Since the CelticsBlog drink is stirred by the venerable Jeff Clark, and he is a classy guy, he entertained my long-winded meanderings that may have peripherally addressed his questions. Here are his responses to my own inquiries. See if you can detect a running theme to my questions, which would be exhibit A as to why I need an editor.
1. How concerned are you that the Celtics are not going to have the legs they need for a deep playoff run?
Well, on one hand it is very concerning because they are coming off their worst regular season as a group and they aren’t getting any younger. In fact, with Shaq on board, they have a very old rotation. On the other hand, they were 6 minutes away from a title last year, so if any “old” team can get it done, this one can. In fact, the playoffs typically favor the more experienced teams (extra days of rest, strategy over athleticism, etc.). Besides, the nice thing about this year’s edition is that we have built in additions coming later in the year. Delonte can finally start playing after game number 10 and Perkins will start trying to play himself into shape sometime after Christmas.
2. How statuesque will Shaq be when he’s finally consistently patrolling the paint?
Define consistently. You know, just for giggles I’d like to see Doc roll out a lineup including Perkins, Shaq, and Big Baby. That might be enough to put some fresh dents in the parquet floor.
Seriously though, he’ll never again be the “most dominating player in the world.” However, he can still be the biggest space eater in the world. He’s still a guy that the defense has to account for. Think about the difference between having Perkins out there (where you only need to keep a half an eye on) and having Shaq out there (where the defense needs to keep a live body in his vicinity).
3. Do you think the Magic or the Heat will give the Celtics the most trouble?
How about the Hawks? Seriously, the Celtics really struggle with athletic frontcourts and the Hawks are a matchup nightmare. The Heat will be a challenge, no doubt. We won’t catch them as out of sorts as they were on opening night again. Still, there are enough weaknesses there to exploit until they add to that bench. The Magic, I think they are are a really, really good team. But I just can’t bring myself to worry about a team that relies so heavily on Vince Carter. Nobody plays Dwight Howard better than Perkins and if they aren’t hitting a huge number of 3’s then we should win that series 9 times out of 10.
4. What are the odds that the Celtics will once again go through a mid-season enui?
Man, you’re really full of sunshine and happy thoughts, aren’t ya? On one hand, we have the deepest team of the Big 3 era, so that should help pull out a few of the games that we couldn’t convert last year. On the other hand, injuries happen – so whatever the odds are that we’ll have more injuries is about the same odds that we’ll have another lull.
5. What happens if KG gets hurt again? How vastly do expectations change?
Ok, now I’m not talking to you for a week. What are OKC’s chances if Durant decides to play minor league baseball for 2 years? How would your expectations change if the team moved back to Seattle?
Alright, I’ll bite. The team has really taken well to KG being back to near-100% and they did miss him terribly every time he’s been out. That said, they have had a lot of experience playing without him, they have reloaded the frontcourt, Glen Davis has really emerged as a player, and the team is fast becoming Rajon Rondo’s team. So they would still be contenders. How serious the would be without KG is a debate that I’d rather not go into right now.
Enjoy the season. Make sure your guys make life as difficult as possible for Kobe and friends.
Jeff Clark, everybody!