Bill, what's happening? Bill, what up, buddy?
I'm doing fantastic, and I'm showing up, I'm delivering today. I have a killer instinct in this show, but the Boston Celtics didn't have that last night. What the heck is up with Boston? Because all postseason long, they haven't had that drive, and last night they finally got burned by it.
So I'm really confused. I think there's one of two possibilities here, Zach. Possibility number one, Joe Mazula's over his head, not his fault, thrust into a coaching job in his mid-30s that he probably wasn't prepared for and is catching up to him. Possibility number two, knowing that Doc Rivers' teams have trouble holding on to leads, maybe the Celtics' secret plan is to get them right where they want them at 3-2, Philly up.
I can't tell which one yet. And here's the thing, and I know everyone's going to crush Mazula, it's the low-hanging fruit thing to do, especially with how beloved Eudoka was there for the last year until whatever happened off the court, or maybe him not being able to keep it in his pants is the reason why the Celtics aren't going to go on to an NBA finals this year. But Tatum, I know he had 36 last night, but he didn't show up in that first quarter, and that's what's stunning to me, how the Celtics weren't ready to play last night after coming off that up-and-down game in game number four. Yeah, you said it, and one of the truisms of the NBA, and really all sports, is that box scores lie. And you can look at that Jason Tatum 36 and say to yourself, if you didn't watch the game, oh, that guy's amazing, wildly inefficient.
When you make shots is as important sometimes, sometimes, as how many of those shots you make. And to me, he and that Celtics team, Zach, look incredibly deflated, having given away at least one game against Philly, and I think you can make the case too. And we saw this in their opening round series against Atlanta. They play with their food sometimes, there is a lackadaisical nature to this team for whatever reason, and the real thing that separates champions, it's a cliche, but it's true, maybe it's equally low-hanging fruit, but I think it's real, is how you respond to adversity, and how you respond to when the ball bounces the wrong way, or the official makes a mistake, or some random guy goes off for a bunch of points he shouldn't. And to my eye, in the last game, Zach, this was a Celtics team that was not responding to adversity properly.
Tatum's the leader, he's got to be the guy who fixes that, and I think he was a huge part of the problem for whatever reason. Did they overlook the Sixers? Do you think that plays a role headed into this series with their recent dominance against them, especially in the playoffs? I would say yes, because they're playing like it, and because to be fair, I overlooked Philly.
I mean, there's nothing I like more than fading with my money and with my words here on CBS Sports Radio, Doc Rivers, but they've done this all year long. They're clearly the best team on paper, I think, in the Eastern Conference. They didn't win the Eastern Conference. They put up not enough of a fight and let that series extend in the first round a little too much.
Yeah. This, and look, Philly's really good. Like, they had, on paper at least, they had the MVP, even though he's banged up. There are three teams in the NBA this year that were in the top ten in offensive and defensive rating, which tends to be, statistically speaking, historically speaking, a requirement to win an NBA championship.
I think it's 25 for the last 27 fit those parameters. Two of those teams are in this series. I mean, Philly is one of the three teams in the NBA, along with Boston and, interestingly, Cleveland, who fit that reality, so they shouldn't have looked past him, but they're certainly not playing with the intensity, the killer instinct, whatever it is.
They're not taking Philly seriously enough, there's no doubt. This is gonna sound like a funky statement to make, especially with what he did in games one and four, and I know from a statistical standpoint, last night wasn't his best game, but last night was the game I was most impressed with with James Harden, just because we've seen how great he could be in this series and then how bad he could be. The fact that he didn't have to be their first or second best player last night and still be very productive, for me, that was the most impressed I've been with Harden in this series. Dude, I'm with you, and let me just like, full disclosure, I like James Harden as a person. I think he's an extraordinary player and he's been a postseason bum. He's tasked me for most of his career, and that game, you're right, reminded me a little bit of LeBron's first half in, I guess it was game three, if I'm remembering right, in Lakers-Warriors, where LeBron didn't take his second shot till halfway through the second quarter, but didn't matter. He was facilitating, and he was doing things that don't show up in the box score, and I think Harden did the exact same thing, and it's interesting.
