|Stephen A. Smith: Celtics ‘too close’ for Heat to win several consecutive titles||10.30.12 at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith joined Mut & Merloni Tuesday to discuss the upcoming NBA season and the hot water he’s found himself in over his perceived use of a racial slur last week.
Smith denied saying the slur on ESPN’s “First Take,” though he said he understands that people heard it that way, and that he would have “shook their hands” and accepted it should ESPN have punished him. For Smith’s complete answer regarding the incident, click here.
In discussing the upcoming season, Smith touched on Tuesday night’s season-opener between the Heat and the Celtics, the first game in which Ray Allen will face his old team since rejecting a more lucrative deal from Boston to sign with the defending NBA champions.
Since Allen left, there has been a bit of a war of words between the two sides, as Allen has made numerous comments about the C’s while Kevin Garnett said he deleted Allen’s phone number.
“I think the animosity is real on Boston’s side. I don’t think Ray Allen has that level of animosity for anybody. He’s class personified,” Smith said. “It’s not to say the Boston Celtics are not classy because they very much are, but Ray Allen just isn’t one to get into all of that. That’s never been his MO in all the years that I’ve known him, but the reality of the situation is he doesn’t really have legitimate reasons to harbor animosity.
“When you look at the situation in Boston, yeah you didn’t like getting benched for Avery Bradley, yeah you didn’t like feeling that you were no longer the significant part of the game plan that you were in years past. There’s no way to get around the fact that if you look at the Ray Allen situation in Boston from that standpoint, you have to remember he left them. They offered him twice as much as he’s getting from Miami, even though it was an additional year compared to what Miami was offering him. They offered him more years, they offered him more money and he still decided to leave, but not only did he decide to leave, he decided to leave for somebody that is considered the enemy in that locker room and throughout that franchise in the Miami Heat, particularly since LeBron James arrived.
“That’s why you see Kevin Garnett reacting the way that he’s reacting. Paul Pierce sort of smiled it off, but he’s following KG’s lead because Paul Pierce obviously is a friend of Ray Allen. He loves him. It’s just that he’s a competitor now. Kevin Garnett takes it to another level. Right now he has no love whatsoever for Ray Allen. He looks at Ray Allen as somebody that betrayed him and this franchise. He has no love for him whatsoever. He wants to take him out just as badly as he wants to take the rest of them out and he considers him the enemy. It’s just that simple.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Doc Rivers is sick of talking about Ray Allen and other notes from Friday||10.26.12 at 9:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers will go with a rotation of starting lineups to start the season, the Celtics coach announced after practice Friday. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are the certainties when healthy. Rivers said he will rotate Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and rookie Jared Sullinger in the other two spots, depending on various factors.
“Experience, size, it depends on the night,” Rivers said. “I don’t think we’re going to have one starting lineup this year. There’s three that I know of we’ll use. We can move it around.”
The Celtics featured a starting lineup of Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Green and Bass in their preseason finale against the Sixers, with Sullinger and Courtney Lee seeing significant time as the first two players off the bench.
“We’re going to go the same. Early in year every year, I play 10 guys, whether we have a good 10 or not,” Rivers said with no hesitation. “Ten guys played last year because you have to get through the season, so it’ll be 10 this year for the most part.”
Meanwhile, Rivers said Friday afternoon after practice that he understands his players will be motivated to play the Heat and the Heat and Ray Allen will likely be motivated to play Boston in the season opener Tuesday night in Miami.
“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “I don’t think it’s Ray, honestly. I’ve said it before. There may be several guys who want to play against and Ray may want to play against several guys. This is not going to be a ‘Ray-versus-the-Celtics’ game. If it becomes that, we’re going to lose by a lot of points because as good as Ray is, I know of two guys for sure, probably three guys on that team that are a lot better on that team. If we’re focused on Ray, we’re going to lose by 40.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Is Jeff Green the key for position-less Celtics?||10.24.12 at 4:49 pm ET|
WALTHAM — On Wednesday, the NBA finally acknowledged reality and dropped the center position from the All-Star ballot. Now fans will vote on two guards and three “frontcourt” players. Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who is a member of the league’s competition committee, said that he pushed for more changes to the process.
“I just think it should be 12 guys,” Rivers said, meaning regardless of position. (He also hinted that All-Star roster may be expanded to include 13 players.)
The All-Star switch is a modest reflection that the NBA is in the midst of a slow and steady evolution away from traditional positions and the Celtics are right in the middle of it. Consider their starting lineup, which has remained a mystery throughout camp and will likely continue to remain one throughout the season.
Rajon Rondo is the point guard. Paul Pierce is a forward who plays on the wing and Kevin Garnett is the big man. After that, Rivers could start Jason Terry or Courtney Lee in the backcourt. When Avery Bradley comes back from shoulder surgery he’ll be in the mix, as well. Bradley guarded the other team’s point guard on defense, but played off the ball when he was on offense. Rivers has already said that he doesn’t have a backup point guard, he has four of them.
Up front, Jared Sullinger or Brandon Bass could start. Even a true big man like Darko Milicic could get a turn with Garnett getting a breather against some of the true remaining centers in the league.
