Weekly NBA Winners: Boston's Paul Pierce cements Celtic legacy, Jermaine O'Neal's defense changes Toronto, will the real Atlanta Hawks stand-up?
Sam Mitchell's glamorous suits don't fool me. He will always be that feisty, undrafted pro fighting for a ten-day contract. Nothing has changed. Check out Mitchell's media scrums with reporters or his reactions on the sidelines. In fact, I've rarely seen the former coach of the year smile. All business. However, the sideline boss must be smiling on the inside with the acquisition of O'Neal ... Every week, HoopsVibe The Blog will review the NBA’s biggest winners and losers of the last seven days …
The Winners …
Winner #1: Paul Pierce
I never knew why he fell to tenth overall at the NBA draft. And I never knew why he was disrespected as a young pro –after all, he was light years ahead of the shoulder-shimmying Antoine Walker.
Until last year, Paul Pierce’s legacy was debatable. Opinions on ‘The Truth’ were mixed. Some believed he was slept-on. Others believed he was overrated.
Last year, he silenced the doubters by bringing an NBA Title back to Boston. And last week, the veteran swing provided a Kodak moment when he accepted his championship ring in an emotional ceremony.
(Another chapter in the Celtic legacy)
Winner #2: Toronto Raptors
Sam Mitchell’s glamorous suits don’t fool me. He will always be that feisty, undrafted pro fighting for a ten-day contract. Nothing has changed. Check out Mitchell’s media scrums with reporters or his reactions on the sidelines.
In fact, I’ve rarely seen the former coach of the year smile. All business. However, the sideline boss must be smiling on the inside with the acquisition of O’Neal.
Forget the numbers. O’Neal, if healthy, changes the Raptors from ‘Team Euro’ to ‘Team Nasty’. The lanky five-man can rebound, block shots, defend and, most importantly, plays like Mitchell did.
O’Neal, Chris Bosh, and Jose Calderon could be the combination to propel Toronto out of the Eastern Conference’s first round. Maybe then, Mitchell might smile.
Winner #3: Atlanta Hawks
They are undefeated. They have rallied back from a 23-point deficit. And they beat the competitive New Orleans Hornets. Okay, what have you done with the real Hawks?
I think the NBA’s Siberia is slowly changing. After all, Atlanta pushed Boston to seven games in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. And the roster has talent, especially upfront at the forward spots.
It is early. Much can still go wrong. Management could make another error of Jon Koncak proportion. Star Josh Smith and coach Mike Woodson could have another blow-up. And ownership could still meddle. Right now, things are surprisingly solid in Atlanta.Is Pierce finally getting respect? How will O’Neal impact Toronto? Will Atlanta continue to surprise? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for further NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Brewdudes.