’ll make Roose Bolton do it. Either or. Point being, the coming White Walkers provide another distraction from the curiosity on the far side of the world that is Daenerys Targaryen. I don’t expect Tywin to jump at the prospect of Dany and her (in his mind, probably not real) dragons sieging Westeros.

Cersei Lannister: Cersei is betrothed to the homosexual Loras Tyrell, a prospect that does not excite her. She is adamant that she will not marry, a conviction no doubt strengthened by the return of her brother and incestuous lover Jaime. However, Jaime is not the man he used to be, and it remains to be seen if that attraction still exists. Cersei has never been a really major player in the drama at King’s Landing, but, when pushed, we have seen her become capable of wild things.

Tyrion Lannister/Sansa Stark/Shae/Podrick Payne/Bronn: Tyrion is now officially wed to Sansa, putting the key to the north in Lannister hands. They seem to be getting along well, despite the awkward third wheeling of Shae. Tyrion has also reached his limits with Joffrey, leading him to becoming increasingly bold in his retaliations to his nephew’s constant torment of himself and his new wife.

Tyrion is also now Master of Coin, and there is still the issue of the crown being in massive debt, especially to the Iron Bank of Braavos. I still think there is going to be some connection between the Braavos and Yunkai, and therefore between Braavos and Dany. I can’t shake the feeling that Braavos is going to aid Dany in some way so that she can get back the money the crown owes the Iron Bank. Tyrion’s role as Master of Coin goes largely under the radar for the majority of the season, but I’ll bet it comes back in force later.

Poor Sansa. Her family and home are in ruins and she is expected to lose her virginity to a dwarfed Lannister to boot. Sansa seems almost entirely incapable of getting anything done, so I would surprised if she becomes a player in the game. She’s just kind of there.

Like Podrick Payne, who has a big dick. Uh. Ok?

There was also some foreshadowing by Varys about Shae’s role in this whole mess, as he attempted to bribe her to leave King’s Landing. My guess is that somehow she’ll fall victim to the sadistic Joffrey, who loves to torture women. He would get double pleasure from tormenting Shae too, as it would not only fulfill his weird sexual desires (remember Ros?) but also hurt Sansa and Tyrion, two of his favorite targets. And, with Tyrion becoming more outspoken and violent to the little king, Shae being tortured or, dare I say, being killed by Joffrey would ignite a long-burning fuse in King’s Landing.

Also Bronn’s still around. Probably the biggest bro in Westeros.

Jaime Lannister/Brienne of Tarth/Qyburn: This ragtag group finally arrived in King’s Landing. Jaime reunited with Cersei, only to be met with a look of borderline disgust. Previously in King’s Landing, Jaime was a prominent member of the Kingsguard, but his future with them will probably be in jeopardy since he is not really capable of combat anymore. Jaime was my favorite character in season 3 (well, tied with Arya Stark), and I’m very excited to watch him attempt to re-assimilate back into royal court.

He also returned with two new friends. Qyburn, the disgraced Maester, healed his hand and arm and wants to be reinstated into the Maester order. Potentially a replacement for Grand Maester Pycelle?

Brienne is also in King’s Landing with Jaime. His new best friend and companion might take his place in the Kingsguard. Or, she might hear of the Red Wedding and swear revenge on every member of the Lannister family for murdering her lady Catelyn Stark.

Wow, that’d be intense.

Joffrey Baratheon: This little shit has gone off the deep end. Every victory his grandfather wins for him inflates his ego, and with every enemy of his that loses their head Joffrey’s grows proportionally bigger. I think the real tipping point was Joffrey’s murder of the prostitute Ros, who was in Varys’ employ (Littlefinger, who made the majority of his money in the prostitute trade, supplied Ros to Joffrey after learning that she was feeding him information from inside one of Littlefinger’s brothels). After that, Joffrey has gotten increasingly ridiculous: he threatens to straight out rape Sansa at her wedding, and later asks for Robb’s head so that he can feed it to Sansa at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding. Like seriously? Jesus. Joffrey is another usurper named by Stannis Baratheon to be killed by the Lord of Light, which again will be talked about in more detail in the STANNIS THE MANNIS section. He has to die soon. There’s just no way he can go around being this much of a prick and live. No way. I still want the deed to be done by Arya Stark, but I wouldn’t mind Tyrion putting teaching his nephew one final lesson.

