Irish Coffee: Harshing Celtics playoff buzz
|04.14.11 at 12:17 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
If you don’t want your Celtics playoff buzz harshed, you might want to avoid The Wall Street Journal this week. First, Scott Cacciola wrote a Tony Allen feature, entitled, “The Most Unlikely Impact Player.” Then, WSJ reported that should Shaquille O’Neal start on Sunday the Celtics will be the sixth-oldest NBA Playoff team since 1992, and among the 20 oldest playoff squads in that span only Michael Jordan‘s 1998 Bulls took home championship rings. And then came this interview with TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr:
“It seems to me that ever since the [Kendrick] Perkins trade, they’ve lost their soul,” Kerr said. “They’ve lost their identity and I think that team was really affected emotionally by that trade. And even though they played well early in the season without him when he was injured, I think knowing that Perkins would be back along with having Shaq playing pretty well at the time, I think that was a comforting time for them.
“Now that he’s gone, especially with the way that they’ve built that team the last couple of years and sustained their confidence through Doc [Rivers]‘ comments that we’re undefeated when we’re fully healthy, the celebrated Ubuntu philosophy, it’s like they sort of threw that out the window and I don’t see the belief in their eyes right now. …
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the East that scares the daylights out of Boston. But with that said, they’re going to have to recapture the old glory, the old spirit somehow in the next couple of weeks and I haven’t seen anything to indicate that that’s going to happen,” Kerr said. “I was convinced that Boston was the best most of the season, but that’s kind of thrown out the window now for me.”
As if on cue, the trailer for the final episode of “The Association: Boston Celtics” dropped, and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo opened up about the Perkins trade like never before:
“A lot of people say it’s a business, but that’s personal — losing one of your best friends. Perk and I were really close. On the road, we were together every day, as far as going out to eat, going out to the mall, just little things. I don’t have that right now, and it’s tough to deal with. …
“It’s kind of different now, especially once you go on the road. It’s a little different. You don’t hang out with the same guy you usually hang out with. It’s hard losing a friend. Nobody died, but … especially with the starting five, we had a pretty good core, a pretty good group.”
On a brighter note, Stephen A. Smith predicted the Celtics would oust the Knicks in five games in a SLAM Magazine interview that’s as long as you would expect an interview with Stephen A. Smith to be. Oh, and all 10 of ESPN.com’s “expert picks” predicted the C’s would advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, although half of them think the Knicks will take them to a Game 7.
Also, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich believes teams like the Celtics and Lakers can, indeed, flip the figurative switch in the playoffs, telling ESPN.com, “I’ve always said, people who have won championships understand how damn hard it is. And because it’s so damn hard and you know what’s ahead of you, sometimes you can lighten up on yourself down the stretch. It’s a natural reaction.”
SHAQUILLE O’NEAL: ‘THE BIG MAN HAS GONE’
In an interesting read from Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen, we’re reminded again that, “As goes Rondo, so go the Celtics.” And the Celtics aren’t the only team that can attribute their success to the play of their point guard. The Bulls and Hornets, among others, can say the same thing in a league where the floor generals now dominate the game more than the bigs.
Thomsen conducted interviews with Rivers, Shaq and Ray Allen for the story. Here are the highlights …
- Doc Rivers on which point guard is poised for a postseason run: “It depends on the type you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a pure point, then it’s Rondo. If you want a power point guard it’s Derrick Rose.”
- Shaquille O’Neal on the dearth of centers in the NBA: “The big man has gone. There will be no one ever in the history of the game to do what me and Tim Duncan did, to lead teams to four championships [each] and have a [nine-year] span where either Tim or myself was at the Finals. It will never be done again.”
- Ray Allen on the influence of point guards on shooters: “Now the best position is point guard because of all of the guys in the league who can play and can score. Most of the small point guards couldn’t play 10 years ago, because we would have posted them up with bigger guards and they would have been out of the game. But now it’s so open that you can get to the free throw line easier, there’s less contact. It gives a smaller guy better capability.”
DOC RIVERS: ‘OUR NUMBERS ARE BETTER THAN LAST YEAR’
In case you missed Rivers’ appearance on Dennis & Callahan this morning, you can listen to it here. The most interesting comments stemmed from the obligatory questions about the Perkins trade and Shaq’s health.
Asked if the Celtics had discussed the trade with key members of the team, Rivers said, “Everybody was on board.” Asked more specifically if Rondo was on board, Rivers added, “Nobody said no.”
As for Shaq’s health, the Celtics coach said, ”Shaq remains to be seen. He hasn’t practiced yet. He’ll do some stuff today [Thursday]. … Hopefully he can get on the floor in the next few days. I’m hoping Game 1, but I don’t know yet because we haven’t gone through a couple of practices.”