Appearing on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday, ESPN's Bill Simmons predicted that the Celtics will prevail in the Eastern Conference, citing a deeper bench than Miami and an advantage in the matchups against Orlando. Regarding the Heat, Simmons remains skeptical heading into Tuesday's night season-opener at TD Garden.
"I think there's a much better chance that it's dicey than everything goes fantastic," Simmons said of the Heat.
Regarding the construct of this season's Celtics team, Simmons points to the C's depth as being a big difference from last season. He specifically cited the presence of Delonte West, and how he could protect the C's if something happened to starting point guard Rajon Rondo.
"I do think the one difference between last year's team and this year's team is they have a bench," he said, proceeding to then go on to talk about West. "I've got to say, I was shocked at how good Delonte was in the preseason … I think he's back to where he was, from what I saw."
Simmons said of Shaquille O'Neal's presence in Boston thus far: "There's something different about Shaq. Not only does he like the attention, but he goes out and solicits it." The columnist then, however, wondered: "What happens when [Kendrick] Perkins comes back?" Simmons surmised that the Celtics could possibly deal either O'Neal or Perkins if both are healthy. He also points out that O'Neal has more disdain for Orlando center Dwight Howard ("Dwight Howard took his nickname") than Kobe Bryant.
On the subject of LeBron James, Simmons wonders what will happen in the waning minutes of close games, saying, "I can't wait to see this team when they're tied with a minute to go." He explained that James, statistically, was the best in the NBA in the final two minutes of games last season. "It's really hard for me to believe that he's going to be fine turning it over to [Dwyane] Wade," Simmons said. "This is a guy [in James] who released a two-minute, five-second Nike commercial yesterday."
As for Chris Bosh, the other notable acquisition for the Heat, Simmons said: "Bosh is like George Harrison now. Nobody talks about him. ... Part of me wonders if he's going to be all right with this arrangement, too." Regarding the season-opener, the Massachusetts native noted, "Is there any doubt [former Celtic] Eddie House is going to have a good game tonight?"
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