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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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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.”

Read More: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Joel Anthony, Kendrick Perkins
Tim Legler on D&C: ‘It became the Cavaliers of South Beach’ 10.27.10 at 9:10 am ET
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ESPN’s Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to dissect the Celtics’ season-opening victory over the Heat on Tuesday night at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Legler said the debut of the Heat’s Big Three was a clear failure.

“The Miami Heat, I just think they’re a team that’s probably 20 percent maybe of what they can be,” he said. “Because offensively last night, that wasn’t just bad for an opening night game, that was inept, period, for an NBA team offensively, the way they played, especially the in the first half. I think that Erik Spoelstra‘s got a very challenging task to try to figure out a way to get ball movement on a team with a lot of guys that want to catch the ball and break you down individually.”

While the Cavaliers completed each other and fit into well-defined roles with LeBron James leading the way, the Heat look out of sync in James’ debut for his new team.

“I saw a bunch of guys that didn’t look like they fit well together,” Legler said. “I saw LeBron James go back into the mode in the second half where he basically said, ‘I have to become a scorer now to win this game.’ And that’s exactly what he was in Cleveland night in and night out. And it’s a big reason why he went to Miami, to avoid that situation, to let other guys make plays, to let him be more of a facilitator in that situation.”

As for James’ comments after the game that the team was too unselfish, Legler said he charted the game, and the stats don’t back up that claim.

“I thought that last night saying that we were too unselfish was a complete cop-out,” Legler said. “I didn’t see that at all. ‘€¦ Seventy percent of what they got offensively was someone basically saying, ‘I’m going to go one-on-one right now.’ That’s not an unselfish approach, that’s a selfish approach. The lack of ball movement makes them look selfish, but the problem is No. 1, they don’t have enough guys on the floor that can spread the floor and be consistent 3-point shooters.”

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Read More: Dwyane Wade, Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James, Tim Legler
Legler on D&C: Kobe ‘trusts his teammates less and less’ 06.15.10 at 11:20 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler discussed the NBA finals Tuesday morning with the Dennis & Callahan show and among the topics of conversation was Kobe Bryant‘€™s lack of trust in his teammates late in games.

‘€œI think for Kobe Bryant, the problem right now is as the game goes on and the Celtics make a run in the second half, Kobe trusts his teammates less and less and less. And that’€™s a big problem for the Lakers,’€ Legler said. ‘€œYou can see the frustration in the body language and the gestures he made towards some of his teammates and he frustration he showed in a couple of those huddles late in that game. He doesn’€™t necessarily feel he’€™s got the guys to with the intestinal fortitude to withstand a team as tough mentally as the Boston Celtics.’€

As for the Celtics, Legler noted that, ‘€œThey trust each other completely. That to me is one of the biggest differences between these two teams.’€

Below are some of the highlights from that interview. To hear the entire interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

There could be two things to worry about headed into Game 5. One is the refs changing the tone, and a lot of Celtics get in foul trouble early. The other is this whole mentality of, ‘€œWe have two chances to win one game?’€ If you were Doc Rivers, would those bother you?

I don’€™t think that they’€™re necessarily thinking that way. I just believe they’€™re trying to say the right things rather than, ‘€œWe’€™re going to go back there. We’€™re going to close this out in six.’€ I think they’€™re just trying to be PC on this one, but I think their mentality is absolutely they’€™re going to go back there tonight and win the series. And I think they’€™re very confident they can do that based on how they played against them the last couple games. I think Doc Rivers and that team feel like they now defensively have got this team figured out to the point where they’€™re not that the Lakers could go off and get into over 100 points. I think that that’€™s what Doc Rivers’€™ mindset with this team is right now. He’€™s very comfortable with the series. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, Tim Legler,
Legler on D&C: Nate’s energy priceless 06.11.10 at 9:44 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the NBA finals, following the Celtics‘ Game 4 win Thursday night. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Last night was the quintessential Celtics defense that we’ve come to know out of this team for the last three years.” Legler said, noting that the officials helped the C’s by letting them play.

Legler said Nate Robinson’s performance off the bench makes him wonder even more why the former Knick hasn’t seen more playing time. “I’ve kind of been scratching my head, going back about a month, as to why he wasn’t regularly in the rotation down the stretch of the season and in the postseason,” Legler said.

“One thing I love about Nate Robinson, he never thinks the stage is too big,” Legler added. “He believes every time he’s on the court he’s the best player on the floor. I have a lot of respect for guys that don’t care about the moment, that can come in ‘€” sit there for a month, the way he did in the Orlando series and come in and give you 13 points in an important game the way he did in that series ‘€” and then to come in last night on that stage. He just plays like, ‘I belong here. This is my game.’ … I just don’t think you can put a price tag on the energy that that guy provides.”

Legler, who stands by his prediction of Celtics in six, said if the C’s can finally put together a balanced offensive night, the Lakers will be in trouble. “I think offensively they’ve been so out of sync and so far from where they can be,” he said. “Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and [Rajon] Rondo ‘€” they haven’t come close to playing well on the same night yet. And once they do, the Lakers I just don’t think can beat this team.”

Read More: Celtics, Dennis & Callahan, Lakers, Nate Robinson
Legler on D&C: Sheed’s ‘D’ key for C’s 05.18.10 at 10:15 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Magic series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Legler pointed to the much-maligned Rasheed Wallace as the pivotal figure in the C’s Game 1 victory. “You have to have guys that not only physically are capable of playing Dwight Howard in single coverage as much as you can, you have to have guys that are emotionally ready for it and want the challenge. Boston’s got a few guys like that,” Legler said. “I thought Rasheed Wallace was the key to their victory in Game 1. I thought he got in the head of Dwight Howard. I thought his nastiness, his edge was something Dwight Howard wasn’t prepared for, ready for. Rasheed, you think of him as a 7-foot 3-point shooter and a finesse player, but that’s not the case on the defensive end of the floor. He has been, in the 15 years he’s been in the league, he’s been one of the pre-eminent post defenders we’ve had. He loves the challenge.

“His versatility defensively I thought was the key to the first game, and it will be the key to the series moving forward. If [Kendrick] Perkins and Rasheed can play [Howard] that successfully one-on-one and you stay out on the 3-point shooters, Orlando’s in big trouble.”

Legler said the pressure is on Orlando’s big man to come up big. “Dwight Howard has to do more,” Legler said. “He has to be a guy who can knock down a face-up jump shot once in a while. I’ve never seen him even take one, much less make one. He doesn’t have enough ability to go to a sky hook or go to a turnaround jump shot in the post. He’s a guy that simply has to overpower you and he has to catch the ball in great position to be able to do that, and the Boston Celtics are determined not to let that happen. … What is his efficiency going to be when he catches the ball? It wasn’t there in Game 1. It’s going to have to get a lot better.”

Legler said the Celtics’ balance makes them difficult to defend, but he points to Ray Allen as the player the Magic should focus on stopping. Said Legler: “Ray Allen, to me, is the barometer for the Celtics. He always has been. He’s a guy, his activity offensively, when he’s running off those screens and he’s getting clean looks, or he’s getting looks in transition, that loosens up everything. … Ray Allen, to me, is a guy that you’ve got to get under control and make sure he’s not getting up in the mid-20s. Because when he’s there, the Celtics rarely lose.”

Asked for his prediction about where LeBron James will sign as a free agent, Legler said he would rank the favorites as Chicago, New York and Cleveland.

Read More: Celtics, Dwight Howard, Magic, Rasheed Wallace
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