With Shaquille O'Neal day-to-day status with a right calf strain he suffered Sunday against the Pistons, many are ready to write off the Celtics, especially in a likely second-round playoff matchup against the Miami Heat.
Given that going into Tuesday night, Boston is an average 12-9 (after a 5-1 start) since the deadline-day trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, there's reason to be concerned. A lot of people scratched their heads when the C's turned over a big chunk of post-season responsibility at the five to a 39-year-old Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and Krstic.
Steve Kerr and Steve Nash could probably write you a good article about why not to put O'Neal in that position, but you can also argue it's a moot point -- given that Perkins played all of 12 games for Boston this year, and only began playing for the Thunder three weeks ago. However he is now shooting 60 per cent, and averaging a serviceable six points and near-eight rebounds a night -- the sort of contribution from a big man that would work on a deep playoff team like the Celts.
The other big man Boston acquired at the trade deadline -- Troy Murphy -- as ESPN's Bill Simmons says, is "not good at basketball anymore." It's not hard to argue with the point. Injuries aside, he appears to have hit the wall most NBA players over six-foot-nine hit at various points in their thirties or most NFL running backs hit at age 31.
I still think Green was a great addition to their team, but given the circumstances I've got to reconsider the prediction I made a month ago that the Celtics would win it all. Having said that, I'm still not convinced they are at a disadvantage against anybody in the East, except for Chicago and possibly Orlando (that is, if their shot is on like it was in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals).
Boston plays the Bulls Thursday in a game that should be very interesting. Meanwhile the Celts have beaten Miami three times this season, and I will need to see proof with my own eyes that Chris Bosh can handle Kevin Garnett -- regardless of KG's age -- in an extended series.Between excellence and ineptitude
Go figure that after one of the most exciting, wide-open NCAA tournaments in recent memory that Butler and UConn stink out Reliant Stadium with an abysmal game Monday night. At one point, the quality of basketball reminded me of the Thursday morning pickup games I play in. I seriously doubted Butler would break 40 points for a good stretch of the second half. In the end, they shot an all-time low 18.8 per cent from the field and scored two points in the paint . The Huskies weren't much better, shooting only 34.5 per cent.
Compare this to the high-water mark: The 1985 NCAA title game, when Villanova shot 78.6 per cent to stun heavily-favoured Georgetown (who shot 54.7 per cent). But that sort of contrast between excellence and ineptitude is actually one of the many things that makes the NCAA tournament great.The rumour mill keeps churning
I'm not even sure why I would touch the Steve Nash divorce story. Actually, I do know why. For the same reason it's gone viral -- because it's salacious and mildly interesting. If you haven't heard, Google it, but I'll just say one thing. As a sports fan, I've been hearing rumours like this about athletes since literally, childhood. The difference between now and 20 years ago and is now we have phone cameras and blog posts often based on drunken accounts at clubs.
Note that those two technological advances don't prove anything. They only further stoke the rumour mill.
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