Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who should be more worried about their team’s recent struggles; Celtics fans or Spurs fans?
David Aldridge: Spurs’ woes can be more directly tied to injuries (Duncan‘s ankle) that have healed, and San Antonio had to gain some confidence by holding off the Lakers to clinch the best record in the west. By contrast, Boston can’t feel good about getting a big postseason push from Shaq, and Jermaine O’Neal just got back on the court yesterday. Plus, Boston’s now destined to be on the road in a potential game 7 in the second round against Miami–assuming the Cs get past the Knicks. I think they will, but it may be harder than you think. Boston is pretty good loading up one side against a scorer like Carmelo Anthony, but if Amare Stoudemire has his legs back, he could wreak havoc against the Celtics in the paint. And is Ray Allen just in a temporary slump, or will this be like last year, when he was sporadic in the postseason?
Steve Aschburner: San Antonio has lost some games, but Boston is in disarray, with a laundry list of problems. The old guys still are meshing with the new guys, Kendrick Perkins and (yes, even) Nate Robinson are missed in the locker room, Shaq is turning into a Generalissimo Franco joke off from the early SNL days and, let’s be honest, it really isn’t all about 18 anymore, is it? Danny Ainge fixed what wasn’t broke, and that’s supposed to be a no-no not just in the NBA playoffs but pretty much anywhere in life. Celtics fans already know that.
Fran Blinebury: Celtics fans should be more worried for sure. With Kendrick Perkins now in OKC and Shaq maybe unable to contribute, the big, bulky, bad Celtics could be a thing of the past.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Spurs fans, simply because the West playoff field is deeper and therefore more dangerous. A bad week on that side of the bracket is harder to overcome than in the East. That said, I’m not sure this is the best time to be talking about the Spurs and their so-called recent struggles. They had a winning streak that ended Tuesday only after Gregg Popovich rested several key players in playoff prep.
Shaun Powell: Oh, Boston. By a mile. Everyone in town, and probably in the locker room, already has their built-in excuse: the departure of Kendrick Perkins, who’s turning out to be more valuable in death (basketball-wise) than in life. Also, Rajon Rondo lost his mojo somewhere. The Celtics could soon count down the end of the Big Three era and Doc Rivers’ final days.
John Schuhmann: The Celtics definitely have deeper concerns. Their offense has been pretty mediocre since early March, and it’s possible that their early season success was built on a shooting percentage that was just impossible to keep up. I think the potential return of Shaq is a bigger factor than most people make it out to be, but I have no clue how many minutes they’ll get from him in any particular round.
Sekou Smith: Celtics fans or Spurs fans? What about Lakers fans? Maybe you missed the Lakers’ five-game slide or Andrew Bynum going down last night after hyper extending his surgically repaired right knee. With all due respect to our good friends in Boston and San Antonio, Lakers fans are the ones that need to be worried right now. They‘ve never looked more vulnerable (at least on paper) and their three-peat dreams rest on the health of Bynum‘s right knee. Back to the original question, the Spurs don‘t have nearly as many question marks as the Celtics, who have yet to see if Shaquille O‘Neal is healthy enough to carry the load down low for a series, let alone an extended playoff run.