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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: Jermaine O’Neal ‘a decisive force’ 05.09.11 at 9:28 am ET
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Jeff Van Gundy

ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Rajon Rondo‘s health was the primary topic of discussion, as everyone waits to see how the point guard will respond two days after dislocating his left elbow during the Celtics’ Game 3 victory. If Rondo plays, Van Gundy said the Heat assuredly will test him right away.

“Obviously, Miami has time to adjust and adapt and really send him left on every penetration,” Van Gundy said. “I’d pick up him up full court and see if he can advance the ball with his left hand. Because you can’t take it easy on someone with an injury. So, the adrenaline rush from the other night — and it truly was a heroic thing he did — whether it can carry over to another night, I’m not sure.”

Added Van Gundy: “I think it all depends on who you are, your competitive spirit and personality, your level of speed and quickness to be able to get back to that dominant hand. And obviously, Rondo has all of those. Now, I think it will impact him shooting, because you need your left hand to help you get the ball up into the shooting position. And I would suspect they may leave him more open than they normally do.”

If Rondo can’t be productive, Van Gundy noted that the Celtics have other options. “Delonte West — he’s not a setup-type point guard, he’s not a create shots for others-type point guard, but he can play effectively,” Van Gundy said. “I thought he had a good game in Game 3.

“They’re going to have play a really good game again tonight, and it will be interesting to see if they can regenerate that same intensity and energy and enthusiasm.”

On the subject of the ailing Shaquille O’Neal, Van Gundy said: “I felt badly for O’Neal in the last game. … I found [it] tough to watch, actually. I give him a lot of credit for going out there and not worrying about how he was looking but giving of himself for the betterment of the team, whatever he could provide. And he is still a force when it comes to having to block him out on the offensive boards.”

Van Gundy said Shaq’s return overshadowed a solid performance by the Celtics’ starting center. “If you looked at Jermaine O’Neal — which is the ONeal that everyone should have been talking about after that game — that guy, he put his heart into that game,” Van Gundy said. “He blocked shots, he took charges. I thought Jermaine O’Neal was absolutely a decisive force in Game 3. But they have to keep doing it to have a chance. It can’t just be a one-game hit.”

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Tim Legler on M&M: Celtics ‘just not athletic enough to deal with this’ 05.04.11 at 12:18 pm ET
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Tim Legler

ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Celtics’ struggles in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The C’s trail the Heat 2-0 as the series heads to Boston for Game 3 Saturday. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I think the problem ultimately for the Celtics is going to be that they don’t have home court,” Legler said. “I think they’re going to derive a lot of energy coming home. With the change in venue and the couple of days off they’re going to have right now is going to do them a world of good. I think they’re going to energize themselves. I think they’re going to get their competitive edge back up again and realize: ‘Look, we’re not going out like this.’ And when they get home, you’re going to see a much better effort.

“Having said that, they can win two games in Boston, I don’t think there’s any question about it. But then you’re turning it into a best two out of three, but two of those games being in Miami, and you see the type of energy they played with down there.”

Legler said the Celtics’ aging stars simply can’t keep up with the Heat youngsters. “I just don’t know if Boston is athletic enough to deal with this team,” Legler said. “Because LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are doing what they want to do. They’re getting to the place on the court they want to get to. They’re getting there quicker than Boston has a chance to react.

“I think it’s the first time since this [Celtics] group’s been together, since ’08, that their defense doesn’t look as quick or as suffocating as it normally is. And I think a lot of that has to do with how fast and how quickly Miami gets to their spots offensively, and how they beat you off the dribble. And they’re getting to the rim and they’re getting to places before the help defender can get there. We’re not used to seeing that against this Boston team. And I think that speaks directly to the athleticism involved with the Miami Heat and that might be eventually the undoing for the Celtics in this series. They’re just not athletic enough to deal with this.”