One of the reasons I doubted Philly, and maybe one of the reasons people, Boston included, Zach, have looked past them, is that even Philly would tell you, and at the start of the year, early on, I went out to Philadelphia, met with a bunch of the folks that are in that organization, and the thing that I heard, front office on down, was, we will go as far as James Harden will go, and we think if we can get Philadelphia 70% of peak Harden, we can win the whole thing, and it was really hard, because we were in person, not to roll my eyes, like really aggressively, Zach, but they knew what they were talking about, and a lot of us did not, and to your point, Harden's ability to take over and win games in this series a couple times, and to be really important when he hasn't done that, like the other night, that is, I think, at least I know from Philly's perspective, that is the strategy, that is the key, and he's shown up enough, and in enough different ways, that obviously they're up in the series, and on the brink of a conference finals. I know he was just named to the second all-MBA team, Jaylen Brown, so his contract, from a max standpoint, goes up and up and up now, has one year left on the deal, we go through this conversation each and every year, Bill Ryder, they're gonna break up Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown, there's a lot of incentive for Brown to stay financially, do you think this is the last year, this year that we're seeing right now with Jaylen Brown in a Celtics uniform? It's a great question, I don't know, this one is clouded and a little more mystery than some of the other things I would speculate on, because I don't know Jaylen well, but I will say that it clearly annoys him sometimes, right, how he has to share in terms of the ball, and maybe more the spotlight, but they have been successful together, they made an NBA Finals together last year, they are young. As you noted, Jaylen Brown has a huge financial incentive now to just stay in Boston, so I would imagine in the final conclusion, the money plus the opportunity means he'll stick around, but there are certainly people around the NBA who put teams together for a living, who are keeping one and a half eyes on Brown and the Celtics, because there is concern that, you know, maybe he's feeling some discontent, maybe he just wants to try something different, maybe he wants to be the guy somewhere, but there's certainly the possibility.
I think he stays, because I think winning plus cash is what most guys would do, but I don't know how he's putting those things on the scales and how he's weighing them for himself. And it's also like, who could you get back, like if you could tell me you could find a way to get Dame to Boston, okay, that's great, but if you're not getting a player that's ready right away, then what are you doing with the prime of Jason Tatum as well? Yeah, that's exactly right, and the thing is, we've seen this in the past, you can have a team that is built to win right now, you can feel like you're on the brink, and whether Utah was a joke back when they had all those guys or they weren't, they thought they could make a run, and one thing goes wrong, and then another thing goes wrong, and it becomes dominoes. Whether Jaylen Brown wants to be there or not, you also don't want a year from now, if he's gone, to be having a conversation about how the Celtics have taken a giant step back and now Jason Tatum's unhappy, or Joe Mazzullo's still not living up to whatever standards are really hard to fulfill. So there is, I think, a lot of pressure on Boston to make Jaylen Brown happy, because we don't have to guess, we know that when he's there, and he's with Tatum, and he's with these guys, we know they're good enough to make an NBA Finals. The mental side of it is so big in this series, and I think Boston's starting to realize that Philly is better than what anyone could have expected, and even Sixers fans, like you would say, they were making a big push for the MVP this year, because they didn't believe that they could accomplish this. You now look at this series, where how momentum has shifted. I know Boston last year was down 3-2 to Milwaukee, and they came back. How much of a shot do you give Boston to come on back and win this series?
I mean, look, I'm happy to be wrong in this business, because that's part of the deal, and so maybe I will be. I thought it was about the Knicks, because all their fans were on my timeline, but I don't know what happened. If everyone in New York won a vacation, or they forgot how to type, I don't know where they are, I miss them, I miss, it's very sad, New York Knicks tears, you know, I miss that.
Pour one out. I, look, I'm in the business of not believing in Doc Rivers, and so, for me, right, 13 teams, I believe it is, in NBA history have blown a 3-1 series lead, 3 of those teams have been coached by Doc Rivers, I can go down the mean-spirited stats all I want, I just, I've seen it so many times, I've bet on it so many times. You've got that reality, plus a banged-up Joel Embiid, plus a need to rely on James Harden, who's been really good in this series, but man, has not been a closer in his career in the postseason, plus a Celtics team that is wildly underperforming who they are as a team, to me, that equals 50-50, right? I'm not going to pretend that the Celtics are a lock, but if there was ever a series tailor-made for a team to come back down 3-2, which, by the way, happens all the time, including, I think, with Boston last year, if I remember right, if it, I mean, this is the series, so yes, I very much think Boston's alive, but this has been, Zach, the weirdest, most upside-down, you know, inverted, bizarro NBA playoffs in memory, certainly for me as a fan or a reporter, so nothing would surprise me, even Doc Rivers closing out series. Bill Rader, I've always been a big supporter of Denver, I thought that team was ready to go get to an NBA Finals in 2021, and then Jamal Murray gets hurt. Heading into this year, a lot of people were doubting him, Murray comes back, plays well, even after the number one seed, people are doubting him. They're going to win this series up against the Suns, but man, I just don't understand anyone that says Nicole Jokic is boring.
