ESPN’s Bill Simmons appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Celtics ‘ playoff prospects and reflect on the Kendrick Perkins  trade. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
Simmons said that if Shaquille O’Neal can’t return after straining his right calf Sunday, he can’t see the Celtics  winning it all.
‘They can’t win,’ Simmons said. ‘I mean, part of this Perkins trade was that you had to keep your fingers crossed that you were either going to get Shaq and Jermaine [O’Neal] or one of them or pieces of both of them or whatever. And those guys aren’t involved. There are too many teams that have size that they’re probably going to have to come across at some point, especially because it just seems like the Lakers are going to be there now. They’re just not big enough to beat the Lakers.’
Simmons said he wasn’t entirely opposed to the Perkins trade at the time it was made, but that it’s now easy to see it wasn’t a good move.
‘I thought it was a trade that made sense on paper, which is what I wrote,’ Simmons said. ‘It was because they had this huge hole behind [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen. ‘¦ But it was one of those things where they just moved from one hole to another hole. Now they don’t have to worry about Pierce and Allen getting into foul trouble or putting a ton of miles on them or whatever, but now they have this other hole.
‘I didn’t even fully realize after they made the trade how much it was going to affect our identity,’ Simmons continued. ‘I worried about it, but it’s really affected their identity. I think the one thing we’ve learned over the last month is that these guys really bought into that whole, whether it was stupid or not, nobody had ever beaten them in a playoff series when they were healthy. And that was something they fed off.’
Simmons said the trade doesn’t help the Celtics long term, either. ‘The part that nobody mentions with the Perkins trade is that they’re talking about how they want to get younger — Jeff Green  and moving forward and all that kind of stuff,’ he said. ‘Where are they going to find a young center three years from now or two years from now? There’s not a ton of centers out there. So in a way, you’re in the same type of hole you would’ve been in trying to get younger anyway.’
The Sports Guy said his expectations for the Celtics in the playoffs have definitely dropped. ‘The more that I look at this and think about this, I thought they were the favorites,’ Simmons said. ‘I don’t think they were the prohibitive favorites, but I thought they had the best team. I went to the game two days before the trade and it just seemed like they had the best team and the best chemistry, and they shook it up. Now I don’t know what they are. I think if they play the Lakers, they’re going to lose.’
Simmons said he isn’t even sure this was the deal Danny Ainge hoped to make.
‘Here’s what I really worry about with this trade,’ he said. ‘I don’t think this is the original trade they wanted to make. I think the original trade they wanted to make was Perkins for James Harden . I think they went down that road and at some point Oklahoma City decided, ‘You know what, we can’t give up Harden. We’re just too afraid he’s going to come back to haunt us. What about Jeff Green?’ And I think Danny kind of talked himself into the Jeff Green thing.’
Simmons finished his appearance by making his pick for NBA champion. ‘I would say the Lakers,’ he said. ‘I think they have the best sense of who they are and they have Kobe [Bryant] still. I don’t get it. I thought he was going to drop, I thought he was going to start going downhill at this point, but he hasn’t. And they’re the biggest team.’
Who comes out of the East? ‘At this point, I would still pick the Celtics, as crazy as that sounds,’ Simmons said. ‘I feel like as long as the top four can stay healthy, they can get through. ‘¦ At gunpoint, I’d still pick the Celtics.’