NBA on TNTHere are some excerpts of interest to Celtics fans from Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley’s comments in yesterday’s TNT NBA Playoffs conference call:

Miller on picking Boston in the Eastern Conference Playoffs:  “It’s going to be such a blood bath out West where I see every series going at least six games.  The least resistance is in the East.  It’s going to come down to Boston and Detroit, the two best teams in the East.  Charles and I are in unison that we love the passion that Kevin Garnett has brought to Boston, there is something special that Doc (Rivers) has resurrected in his team. I like the addition of Sam Cassell, he’s been great as of late. I like Boston in the East.”

Barkley on how he sees the NBA Playoffs shaping up: “The East (Conference) is obviously Boston and Detroit, that’s going to be a monster series. They are the two best teams in the East by far. I’m not sure who is going to win it but I think it’s going to be a great series. I can’t even really pick a team in the West (Conference) right now because we don’t know what the match-ups are going to be. It’s up for grabs right now. I think realistically, in no particular order, Utah, the Lakers and San Antonio are the three best teams. San Antonio and Utah could play (each other) in the first round so that would eliminate one of my picks. At mid-season, I picked Utah (to win the West), I still feel pretty good about that pick. I’m not sure if the Lakers can win without (injured center Andrew) Bynum. I don’t think the Lakers want to play Denver in the first round of the playoffs. Any team that can score that much and have guys like Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, they can win any night. (If the Lakers and Nuggets play) it’s not going to be a sweep, it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out (fight). If New Orleans is the number two seed (in the West) and they play Dallas (number seven seed), I would take Dallas. San Antonio and Phoenix would be a knock-down, drag-out series. But we don’t know who is going to play who. I’m looking forward to the West (seeding) finally being over.”

Miller on an Eastern Conference teams chances to win the NBA Championship: “I would not be surprised if every first round series in the Western Conference did not go six or seven games. And I would not be surprised if a team from the Eastern Conference, once they get to the Finals, end up winning it because these teams in the West are going to be so emotionally drained. Their playoffs started right after the All-Star break when everyone was trying to jockey for position. They’ve been in playoff mode for almost two months now. Meanwhile, Boston and Detroit have been almost cruising the last three or four weeks, resting a lot of players. I would not be surprised if a team from the Eastern Conference ends up winning (the championship).”

Barkley on re-formatting the NBA Playoff system: “The league is always going to be cyclical and you can’t change the rules just for that reason. Detroit and Boston don’t play the same number of games against good teams that the West (Conference teams) do. They get to play Miami, who stink. The Denver Nuggets are a good, solid team but teams (in the West) have to play them three or four times. They have to play the Golden State Warriors three or four times. They have to play the Portland Trail Blazers, who have a bright future, three or four times. The East stinks at the bottom. Even the teams who are in the (East) playoffs aren’t very good teams. The Atlanta Hawks are not a really good team. The Philadelphia 76ers are not a really good team. So the Celtics have to play those teams four or five times.”

Barkley on if the Cavaliers are poised to make a big playoff run: “I think (the trade with the Bulls was) an upgrade (to their roster). I think (the Cavaliers) are better suited for the playoffs when they play against the Celtics or Detroit, they’ve got bigger bodies. I think they are a lot better but the Celtics are (still) a lot better and you never know what the Pistons are going to do. (The Cavaliers) are better suited to make a run in the playoffs. Last year was just a fluke. This year if they get to the Finals, they are going to have to go through the Boston Celtics.”

Barkley on his equal opportunity criticism of players: “I don’t have an obligation to tell the players they are good when they are bad. I don’t say ‘they stink’, I might stay their teams stink. I don’t ever criticize a guy personally. I don’t worry about what the players think. I speak for the fans, they’re watching the games, they know who stinks and which teams stink. I will sit down and go back and forth with any player, and say lets talk about what I said about him and there is a reason why I said it. I don’t think you can have a double standard, a lot of guys in the media will kill a guy they don’t like, but protect ones they do. You’re job is to represent fans and be honest and be fair; I know I do that. I don’t have a hidden agenda against any player.”

Barkley on needing a player who can make a play to win a game: “You need to have a guy on your team that says, ‘we’re not going to lose tonight.’ Everyone in the world knows that the ball was going to Reggie with the game on the line, the ball was going to me with the game on the line, and to Kevin (Garnett) and everyone knows it’s going to go to Carmelo (Anthony) or AI (Allen Iverson) and you say to yourself, ‘I’ve got to score, I’ve got to get a shot that I might miss or I’ve got to set up a guy for a wide open jumper.’ Those to me are the three intangibles. It happens to every great player sometime in the game. It was no different from Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan. At some point, you’ve got to say I’ve got to make a play for us to win.”

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