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Jon Barry on Celtics winning Eastern Conference: ‘I think they will’

03.31.11 at 11:25 am ET

Appearing on the Dennis & Callahan Show, ESPN NBA analyst Jon Barry said despite the Celtics‘ recent struggles, he still believes they will win the Eastern Conference when it’s all said and done. (To listen to the entire interview, click here.)

“I don’€™t put a lot of stock what happens at the end of the regular season,” Barry said. “Last year the Lakers lost 7 of 10 and went on to win the thing. Boston was 27-27 their last 54 and got to the Finals in the seventh game. So I wouldn’€™t read too much into this. But I’€™m a bit concerned because I really thought they were the best team with Kendrick Perkins on their roster. Now I think they let the pack in a little bit closer to them. I still think they can win the East and I think they will, but I think they’€™ve brought the other teams back to where they have a better opportunity to beat them.

“I like their experience,” Barry added. “I think Chicago has had a tremendous year but this is a team that hasn’€™t gone past the first round. The Miami Heat I think still aren’€™t ready to do it, come playoff time they’€™re not built for playoff basketball. I do believe the Celtics will come back and circle the wagons and be ready to go and be the team to beat in the East.”

Barry explained that he was taken aback at how much trading Perkins away has affected the Celtics.

“I’€™m a bit surprised,” the analyst said. “This was the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference with Kendrick Perkins playing 12 games. The impact that he’€™s made on the floor obviously hasn’€™t been that big and they’€™ve played through it. I’€™m a bit surprised that they’€™re losing games. They haven’€™t been able to score. Their execution late in games has been poor. It’€™s kind of been there bugaboo the last few years.”

Some of the other topics touched on by Barry …

The Celtics recent struggles: “Obviously, since the Kendrick trade this team has not played well. [Rajon] Rondo in particular has not played well. We know how close he was with Kendrick Perkins. I know he has a pinky issue. There’€™s been no bones about it that these guys are unhappy that Kendrick’€™s left. Doc Rivers has felt the same way and they got to find a way to crank it back up here as we get started her in couple weeks for the real season.”

Who is to blame for the Celtics’ problems: “I’€™m not in the blaming game, but I’€™m not sure exactly why this deal was done. In my opinion it’€™s for the future. Danny [Ainge] knew that once [Paul] Pierce, [Ray] Allen, [Kevin] Garnett are gone that he has to have somebody that he can build a team around. Jeff Green‘€™s not a No.1 type of guy but maybe a No. 2 option. With the contract talks with Kendrick they were very far apart. So I think this has nothing to do with basketball and this season. This is a move for the future. But when you have a great opportunity to win an NBA championship and you give it away possibly, if they don’€™t win this, somebody’€™s got to take the blame and I don’€™t know who that might be.”

Who is the pick, Chicago or Miami, if the Celtics don’t make it to the Finals: “I love the way Chicago’€™s playing. I think Derrick Rose is the MVP. The only thing that scares me is their youth. They just have not been a team that has made an extended playoff run, certainly not together. [Carlos] Boozer has been in some playoffs but other than that they have no experience in the playoffs. I don’€™t know. It’€™d be a tough one. I’€™d probably lean towards the Miami Heat if I had to.”

Thoughts on Green: “I don’€™t think he’€™s great at one particular thing I think he’€™s just really good across the board. I think he can defend, he can rebound, he can stretch the floor, he can shoot three’s, he can take people off the dribble, he can post-up. I think he’€™s a good defender. It’€™s not one thing that he does particularly great he’€™s just good in all areas. I like him a lot as a player. I haven’€™t gotten a chance to see you guys too much, I know he’€™s had some good games. It’€™s very difficult to come on mid-season and jump into a team, especially a team that consists of three Hall of Famers and Rondo. It’€™s all about them, so he’€™s trying to pick his spots. I do like him and I think he could be a good No. 2 option.”

Easiest first-round match-up for Celtics: “The Knicks, a team that just doesn’€™t play any defense. The silver lining for this Celtics team right now, yeah I know they’€™re not winning a lot of ball games but they’€™re not giving up any points. I know they gave up over a hundred to Indiana the other day but other than that they’€™ve kept teams in the 80’s, and any time you do that you give yourself a chance to win. They’€™re still the best defense team in the league even without Kendrick. They continue to do that and you play a Knick team who can’€™t stop anybody — the Nets last night scored 114 points — this is a dreadful defensive team. Those are the teams that you want to play in the playoffs because I know Boston will play great defense.”

Read More: Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Heat
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