Legler was asked about the Kendrick Perkins trade and how the center would impact the series were he still a Celtic. Said Legler: “Kendrick Perkins would definitely have an impact, and a healthy Shaquille O’Neal would have a similar impact. No. 1, just taking up space, being physical, moving bodies around the rim. You seal off those little pockets that you see Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh and some of the offensive rebounds they’ve gotten. I don’t think that they would be getting those if you have Kendrick Perkins in there or you have a healthy Shaq.

“Finishing plays around the basket — Perkins was never a great offensive player, but he got much better at it as he grew with the Boston Celtics. And Shaq has a 60 percent field goal percentage through his career. He’s going to make some of the shots right now that are being missed through the first two games, because they’re point-blank. He’s going to finish, he’s going to power through people. He’s not a guy that can move very well out on the floor, but just as far as anchoring the paint on both ends, they absolutely miss that physical presence.

“The depleted front line of the Boston Celtics just doesn’t do anything to to intimidate Miami.”

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Wyc Grousbeck on M&M: Kendrick Perkins ‘was going to walk’ 04.29.11 at 1:11 pm ET
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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped by for a visit with the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon as the C’s prepare for their second-round series against the Heat. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Grousbeck discussed the trade with the Thunder that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. “We’re not here to trash Perk,” Grousbeck said. “What we’re here to say is, We needed, obviously, a backup for Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen]. This series will show, somebody needs to come in with quality — Jeff Green — and step up. And that’s how, hopefully, we can give these guys a fight.”

Added Grousbeck: “We love Perk. We miss him, no question. But we didn’t need another center as much as we needed someone to back up Paul and Ray. That’s the theory of the trade. We’ll see how it works out.”

Regarding Perkins’ contract issues, Grousbeck said: “Perk was going to walk at the end of June. That was clear. We offered him everything we could, and it wasn’t enough.”

Grousbeck insisted the trade is as much about this season as the years ahead. Said Grousbeck: “It’s also a trade for the future. But our principal idea is, Improve for this year if we can, and what are the pros and cons. And you back Danny [Ainge]. Danny’s got us to the championship, and I’m right there with him. The rest of us are all right there with him.”

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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.”

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Ray Allen on D&C: ‘Talking to the media is very therapeutic’ 04.06.11 at 12:34 pm ET
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Ray Allen

Celtics guard Ray Allen joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the C’s as they head into the stretch run of the regular season. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Celtics defeated the 76ers Tuesday night, but they are only playing .500 ball over their last 16 games. Part of the reason for that has been attributed to the recent influx of new players. Allen talked about working the new players into the Celtics’ way of doing things.

“We’ve talked about it a considerable amount of times,” he said. “One of the most important for them that they see is, when we travel on the road you see all the [Celtics] fans that are in the building in the other gyms, you understand the tradition, the fan following. And then at home, they see what it’s like in our building, so they understand that they’re playing under a different monster than what they’ve been playing under before. They’ve got to make sure that every night they play hard. And it’s not just about scoring points, it’s about being a better teammate, it’s about working hard every night, it’s about playing defense, it’s about just having a passion out there on the floor.”

Rajon Rondo‘s inconsistent play of late is another frequently mentioned reason for the C’s struggles.

“He’s like the head of the monster, the head of the snake, so to speak,” Allen said of the young point guard. “We’ve got to make sure his energy is great, his attitude is great, his body language is great, everything. Because he probably takes the brunt of all the pressure, the attitude that one of us may get, if he takes it all on, and we’ve got to make sure that we always keep him right, because he’s the one that’s going to make sure he keeps us going deep into the playoffs.”

Allen acknowledged that he and his veteran teammates have talked to Rondo about staying focused before every game.

“We’ve all talked about it,” he said. “We’ve talked about having great spirit out there on the floor every night, whether you’re playing the best player or the worst player, you have to have the same energy, the same spirit, because your team follows you. And those are lessons I learned early in my career.”

Allen left the locker room at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse last Monday night without speaking to the media after a loss to the Pacers. He explained the reason for that to Mut & Merloni.

