As I was watching the Grizzlies game I was thinking how much players like Glen Davis, Leon Powe and Perk have improved over last season. They are all better and because of that, the Celtics are better. When Marbury shakes the rust off and gets familiar with the system which should happen before the playoffs, he is a huge upgrade over Sam Cassell. Mikki Moore may not be an upgrade over PJ but he certainly can fill the role that PJ filled coming in off the bench to give us some length. I think this team will be vastly underestimated in the playoffs because they haven't dominated like they did last season. I also think that they are putting everything together just in time for the playoffs.
Speaking of Perk. He has been solid all season. He is showing some nice offensive moves around the basket and has quietly become one of the best one on one defenders in the league. If Perk doesn't make the All Defensive Team this season, there is something terribly wrong with the voting process. Just look at his 5 blocks against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Perk will rarely have flashy stats in the box score, but his contributions to this team are so valuable. You hear about players doing the little things and Perk is a good example. He may not get the rebound, but he will box out so that a teammate can get it. He may not get the basket but he will set a screen so that his teammate can score. And you will never see all the shots he bothers by his presence in the paint, but there are a ton of them. I had to laugh in one of the last games where Perk was setting a screen and someone ran into him and just fell down like he hit a brick wall while Perk just kept playing like nothing happened. The announcers were even chuckling about it. Perk truly is a beast.
I love Bill Walker and feel that he is going to be a very good player in this league. Just from the glimpses we have seen so far, you just have to be excited about this kid. He may even be that defensive 3 we need to replace Posey in spurts down the stretch and in the playoffs. Derren was so right about Danny's drafting ability. To find players like Walker, Big Baby and Leon in the second round is amazing. There have been discussions about Big Baby or Leon lately. I think the answer is both. They bring different things to the equation and I think both can contribute in a big way depending on the matchups.
How big is Wednesday's game vs Orlando? It is HUGE! The Celtics are just 1 game ahead of the Magic. A loss would put them even. A win would put the Celtics up 2 games on them. A win would give the Celtics a psychological edge and the tie breaker should it come to that. It will also give the league the message that yes, the Celtics can win on the road. If ever there was a game that the Celtics should be up for, it is this one. We know that Orlando will be up for it. There would be no excuse for any lapses in focus or intensity in this one. I consider this one a must win.
Defense wins championships. The Celtics slacked off on defense while KG was out and we have seen some evidence that since he is back,the Celtics are showing signs of getting that defensive intensity back. To win another title, they have to get back to that swarming defense that shuts down opponents. That is what they were missing in the recent losses. They couldn't get stops down the stretch. But with KG back and everyone healthy, I think that trend is about to stop.
What kind of intensity has KG built up over the time he has been out? Just a look at him on the bench should give you a clue. If you watched him pick up Armand Hill after the Spurs game and shake him around like a rag doll, you will get some idea of what kind of energy he has been building up and will let loose once he is unshackled by the minutes restrictions. Too funny!
Tonight is payback time. The Clippers got a win out in LA right after KG went down with the injury and the Celtics were reeling somewhat. KG is back and the Celtics are playing with renewed energy and nothing less than an absolute blowout would be acceptable in this one. The Celtics starters should be able to rest the whole 4th quarter because we are ahead by 50 kind of a blowout.