Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here…
highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as
satisfying as a good morning dump.
… [Jameer] Nelson is back, and Howard, again the NBA’s defensive player of
the year, has more of a paint presence than ever.
If anything, the challenge just added another level.
That’s why the Celtics are about to find out if their young floor
leader, who was the best player on either side during the last series
against Cleveland, is ready to overcome an old foe.
“Dwight’s going to be in the paint; he’s not going out of it,” C’s
Rivers said after yesterday’s practice. “But I thought it was
more their helps (off Rondo). They decided to make Rondo the guy that we
had to win it with last year.
“They left him, they left him alone the entire series. He’s so much
better at handling that now. Cleveland tried that a little bit and so
did Miami. But Rondo handles that better. Orlando probably does it even
better, so Rondo is going to find himself open a lot in this series.
“He has to make good decisions and he will. He’s quick to do it now.
It means making plays. You don’t even have to take the shot, but you
have to make a play."
Ok, Doc's not flat out "daring" Orlando to try that again… but he is letting them know that if they do try it again, they're going to see something different than they did last year.
The Jameer Nelson/Rajon Rondo matchup will be an interesting one. Nelson is going to be much tougher than Mo Williams (an understatement I also made to the folks on The No Look Pass) and he'll probably stick close to Rondo.
No matter how they play him, Rondo has another chance to destroy a team's game plan. If he plays without fear of Dwight Howard and still attacks, he can have the same impact on this series as he did against Cleveland.
We discussed the matchups with ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg yesterday on The 2 Man Game. You can listen to it here.
On Page 2: Dwight Howard thinks they've got this
"They're playing great basketball right now," center Dwight Howard
said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence. And I think for us if
we want to win the series, we have to do all the things we did in the
first two series. And if we do that, we should win. We should win this
series, but we all have to believe that and we have to understand that
it's not going to be easy.
"If we come out and play the way we played in the first two series,
we should win this one."
Doesn't seem all that infuriating a statement… but I still find this to be rather dismissive. This isn't simply a case of "If we just play our game, we'll win." Honestly, if you've got both of these team's just "playing their games"… the Celtics will take the series. The Celtics at their best are better than the Magic.
I know that's something the experts won't want to believe…. and I know I'll be accused of being a homer when I say that… but the Celtics at their best are able to play Dwight 1-on-1 with Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics at their best are able to rotate out on shooters and force contested jumpers rather than let Orlando get the open shots they typically get. The Celtics at their best are able to break through Orlando's defensive wall with Rondo destroying the top of the defense and forcing help that leaves other players open.
Let's be clear on something here: The Celtics DOMINATED the Cleveland Cavaliers. They went up against the best team in the regular season and choked the life out of them in 6 games. Anyone who dismisses the Celtics from here on out does so at their own peril.
The rest of the links:
Herald: Celtics have something magical in store | Kendrick Perkins gives knee a rest | A different look | Ol' Celtics or just old? Boston to show vs. Magic | Globe: Mid-season form? C's are better. | Results worth shouting about | Pierce relishes opportunity | Perkins given break | ESPN Boston: Orlando's options | Bumps in the road | CSNNE: Perk delivers defensive wake up call for C's | MWDN: Souza-Magic spread the wealth | Megliola-emotions running high for Boston fans | WEEI: Magic were the team to beat all along | Better safe than sorry with Perk | Big Baby wont' look back at "shovegate" | Meet the Celtics secret weapon against Dwight Howard | Celtic Blog: The math isn't that easy | LOSCY: 2010 Celtics: a team to be proud of | North Station: Welcome to 'da block party! Russ, DHoward, Perk and the history of the blocked shot | Celtics Town: Writer drastically exaggerates Magic's historical significance