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Bill Simmons on D&C: ‘I don’t know’ what Celtics are now 04.04.11 at 10:37 am ET
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ESPN’€™s Bill Simmons appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Celtics‘€™ playoff prospects and reflect on the Kendrick Perkins trade. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Simmons said that if Shaquille O’€™Neal can’€™t return after straining his right calf Sunday, he can’€™t see the Celtics winning it all.

‘€œThey can’€™t win,’€ Simmons said. ‘€œI mean, part of this Perkins trade was that you had to keep your fingers crossed that you were either going to get Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal] or one of them or pieces of both of them or whatever. And those guys aren’€™t involved. There are too many teams that have size that they’€™re probably going to have to come across at some point, especially because it just seems like the Lakers are going to be there now. They’€™re just not big enough to beat the Lakers.’€

Simmons said he wasn’€™t entirely opposed to the Perkins trade at the time it was made, but that it’€™s now easy to see it wasn’€™t a good move.

‘€œI thought it was a trade that made sense on paper, which is what I wrote,’€ Simmons said. ‘€œIt was because they had this huge hole behind [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen. ‘€¦ But it was one of those things where they just moved from one hole to another hole. Now they don’€™t have to worry about Pierce and Allen getting into foul trouble or putting a ton of miles on them or whatever, but now they have this other hole.

‘€œI didn’€™t even fully realize after they made the trade how much it was going to affect our identity,’€ Simmons continued. ‘€œI worried about it, but it’€™s really affected their identity. I think the one thing we’€™ve learned over the last month is that these guys really bought into that whole, whether it was stupid or not, nobody had ever beaten them in a playoff series when they were healthy. And that was something they fed off.’€

Simmons said the trade doesn’€™t help the Celtics long term, either. ‘€œThe part that nobody mentions with the Perkins trade is that they’€™re talking about how they want to get younger — Jeff Green and moving forward and all that kind of stuff,’€ he said. ‘€œWhere are they going to find a young center three years from now or two years from now? There’€™s not a ton of centers out there. So in a way, you’€™re in the same type of hole you would’€™ve been in trying to get younger anyway.’€

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Read More: Bill Simmons, Danny Ainge, Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal
Irish Coffee: Jermaine O’Neal’s Celtics impact 03.31.11 at 12:02 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

On Feb. 1, when the Celtics began a two-month-plus stretch without either of the O’Neal “brothers,” if you had to put your life savings on which one would return first, how many people would’ve put money on Jermaine O’Neal?

Not many, me included. I know I would’ve put my $47 on Shaquille O’Neal. And, as Dale Arnold might say, if you gave Doc Rivers Sodium Pentothal, he’d probably admit that he would’ve rather had Shaq back first. But that’s not the case.

Jermaine O’Neal is returning to the Celtics lineup for the first time since Jan. 10, when his knee swelled to the point of no return. In 17 games this season, he had averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18.1 minutes.

So, what, exactly, can we expect from Jermaine O’Neal? If we can agree that all the Celtics need to replace Kendrick Perkins‘ minutes are guys who can defend bigs, rebound the basketball and knock down open shots created by the Big Four, then J.O. can give you plenty. Not as much as Shaq, but it’s something, right?

Let’s start with defense. Here are the points per possession (PPP) and field-goal percentages allowed by Perkins, Shaq, J.O. and Nenad Krstic on man-to-man defense in their limited time as Celtics this season:

  • Kendrick Perkins (7 games): 0.81 PPP on 41.0 percent shooting
  • Shaquille O’Neal (36 games): 0.77 PPP on 37.6 percent shooting
  • Jermaine O’Neal (17 games): 0.76 PPP on 35.2 percent shooting
  • Nenad Krstic (17 games): 0.90 PPP on 44.2 percent shooting

In a limited sample size, Jermaine O’Neal actually gave the Celtics the best defense of all four guys. Even if he can give them 15 minutes a night, that might limit Krstic’s ineffectiveness on the defensive end. When Shaquille O’Neal returns, the C’s should finally have the defensive depth at center that can fill the void left by Perkins.

Now, let’s look at rebounding. Here are the rebounding rates — or the percentage of missed shots corraled by a player in his time on the floor — for those same bigs:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins
Jon Barry on Celtics winning Eastern Conference: ‘I think they will’ at 11:25 am ET
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Appearing on the Dennis & Callahan Show, ESPN NBA analyst Jon Barry said despite the Celtics‘ recent struggles, he still believes they will win the Eastern Conference when it’s all said and done. (To listen to the entire interview, click here.)

“I don’€™t put a lot of stock what happens at the end of the regular season,” Barry said. “Last year the Lakers lost 7 of 10 and went on to win the thing. Boston was 27-27 their last 54 and got to the Finals in the seventh game. So I wouldn’€™t read too much into this. But I’€™m a bit concerned because I really thought they were the best team with Kendrick Perkins on their roster. Now I think they let the pack in a little bit closer to them. I still think they can win the East and I think they will, but I think they’€™ve brought the other teams back to where they have a better opportunity to beat them.

