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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: Leaving C’s would be difficult for Doc Rivers

04.25.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to discuss the NBA playoffs and other Celtics items of interest. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo put up huge numbers in the C’s first-round series sweep of the Knicks, and Wojnarowski said the point guard will again be tough for Boston’s opponent to handle in Round 2. “He’s Miami’s most difficult matchup,” Wojnarowski said. “They don’t have a guy to deal with him.”

The Heat, who need one more win to close out the 76ers, also appear to be at a disadvantage vs. the Celtics when it comes to bench play. “The question marks around Miami’s bench continue to be immense,” Wojnarowski said. “Mike Miller, who they had signed to be a key part of that team, he’s got issues with both thumbs. He can’t shoot the ball. And so, his minutes have diminished. They’re getting less and less from that bench. That’s why they thought about signing Eddy Curry. That’s the level of desperation they had with that group there. That’s where Boston’s supposed to have the advantage here.”

If Shaquille O’Neal can return and give the C’s some quality minutes to complement Jermaine O’Neal, that would give Boston another advantage. “We’ll see what happens with Shaq, if he comes back,” Wojnarowski said. “Because Jermaine O’Neal really established himself as a big part of this Celtics postseason run with the way he played. He probably won Game 2 for Boston. I think Doc said he did, and I agree with him. His ability to defend the rim and block shots. Now, if Shaq comes back ‘€” maybe Shaq comes off the bench, maybe Shaq starts ‘€” but Boston’s bench has shown some signs in that New York series of playing better.”

Added Wojnarowski: “Doc said it all along: They had to have one of the O’Neals play. And Jermaine has played better. He exceeded my expectations. ‘€¦ You saw him defending, rebounding and just his movement around the floor and getting out, really being a lot of places, his rotation on defense, getting back, showing on the pick and roll and then getting back and protecting the rim. He brings a very high basketball IQ. He’s a smart guy, a veteran guy. And I thought he played great in that series and was the difference for Boston.

“But listen, Shaq still commands a double team in the post offensively. He still can rebound the ball. He can’t move like Jermaine can and defend all over the floor defensively the way Jermaine has showed himself to do. But there’s still things that Shaq brings to them that are going to help them, not just against Miami.

“You know, it’s funny: They don’t need him against Miami in terms of, Miami doesn’t have great size. But what it is is, he gives you an advantage. He gives you an edge where they have trouble matching up, and guys still have to foul him or double him. And so, while you don’t need him to match up with one of their guys, you say, ‘Hey, we have an advantage with him playing.’ So, that’s why you want him to play.”

Doc Rivers‘ contract expires at the end of the season. Said Wojnarowski: “I know this, and I talked to Doc about this in the preseason: The appeal of being the Celtics coach for life has really improved for him. I think Doc knows he will never have it better than what he has right now in Boston, with this group of players and an ownership and a GM that he works great with, and a city that I think adores him and that he has come to love coaching for.

“I think it’s going to be really hard for Doc to walk away. And he talked in the preseason about thinking about going through the rebuilding, about having an interest in doing that ‘€” rebuilding around Rondo. ‘€¦ The idea that he would leave and all of a sudden sign up in Miami tomorrow or right away and have to come back and coach against [Kevin] Garnett and [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen, I don’t see him doing that. I think his relationships and what Boston means to him, I think he’d sit out at least a year, and then I guess it would be open to anywhere.

“While I think there’s times Doc feels like maybe it’s time to walk away, I think in a moment of truth, leaving this organization is going to be really, really hard for him. Because I think deep down he knows he’ll never have it better than he’s had it here. That will pull on his heartstrings.”

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, Doc Rivers, Jermaine O'Neal, Rajon Rondo
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