STANNIS THE MANNIS

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Stannis Baratheon/Melisandre/Davos Seaworth: These three. If you want to hear me wax poetic about Stannis, Melisandre, and good old Davos, read the episode 9 and 10 recap. Shameless plug, check. So Stannis and his gang are marching north to the aid of the Night’s Watch, a move that Melisandre says is absolutely vital to the war effort against the White Walkers. Obviously fire is going to play some part in this—maybe Dany’s dragons will also be seen as instruments in the Lord of Light’s plan (using the aforementioned theory that Dany’s dragons are going to be utilized in the battle against the army of the dead). Melisandre and Davos are going to continue doing their shoulder-angel-shoulder-devil thing, so on and so forth.

Ok, I’ll stop teasing you. Let’s get to the religion bit.

So here’s my thing: the Lord of Light isn’t the one true god.

I know, I know. There’s a lot of evidence that the Lord of Light is the one true god. Let me argue against it:

Really the only two times the Lord of Light has manifested himself are the death of Robb Stark (a pretty strong argument that Stannis and Melisandre’s blood ritual with Gendry worked) and the summoning of Melisandre’s demon-baby that killed Renly Baratheon in season 2. So let’s break those down.

Ok, so the Red Wedding. A lot of people see that as the Lord of Light going to work and annihilating Robb Stark. I’m going to take a wait and see approach. I’ll chalk the death of Robb up to the fact that he was rebelling against not only the king of the Seven Kingdoms but also the most powerful house in Westeros, headed by the most powerful man in the country in Tywin Lannister. Me, being the skeptic, might even be stubborn about it and chalk about the inevitable deaths of Joffrey and Balon Greyjoy (lets face it, Roose Bolton is going to give Balon the business, if someone else doesn’t beat him to it. Maybe Rickon and House Umber?).

But what about the demon baby/ghost queef thing from season 2? I don’t buy it. Doesn’t seem like a really Lord of Light thing to do. Actually, it seems more like the re-emerging earth magic that people like Bran and Pyat Pree are practicing. But what would that mean? It would mean that Melisandre is making the whole thing up. And that she practices some other kind of religious magic outside of the Lord of Light’s domain—which might explain why someone like Thoros of Myr, a heavily disgraced priest, can resurrect people and Melisandre can. Interesting discussion. I’m agnostic towards the Lord of Light right now—I’d like to see some more from him via Melisandre before I can really get behind Stannis being the ultimate champion of light.

THE WILDLING INVASION

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Jon Snow/Sam Tarly/The Night’s Watch: It’s nice to see Jon and Sam reunited again. They were such good friends. It’s just too bad it had to be in such bad conditions. Here’s the situation for the Night’s Watch: the army of the undead is knocking at their front door; the Wildlings are breathing down their backs; their Lord Commander is dead; a bunch of soldiers rebelled against the Watch at Craster’s Keep, leaving their numbers who knows how depleted; and their best fighter, Jon Snow, is severely wounded.

I would love to see Samwell Tarly complete his maturation by stepping up to the plate as a leader in these dark times. He made his first kill—a White Walker no less—and now has a lady and child to fight for in Gilly and Sam Jr. I do fear for the Watch, though—hopefully Stannis and whoever else responds to the call for aid arrive in time, and with the same epic flair Gandalf arrives at Helm’s Deep with (c’mon, it crossed your mind).

Tormund Giantsbane/Mance Rayder/the Wildlings: The defection of Jon Snow was a setback, as his insider knowledge of the Night’s Watch fortifications would’ve been immensely helpful in their campaign, but the Wildlings push forth nonetheless. It is unclear how many are beyond the wall at this point—Mance Rayder had a crazy big army under his command, but it seems implausible that the entirety of it can scale the Wall in the same fashion as Tormund and his gang did. I think the plan was for Tormund to open the gate and let the rest of them in. They will march forwards until they achieve their goals, that much is certain.

