ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Celtics' impressive performance in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers. Said Simmons: "The last two games, I feel like they've finally looked like the team that they looked like before that Christmas Day 2008 game against the Lakers, when [their record] was 27-2. Then they lose that game, they go on a little skid, [Kevin] Garnett gets hurt, the team's never really been the same. You look at this whole series, they've played better in four of the five games. And they've dominated two of them."
Simmons said Rajon Rondo's ability to dominate and LeBron James' failure to do the same is the obvious key. "It always come down to who has the best guy in a series, I always think. ... The bottom line is Rondo's played better than LeBron in this series. [Rondo's] stats weren't good in the first half of Game 5 -- I didn't feel like he was having a bad game, but in the second half I thought he dominated that game. He controlled the flow. He controls every aspect of that game. They can't match up with him. They're changing their defense to try to get him. He's in Mo Williams' head. Mo Williams is a basket case. Now LeBron's probably going to have to defend him."
Simmons also pointed to an unheralded bench player who has made a big difference for Boston. "The shocker of all shockers is Tony Allen," Simmons said. "Because this is a guy we've watched for six years. It actually started in the Miami series. He had a really good Game 1. I thought he helped them win Game 2. He and Rasheed [Wallace] were the things that kind of swing that game. Everyone was talking about Rondo in Game 4, and rightfully so, but Tony Allen -- that was the best game of his career. He's actually making layups, he's finishing, he's not doing stupid things."
On the other side of the court, Anderson Varejao's disappearing act is leading to rumors that the forward is hiding an injury. "I think he's injured. It's just really weird how he's been playing," Simmons said. "He only played 17 minutes in Game 5. And this is a guy who kills the Celtics, He's just such a bad matchup. And also when Cleveland plays well, he's playing 35-40 minutes a game. I think he's the second-most important guy. For what he's doing in this series and the minutes he's getting, I think that's one of the reasons the Celtics have a 3-2 lead."
Simmons questioned the performance of Cavs coach Mike Brown, saying, "When coaches are grasping for straws, you can see it." Then he heaped praise on Doc Rivers, a coach Simmons frequently has crititicized. "I think this has been his best series ever," Simmons said. "I just think he's had a command of the series. The timeouts -- he's called great timeouts, which he never used to do. You can feel Cleveland coming on, and he's been stopping the runs, which is nice."
The winner of the Celtics-Cavaliers series gets the red-hot Magic, but Simmons said that would be an appealing matchup for the C's. "The way they match up with Orlando, if they can somehow get by this Cleveland team for one more game, they match up fantastic with Orlando," Simmons said. "They have guys to throw at Dwight Howard. Rondo can beat Jameer Nelson. Vince Carter, who's been dribbling through the lane with impunity, they'll just knock his butt down. He's not going to be able to do that stuff against the Celtics. I think they match up so much better against Orlando than they do against Cleveland."
The Boston Herald's Ron Borges joined the show to discuss his column in today's paper on Vince Wilfork. He thinks the Pats should keep Vince.
Boston Globe Patriots writer Ben Volin joined the show with the latest on the offseason. He said it is most likely that Julian Edelman returns next season due to his agent's relationship with the team.
Mike Florio of NBC Sports and ProFootballTalk.com joins the show to discuss the status of Aqib Talib and the exciting prospect of Darrelle Revis being traded by the Bucs to a CB-needy team.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN joins Mut and Lou to discuss the future of the struggling Celtics as well as the rocky relationship between Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens and Rajon Rondo
ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about Rajon Rondo's birthday mishap.
Jackie MacMullan joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Rajon Rondo's unexcused absence from the Celtics game in Sacramento and how the organization feels about Brad Stevens.
Mikey and Ryder talk with Hall of Fame baseball player and current analyst/broadcaster Dennis Eckersley. Eck gives all kinds of insight into the Red Sox current pitching staff and how valuable a reliable bullpen can be. He also talks about how the game has changed since his playing days.
In 2013, Jackie Bradley Jr. used a non-roster invitation to big league spring training as a platform to an unexpected major league performance. Yet by and large, prospects in big league camp for the first time have more modest goals of creating familiarity -- both on their part with the big league setting, and in an effort to try to impress the big league coaching staff to position themselves for in-season call-ups. Red Sox prospects Garin Cecchini, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Bryce Brentz discuss their outlook on their first big league camps, while Bradley joins to explain the difference he feels this year in his second big league camp.
Red Sox NESN color man Jerry Remy joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss his first broadcast since his sons arrest last October.
Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports, joins the Mut and Merloni show to share his thoughts on the recent trade moves the Bruin's made on deadline day.
Andy Brickley of NESN joins the Mut and Merloni show to share his thoughts on what trade moves the Bruins might make, if any, as the trade deadline approaches.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed his 100th fight as a Boston Bruin last night. He added that he hopes the Bruins remain intact at today's NHL deadline.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today they discussed the ongoing controversy surrounding the Oscars and Andrew Garfield.
The guys opened the show by discussing Nick Cafardo's column on Stephen Drew. Everyone disagreed with the premise that it is time to panic and sign Drew.
Our friend and Jimmy Fund Patient Sam Thomas discussing his desire to meet Ellen. #EllenMeetSam
Mut and Lou talk about which free agents they want to hear rumored to be going to the Pats.
Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports, shares his thoughts on the recent trade moves the Bruin's made on deadline day.
Mut and Lou are both dissapointed by the Bruins lackluster moves at the deadline. Meszaros and Harry Potter? Really?
The three man booth breaks down all the rumors, possibilities, trade scenarios, signings and more, and takes your calls about it all.
We tackle four topics that surround the great BIG MAN athletes of sports. BIG as in chubby.
Tom E Curran and Michael Holley talked Celtics, Rondo and the return of Paul Pierce to the Garden, and we were joined by a fan who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and wasn't afraid to show them for the Celtics.
Mikey, Lenny and Bill Fairweather are joined by the legendary Bob Lobel, who talks about his career in Boston, his thoughts on some of the goings on, and some great sports talk.
Mikey, Ryder and Lenny talk with Mikey's buddy, former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee. Bill talks about bad neighbors, his playing days with the Sox and beyond.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston joins the program to discuss Rajon Rondo's rocky relationship with Danny Ainge, the future of the struggling Celtics, and the possibility of Vince Wilfork being cut by the PatriotsMore from this show
We talk Bruins and the NHL with the great Jack Edwards of NESN right after the NHL trade deadline passed.More from this show