“I think it’s pretty simple to figure out your starting lineup although this is going to be an unusual team in that I don’t think we’ll have a starting lineup for most of the year,” Rivers said. “We may move that one guy around quite a lot.”
Then there’s Jeff Green, who is not being considered for a starting job. He will do something more valuable. Green is expected to come off the bench and if the preseason is any indication, he’ll get about 25-30 minutes a night playing both forward positions. He’ll even work with Pierce in lineups where the whole concept of positions is completely meaningless. Read the rest of this entry »
|Celtics’ ‘legit chance of beating’ Heat, Jeff Green as NBA’s ‘most underrated player’ and other Charles Barkleyisms||at 10:28 am ET|
Round Mound of Sound Charles Barkley joined fellow NBA on TNT studio analysts Reggie Miller and Shaquille O’Neal on a conference call Tuesday afternoon relayed by both the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and all three agreed the Celtics have “a legit chance of beating” the Heat this season.
- Barkley: “LeBron [James] covers up a lot of weaknesses because he’s so physically amazing, but Boston to me has a legit chance of beating them.”
- Miller: “I love what Boston has done. They are 1-2 in the Eastern Conference. … This is a team that is primed. I would not be surprised to see those two teams in the conference finals again.”
- O’Neal: “Miami is the team to beat. However, if Boston is healthy … they have a shot.”
Given that both teams met in an Eastern Conference finals that lasted seven games before Miami ultimately captured the NBA championship last season and the Celtics made significant upgrades to their roster, none of these remarks are all that surprising. But this one from Barkley is somewhat startling.
“I think the most underrated player in the NBA is Jeff Green,” said Barkley, who also proclaimed himself “a big Jeff Green fan” last season. “I know he didn’t play last year. I loved him in Oklahoma City. When he got to Boston, he went late into the year, so he really never got comfortable. I think he is going to be fantastic.”
Barkley also made some classic Barkley statements about the C’s Atlantic Division rivals.
“The Celtics got an older Kevin Garnett and a Paul Pierce,” he said. “They brought in all these younger guys to bring in energy and take the load off of Garnett and Paul Pierce, and the Knicks brought in a bunch of old geezers. Listen, I’m a big Marcus Camby fan and Jason Kidd is one of my favorite players, but they’re not going to be able to keep up in a seven-game series with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or playing against the Celtics in a seven-game series. Not even the 76ers — and I love what the 76ers have done — or the Brooklyn Nets. Those old guys are not gonna be able to compete with those young guys when those games come every other day.”
|Top 5 Darko Milicic quotes from Celtics Media Day||09.28.12 at 10:32 pm ET|
|Powerade gives Celtics fans figurative middle finger||07.13.12 at 1:04 pm ET|
Only a few miles north of Boston, Powerade unveiled an electronic I-93 South billboard that reads, “Congrats, LeBron. Championship has a nice ring to it,” as reported by the Boston Metro.
Just weeks after the Heat’s LeBron James averaged 33.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game to defeat the Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals, what better time for the sports drink company to remind Boston basketball fans of their most recent heartbreak? At least Butterfinger wasn’t behind dropping 900 pounds of the candy bars on Copley Square in thanks to Wes Welker for his drop in Super Bowl XLVI.
I’m guessing Gatorade sales just soared in New England. No word on James’ awareness of the Boston campaign. Maybe Zico should unveil a Kevin Garnett ad in Miami reading, “Congrats, LeBron. Suck on my coconut water.”
|Michael Wilbon on D&C: ‘Superstar treatment was surely in effect’ for LeBron James||06.18.12 at 12:24 pm ET|
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about Game 3 of the NBA finals, the officiating, whether the Thunder would be better off with Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook, and more. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked whether LeBron James was getting superstar treatment after playing such aggressive defense and being called for zero fouls Sunday night, Wilbon said, ‘I’d have to go back and look at the game and just pay attention to what LeBron did. It could’ve been a bad night for the way LeBron was called, and also, we know that LeBron is physically superior. He can control his body in ways that even the other great players cannot in terms of avoiding contact and that sort of thing. And also, superstar treatment was surely in effect.’
As for whether Kevin Durant ought to be afforded the same treatment, Wilbon said Durant would, in time.
‘People have to earn it,’ Wilbon said. ‘And earning it in the NBA means, in the culture of this league for 60 years, so longer than any of these officials have been around, is seniority. And you get it when you’ve been a great player over time. And Durant had a couple of fouls called on him last night that in my opinion should not have been called.’
While he felt it was too early to say definitely, Wilbon said the Thunder look like a team that will win championships, just not this year.
‘Every great player, except Magic Johnson, in the last, I don’t know, 35 years, has been crushed, usually in the finals, but certainly conference finals, multiple times even,’ Wilbon said, pointing to Hall of Fame players such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwan and David Robinson. “They were crushed before they broke through. I don’t feel like Oklahoma City has gone through that right of passage yet. We know Miami has been through that. LeBron James personally has been through that, twice, already. And I feel like Miami has this sense that, ‘Oh no, no, no, we’re not going to have that happen again.’ It’s awful to go through that for an entire offseason and I don’t know that Oklahoma City is playing with that ‘hate to lose’ sort of mentality.’