But how to deal with the Jon Snow problem? Jon Snow betrayed them, and I highly doubt that that is a forgivable offense in Wildling eyes. Unless your…

Ygritte: Oh, my Ygritte. I’m simultaneously happy you’re single but sad that you’re heart’s broken. I’m very interested into how she and Jon are going to play out. I think she’s going to go back to him, to be honest. I know she shot a bunch of arrows at him, but that wasn’t politically driven. She made it abundantly clear to Jon that any political or social divisions between them mean nothing to her, just as long as he doesn’t betray her. Which he did. But I would like to believe that when push comes to shove, love will win out. Maybe, if Jon Snow can somehow rally the Wildlings and Night’s Watch against a common foe, their union will finally be permitted. A political marriage between Southerners and Wildlings? Hm.

EVERYONE ELSE

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Arya Stark/Sandor “The Hound” Clegane: Well, Arya finally murdered the shit out of someone. And all signs point to her going and joining the Red God or the Faceless Men or whatever crazy awesome thing Jaqen H’ghar was. What else does she have to lose? Her sister is basically in captivity. Her older brother is dead. Her mother is dead. Her father is dead. Her two littler brothers are presumed dead. Her home is in ruins. All that she has left is a list of those she wants dead. Whether her new buddy Sandor has done enough to take himself off it remains to be seen, but I really don’t think he’ll be accompanying her on this voyage. Regardless of whatever gods rule Westeros, Arya will forever worship death. And offer to him a list of sacrifices.

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish: We haven’t seen a lot of Littlefinger since he took center stage in the middle of the season. He is going to marry into House Arryn, a powerful and important family that Tywin wanted under the crown’s influence (if you remember, patriarch Jon Arryn was the Hand who was poisoned to death in season 1 after discovering Gendry was Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. Ned Stark was his replacement). Littlefinger now has the Vale and Harrenhal, and a crisis in the North that I’m sure he will exploit to his advantage. Littlefinger made huge strides to being a major player in the Game this season, a trend that I’m sure will continue next season. I also would not be surprised if Littlefinger had an integral part in whoever decides to overthrown the Lannisters next…which may or may not be Dany.

Margaery Tyrell/Loras Tyrell/Olenna Tyrell: There can only be one queen, and Margaery and the rest of the Tyrell clan have made it very clear that they want it to be her. However, Tywin did just make a pretty strong statement for people who try to go against him. Cersei also doesn’t particularly like Margaery either. But Sansa does, and therefore Tyrion will be involved somehow. I’m going to guess that Margaery’s power plays in the capital aren’t going to be a huge part of season 4, but hey. We’ll see.

Thoros of Myr/Beric Dondarrion/Anguy the Archer: Who cares. Thanks for reading.

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TBT: College Dropout

Kanye, Kanye, Kanye…

This week Kanye West released his 6th solo album entitled “Yeezus” in which he strips his music of everything we expect to find in a Kanye West album.  He relies heavily on drum beats and vocals while incorporating elements of the trendy EDM genre to provide his audience with a cathartic purging of his sins.  “Yeezus” is a far cry from “College Dropout” and I’m not sure whether or not I love or hate his latest project.  Is Kanye’s ever-present self-awareness endearing or disgusting in light of his borderline depraved behavior? I am a fan of Kanye’s overall contribution to hip-hop, but you know what shit I don’t like? He features Chief Keef, an artist I can’t get down with, in the song “Hold My Liquor.” On the off-chance he reads this and I end up in a ditch somewhere in Dorchester, please note that I have no other quick-trigger enemies and it is Mr. Keef who shot me.  I understand Kanye wants to represent and elevate Chicago’s MCs, but in my opinion Chief Keef is everything that is wrong with hip-hop.  He has risen to national prominence but for all the wrong reasons and doesn’t seem to realize that his music is for public consumption.  His message is one of violence and anti-social behavior but it isn’t being done in an intelligent, socially conscious manner.  Chicago’s murder-rate is through the roof right now and the last thing that city needs is to glorify a teenager who is smack down in the middle of the muck and mire.  But maybe Kanye recognizes all of this and is featuring Chief Keef to highlight the ongoing conflicts in inner-city Chicago.  As with everything Kanye does, there always seems to be an ulterior motive, let’s just hope this one was done with good intentions.  But enough already.  Kanye West is a musical genius who has given his life to the industry and today, the day on which you might first listen to “Yeezus,” I’d like to remind you of a younger, less jaded, less-complicated Kanye West.  I miss this Kanye.

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