Jermaine O'Neal's still talking

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Jermaine O'Neal's still talking

Here are three things you can count on every NBA offseason:

1. GMs will make stupid decisions.

Check. (In the Knicks case, we can also include owners)

2. Kevin Garnett will disappear.

Check. (Unless you count his I'm more than happy and I'm excited to be back!" press release, which definitely wasn't made up by someone on the Celtics PR staff.)

3. Jermaine ONeal will talk out of his ass.

And now . . . Check.

I had a fantastic time in Boston, with the city, the fans were phenomenal, the organization was phenomenal, I just dont know if the playing situation was right to be quite honest, JO told the Globe yesterday. The hardest thing for me was to not be able to do some of the things I have been quite comfortable doing all my life. I accepted the challenge. I accepted the role. I didnt want 10 shots a game, but it was hard to be told not to worry about scoring."

How much should we still care about Jermaine ONeal?

Ive asked myself this question a few times today.

On one hand, this quote is so infuriating. Honestly, Im starting to worry about JO. Forget signing with the Lakers, the guy needs an intervention. Jermaine. Listen. We all brought you here because were concerned . . . These things youre saying to the media . . . its just so obvious that something isnt right . . . you're out of your mind . . . Jermaine, please! . . . (starts shaking him) . . . let us help you!

But seriously, what's ONeal trying to get across in this interview? Is he saying that a few more touches might have made the difference in him missing 99 of a possible 148 games? How does that make sense? Thats like a blacked out drunk driver slamming his car into a telephone pole and then blaming the crash on a faulty headlight.

But what makes the whole thing even more frustrating is that you know there are people out there who will still fall for his shtick. The same way Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers fell for it in 2010. The same way we all did at some point during his two years in town. There are GMs who will become fascinated by his size and All-Star resume, who will buy into his sweet nothings and give him another chance.

Again, I'm not sure why that should bother anyone in Boston. He's not our problem anymore. We should let him go to the Lakers and drive them as crazy as he did us.

But after two years of dealing with his song-and-dance, the sound of the Jermaine O'Neal BS Machine is still like nails on a chalk board. As much as I don't want to care, it still drives me nuts.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

BOSTON – For most teams in the NBA, road games are a necessary evil. 
 
Not for the Celtics. At least, not lately.
 
The Green Team hits the road for its next three games, and that has been a good thing – a real good thing – lately. 
 
Boston (11-8) has won its last four road games, the kind of success that breeds a heightened level of confidence heading into this current trip which begins tonight at Philadelphia. 
 
And it only helps that they hit the road coming off a 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday. 
 
“We have to carry that momentum with us,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “You know how...anytime in this league, the momentum, you have to stay with it. We’ve been having success away from home. It was big for us to get this win (over the Kings) to start the road trip off.”
 
A big part of Friday’s victory was the play of Al Horford who finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots. The points and rebounds for Horford were both season-highs.
 
Horford’s breakout performance came on the heels of a 121-114 loss to Detroit, a game in which Boston’s $113 million man (Horford) only took five shots.
 
“Coach [Brad Stevens] didn’t say anything about going to him just specifically,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We just found him and made the right play and when he got it he was very aggressive.” 
 
Part of Horford’s success was that he was in more of an attacking mentality. But he also benefited from a Kings defense that didn’t double-team him nearly as much as the Pistons did. 
 
“I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said [following the Pistons loss] I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. [Friday night] I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”
 
Facing a Sixers team that ranks among the NBA’s worst in several defensive categories, Horford and the rest of his Celtics teammates should have ample opportunities to make plays offensively. 
 
And in doing so, they will be able to add on to what has been an already impressive stretch of play this season away from home.
 
“I think it will be good,” Horford said. “[Tonight] it’s a Philly team that plays hard and we just want to keep building on [Friday night’s win over Sacramento] and just try to be better.”
 

 

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

BOSTON – Al Horford had the kind of game that stands out because of the way he scored from so many different spots on the floor. 

But the true measure of his value to this team usually lies in what he brings to the floor defensively. 

Horford had one of his better games defensively in Boston’s 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday, a game in which he had a season-high six blocked shots. 

For the season, the four-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 2.9 blocks per game.

He’ll be looking to do more of the same tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

While Philly doesn’t have a player as dominant and difficult to contain as DeMarcus Cousins, their top post player Joel Embiid has been impressive even with a minutes restriction after having missed the last two seasons with injuries and recovery. 

Against Sacramento, he had a season-high six blocked shots which was one short of tying his career high which came against the Kings during the 2010-2011 season. 

Although Horford has ranked among the NBA’s top big men when it comes to blocking shots, the Celtics knew when they signed him to a four-year, $113 million contract they were adding a player who could help with rim protection. 

The biggest play in the Celtics’ win over Sacramento came in the closing seconds when Horford was credited with blocking DeMarcus Cousins’ shot. Horford was fouled and went to the line and made his free throws to secure the victory. 

“Playing at the power forward position it really frees me up defensively,” Horford said. “I feel like I can run around a little more and have more impact. When you are a center a lot of the times you get caught up with the bigs and it’s a little harder to get out to shooters and stuff. I’m just trying to be active, as active as I can.”

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas who was among the Green Teamers to recruit Horford to sign with Boston, seeing him protect the rim the way he did on Friday was no surprise.

“We’ve always known when we recruited him we knew that was what he was good at,” Thomas said. “Even if he doesn’t block shots, he alters shots and changes them. He’s a hell of a player on both ends of the floor and he played a hell of a game (on Friday).”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens likes what he sees out of Horford defensively, especially now that he plays for Boston and not Atlanta which eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs last season. 

“He was terrific in our series,” Stevens said. “Terrific. And so, playing him 10 times last year, and so, I mean, I think I’m an idiot but after 10 times I had at least an idea. You know, he’s all over the place and he covers a lot of ground, he calls out calls, and I think he’s a competitive guy. And that proof is in his winning track record.”