|Posted by shawn cassidy on December 17, 2011 at 6:00 AM|
Jermaine is vital to the Celtics success this season. Jermaine only played 24 regular season games last season. Jermaine brought it during the playoffs,and he became the defensive center that the Celtics had hoped for when signing him. I have been very thankful that Jermaine hasn't shown up on any injury reports. Jermaine has become a defensive center later in his career,and he fits in perfectly with Boston. Jermaine could be a big surprise this season,and I of course welcome that with open arms. This could be Jermaine's last season in the NBA,and he seems ready for a run at his first title. O'neal spoke of retiring if he was traded to a team not gunning for a title. Jermaine will have a lot of pressure this season. He will be starting,and he will need to juggle his time on the floor. The Celtics will need Jermaine,and he knows it. I'm very curious to see Jermaine this season.
"If we had an MVP trophy, and maybe we should have one for camp, I think he would win it," said Rivers. "He’s been phenomenal throughout camp. He’s been absolutely wonderful."
O'Neal? The same player Rivers seemed frustrated with for falling behind in camp last year when he was slowed by a hamstring injury, and who disappeared for a large stretch while he worked to get back in playing shape? The same O'Neal who initially elected against knee surgery, only to settle for the procedure a short time later, leaving little time to work his way back before the postseason arrived?
Yes, that O'Neal.
"No. 1, he’s bought in defensively, he knows where to be all the time," said Rivers. "Now he’s become a talker. That’s one of the things -- Kevin [Garnett], [Kendrick Perkins], [Glen Davis] and all those guys had -- Jermaine was new to it. We didn’t have that a lot last year. Jermaine was learning it and you’ve heard [Shaquille O'Neal] talk before, so no one could understand what the hell he was saying -- the mumble. It’s good that Jermaine got it. Offensively, he just knows where to be now. All those little things, and he looks healthy -- he’s just healthy."
O'Neal pushed himself hard this summer, even amidst the uncertainty of the lockout. Training camp has offered him a chance to finally gauge where he's at after those five months of work.
"This week was a really good week," he said. "I would give myself a passing grade. My legs felt a little tired [Friday] from all the running, all the stuff like that. But, all in all, I feel really good. I’m looking forward to getting to play against another team, because we’ve been playing against each other so much."
Informed that Rivers had given him far better than a passing grade, O'Neal smiled.
"Oh really? Did he say that," he asked about being dubbed the camp MVP. "You know what, I really wanted to come in and take a lot of reps. Me and Kevin, we took a lot of reps [in camp] -- really trying to push me and push him. Because we know, at the end of the day, we’re going to have to be pretty good for this team to be successful. It’s been fun, it’s been calm. I was a little nervous coming into a new situation [last year]. I knew the city was looking to win a championship. You want to battle for your spot and you end up getting hurt. It’s tough. This year it’s been more about being calm. Even when the trade came up [last week], it wasn’t even -- I just wanted to figure out where I was going if I was going somewhere. More than anything, if I was going to be here, I was just going to focus on what I was doing."