Antoine Walker came in studio with Ordway and the Big Show on WEEI this afternoon. Antoine weighed in on many things and answered tough questions in his straightforward, refreshing style. He was asked about the weak starts they had in the NJ series. He said the Celtics settled alot in the first while NJ was aggressive and out and running. The Celtics would walk it up, take a careful shot, usually miss it in those games and then NJ would be gone down the other end. He said that the Celtics needed to be more aggressive and take it to the hoop more, which is what they did whenever they went on a run.
He also made the startling comment that he thought that the Celtics had a lack of respect for the Nets because they had handled them rather easily in the regular season. This was unlike the Philadelphia series and the Detroit series. They felt like they “knew they could beat” NJ. He said they let the Nets build confidence in that first game of the series. He talked about what he and his teammates learned during these playoffs. He mentioned the importance of every possession, the intensity of the crowds, the adjustments that need to be made, and the importance of momentum. He said they were taught a lesson. He said the Celtics thought NJ would fold after the game three loss, which was a mistake. He learned the importance of home court advantage, and that that might be the most important lesson. Next year they can’t lose to the Bulls or Grizzlies, they need maximum effort every game in order to secure the # 1 seed. He wants a dominating season with 55 plus wins to get that all important home court. He felt that definitely there is more pressure in the playoffs, and they felt it at times, you need heart to play deep and they need more contributions from others to go further. They need to resign Rogers, Strickland and he’d like to see “Walt” come back. He mentioned he’d like to add a free agent who can score as well.
Antoine and Paul Pierce are close; they hang out off the court, much more the last two years than they did before, and have the same goals. They have a comfort level to the point that Antoine can do what he did at the start of the fourth quarter of game three, which was to get on Paul and tell him he needed to step it up. He said this whole year he’s taken more of a leadership role because he knew the team was good and wanted it to go as far as it could.
Phrases used to describe Jim O’Brien: “Perfect Gentleman….People Person…honest…respectful” doesn’t take things public. He simplified things. Suggestions are taken seriously, not “blown out the other end”. Antoine said Pitino was great for him in college, he helped him, he taught him the game, it was different in the pros. Walker isn’t sure if it was the money, the pressure, or what, but Pitino started making excuses, pointing fingers, ruined the relationship.
Kenny Anderson had a “tough luck” year last season with the broken jaw and badly sprained ankle, never got into the flow. This year he worked hard, played defense, he’s the best at getting good looks on the pick and roll and makes great decisions in transition.
Now that they’ve had a taste of the playoffs, he expects all to work hard all summer, come into camp and be dominant right from the beginning of the season in order to go after the number one seed in the east.