Prior to the Celtics/Suns game in February I got the opportunity to interview Álvaro Martín of ESPN Deportes fame. That was one of my favorite posts ever on Green Bandwagon. Well with the rematch looming I was excited to interview Carlos Morales, Martín's broadcasting partner. I was even happier when his answers reflected how well the Celtics have played this year. Although to be fair I would have run them even if he disagreed with my point of view as was the case with question #4. Now you're desperate to read that one. Foreshadowing, foreshadowing. Anyways if you are not familiar with Morales' work you should check out his NBA.com bio, watch tonight's Celtics game on ESPN Deportes and read his answers to my questions below.
Green Bandwagon: Do the Celtics have what it takes to win a championship this season?
Carlos Morales: There is no doubt in my mind now that the Celtics are a genuine contender for the NBA championship this year. At the beginning of the season, I was one of many analysts that questioned if the supporting cast for Garnett, Pierce and Allen was good enough to sustain a championship run, but I think that question has been adequately answered.
Green Bandwagon: If the Celtics were down to their final possession and needed two points to win, who takes the shot?
Carlos Morales: I think that one of the strengths of this team it that it has 3 genuine "go to guys" (or four if Cassell is on the court at the end of games). The unselfishness of Garnett, Pierce an Allen, but also the willingness of the three of them to rise to the occasion if needed, makes it too difficult for opponents to try to anticipate who will be taking that last shot. It's always a guessing game at the end, mixed with "pick your poison"
Green Bandwagon: Do you agree with those who argue that Paul Pierce is playing the best basketball of his career?
Carlos Morales: Without a doubt. Pierce's numbers are up there with his best statistical years, but there are also intangible contributions to the success of this team in terms of leadership, communication, team defense, and willingness to sacrifice, that are equally important and can't be measured with plain numbers.
Green Bandwagon: Who is your pick for MVP?
Carlos Morales: I think that it has become a race of two horses for the MVP, between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. I'm from the school of thought that you reward not only the player whose contribution to his team is most needed, but also how well his team finishes in the Standings. This eliminates LeBron James from the conversation, because Cleveland is only the 4th best team in the East. It may be unfair, but I think Garnett and Pierce eliminate each other, because their contributions to the success of the Celtics have been equally important.
Green Bandwagon: How far will the Phoenix Suns go this season?
Carlos Morales: It's hard to say. The Suns seem to be clicking at the right time with their latest winning streak, but they have had to change so much just to accommodate O'Neal and try to get the maximum contribution possible from him, that I don't now how that will affect them in the postseason. The West is so competitive, that having a good team and playing your best basketball only guarantees that you may be considered a contender, but nothing more.
Special thanks to Carlos Morales and the people at ESPN for making this happen.