The Celtics wrapped up their series with the Sixers on Saturday night, and now have to fly to Miami Sunday morning for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against a Heat team that has been healing and waiting for five days. Considering the age and injury status of most of the Celtics, this might be cause for concern. Naturally, the guys in green are laughing that off and talking about how it’s actually a good thing they have to turn around and start a series against the best remaining team in the playoffs (outside of them, in their minds):
“It’s a quick turnaround, but I kind of like it that way,” Pierce said following the Celtics clinching 85-75 win. “It keeps us in rhythm, it keeps us playing. We’re an older team so we don’t want to sit around for too long. You know we like the fact that we usually go right into it. We have tomorrow off, we’ll probably watch some film, go over scouting reports, shootaround on Monday, and that’s it.”
“I prefer it myself,” said Ray Allen. “We get back to business. We have a day to rest and then we’re back out there playing. At this point, everybody’s going to be what they’re going to be. You’re going to be tired or you’re going to be fatigued or whatever it is. We have to continue to take the rhythm that we have and now we have to change it and reconfigure how we think defensively and what we run offensively. The series changes. We don’t have a lot of time, but we have veteran players that know how to adjust to a new series.”
via Celtics on short turnaround: Bring it on.
In reality, it’s not going to help much even if they had gotten more time. Paul Pierce’s strained MCL is still going to be sore, Ray Allen’s bone spurs in his ankle will still bother him, Avery Bradley’s not coming back. Nothing changes with a few more days of rest. But the idea that it’s a good thing? That’s a bit much. We’ve seen layovers from long series hurt teams routinely as opponents can outrun a gassed team especially considering the emotional letdown after a Game 7. The Celtics are pros and will be ready, but there’s just no way this is an advantage.
Then again, the Celtics do fight the most when their backs are against the wall.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.