|Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: C’s need to know if Shaq can play in playoffs||04.04.11 at 1:53 pm ET|
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.”
|Chris Broussard on M&M: ‘It comes down to the Celtics and the Heat’||03.21.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
ESPN’s Chris Broussard joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Celtics and topics of interest around the NBA. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The C’s play the Knicks Monday night in New York. Broussard said despite the initial excitement over the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks aren’t a threat to knock off one of the East’s elite. And that was before the reported locker room discord that is swirling around the team during its recent struggles (five losses in the last seven games).
“They clearly have talent and should be dangerous,” Broussard said. “They don’t look that way right now. Even when they were looking good, I would never have picked them to win their first-round series over those top teams. But I did think they had maybe a puncher’s chance and could make it interesting. I still will say they could make it interesting if they get it together, but right now they don’t look like they’re any major threat to beat any of these top teams.”
The Celtics have their own problems, having lost four of their last seven games. Broussard speculated that much of the reason for the malaise falls on the trade of Kendrick Perkins, noting that Perkins and the struggling Rajon Rondo “were very tight.” He also said the Celtics still have a hole to fill with Perkins off the roster, and Shaquille O’Neal‘s absence exposes it that much more.
“I didn’t like [the trade] in the first place,” Broussard said. “With this kind of mystery involving Shaq, I like it even less.”
Added Broussard: “My biggest concern if I was a Celtics fan would be the lack of bulk and toughness that they now have without Kendrick Perkins. They only needed Perk for a few teams: Miami ‘ that gave them a big advantage over the Heat ‘ Orlando and the Lakers. You may be better matching up with Chicago without Perk. But if Shaquille O’Neal can’t come back and give you really quality minutes, and significant minutes, then I think a huge advantage that the Celtics had over everyone in the league is gone.”
Asked which team is the best in the East, Broussard said: “Boston, you’d have to give them their due respect. They’ve been great all year. I’m not going to hold this couple of weeks where they’ve struggled against them.”
Added Broussard: “I think if Miami plays the right way, they can win the East. And I feel a lot more comfortable about picking them in the preseason. But for most of this year, I have felt like it was Boston that’s the best team in the East. I like Chicago, but I still think at the end of the day it comes down to the Celtics and the Heat.”
|Stephen A. Smith on D&C: ‘I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back’||02.28.11 at 10:38 am ET|
Veteran columnist and radio host Stephen A. Smith joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and NBA news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Smith made news recently by speculating that Rasheed Wallace would end his retirement and return to the Celtics. Smith explained that Wallace indicated last June ‘ when the player talked about his retirement ‘ that he would consider returning after the trade deadline this season.
“He was alluding [in June] to coming back once the trading deadline expired if the Celtics needed him, that he would think about it,” Smith said. “And throughout this year, he had been saying one day, he wants to come back, the other day, he doesn’t want to come back. ‘¦ He was going back and forth throughout the year. One day he wants to come back, another day he doesn’t want to come back. One minute he’s thinking about going to Orlando, the next minute he misses all the boys he was with in Boston last year.
“So, I simply said I think he’s going to end up coming back to Boston, because I believe that Boston is going to be the team that fights the Lakers for the world championship, and I believe that Doc Rivers is the ultimate motivator. And I think if you have an opportunity to play for Doc Rivers for a couple of months, that’s not something that you’re going to turn down. I still believe that. I still believe that Rasheed Wallace is going to come back.”
Smith called the trade of Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder “a devasating blow” to Boston, but he remains convinced that the Celtics will beat the Heat and win the Eastern Conference en route to an NBA title. Smith said he can’t pick a team that starts Erick Dampier at center, and that the Celtics can slow the games down, taking away the Heat’s uptempo style.
“If [the Celtics] play the kind of defense they always play, I can’t see how the Miami Heat can beat them in a seven-game series,” he said.
Added Smith: “I believe in Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal, and I think somehow, someway, specifically Shaquille O’Neal can offset the loss of Kendrick Perkins. And I think that will be enough to get you back to the NBA finals, where I believe they will beat the Los Angeles Lakers.”
The Perkins trade hurts the Celtics more emotionally than physically, Smith explained. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the Boston Celtics made the right move for the long term,” he said. “But short term, I think it’s a devastating blow. Kendrick Perkins is a big body, a wide body, he’s very, very physical. And I’m one of those people who firmly believes that if Kendrick Perkins hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 6 of the NBA finals that the Boston Celtics would be the reigning defending world champions right now. I think they would have beaten the Lakers in Game 7.
|Ian Thomsen: After C’s moves, ‘not sure who they are now’||02.25.11 at 1:56 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated senior writer Ian Thomsen joined the midday show Friday with guest hosts John Rooke and Kirk Minihane to talk about the Celtics‘ moves this week, mainly the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.
