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Phil Jackson thinks the Celtics will win the East

Jan 19, 2011, 5:41 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Getty Images

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.

  1. uzi978 - Jan 19, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Smartest thing Jax has ever said.

  2. adubman - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Jackson is one twisted fool. He always reverts to the same 3rd grade psychology calling out teams that in reality are better than his thinking he’ll create turmoil and eventually bring down the targeted opponent.

    The reality is the Heat are exponentially better than the Lakers. They’re more athletic, faster, quicker and, most importantly, younger than Jackson’s team. All of this was on display Christmas Day IN LA when the Heat completely shut down the Lakers.

    When Jackson plays his little head games, he’s genuinely exposing his pouty behavior. He’s really saying, “I’m not happy with things and unless they go my way, I’ll put up a fuss.” Incredible.

    As of today, 1/19/11, mark my words: unless injuries slow down the Heat by season’s end, not only will the Heat come out of the East playing for the championship, I predict they’ll be facing off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lakers won’t come out of the West.

    By the way, all this coming from a life-long Lakers fan. Sadly, the sun is setting on the Kobe era, BUT it’s been an incredible run!

    • uzi978 - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:18 PM

      The Heat are not a team. This will be proven in the playoffs, you’ll see.

    • passerby23 - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:41 PM

      Phil Jackson definitely doesn’t shy away from an opportunity to take a dig at someone in the media, but in this case, I think he’s making an honest assessment. Boston is still the best TEAM and the playoffs are different from the regular season. Also, if Boston secures the #1 seed in the East, Miami and Orlando will likely slug it out as the 2 and 3 seeds. I think that’s a bad matchup for the Heat.

    • downtowndanny - Jan 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      whoa, hold on. The Heat are in no way better than the Lakers, they have two of the best players but thats about it. Kobe and Pau’s basketball IQ trumps the Heat as a whole. The playoffs always comes down to getting stops, as a Laker fan I like my chances. Where is Miami’s answer for Odom, Bynum, and Gasol? Phil has Kobe, Ron Ron, and Matt Barnes to clamp down on D Wade and Lebron, (Bosh is a non factor) Of course Phil would love for Miami or Orlando to get pissed and prove him “wrong” by eliminating Boston, because he has to like his chances against either of them in a series as opposed to Boston. But the reality is the Lakers need to get their asses in gear, as Dallas looks good (but you know they can’t seal the deal in the finals), OKC looks somewhat average this year, I don’t believe San Antonio unless Duncan returns to form. Utah, no so much. I probably wouldn’t even watch the finals if it’s Dallas vs Boston, Orlando, the east wins that in 6

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