Celtics Discover Renewed Vigor In NBA Playoffs
TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Why don't we begin with those suddenly frisky Boston Celtics? What's going on with them?
GOLDMAN: Well, I don't know if there's a fountain of youth, but I think what has happened is good health after a bunch of injuries during the regular season. And they're gelling at the right time. A good veteran team like Boston gets bored, frankly, during the long, regular season. They get excited for the playoffs, and it seems to be happening here.
I: And it also helps to have a youngster, Rajon Rondo, their 24-year-old point guard who's driving that team and playing the most exciting basketball of anyone left in the playoffs. So the Celtics were champions just two seasons ago. It appears they're intent on making another run.
MONTAGNE: And in the Western Conference Finals, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers looked very strong in the previous series against a tough Utah Jazz team. Shouldn't L.A. be a heavy favorite against Phoenix?
GOLDMAN: This is a different Phoenix team, though. The Suns have been out-rebounding opponents in the playoffs. They just beat a very good San Antonio team four games to none in the last round of the playoffs. Phoenix's point guard Steve Nash, at 36, he's still a wizard with the ball in his hands. He's played more playoff games than anyone in NBA history without getting to the finals. This could be his best chance.
MONTAGNE: And, Tom, finally, there's a notable absence in this NBA Final Four. Cleveland had the best one-loss record in the regular season and the league's most talented player, LeBron James. But the Cavaliers and James flamed out last week against Boston. It might've been the end of his career in Cleveland, because James is now a free agent this summer. What's the latest on that?
GOLDMAN: After the debacle last week, Boston was the better team in that playoff series, and it proved again that one player can't win a title by himself. And now the talk is less wherever LeBron goes that team will be instant favorite to win the title and more LeBron will obviously make any team better. But to win a championship, he still needs another one, maybe two, star-quality players to help.
MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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