Thomsen said the Celtics forged an identity this season as a big physical team, following their NBA finals loss to the Lakers last June. Now, the identity has changed.
“First of all, I was just wondering who the Celtics are now?” Thomsen said of his initial reaction to the trade. “Before they signed [Shaquille O’Neal] last summer, I was wondering who they were. Because they were outrebounded in the finals, the Lakers front line looked too big for them, even when Perkins was playing. But then when they got Shaq, and you thought about Shaq and Perkins as the front line, now you thought that they were going to have an edge to them, they were going to be able to play down low, they’d always have a big man in there, for 48 minutes, potentially.
“And now again, I’m just not sure who they are now, what the edge is. There are things that they can no longer take for granted: that they can guard Dwight Howard one on one, that they’re going to throw a lot of size at the Lakers ‘ like a big offensive line that creates room for [Rajon] Rondo and all the other guys.
“So, it’s just now going to be interesting to see what’s going to be the new identity of the team. Because no matter what they do, if they get Troy Murphy or anybody else, it won’t be able to replicate what they had in Perkins. And Shaq just won’t be able to give them enough minutes, even if he’s healthy ‘ 25, 28, 30 minutes, maybe.”
Looking at matchups against the C’s main competition, such as LeBron James‘ Heat, Thomsen said you can evaluate it a couple of ways.
“It’s like a chicken-or-egg thing,” he said. “Do you respond to matchups of other teams or do you create matchups of your own that they can’t deal with? So now, against Miami, was one reason Boston had an edge over Miami this year because of guys like Kendrick Perkins and the physical edge that they clearly have over Miami? So, you can say, OK, you don’t need to worry about Miami’s big men, so you can afford to get rid of Kendrick Perkins. But in letting go of him, are you letting go of your inherent advantage over them. And now are you sort of playing their game as opposed to making them play your game. They’re less of an imposing team without Perkins. They’re playing more to Miami’s style.
“On the other hand, Jeff Green is huge against LeBron. Because the Celtics knew they couldn’t win without a real backup 3 to help [Paul] Pierce against LeBron, to help against Kobe [Bryant], some of these other big guys on the wings. And now they have that. Jeff Green is going to come off the bench, and LeBron is going to know that for the 43 or 44 minutes he’s playing every playoff game this spring, he’s going to have somebody decent guarding him.”
|Steve Pagliuca on D&C: ‘Put the emotions aside,’ and deal is good for C’s||02.25.11 at 9:21 am ET|
Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show and guest hosts Mike Adams and Bob Halloran on Friday morning to talk about the C’s flurry of moves before Thursday’s trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The big trade was Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. Pagliuca said he has confidence president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made the right call.
“I have mixed emotions,” Pagliuca said. “I loved Kendrick Perkins as a person and a player, and he helped us get a championship. So, that’s the tough part of the sports business. You’ve got to try to make the club better if you have opportunities. Danny’s done a great job at that over the last eight years, since we’ve been here. He assessed that this was something that would be great for the short run to help us win a championship again, and the longer run.
“I think it could be a win-win for both clubs. Because their club is full of shooters and they need somebody tough inside, and there’s nobody tougher than Kendrick. We picked up a guy, Jeff Green, who was drafted fifth, averaging 15 points a game, he can play the 3, the 4, maybe even the 2 at times. And Nenad Krstic, who’s a great shooter, which really balances [Rajon] Rondo out. Rondo will have a free lane now, because they’ve got to go out and cover Nenad, because he can hit the shot.”
Added Pagliuca: “Danny, again, I think has done a great job. Put the emotions aside ‘ because he loves Kendrick as well ‘ but this will be good for the club.”
The C’s also traded Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to the Cavaliers for a draft pick and shipped the injured Marquis Daniels to the Kings for another pick. This leaves some questions at the center position, as Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal remain sidelined with injuries. Pagliuca said that should turn around soon, as the Celtics’ bench will become a major strength.
“We got two starting players ‘ one averaging 15 points a game; I think Kristic is averaging close to 10 ‘ so, yeah, it’s going to make us very deep,” he said. “And on top of that, Shaq is working really hard to come back, and Jermaine is looking good; I saw him on the bike the other day. If all the things go our way, we’re going to have a very deep team going into the playoffs. And I think that’s what Danny wanted to accomplish.”