That, to me, just doesn't make sense. Like, you watched him last night, the dude's just sensational. Yeah, he's amazing. I mean, look, my, right, there's all these sort of code words people use when they're talking sports, and you and I do this for a living, so when I go to a party, I know when a guy doesn't watch a game, or his wife won't let him, or whatever. That, to me, people who say that are people who don't watch Jokic play very much, right? People who have seen the highlights, I'm hoping at CBS Sports HQ, but if you're on that other stupid channel, I understand, we all have to make choices, and they're not actually watching the game, but it's playoff basketball, and you're right, Zach, if you, and you did, watch Jokic enough, you don't fade the Denver Nuggets, because he is, I don't even know what the word, transcendent, sensational, whatever, the guy's amazing.
I'm with you. Boring is the last thing, and he gets into the shoving matches with owners, right? He's got everything, Zach. And not only that, the personality last night before the game, walking over and flipping the owner of the ball, Matt Ishpi, I thought that was great.
He's cool, man. Like, I don't know him that well, but I know people in that organization, and not that this really matters, but I think he's actually a good dude, a funny guy, he's arrogant in a good way, maybe deep level of belief is the better term. He is a superstar, and as with all things, if he played in LA, or he played in New York, he would be, he would have won the MVP this year, I think. And so, I'm with you, I hope in this postseason, they make a deep enough run, that people pay attention to Jokic and see him for the historical great that I think he is.
He's exceptional. And it would really be something with the whole battle the entire year for MVP, Nicole Jokic and Joel Embiid, if we see those two coming up, I would say in a few weeks, but it's probably a little bit more than that, just because how long they stretch out these playoffs, if we get to see those two in the finals. Oh my god, wouldn't that, I mean, I would have trouble functioning as an adult, because Doc Rivers back in the finals would just defy some of the rules of physics, as I understand them, but, and by the way, nothing would surprise me. I mean, I had a scout tell me the other day, before Lakers-Warriors, whoever won that game, game five was gonna win the whole series, I've got people, I mean, you name a team that remains, other than the Knicks, hey Knicks fans, what's up? And any of those teams can win an NBA championship this year. You look at Miami, like let's say if it's Miami, Philadelphia, how do you see that series playing on out? I mean, it's so funny, because I was talking with their front office a lot this year, and they kept making the case that if they made the playoffs, that they were so much more dangerous than people were gonna give them credit for, for all the heat, you know, the heat way that people roll their eyes at, but it's real. So I think, I mean, I've heard that Tyler Herro, that they're hopeful Tyler Herro could come back midway through the next series, obviously Jimmy Butler's ankle is a big issue, but the Heat play a ridiculous defense, they were a game seven team, and pretty close last year to making the finals, last year they shot the three point ball, in terms of percentage best in the NBA, this year they were 27th, which is why their offense went from top ten last season, the regular season, so I think it was like 29th this year, it was brutal, somewhere in that range, but they've been better offensively in the postseason, because Jimmy Butler just takes over games, so get Herro back, bam, you know, asserts himself a little more, Jimmy's healthy, I think they give Philly or Boston a run for their money, I think that's either way, that is a great series, and to me Miami is in a lot of ways the Heat of last year, who won the Eastern Conference and made the Eastern Conference Finals, not the Heat who squeaked in through the play, and there's just something about them when they get to the playoffs that's really, really impressive. Wrapping up with Bill Ryder, what type of performance do we see tonight for the Warriors? I don't know, I keep saying the Warriors are going to win and they keep losing, and to me they had sort of the creaky, hard to sort of watch look of a great starting to age, it's really hard for me to believe that their dynasty, and it really could come to an end, I mean I wrote this and people got mad, but Bob Myers who built this thing may leave, he's mad about the money, Draymond Green may not be under contract come the summer, they've got some choices to make there, there's a lot of pressure to win, and the Lakers have been surprising, I think it's 60-40, but I just watched the Warriors blow an easy lead where they dominated much of the game, the last game here in LA, and I've got to stop doubting Los Angeles at the 4th best team in the NBA since the trade deadline, so I think it's going to be a dogfight. It's so funny, we thought this field was so short and narrow heading into the postseason, and then you see a team like the Heat emerge, you see a team like the Lakers emerge, would you say the Lakers, I'm not saying the best, but have they been the most impressive team this postseason so far?
