Jan 19, 2011, 5:41 PM EDT
Legendary coach Phil Jackson has never been shy about using the media to take not-so-sly shots at rival teams, players, and coaches, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop any time soon. In an interview with ESPN 710′s Max Kellerman earlier today, Jackson said that he thinks the Boston Celtics will win the Eastern Conference, and also expressed doubts about the Miami Heat’s ability to function as a team:
“I personally don’t think [The Heat] can get by Boston,” Jackson said. “I think Boston is too good a team. I think a team is still going to win.
“But there’s a chance that [the Heat] … can maybe round themselves into a team by that time and [win].
“Boston is older and they have to go through the rest of the schedule without having some kind of breakdown of players. [Ray] Allen and [Kendrick] Perkins, etc., they are just really a good team.
“But there’s nothing like the great athletic skill and dynamism that [James and Wade] have and [Chris] Bosh is a terrific player in his own right. There’s no doubt about their individual skills.”
This isn’t the first time Jackson has fired a public shot at the Heat. The last time the Heat had a tough stretch of games, Jackson publicly wondered about the job security of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Over the first half of their season, the Heat have run (no pun intended) hot and cold. After starting the season 9-8, the Heat lost one game from November 27th to January 9th, and are currently on a four-game losing streak after suffering injuries to LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Heat have also been without Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller for much of the year.
Boston’s depth has helped them be more consistent than the Heat. Despite injuries to defensive specialist Kendrick Perkins and tough combo guard Delonte West, the Celtics have gone 31-9 in the first 40 games of the season and currently hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Heat for the best record in the East.
Jackson’s comments will almost certainly give the Heat (as well as the Magic, who can’t be happy about being omitted from Phil’s two-team race for the Eastern Conferenc) some bulletin-board material. That may end up adding some fuel to a possible Lakers-Heat (or Lakers-Magic) finals, but there’s a whole lot of basketball to be played before we should even start thinking about those matchups.