Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics  and their recent struggles. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
Mannix said he thinks there is something to the theory that the Celtics are disinterested in getting the one-seed and seem to think they’ll be able to just turn it on in the playoffs like they did last year.
‘I think there’s a lot of truth to that,’ Mannix said. ‘I think we saw at the end of last year that the Celtics had the same kind of laissez-faire attitude about the end of the regular season. The difference last year, though, was the core of that team was still in tact and they kind of knew what they could do if they turned the jets on and played well in the postseason. This year, they’re banking on something that no one, including themselves, is sure is even there. You’re talking about bringing back [Shaquille O’Neal] and Jermaine [O’Neal].
‘Imagine before the season if we thought getting into late March, early April, ‘If only Shaq and Jermaine can come back, we’ll be OK for the postseason.’ To me, that’s a horrible attitude to have, if that’s what this team is thinking, that one of those guys can come back and be a difference-maker. Once Shaq comes back, he’ll only play for about two months, and who knows what kind of physical shape he’s in at this stage. And Jermaine has given you nothing all season long, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going to add anything to the equation.’
Mannix said not getting the top seed could be a death knell for the Celtics. ‘I honestly think that not getting the No. 1 seed for Boston this year could be disastrous and could be the reason that they don’t come out of the Eastern Conference for two reasons,’ he said.
‘Number one, the difference between playing the 8 seed and the 7 seed this year is like playing the 16 seed in the NCAA  tournament vs. a 2 or 3 seed. Whoever winds up in that 8 spot, be it Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, I think they’re going to be a relative pushover in the first round. Maybe they take a team to five games. Most likely they get swept in four.
‘That 7 seed, whether it’s New York or Philadelphia, those aren’t going to be easy games,’ Mannix continued. ‘They’re going to be kind of knock-down, drag-out games. They might push you to six, maybe even seven games. I think that’s something Boston really has to start to consider going into the postseason.’
The hosts added that not only have the Celtics fallen behind the Bulls, but they’re also on the verge of getting passed by the Heat and dropping to third. ‘Yeah, and that’s going to kill them, too,’ Mannix said. ‘You get into those second-round series that are inevitably going to go six games, probably seven games. You lose that homecourt advantage and that hurts, even against a team like Miami, whom, by the way, Boston hasn’t beaten yet with this new group. Same thing with Chicago.’
Speaking of that new group, Mannix said the Kendrick Perkins  trade has everything to do with this slump. ‘I 100 percent attribute it to the trade,’ Mannix said. ‘I said as soon as this deal went down that it was the worst trade they could’ve possibly made. And I say that knowing exactly why it was made. ‘¦ This was a one-sided trade, I thought. That’s taking nothing away from the obvious skill of Jeff Green . But Jeff Green, as much as you needed a backup swingman for this roster, you needed a powerful big up front more.
‘You need a guy that brings the intensity every single night,’ Mannix continued. ‘You just mentioned that lackadaisical attitude. I think some of that would’ve been eliminated with Perkins in the lineup because he never takes plays off. The guy is aggressive all the time. With him in the lineup bringing that intensity, I think a lot of it would’ve rubbed off on some of his teammates. So I think they lost a physical presence and I think they lost a mental intense presence.’