Finley on D&H: C’s need to show respect
|04.16.10 at 12:49 pm ET|
Michael Finley joined Dale & Holley on Friday to discuss the Celtics’ chances in the upcoming NBA playoffs. The Celtics have been floundering during the second half of the season, and Finley said the reason may have been because this team didn’t respect its opponents.
But he believes that will change come playoff time.
“We go into the games not respecting our opponent as much as we should, and as a result we end up losing those games,” said Finley, who has played in 21 games with Boston since being let go by San Antonio. “Coming into the playoffs I don’t think respecting our opponent is going to be a problem, because each opponent that we face is a worthy playoff- and championship-contending team. We got to come in with the right mindset. Hopefully we can generate some of the juice that the team had at the beginning of the season and carry it on throughout the playoffs.”
As a Western Conference lifer, Finley talked about playing in the Eastern Conference for the first time, Paul Pierce’s work ethic and how he and Doc Rivers have a long history together.
Following is a transcript. To listen, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
What would you say to young guys on the team who asked for advice about playoff basketball?
The intensity of the regular season is going to go up tremendously. Every possession offensively as well as defensively becomes important. You just don’t want to leave the game with regrets, because regrets usually are what sends teams home.
Does the playoff format actually make it easier for veteran players?
In a sense. The regular season is a lot of games. It’s 82 games with back-to-backs with limited rest. The postseason you have a little bit of more rest. You are only playing one team. The travel is limited, so for older guys that’s always a good thing. At the same time, with the intensity going up the way it does, it can be a little physically and mentally draining, too.
Are there similarities between the Spurs and Celtics?
The biggest similarity is the just the organization as a whole. Boston is a wining tradition. They are used to winning. They expect nothing but winning, and that’s the same attitude that they had in San Antonio. When you taste that championship and you have those banners up there, you want that every year. That’s the focal point coming into training camp in San Antonio, and I can go on record as saying that I know that was the focal point coming in here in Boston. That’s the main or the most consistent thing that both organizations have.
Is it hard to be a leader when there are already a number of leaders here?
Yes, it’s hard in a sense. I didn’t want to come in and point my voice on the team. I just pick and choose my opportunities to talk to the young guys. What was surprising was that guys welcomed me and expected that out of me. Kevin [Garnett], Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] expected me to say things, and when I had the chance to speak on certain situations the respect was there. From that stand point if I do say something it’s definitely just to benefit the team as a whole. I have the respect of my teammates and coaching staff when it comes to that.
Have you noticed a difference between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference?
Believe it or not, from afar I thought it would be no different, but to be here it’s different.
In what ways?
I think they let you play a little more on the East Coast, as far as officials. It’s a little bit more physical. The game is more, regular season that is, is more halfcourt oriented. Where the West more teams were up and down, with teams like Phoenix and New Orleans that helps the scoring go up a little higher. Also I think the defensive mindset in the Eastern Conference is more throughout the teams than in the Western Conference.
Why are your numbers better here than in San Antonio this year?
I think I’m just comfortable. As strange as it may seem, I think I’m just comfortable here. In San Antonio it was a difficult situation for me because I was a guy who went from getting legitimate minutes to a guy who was getting no minutes at all. When you are in that type of situation when a coach loses confidence in your game it has a mental burden on you, and that happened to me in San Antonio. Here I came in with a clean slate. The coach had confidence in what I could do on the court. My teammates as well. I was just able to go and play and contribute as best as I could. I felt like a little monkey was off my back.
What is the confidence level in the locker room heading into the playoffs?
The confidence has never been a problem with this team. That’s something I’ve learned since I’ve been here and seen from afar. It’s a matter of keeping that confidence to a professional level, meaning that you can be confident but it’s a disease to be overconfident. I think that’s what has happened in some of the games since I’ve been here. We go into the games not respecting our opponent as much as we should, and as a result we end up losing those games. Coming into the playoffs I don’t think respecting our opponent is going to be a problem, because each opponent that we face is a worthy playoff- and championship-contending team. We got to come in with the right mindset. Hopefully we can generate some of the juice that the team had at the beginning of the season and carry it on throughout the playoffs.
Who has surprised you the most on this Boston Celtics team when you came here?
I have respect for all the guys but I think Paul [Pierce] has impressed me the most. I just thought Paul was just one those naturally gifted players that could just go out and score points at will, but I see his work ethic before and after practice and I know he puts in the work. It shows in the way he plays on the court. From that standpoint I was not as surprised but more impressed with his status as a superstar in this league.
You and Doc Rivers went to the same high school at different times, didn’t you?
Yeah, we have ties there. Doc was the star basketball player and my sister was the captain of the cheerleading team. They were that same way since the third grade. Our families are pretty close. He knows most of my family. I know most of his. Our relationship has started way before I got here.
Did he help in the recruiting process for you to come to Boston?
It helped that I knew him and that he knew me. That was definitely a bargaining for the Celtics. I knew what I was getting in a coach when I decided to come here and he knew what he was getting in a player. That made the transition even easier.
Do you think you can bring what P.J. Brown brought to the 2008 championship team?
I hope so. I like to see myself as a calm within the storm. We have a lot of great basketball players with some extreme personalities. I’m just the calm. When things are going haywire, I’m the guy that can come in and say the same things that the coaches have been saying throughout the day, but to hear it from a player’s voice, and a respected player, it might come over easier and calmer to some of the players. Hopefully that will be a benefit for us down the road.