While some Boston teams are struggling with their image, the Celtics are a very likable group that looks determined and are playing with some grit. What separates this team from others in the area?
“One of the things that I’ve said all along is this ownership makes character an issue with players. Losing Glen Davis, Delonte (West) and Nate Robinson really changed the locker room completely,” said Gorman. “These guys were, let’s say disruptive and leave it at that. They were replaced with guys who are straight and narrow guys. It’s gone back to being Kevin Garnett’s team as far as personality, and everyone is comfortable with their roles.”
“They’re just a good bunch of guys. They’re approachable, fun to travel with; they’re a great bunch of guys and it’s paid off on court,” said Gorman.
One of the main questions heading into Friday night is the status of Ray Allen. He has been out with a lingering ankle injury since April 11, but was able to practice on Thursday. The problem with the injury is he’s looked fine one day, only to have the swelling return the next.
But after a day of practice, will Ray suit up for Game 3?
“We’re going to find out when Ray gets there,” said Gorman. “That’s the problem; he’s been able to rest it, come back and either practice or go through a shoot around, but then 24 hours later it’s swollen again. Teams use this game-time decision thing, it’s kind of weak most times because a decision is usually made long before that… but I think Ray truly is going to be a game-time decision. They’ll have to see when he comes in.”
Without Allen stretching the floor with his long-range shot, the Hawks have been smother Kevin Garnett down low and it’s taking a toll on the 35-year-old KG. How would Allen’s return help take the pressure off Garnett?
“We could use Ray back because, we saw it in Game 1, even though the Celtics have a very good record without Ray there are always points in the game when you want him on the floor camped out in the corner and someone getting him the ball,” said Gorman. “I know Kevin Garnett said to Ray the other day to the effect ‘I don’t care how you’re limping, get your blank to the corner and be there, we’ll get the ball to you and shoot it!’” That’s what they would like to see again, Ray camped out in the corner.”
Rajon Rondo will return after serving his suspension in Game 2 for bumping referee Marc Davis. Rondo thanked the team after their win, and even apologized to them for his actions. Rondo was suspended earlier in the season for throwing a ball at a ref, and although his latest suspension did not hurt the team, is his attitude a detriment to the Celtics success?
“No; I can answer that simply with one word: No,” Gorman said. “I’ve always maintained — and I don’t think Rajon would like this description — from the first time I met him he’s basically a shy kid. This shyness was interpreted right at the beginning as arrogance. He’s kind of like Greg Popovich from San Antonio; if you ask him a question that he can answer in one word, he’ll answer that in one word. TV guys, writers, they don’t like that and they see it as arrogant.”
“I think he has a bad reputation as what kind of kid he is. I don’t think he’s disruptive any more than any other player is,” Gorman said of Rondo. “All these guys are moody to some degree. Rondo is Rondo. Hopefully people understand over time.”
“The idea that he apologized to the team the other day was something Doc said wouldn’t happen two years ago. Even though he would have been sorry, he wouldn’t stand up in front of the team and apologize; which is something he did. I think that’s the sign of a guy that’s maturing.”
Does Gorman think Rondo can mature enough to become the eventual leader of the Celtics?
“Absolutely he can be, and probably will be for this team,” he said. “The thing going back to the trading of Rondo, there seemed to be a willingness on the part of the Celtics to trade Rondo for Chris Paul… but they weren’t out peddling him for DJ Augustine. They had one guy in mind that they wanted, and that was the one they were going after. If they couldn’t get him they were going to keep what they had. That’s Danny’s job; he’s supposed to try to go out and make this team better.”
“I would never trade Rondo for, say, Russell Westbrook. I wouldn’t trade him for Derrick Rose, actually,” said Gorman. “Part of it is that I fear for Derrick Rose – it’s a shame he tore his ACL – but he’s had back issues, and he’s had back issues since high school… We saw firsthand back in the 80’s what back issues can do to a player.”
“Call me old fashion; I want my point guard to be primarily a distributor, not primarily a scorer,” said Gorman. “I’ll find people like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that can score from other positions. I want a point guard whose first thought is how many assists can I get here tonight. And that’s what motives Rondo, more than it motivates Rose or Chris Paul.”
Also, is forward Mickael Pietrus 100-percent? And what does Tommy Heinsohn do to Gorman whenever a shot goes up? Hear that and more from Mike Gorman on Toucher & Rich!