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Saturday Notebook: The Other O’Neal, Delonte West, and the Miami Heat

 

The countdown to opening night now stands at less than four days and I know everyone is going crazy.  Most of the latest Celtics-related news falls under the “who cares?” category as the majority of fans just want to get the season underway.  Trust me, I am right there with you.  That being said, there still are some things worth discussing.  Besides, I’ll take doing anything over watching my BC Eagles getting shelled on ESPN3.  I can take the loss, after all it is a down year, but the worst of it is the fact that ESPN3 plays the same advertisements at every game-break.  Seriously, if I have to hear the same 20 seconds of Scouting for Girls’ “A New Day” I’m going to lose it.

On that note, here’s some news:

“Rivers expects to deal with it in the opener against the Heat Tuesday night. More than anything, it’ll affect ball pressure, because Rajon Rondo won’t be able to hound, say, Carlos Arroyo down the floor and Paul Pierce will drop back.  Today in practice, Rivers said:  ‘On film, it looked pretty good, and we’ll find out on Tuesday. It’s a card they can play. He’s good. Even at point guard he can score. I think he’ll have games where he’ll have big scoring games and then I think he’ll have nights where he’ll have big assist nights. That’s just who he’ll be. That’s who he’s been anyway.  We’re just going to guard it. I mean, hell, as long as he’s standing way out and passing, I’m good with it. But it does give them a dimension. I actually think he’s a point guard. That doesn’t mean he’s not a scoring point, but I think he has the best vision in the league. To me it just makes sense that Erik put the ball in his hands.’”

James playing point guard is most-certainly a concern, however it’s not as bad as Rivers’ is making it out to be.  With Mike Miller side-lined until January, the Heat are painfully thin at the wing position.  According to Ira Winderman’s Twitter account, it looks like Jerry Stackhouse will be assuming the role of backup swing-man.  You can count me unconcerned.  The clear mismatch is if and when Rajon Rondo has to guard James.  The Celtics have the luxury of having a versatile bench player in Marquis Daniels that has the size to defend James and the skill the play point guard for stretches.

“Jermaine O’Neal only hopes that owners and players alike understand what a lockout could do to the health of a league that has several teams on life support.

‘It’s when you get the 9-to-5, hard-working Mr. Joe who’s spending his last $100 to come support our league. We don’t want as players, and I’m sure the owners don’t want it either, to turn the audience off,’ said O’Neal. ‘The attendance and stuff has to build back up, so as a player and as a fan of basketball I want the support of our fans to continue, and not to get turned off by two groups arguing about millions of dollars that they don’t have.

‘They create those millions of dollars for us, so that’s the only thing I worry about,’ he said. ‘As far as the business of it, they’re going to meet and hopefully come up with a great solution that doesn’t consist of a lockout. We all know it takes a couple of years to get it back, because you’re going to turn some people off and make them go to other sports.’

That’s why O’Neal is casting his vote for the status quo, or a slight variation of what now exists.”

This whole selection, at least as it is told by Murphy, is hilarious.  O’Neal commiserates with Joe Everyman, giving him due credit for making his and his coworkers very rich and then hopes for the status quo.  There are pros and cons to the CBA, none of which I will get into now, but it’s just funny that a guy who made 23 million dollars last season does not want the way players get paid to change.

  • While on the subject of Jermaine O’Neal, he says he will be ready for the season opener against the Heat…and probably won’t contribute much offensively.  Eeesh.  Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston:

“‘It’s not about [scoring] right now,’ O’Neal said Friday after returning to practice for the first time since tearing cartilage in his left wrist a week ago in Toronto. ‘The first time it ever donned on me was in New York [this preseason]. I had a guy on me that I felt like I could take, but I didn’t see one post-up against him all night.

‘That’s what me and [Shaquille O'Neal] have talked a lot about: Do what the team needs us to do in order to be successful. Ray [Allen] talked about it with me [Friday] morning, saying how we don’t care who plays, we just support each other and we root for each other.’

It’s been what Celtics coach Doc Rivers dubbed a “disappointing” preseason for Jermaine O’Neal. He missed part of training camp with a sore left hamstring, then tweaked his back. After injuring the wrist in Toronto, he took a full week off to heal.

O’Neal appeared in only four exhibition games, averaging three points, five rebounds and two blocks in 15.3 minutes per contest. The missed time leaves his role hazy as Tuesday’s season opener approaches, but O’Neal deemed himself ready to contribute in whatever role emerges.

That role is likely to focus heavily on defense, which is fine by him.

Amidst the backdrop of offensive depreciation, his inspired play at the other end of the court is being thrust into a larger spotlight, which he finds rather amusing.

‘It’s funny to hear about my shot-blocking abilities now,’ he said. ‘I already own the all-time shot-blocking record in Indiana. I already own the state of South Carolina’s high school shot-blocking record. I’ve always played defense. Do the research: As much as I scored in Indiana, I’ve always been one of the top charge-takers in the league. I’ve always concentrated on defense.”‘

The Celtics are known for their defense so Jermaine O’Neal talking about his commitment on the defensive end is nice to hear, but I think most people were hoping O’Neal would be an offensive upgrade over Kendrick Perkins.  I think he will be, but not as much as was expected.  After having a dismal playoff series against the Celtics and a dismal preseason playing for the Celtics, there is not a lot of hope for O’Neal filling Perkins’ shoes.  I think you’ll see some contribution but the amount of times O’Neal was stripped in the paint this preseason was anything but encouraging.

