|8:30 PM Mountain / 10:30 PM Eastern|
|TV: FSN AZ HD, ESPN|
|Steve Nash||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|Raja Bell||SG||Ray Allen|
|Grant Hill||SF||Paul Pierce|
|Amare Stoudemire||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Shaquille O'Neal||C||Kendrick Perkins|
Game 2 of the Shaq era begins tonight against the 6th or 7th best team in the league. Standings aside, I refuse to recognize a team that hasn't won a single playoff game as a serious contender to win the ring. I put this Celtics team behind (in no particular order) Suns, Lakers, Spurs, Jazz, Pistons, Mavs and possibly even the Warriors and/or Rockets. As good as their big three are, I don't believe that Rajon Rondo is ready to lead them to the promised land and compared to the Western powerhouses they are thin up-front as well.
Maybe we are lucky catching this team with KG's sore belly, but I just don't see how they are going to be able stop the Suns after being steam rolled by the Nugs and Dubs. And with Amare and Shaqtus up front we should be able to stay about even on the glass. I look for Grant to pull a Marion and put an "X" on Pierce. In fact that's really my key to the win. Stay home on Ray Ray and deny Pierce the ball.
It will be interesting to see if Nash or Raja starts on Allen. I would expect them to switch off depending on how the game is going w/ Nash starting on Rondo and trying helplessly to keep him out of the lane. I think we will end up with Bell on Rondo and Nash on Ray. If Steve can just stay home and resist all his urges to help out in the lane too much he should be fine in a 1:1 matchup with another older gentleman.
As for the Big Risk, let's just hope that we don't see more of this.
Magic numbers for the win:
- About even on the boards
- Hold the C's to under 100
- Hold Pierce to around 20
- Concussions = 0
[Update by TexSUN 7:15 PM MT]: Wow... I just ducked to keep from being hit by all the bad Karma srp just sent our way. I refuse to denigrate a team the Suns haven't even faced yet this season. Especially a team that is 16-2 against the West--the same West where the Suns are a mere 16-15. And it's not just the wimps of the West either. They have beaten the Lakers (twice, pre-Pau but with Bynum), Jazz, Mavericks, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, and Spurs. By my count the Suns are 7-9 against those teams, not counting the 0-2 against the Hornets whom the Celtics have yet to play this season. Not saying the Suns can't or won't beat the Celtics, but not ready to write them off as the "6th or 7th best team in the league" either. To do so would be the same as saying the 2004-05 Suns were never serious contenders. (OK, so they weren't, but they were hardly a mid-tier team either). There. That should appease Karma for now.
Live blogging is a go! Check the comments after tipoff for what's sure to be some tiredness-tainted commentary due to the late start time. (At least it's Friday!)