The other question concerns the toughness the Celtics lost with the departure of Perkins. “We’ve got a lot of tough players,” Pagliuca said. “Shaq’s a pretty tough player, and he’s coming back. He’s pretty tough in the paint there. [Glen Davis] is a tough player. Baby can bang with anybody. Krstic is also a fighter. He’s no wallflower as well. ‘¦ He’s a fiery player and he wants to win. So, I think we’re going to be very tough and our guys will bring it up a notch.”
|Jackie MacMullan on D&H: Celtics’ problems at center critical||02.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
Basketball Hall of Fame writer Jackie MacMullan joined the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the Celtics and news from around the NBA. While Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half to spark a Lakers comeback Thursday night, MacMullan attributed most of the blame for the Celtics’ loss on their sudden lack of depth at center. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
“That was the game in a nutshell,” she said. “Their bigs just played really, really well, crushed them on the boards, made things happen in the paint. We know Kobe can turn it on, as he did in the second half. And we all knew when he had three points at halftime that it wouldn’t end that way. But to me, it really was about what went on in the paint last night.”
Ray Allen broke the NBA record for career 3-pointers Thursday night. MacMullan noted that despite the lofty praise, Allen has not always been the most coachable player. Said MacMullan: “It was just so funny to me how, as he was approaching the record, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, Ray Allen, a coach’s dream, the greatest veteran, what a model, an ambassador for the NBA.’ And I was thinking, ‘Whoa.’ I can remember a lot of coaches that really struggled with Ray, including the one here.
“And that doesn’t mean they don’t love him ‘ and certainly Doc [Rivers] and Ray have found their way together ‘ but that’s not who Ray is. Ray’s going to challenge you and Ray’s going to question you. Because he wants things to work within his own parameters. And to me, that was the most interesting part about this quest for the 3-point title, was he did it through multiple coaches, each of whom at one point or another I’m sure were saying, ‘This guy drives me nuts!’ ”
Addressing the rumors of a trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers, MacMullan noted that Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been looking to trim payroll, not add to it. Plus, the Lakers already have a title-contending team without adding a player with defensive liabilities who would take some time to learn the triangle offense. “It just didn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Not if you’re the Lakers and you’re right there.”
MacMullan, who had lunch Thursday with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, said she believes Jackson will stick to his word and retire at the end of the season. “The impression I get is that Phil is at the end of the road,” she said. “He didn’t say that, he won’t say anything about it. But that’s the impression I get. I think he’s come to the point where it’s time to step away again.”
MacMullan was talking to Jackson for a book she’s writing about Shaquille O’Neal. “He gave me some great insight on Shaquille, who he has a great affection for to this day, really loved being with him,” she said. “And you know, when it was Phil, Kobe and Shaq, nine times out of 10, Phil was siding with Shaq, not Kobe.”
|Ray Allen on D&C: ‘People in Boston deserve that’ record moment||02.11.11 at 10:06 am ET|
Celtics guard Ray Allen joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about breaking the NBA career 3-point record in Thursday’s loss to the Lakers. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Allen said he enjoyed the run-up to his record-breaking night. While he was disappointed that the C’s lost the game, he said he didn’t think the spotlight on his achievement negatively affected the team. “I was concerned ‘ so much attention and so much adulation going toward me, everybody was talking about this going into the night,” he said. “But I thought that it worked out in our favor, because so much momentum went in our favor.”
After breaking Reggie Miller‘s record, Allen went over and embraced the former Pacers star, now a TNT analyst. Asked if he would want someone to break his record someday, Allen said, “The human part of me says no, but I guess it depends who it is, who it ends up being. It’s just like anything, when you see any major athlete or championship. You look at the Green Bay Packers, and everybody was happy for the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is a good guy. ‘¦ You’re happy for people who you know that are good people.”
Rodgers is one of Allen’s famous friends who sent a congratulatory text, along with actor Anthony Anderson and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Allen said he sought out Miller before the game for advice, because the only thing he was nervous about was how to react after the milestone was reached. Said Allen: “I asked Reggie when I spoke to Reggie before the game, I was like, ‘What do I do?’ When this moment comes, I was like, ‘What do I do? I don’t know what to do.’ I’m so used to, you go high-five a teammate or chest-bump him because it’s something that we share together. But when everybody’s looking at me, I’m looking around, like, ‘Uh, I need to grab somebody right now.’ So, he was like, ‘It’s your time. you just do whatever you feel, whatever feels good to you. You just let it go.’ ”
Allen said he was pleased to share the moment with Boston fans, who gave him an ovation during a timeout shortly after the shot. “I think the way it happened, it was amazing,” he said, noting that he agreed with the decision not to stop the game. “Because once we did go to a timeout, people were still just excited and ready to continue to cheer. That was why it was so special to be in the building. People in Boston deserve that. People will talk about that forever, and I’m glad it happened ‘ me to be the guy they experienced that with.”
The 35-year-old also talked about his legendary work ethic. Said Allen: “Every single day, I always tell people, I have this itch. And the itch is, What if you don’t make the free throw in the fourth quarter? What if you don’t make the 3 in the fourth quarter? And when I feel that way, I get up in the morning and I head straight to the gym like I’m possessed, like, ‘OK, I’ve got to get these shots up.’ Because I need to always be prepared and I need to show my team that I’m always going to be prepared.”
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