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."
We check in with the playmaker, the great number 88 Michael Irvin for his unique take on deflategate, the Patriots and the NFL.
Ben Volin has been a must-read on the Pats and Deflategate despite him ruffling the feathers of many Pats fans and he joins NFL Sunday to discuss the latest. He talks about the owners' meetings and what he expects to unfold this week as well as the showdown between Goodell and Kraft.
The guys provide more thoughts on the latest on Deflategate and get callers' reaction.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton speak to Red Sox Manager John Farrell live from Fenway Park for our weekly visit.
Joe & Dave talked to the rookie Sox catcher, who knocked in the go-ahead run against Felix Hernandez.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino fater the Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 and saw some great defense from Shane as well as a solo HR from him.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Shirley Leung joins Dino, Gerry and Kirk to look at Boston's Olympic hopes.
Stephen A. joined us to discuss Tom Brady's suspension.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys talk about the charges surrounding one of the stars of 19 Kids and Counting and what TLC should do with the show.
Lou, Christian and Greg react to their interview with Bill Polian and take calls from listeners to get their take on the latest surrounding Deflategate.
With all the Deflategate news, Lou hasn't had a chance to complain about the Red Sox and their poor start. Christian and Greg give Lou a minute to get all his thoughts out as fast as he can.
David Letterman has wrapped up his show and we picked out four of our favorite moments from his career.
Roger Goodell's integrity and credibility is in question and Sally Jenkins wrote a scathing piece on Roger Goodell joins us.
The definitive deflate gate song
Mikey Adams is joined by Chris Villani as they take calls on the Friday night Two Minute Drill and discuss the ongoing DeflateGate saga with the New England Patriots and Roger Goodell's role in hearing the Tom Brady appeal.
Continued conversation on deflate-gate and the aftermath of the Brady suspension and sanctions passed down to the Patriots organization
Julian Edlow of the Green Street Blog and Draftkings.com joins the program to break down the the two conference finals series, the NBA Draft, and whether or not Corey Brewer is the ugliest player in the game?
Ben, Russ, and Alex recap the Revs loss to Sporting KC and discuss what the Revs need moving forward. Also discussed is the FFP and how it will affect the transfer window.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk discuss Dino's rehab experience.
Stephen A. joined us to discuss Tom Brady's suspension.More from this show
Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton listen in on Roger Goodell's conversation with the media at the owner's meetings, and most Patriots fans cannot believe their owner capitulated to this empty suit. We react with you.More from this show
Dale, Michael and Jerry continue to discuss and take reaction to deflategate, with the latest wrinkles coming from the NFL social media department taking shots at the organization even after Robert Kraft capitulated to his team's punishment.More from this show