  • Ben Rohrbach of WEEI has just put out WEEI’s NBA Power Rankings to start the season and he has your Boston Celtics second to only the defending champs:

“2. Boston: The Celtics finished the preseason with a 7-1 record, proving they can turn on the “all systems go” button, even when the games don’t matter. That’s a scary thought when wins and losses start to mean something. I’m a little skeptical about how the C’s will integrate Shaquille O’Neal on both ends of the court, but the depth on this team is the league’s best.”

With my apologies to Rohrbach, this is not exactly “in-depth analysis.”  Orlando had a monster preseason and definitely appears to be the team to beat whereas the Lakers look old and beat-up.  The season may very well end up panning out this way, but at this point the Celtics are top five but I am not sure they are number two.  Smelling like a bit of homerism to me.

  • Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com has Delonte West on record as saying all the right things.  Here’s West on what it means to miss the first ten games of the season due to suspension:

“For West, it’s not the number of games that bother him. A player can be sidelined longer than that with a sprained finger, he says. It’s the small moments that matter most to him. Given that he cannot be in the TD Garden two hours before game time, he will miss those first small moments of the regular season.

‘Taking the floor for the first time with the team or just being in that first huddle, to hear what Doc (Rivers) has to say before a game or after a game, those things are very important,’ he said. ‘That develops chemistry and those things that you miss out on, those are things I’m going to miss.’”

It’s nice to see West be such a team player.  He has never been a me-first guy, but it’s really nice to see how happy he appears to be back in Green.  Let’s hope these first ten games is the only hiccup for West this season.

That’s it for now.  Enjoy what’s left of this fine Saturday.

  • http://twitter.com/ros_jo @ros_jo

    First Comment!

  • I_Love_Green

    The best part about Miller being injured, Eddie House gets to play more. Love Eddie, but he is a horrid defender. Whoever he's guarding will light him up.

  • ElRoz

    Orlando is #1 in the East? I do not see how they got better at all from last season.
    I also recall them smashing through Charlotte and Atlanta only to go down 0-3 to Boston and lose 4-2. I am sure they will have a very good regular season, but to say that they are the team to beat in the East?
    That's too much. Their venture into the 2009 finals was greatly helped by KG and Poe being out.
    The Celtics care for the regular season more this year, even last year they were hurt by injuries after starting well at 23-5. This time they are clearly deeper and their bench finally has an offense and at least two 3-point shooters on the floor at any one time. Ultimately, whatever issues Miam is expected to have early on, LeBron and Wade and Bosh will be very difficult. They have enough talent to absorb mistakes and "off-nights" and still win.

  • Batman

    Lebron as point guard is just so vicious
    Great court awareness, height, strength, length, it is going to be really difficult for Rondo to guard him
    And I don't really see Quis as being an elite defender
    Who is gonna do the dirty deed?

  • I_Love_Green

    Lebron bringing the ball up the court is nothing new. He did it all the time in Cleveland. We'll have Pierce, Quis, and a little bit of Ray guarding him.

  • JP-

    Not terribly afraid of LeBron at the point, he doesn't have many shooters to space the floor with Miller out. Wade's a decent shooter, but much better when he's going to the rim and getting to the line. Orlando is a front-running team, they will have a great regular season record but fall to Boston or Miami in the playoffs. I can't see Orlando (after losing Barnes, and getting a year older Vince Carter) making it to the Finals unless Howard develops his offense to his potential

  • http://celticsblog.com kobeshesnotconsentin

    Yea I appreciate someone tryin to be objective but i'm definitely with EIRoz about that magic comment. That's just ridiculous. I mean, to say orlando's the team to beat is just disregarding all the celts did last season. Even if perk's out. Shaq and Jo cant do what perk does on defense, but perk also cant do certain things they do on offense. Dwight's got a couple new moves, so what? I keep hearin every year that 'oh this is the year, he's been workin with hakeem!' Bull. Dwight's not gonna all of a sudden develop a great post game just like rondo isnt all of a sudden have a great jumper. I cant predict the reg season but my point is the record won't matter in regards to orlando, as we proved last year. We just need a better record than LA. And seriously, our bench can legit beat more than a couple startin lineups in the NBA, we're absolutely stacked especially once perk gets back. If the Magic took a step forward, then we took 3.

  • http://www.basketballbuy.com NBA Tickets

    I think you’ll see some contribution but the amount of times O’Neal was stripped in the paint this preseason was anything but encouraging.

  • Champs

    i agree with everyone above. I don't see the magic better than miami or boston. Who besides Howard scares you? They need another superstar to carry the offense otherwise they've reached their peak.

  • NHBluesMan

    @Champs- there are other guys on Orlando who can score, but only in situations where Dwight is double teamed and they get left wide open. We've got 2 guys who can single-cover Dwight, which means the rest of our defenders can stick to their man, Orlando doesn't concern me. yes they are good, but also beatable. So long as the Celtics stay healthy, i see a return trip to the finals

  • eddie

    " O’Neal commiserates with Joe Everyman, giving him due credit for making his and his coworkers very rich and then hopes for the status quo. There are pros and cons to the CBA, none of which I will get into now, but it’s just funny that a guy who made 23 million dollars last season does not want the way players get paid to change."

    I don't understand why this is funny. The idea that player salaries influence ticket prices – now that is funny.

  • Tebucky

    Jermaine's comments on the lockout are definitely just recycled from his apologies following the '04 brawl!!! You know what Jermaine, I STILL don't believe a word of it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405427778 Senaida

    Lewis, host of GeekBrief.TV. Looks like Mr. Dave Moyer got a lltite bit of love from Cali Lewis. Check out the interview here.You May Also Want to ReadExclusive: Interview With Dave MoyerDave Moyer @ 20 May 2009WordCast 53:

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