Irish Coffee: Mr. Big Talk (a.k.a. Chauncey Billups)
|04.13.11 at 10:41 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
The New York papers have already rolled out their NBA playoff coverage of the Knicks’ first-round series against the Celtics, and while nobody has pulled an Antonio Cromartie and claimed they hate Kevin Garnett, the confidence in New York is oddly high for a team that has an 0-3 record against its Atlantic Division rival.
Maybe it’s because they believe the Celtics coaching staff preferred a first-round matchup against the 76ers, as a New York Post source indicated.
Maybe it’s because Bobcats coach Paul Silas — a two-time NBA champion with the Celtics in the 1970s — told the New York Daily News, “It’s not just that [the Celtics] don’t have the defense or the rebounding at the center position that they once did, which could be a very difficult problem for them. But I wonder about the mindset of their guys. They thought they should have kept [Kendrick] Perkins. They still believe that. I’m not sure that they have the right mindset now to deal with that. As players, you’ve got to let that go.”
Wherever the confidence stems from, it’s there. Just listen to Chauncey Billups:
“We are probably, most certainly, the most dangerous first-round team in the NBA. When I say that it’s because we are new, and we are dangerous. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We can move the scoreboard. I think our defense is a lot better. We’re going to be a tough out, man.”
That confidence is tempered a bit by their president and their coach (via the New York Post):
- Knicks president Donnie Walsh: “We’re two of the longest-tenured franchises, but those rivalries are engendered by the teams playing right now. There was one rivalry way back. But the rivalry will have to come in the playoffs. For us, we have to beat them. We have to beat them once to be considered that.”
- Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni: “They’re veterans and they’re champions. That’s the biggest concern. Their mentality is probably better than anybody’s.”
And then there’s two former Celtics — one in New York and one with the Bulls — sound more confident in the third-seeded Celtics than the No. 6 Knicks:
- Bulls forward Brian Scalabrine (via NY Daily News): “I will say this, the Knicks will not beat them by running delay isolation plays against them. Boston is too good defensively for that. The same goes for Miami. You can’t think you’re going to beat Boston with delay isolation.”
- Knicks swingman Billy Walker (via NY Post): “They’re one of the top defensive teams in the league. We’re going to have to go out and go on the attack. If you let the defense attack you, it’s going to be a long night. … They said the same thing about them last year. They’re struggling and they made it all the way back to the NBA Finals. That means nothing. Playoffs is whole different animal.”
KEVIN GARNETT: ‘WE GOT LAZY’
Prior to the Celtics-Knicks regular-season finale, Kevin Garnett posted to his Anta blog, claiming his “team’s got to get back to the game” and Jermaine O’Neal‘s shoulder job on LeBron James shouldn’t have been a flagrant-1 foul, among other highlights …
- On the Heat: “The game was an early game, and we seemed focused. Started out moving the rock, but we got lazy and didn’t take care of the ball. The intensity was playoff like and good to know my teammates are ready to go to war with me! Team’s got to get back to the game, no easy hoops motto. JO gave a clean hard foul, which caused some issues, but part of the game. We lost the game, which makes us realize the playoffs are coming and we gotta fight for our lives.”
- On the Wizards: “Doc decided we were going to rest. The guys played well, but couldn’t finish. Jeff Green runs like a gazelle! JO looked like his old self with some old school DEFENSE! Big Baby [Glen Davis] showed how he needs to play, and he can play. It’s tough to watch the guys play without playing.”
- On the Knicks: “Getting ready for what comes next!”
DANNY AINGE: ‘I FEEL MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT THIS TEAM’
After re-injuring a right ankle that still featured a chipped bone, Delonte West is day-to-day but the Celtics guard claims he’ll be Ok, according to the Herald. Here are the other highlights of separate conversations between Celtics president Danny Ainge and both the Herald’s Steve Bulpett and The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy …
- On Shaquille O’Neal: “He’s hoping to be ready by the start of the playoffs. His goal is to play in Game 1. But I know how these things go. You can’t be certain of anything. But I do think he’ll be back and he’ll be able to do what we need him to do.”
- On his concerns: “My concerns going into the playoffs are still how well our big four are going to play. No. 2 is the health of everyone, from Shaquille and Delonte to everyone. But I think that when KG and Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and [Rajon] Rondo play well, we win. When three out of the four play well, we win.”
- On the slump: “It’s been a little frustrating for the players and for the coaches. But I don’t think our, for lack of a better word, slump is as dramatic as it was last year. It’s disturbing that guys think they can turn it on and off. A lot of times guys show up to play and they’ll do well for a while. But then when the other team goes on a run, they don’t have the resolve to fight through it longer.”
- On the Heat: “We played really well at the start in Miami, but then we had a little bit of adversity and we don’t play to the end. The hardest part of having to watch that is that I know those guys have that resolve in them. I know that’s there in them. That’s one thing I’m not concerned about going into the playoffs. They have the resolve. We just need to see it.”
- On the playoffs: “I feel more confident about this team right now than I did going into the playoffs last year. I think a lot of this is human nature. It’s a marathon, and it’s hard. Every team has challenges. Look at what’s happening with the Lakers and what every other good team went through at some point this year. But I believe in our guys. Hey, we played like crap for the last 54 games last year. We had a good one here and there, but we were throwing games away. Then those same guys stepped up and played the best eight-game stretch we’ve seen here in the last four years. Those games they played against Cleveland and Orlando were unbelievable. I could never have imagined they would play that well after what we’d done.”
- On the trade: “I think that we’re a better team and set up for the future. I don’t think the trade has anything to do with why the team is not playing well. It’s easy to sit there and say it’s because of the trade. … It’s good that the focus is on me. I just hope the players don’t use that as a crutch. When we made the deal, we were all on board.”
- On the bench: “This year, our big four is healthier than last year and we’ve added some good firepower off the bench, especially with Delonte and Jeff Green. We still have Glen Davis continuing to improve, and I’m encouraged by Jermaine O’Neal and how he is physically.”
- On Kendrick Perkins: “Do you think the dip in our 3-point shooting and field goal percentage is because of Perk? Perk was not a guy that helped our offense.”
- On Rajon Rondo: “I don’t know. He’s had a couple of really good games. He got some rest. Maybe he’s mentally and physically fatigued.”
- On Jeff Green: “You don’t think 10 points in 21 minutes a night is productive for our team?”
- On the Celtics: “Listen, we came in this year and had the best team that we’ve had in my time here for the first 45 games of the season. I believe we can return to that.”
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