From time to time 3 Shades of Blue hooks up with competing bloggers to get a better feel for an opponent. With Boston in a fierce battle with Chicago and to an extend Miami forEastern Conference supremacy and Memphis having some connections to the Celtics we felt it was a good time to talk to Ben Rohrback ofWEEI sports radio in Bostonto see what he thinks of the Celtics, the Grizzlies and the playoff picture.
Ben is a passionate Celtics fan and yet knowledgable as well which makes his opinionsso much fun to read and to discuss. I hope you enjoy this snippet from a recent conversation we had.
3SOB: Boston seems to be struggling since the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to OKC. Do you feel the team is stronger from the trade or not?
BR: Are they stronger right now? No. Will they be stronger come playoff time? Yes. While many in the Boston media acted as if the Celtics traded Bill Russell in his prime when Danny Ainge dealt Kendrick Perkins, I was — as Delonte West said automatic ecstatic. I was never too high on Perkins. Offensively, hes not good, and his defensive prowess, while good, had been elevated to mythical status — like the old Bill Brasky skits on Saturday Night Live.
Jeff Green is the best player in the deal, and Nenad Krstic is a better offensive player than Perkins while giving you 75 percent of his defense. The struggles have come from the new guys learning the schemes on both ends of the floor and Doc Rivers trying to figure out exactly how to utilize their talents within the new team construct. Thatll come in time for the playoffs.
3SOB: How much has Boston missed the presence of Tony Allen this season and are you surprised with the way he has played since entering the starting lineup for Memphis?
BR: The Celtics have missed Tony Allen more than they or I would care to admit. Part of the reason Ainge felt he had to make the deal for Green was the Celtics need for someone other than Paul Pierce to carry the defensive load against guys like LeBron James and Luol Deng.
Allen was that guy for them last year.I must say, I am fairly surprised by what Allen has done over the last couple weeks. While its not completely shocking — given Allens knack for filling voids left by Pierces injuries for spurts in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons — I feared he was the kind of guy that could get lost without veteran leadership.
3SOB: Chris Wallace was pretty much blamed for the bad times in Boston, but he has done a remarkable job here in Memphis rebuilding the team acquiring Tony Allen, Darrell Arthur, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, OJ Mayo and Sam Young. In fact the only player still on the team from when Chris arrived is Rudy Gay who is out for the season. What is different this for Wallace here in Memphis than it was in Boston?
BR: Honestly, I think the smaller market in Memphis has allowed for Wallace to concentrate on cultivating young talent like Conley, trading for lesser-known guys like Gasol and finding solid complementary guys like Allen to build a team, rather than trying to make a big splash in Boston with guys like Vin Baker or making panic trades like shipping Joe Johnson for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers just to stay relevant for the short-term. Perhaps the shadow cast by Red Auerbach simply threw Wallace off his game.
3SOB: Boston is in a dog fight Chicago and Miami in the East. Which team do you see most likely to emerge from teh East in the playoffs.
BR: It’s going to take a helluva series from the Bulls or Heat to knock off teh depending Eastern Conference champions. Barring an injury to one of the big four, the Celtics have too much experience together — and too many bad memories from game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals — to get beaten by two teams that have won many playoff series combined as my 2 year old nephew (that’d be zero).
3SOB: Thanks Ben. It was fun talking to you again.
For those interested you can see my response to Ben’s questions over at WEEI’s Green Street Blog.