“I like their experience,” Barry added. “I think Chicago has had a tremendous year but this is a team that hasn’€™t gone past the first round. The Miami Heat I think still aren’€™t ready to do it, come playoff time they’€™re not built for playoff basketball. I do believe the Celtics will come back and circle the wagons and be ready to go and be the team to beat in the East.”

Barry explained that he was taken aback at how much trading Perkins away has affected the Celtics.

“I’€™m a bit surprised,” the analyst said. “This was the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference with Kendrick Perkins playing 12 games. The impact that he’€™s made on the floor obviously hasn’€™t been that big and they’€™ve played through it. I’€™m a bit surprised that they’€™re losing games. They haven’€™t been able to score. Their execution late in games has been poor. It’€™s kind of been there bugaboo the last few years.”

Some of the other topics touched on by Barry …

The Celtics recent struggles: “Obviously, since the Kendrick trade this team has not played well. [Rajon] Rondo in particular has not played well. We know how close he was with Kendrick Perkins. I know he has a pinky issue. There’€™s been no bones about it that these guys are unhappy that Kendrick’€™s left. Doc Rivers has felt the same way and they got to find a way to crank it back up here as we get started her in couple weeks for the real season.”

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Read More: Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Heat
Chris Mannix on D&C: Celtics don’t know what they have for playoffs 03.28.11 at 9:51 am ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Celtics and their recent struggles. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mannix said he thinks there is something to the theory that the Celtics are disinterested in getting the one-seed and seem to think they’€™ll be able to just turn it on in the playoffs like they did last year.

‘€œI think there’€™s a lot of truth to that,’€ Mannix said. ‘€œI think we saw at the end of last year that the Celtics had the same kind of laissez-faire attitude about the end of the regular season. The difference last year, though, was the core of that team was still in tact and they kind of knew what they could do if they turned the jets on and played well in the postseason. This year, they’€™re banking on something that no one, including themselves, is sure is even there. You’€™re talking about bringing back [Shaquille O'€™Neal] and Jermaine [O'€™Neal].

‘€œImagine before the season if we thought getting into late March, early April, ‘€˜If only Shaq and Jermaine can come back, we’€™ll be OK for the postseason.’€™ To me, that’€™s a horrible attitude to have, if that’€™s what this team is thinking, that one of those guys can come back and be a difference-maker. Once Shaq comes back, he’€™ll only play for about two months, and who knows what kind of physical shape he’€™s in at this stage. And Jermaine has given you nothing all season long, so there’€™s no reason to believe he’€™s going to add anything to the equation.’€

Mannix said not getting the top seed could be a death knell for the Celtics. ‘€œI honestly think that not getting the No. 1 seed for Boston this year could be disastrous and could be the reason that they don’€™t come out of the Eastern Conference for two reasons,’€ he said.

‘€œNumber one, the difference between playing the 8 seed and the 7 seed this year is like playing the 16 seed in the NCAA tournament vs. a 2 or 3 seed. Whoever winds up in that 8 spot, be it Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, I think they’€™re going to be a relative pushover in the first round. Maybe they take a team to five games. Most likely they get swept in four.

‘€œThat 7 seed, whether it’€™s New York or Philadelphia, those aren’€™t going to be easy games,’€ Mannix continued. ‘€œThey’€™re going to be kind of knock-down, drag-out games. They might push you to six, maybe even seven games. I think that’€™s something Boston really has to start to consider going into the postseason.’€

The hosts added that not only have the Celtics fallen behind the Bulls, but they’€™re also on the verge of getting passed by the Heat and dropping to third. ‘€œYeah, and that’€™s going to kill them, too,’€ Mannix said. ‘€œYou get into those second-round series that are inevitably going to go six games, probably seven games. You lose that homecourt advantage and that hurts, even against a team like Miami, whom, by the way, Boston hasn’€™t beaten yet with this new group. Same thing with Chicago.’€

Speaking of that new group, Mannix said the Kendrick Perkins trade has everything to do with this slump. ‘€œI 100 percent attribute it to the trade,’€ Mannix said. ‘€œI said as soon as this deal went down that it was the worst trade they could’€™ve possibly made. And I say that knowing exactly why it was made. ‘€¦ This was a one-sided trade, I thought. That’€™s taking nothing away from the obvious skill of Jeff Green. But Jeff Green, as much as you needed a backup swingman for this roster, you needed a powerful big up front more.

