Don't forget about 'Mr. Big Shot'


Don't forget about 'Mr. Big Shot'

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON You look at the rosters for both the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, and there's no shortage of star power for both teams.

But there are only two players who have been the best player in the game, on the biggest stage of them all - the NBA Finals.

That would be Paul Pierce, the Captain of S.S. Banner 18 who was the 2008 Finals MVP.

The other?

None other than former Celtic Chauncey Billups, a Finals MVP in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons.

Even though Billups doesn't impact games the way he did in 2004, he is nonetheless a dangerous player.

So for all the talk about Kevin Garnett and Amar'e Stoudemire, about Paul Pierce and his matchup with Carmelo Anthony, it is the player that was essentially a throw-in to the Melo deal - Billups - who the C's have to be concerned with throwing a monkey wrench into their Game 1 matchup today.

"He brings championship experience," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Like we have guys who have won titles on our team, Chauncey is that guy (for New York). He'll be big for them."

Being in the shadows is a role that Billups has been in for the bulk of his career.

Even though he was the Pistons' MVP in the 2004 NBA Finals, Richard Hamilton was their leading scorer and Ben Wallace was the face of the franchise.

It wasn't an issue to Billups then.

Now that he plays with Stoudemire and Anthony, Billups says nothing has changed.

"I love it, actually," Billups told "I can just go out and do me, know what I mean? Those are two young, dynamic superstars. I don't worry about attention. All I care about is helping my team win games."

That will be quite the challenge tonight against a Boston team that swept the regular season series, 3-0, and are the No. 3 seed compared to the Knicks, who are sixth.

"We are the underdog, for sure," Billups said. "We're playing a world championship-caliber team. It's going to be hard. But it's a great opportunity. When you're the underdog, it's always a great opportunity. We feel like we got a chance."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls


Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls

Tonight’s pregame number is 133. That’s the total number of made 3-point field goals made last season by the players starting for the Bulls tonight. Whatever the Bulls reasons for signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were this offseason, floor spacing was not one of them.

Wade’s career mark of 28.4 percent from distance is the third-worst percentage among active players with 600+ career attempts, while Rondo’s 28.9 career 3-pt FG% is seventh worst. And, for what it’s worth, the new-look Bulls shot 31.8 percent from beyond the arc (21st in the NBA) this preseason, while hitting 7.7 3-pointers per game. 

Despite allowing 15 3’s last night vs the Nets, perimeter defense should once again be a strength for the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics were fourth in the NBA with an opponent 3-pt FG% of 33.6. They were 38-15 when holding opponents to eight or fewer 3’s. 

With the NBA continuing to trend towards more 3-point shooting, it will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg’s offense looks this season, and especially tonight vs the Celtics.