I think they have been, and I wouldn't call them the best either, but a lot of people that I've talked to, I guess if they're in LA, but scouts and some of the folks who are moving in those circles here in Los Angeles that have been at this series, have said they think the Lakers are playing the best basketball of anybody right now, their defense has been outstanding, they have a ridiculous supporting cast, LeBron's still amazing in a different way like we discussed, and the question becomes which Anthony Davis is going to show up, so yes, I think they're among the most impressive teams in the playoffs since we've gotten to the playoffs, and I think they clearly are capable of winning the whole thing if they get past the Warriors, which looks likely. Also, what the heck was Kerr doing the other night, pitching about the officials afterwards, that drove me nuts, after the game he's like, that game comes down to Lonnie Walker and the refs, there were so many mental errors from Golden State before you start bitching about the refs. Yeah, how about Draymond gets a shot off and doesn't turn the ball over with five seconds out of a timeout. It's interesting you say that because I like Steve Kerr a lot, great guy, obviously impressive coach, but he hasn't lost very much. If you look at how many times they've responded to a loss, his record against Western Conference teams in playoffs, all they do is win all the time, and when they lose, normally, right, Kevin Durant's injured, or Steph Curry's injured, or something's going on, Draymond is suspended. We haven't seen Steve Kerr up against it, having to fight for his life, and it's an interesting insight into how he handles the sort of failure, pressure, struggle, difficulty that most teams have faced the last ten years, and his team has not. I'm with you, I like Steve, but dude's gotta chill, man. Dude's gotta chill a little bit. Also, if I'm Giannis Antetokounmpo, I'm logging off his social media for the next few weeks, and I'm just going to a tropical island, I don't get what Giannis is doing with this disrespect card, and it doesn't make sense to me. I don't think anyone was disrespecting Giannis, he just, this was a failure this year for the Bucks. Of course it was, it's so funny you say that because I love my producer Tom DeCelestino, but he has some of the worst takes that we've ever seen, that's why we have a segment called What DeCel is in What the Hell. A producer with bad takes?
I've never heard that here on CBS Sports Radio. Once Giannis did that, I got a note from DeCelestino, like, now he can't be beaten next year, he's going to win it all. Like, bro, what are you talking about?
Where was this three weeks ago, man? Like, let's not crown Giannis next year's NBA champ. I'm with you, man, it's a very strange response, and certainly there are people in the NBA who wonder if it isn't him internalizing his struggle with whether he wants to force his way out of Milwaukee, which I would hate. And the big thing that I've been pushing everyone, I think Ty Lue is going to try to force his way to Milwaukee. I've heard that, too.
I think that's really good speculation. And I guess the question becomes, will Giannis stick around, and did John Horst, who's, and I think I'm really good at his job, the GM in Milwaukee, did he fire Buitenholzer with somebody in mind? Or was it because they're worried that Buitenholzer lost Giannis, and this is like a, it's a really interesting Game of Thrones that's going to follow, because if Giannis is on the move, watch out, NBA. And I would have to imagine, right, that they would consult Giannis before firing Buitenholzer. Have to have. Look, I get it, people get fired, you feel bad, but Giannis, when he puts something out there about Buitenholzer, it's like, bro, that guy's still coach if you insist he's the coach. Let's not pretend, and he should, but he is absolutely the straw that stirs the drink in Milwaukee. Bill Ryder, you can listen to him Monday through Friday right here on CBS Sports Radio, and always check him out, CBS Sports HQ, I'm assuming you don't get a lot of sleep this time of the year, right? I don't get a lot of sleep, Zach, but I do get to spend a ton of time working non-stop, which is almost as great.
Which you love that. By the way, you are Mr. Barcelona, you gave me a bunch of tips when I was at Barcelona, we gotta maybe go on a vacation together, Bill. Hit me, did you use any of them? Yes, of course, I forget which tips you gave me, but I remember you gave me a bunch of things, and I shot them over to my friends, and I remember we had like two or three things onto the list. I tried to tell the Trace, Ryan Hickey there, is that what he is now? To go to Barcelona, but he said I won't go anywhere Gelb goes. Okay, well he just makes a lot of dumb decisions, and by the way, I'm not a big soccer guy, but I did grab an FC Barcelona hat there. You did! Be careful, because I wasn't either, then I got into Barcelona, then all of a sudden I'm calling it football, it's a disease bro, it's a virus. Bill Wright, I appreciate you doing this, thank you. Thank you buddy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-10 22:27:53 / 2023-05-10 22:37:24 / 10