“Sometimes you just don’t have the answers immediately after a game,” he said. “For me, personally, talking to the media is very therapeutic because it helps figure out some of the things you need to do out on the floor that you didn’t do and you get things off your chest. Some nights you don’t have the answer. Sometimes you get so frustrated with yourself, just with the game itself or with losing itself, that sometimes just talking doesn’t help. So, you’ve just got to get away and just kind of sit back and think about what you can do better. You go through those different emotions every night.”

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Doc Rivers on D&C: Jeff Green ‘could be a good defensive player’ 04.06.11 at 10:21 am ET
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Doc Rivers (AP)

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning, following Tuesday night’s 99-82 victory over the 76ers. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked if beating the Sixers was a statement win, considering the teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs, Rivers said it would mean more to a younger team. “All we got out of that game is that we played better in the second half, and that’s it for us,” he said.

Shaquille O’Neal left Sunday’s win over the Pistons with a strained right calf muscle. Rivers said Shaq will not play Thursday in Chicago. As for Friday vs. the Wizards: “I doubt it.” Sunday vs. the Heat? “Maybe.”

Said Rivers: “We’re going to be very cautious with him. I would like to play him a couple of games, but only if he’s feeling great. If not, we’ll just wait.”

Jeff Green has shown flashes of solid play since coming over from the Thunder, but Rivers said he needs more consistency from the young forward. “He looked great last night,” Rivers said. “We’re asking him to do a lot. We’re asking him to play two positions. But it does, it has to be a repetitive act for him every night, the same intensity level every night, and I think he’s learning to do that. And that’s good, because he can really help us win games.”

Green was supposed to give the Celtics a defensive boost, but Rivers said he may have been hampered by being forced to guard at two positions. “He could be a good defensive player,” Rivers said. “Is he a 3 or a 4? He’s a 3. He’s played 4 his whole career thus far. With Oklahoma he had no choice. They put [Kevin] Durant on the 3s and they put him on the 4s. … I think he’s a better 3 than 4 defensively just from the power standpoint. But I do think he can be a good defender. I think right now he’s an OK defender.”

Asked why Troy Murphy isn’t contributing more to the Celtics, Rivers said, “He’s been injured. I don’t think it’s any deeper than that. Yesterday was his first day back after one practice. … He’s not going to average a double-double with us. He’s just not going to get the minutes.”

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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: C’s need to know if Shaq can play in playoffs 04.04.11 at 1:53 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Celtics. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski is skeptical about the Celtics’ public diagnosis of Shaquille O’Neal‘s injury Sunday night, an injury the Celtics are calling a calf strain but that had people thinking was his troubled heel.

“They’re saying it isn’t serious,” Wojnarowski said. “I think for everybody who watched it last night, including everybody in the Celtics organization, it looked like he re-aggravated that heel. He wasn’t six minutes into his return. But they’re saying it’s a calf injury, it’s not related to that heel and that he’ll be back in short order.

“You guys know that Shaq with that heel injury was about a week away for about six weeks. Especially at his age, with how much weight he’s carrying, there’s never just a tweak to those lower extremities — to your calf, to your heel. If he’s back this week, great. But for them there’s always that extra concern with Shaq because it just takes him longer to heal.”

Wojnarowski said he doesn’t think it makes sense for the Celtics to hold out Shaq until the postseason. “If he can’t hold up, then they need to find that out now and not sit around and count on a guy who just isn’t going to be there for them in the playoffs,” he said.

The Celtics hold the third spot in the East and would play the 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs if the standings remain the same. Wojnarowski predicts that could be a problem for the C’s. “That Philly team reminds me a little bit of that Hawks team that took the Celtics to seven games in ’08: very young, athletic, quick, a hungry team kind of on the make. Doug Collins really has that group buying in,” Wojnarowski said. “They’re going to be a problem for whoever they play, whether it’s Miami or Boston. That will not be an easy series for the Celtics. I just think the athleticism is a problem for them, and they have that one inside presence in [Elton] Brand, who can do some damage around the rim.”

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