A mix and match of news on the final day of hype before arguably the biggest Eastern Conference Semifinals faceoff in NBA history.
In what comes as a familiar storyline to last year’s postseason, Lawrence Frank, Doc’s top lieutenant on the bench has been given permission to interview with the Houston Rockets for their head coaching gig, according to The Boston Herald:
A league source confirmed yesterday that the Houston Rockets have received permission from the Celtics to interview Lawrence Frank for their vacant head coach position.
The Celtics assistant coach declined comment, saying that his focus is on the playoffs and the Miami Heat in particular.
But Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, a former executive with the Celtics, is casting a wide net in his search for Rick Adelman’s successor. The Rockets reportedly are set to interview Kevin McHale and Sam Cassell next week, and have also targeted former head coaches like Mike Woodson and Mike Brown.
With the Rockets expected to go through the gauntlet of candidates listed above, you would expect Frank to wait until the very end of the Celtics postseason push before interviewing for the spot. A brief break inbetween series may also provide for the opportunity, but as you might remember last year, the New Orleans Hornets’ inpatience to wait for Tom Thibodeau’s availability at the end of the C’s postseason push cost the now Bulls head coach a chance at that gig. With former Celtics front office member Daryl Morey running the show down in Houston, you can expect a more respectful wait this time. And with uncertainity surrounding the C’s coaching gig for next year (as always) Frank has added incentive to take his time with any potential move.
Now, back to the current time and present, we have the latest in the Shaq watch “Maybe [Game] 1, maybe [Game] 2,’’ Rivers said yesterday. “But I do think he’ll play.
“I’m more confident now that he will play in the series.’’
Rivers said he was basing his prediction on input from trainer Ed Lacerte.
“Eddie’s more confident that he’ll play, so that makes me more confident,’’ Rivers said before practice.
“He needs to show something tomorrow and then feel better after that. My confidence comes from Eddie now. I mean, Eddie walked in today, said I feel a lot better about him. So, I feel better about him.’’
O’Neal has played in only one game, for five minutes, since Feb. 1 because of a right calf strain.
“It’s important, I just think he gives us another guy with size and just more physicality,’’ Rivers said. “Just coming in and being Shaq, being physical. Because when he walks on the floor, he’s 7 feet tall-plus, and he weighs what he weighs. So he, of all the players on the team, has the easiest task of being who they are, because that’s all he can be. And that’s pretty good. He’s another guy with size, so more physicality.’’ (Boston Globe)
Also of note, is the admission by Rivers that Shaq will come off the bench, if and when he returns to action. Not too much of a surprise given his lack of floor time, but it will still only be the second time he has done so this year, giving the second unit a bit of different wrinkle when he’s on the floor.
The educated guess from here has O’Neal returning next Saturday when the series returns back to Boston for Game 3. With three off days in between Games 2 and 3, it will give Doc and company a good opportunity to really test the injury and Shaq’s effectiveness, while providing the team with a bit of a moral boost, especially if they are facing a 2-0 deficit.
Old friend Eddie House remains as an on-and-off member of Miami’s rotation down in Boston and had a few choice words for his former teammates up in Beantown to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com
“We got plenty of time, the rest of our lives to be friends,” House told CSNNE.com following Miami’s practice on Friday. “But when we’re out on that court . . . (expletive) ’em.”
“They’re gonna come out just how we are, guns blazing, throwing punches,” House said. “We know they’re not going to back down. I think they know we’re not going to back down if that last game was an indication of it.”
The other potential wildcard in this series is Udonis Haslem, who has missed the final two-thirds of the regular season after undergoing foot surgery back in November. He continues to progress closer to a return, but appears to be a long shot to return according to Miami: (CSNNE.com)
“It might not happen in the next week, two weeks,” Spoelstra said. “We’re all trying to get on the same page about it, but what we’re trying to be is objective. We’re all eager, and while we all see the light at the end of the tunnel, the playoff series is not going to be our timeline.”
As much as he wants to be back on the floor, Haslem knows he’s not quite back to being his old self right now.
“It’s very hard,” Haslem said. “But understanding the situation, and understanding my situation and how much rides on this series, it’s not about me. It’s about the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics and it’s about putting the best five guys on the court at any particular time.”
“I have to keep impressing the coaches in practice,” he said. “Keep trying to get back to what I was before I got hurt. I understand that’s going ot take time, and I’ll probably not get back to that level before the season is out. But if I can get close to that level, I feel that I can contribute something whether it’s rebounding, defense, knocking down a couple of shots, something.”
Plenty more on the way today including a full prediction roundup and a stats breakdown of the series.