‘€œYou need a guy that brings the intensity every single night,’€ Mannix continued. ‘€œYou just mentioned that lackadaisical attitude. I think some of that would’€™ve been eliminated with Perkins in the lineup because he never takes plays off. The guy is aggressive all the time. With him in the lineup bringing that intensity, I think a lot of it would’€™ve rubbed off on some of his teammates. So I think they lost a physical presence and I think they lost a mental intense presence.’€

Read More: Chris Mannix, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins
Chris Broussard on M&M: ‘It comes down to the Celtics and the Heat’ 03.21.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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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.”

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Broussard, Grant Hill, Jalen Rose
Irish Coffee: Delonte West ecstatic about Jeff Green 03.18.11 at 2:21 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

 

While the Big Four of Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen probably looked at the Celtics-Thunder deadline deal as “The Kendrick Perkins Trade,” at least one member of the C’s saw it from a different perspective.

That’s because Delonte West knew better than his teammates what Jeff Green was capable of contributing, because — as West puts it — everybody who grows up playing basketball in the Washington D.C. greater metropolitan area knows each other. Not to mention the two played together on the SuperSonics for half the 2007-08 season.

“I played with Jeff in a few rec leagues before up at Georgetown, and I played with him in Seattle,” said West. “I know what he can do. I know what he’€™s capable of. In Oklahoma, you had a few guys taking all the shine over there, but when I heard we were getting Jeff Green, I was automatic ecstatic. I’€™ve been in the gym with him before in Seattle. The guy can play.”

Green could play then, and West believes his former teammate is even better now that he’s added a few weapons to his repertoire of skills. Green has averaged 11.1 points on 48.8 percent shooting in 23.1 minutes a night in 10 games for the Celtics.

“Of course he’€™s matured a little bit,” added West. “He’€™s a few years in now, and he’€™s only getting better. I see him shooting that 3 ball real comfortably. I already knew he could run the floor and how easy he can get points for us. That’€™s important.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins
Shaquille O’Neal feeling 84.22711556644222 percent 03.10.11 at 3:48 pm ET
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Celtics center Shaquille O’€™Neal joined WEEI’€™s Mut & Merloni show this morning. He touched on everything from his health to eating pizza with the elderly — and everything in between.

You can hear the entire interview on WEEI.com right here. And here is the transcription:

How’€™s O’€™Neal’€™s Achilles (he hasn’€™t played since Feb. 1)?

‘€œIt’€™s getting better. I can remember a time when I was 19, I’€™d get hit by a car and five minutes later I’€™d be Ok. The older you get, it takes time to heal. I’€™ve been getting better, a little stronger, but there’€™s still a little pain. I’€™ve been instructed by Doc [Rivers] and the Big Three to come back when there’€™s no pain. It’€™s their call. Doc and I are from the same era. If it’€™s not getting better, shoot it up and let’€™s go out and play. But we’€™re looking at the 1825 thing (see below) here, so we want to do things right. The team’€™s playing well. [Nenad] Krstic is doing a fabulous job. They want me 1,000 percent, especially for the postseason, because that’€™s when it really counts.’€

How did O’€™Neal feel about the Kendrick Perkins trade?

‘€œI was training, and I heard about the trade. It was kind of a sad ordeal. I got to know a lot about him and got to see his work ethic. I didn’€™t realize he was from Texas. I’€™m from Texas. We hung out on the road and got to talk strategies, talk shop and then business kicks in. He’€™s a very physical player — long arms, plays hard, not afraid of anybody, takes the elbow, gives them out, hard-nosed guy. We’€™re going to miss him. Boston’€™s going to miss him. He’€™s done a lot for the Boston community. He helped them get No. 17, and it’€™s been an honor to play with him.’€

How difficult will it be to integrate the newest Celtics?

‘€œIt’€™s difficult, but it’€™s not difficult. You brought in five consistent role players — guys who are used to being role players. Everybody’€™s gonna be playing off the Big Three. We know that. We just have to create a rhythm and keep it going. We’€™re looking very good right now. We’€™re going to be full strength very soon, and then we know what’€™s at hand. A lot of people play for championships, but for us — for the city of Boston — it’€™s something different. Something I call 1825: 18 for the beautiful people of Boston, two for Ray [Allen] and Doc and Kevin [Garnett] and those guys, and five for me. It was also the year John Quincy Adams was inaugurated, and he was a Boston guy. So, for us, it’€™s bigger than winning.’€

What has it been like for O’€™Neal to work with Jackie MacMullan on a book?

‘€œShe knew things that I’€™d forgotten about. We were sitting at the house talking — we meet twice a week for three hours. She asks me questions, and I ‘€˜ve got to dig in my old Shaqodex. I’€™m like, ‘€˜That’€™s 13 years ago.’€™ It should be a very exciting book — no holds barred. ‘€˜Tell-all’€™ wouldn’€™t be the correct term. ‘€˜Truthful’€™ would be the better term.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, nenad krstic
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