I talked with Cleveland starting swingman Anthony Parker prior to the Celtics-Cavs game tonight. Here is what the Bradley alum, who is averaging 6.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and a team best 2.4 assists per turnover, had to say.
1. From an outside perspective, what is your view of the Celtics, they are 9-9, but are they still an elite team?
Parker: You know, I think a lot of people had questions coming into this season with the condensed schedule and not a lot of time to prepare and everything, so does it favor them, does it hurt them? I think they are a veteran team that knows how to win, and regardless of injuries, you see now that they have the capabilities that come playoff team they are probably going to be a team that no one wants to see in the First Round.
2. How has the short preseason and limited practice time effected you guys? I think you've surprised some with your record to this point.
Parker: I think that it is something that everyone has had to deal with, everybody is on a level playing field. Coaches have done a good job of mixin in, getting in shape, and getting everyone after it, and putting in sets, but also knowing when we need a break. You know it's definitely something you have to teach on the fly, and there is a gradual chemistry and feel between the players that kind of evolves as the season goes on, but you know, everybody is dealing with it.
3. What kind of challenge is it for a player like you who has to guard both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the same night?
Parker: They are both great at what they do, and its completely different. And I think that is why they complement each other so well. Paul Pierce is really good on the ball, creating his own shot, and creating for other players, isos, and stuff like that. Ray Allen is just constant motion, players really look to screen for him, and he's one of the best are learning how to use the screens and getting his shots off. It's a different challenge, but equally tough.
4. How have the Cleveland fans been, now a full year removed from LeBron James?
Parker: Well I think last year the Cleveland fans have been great, this year they have been great. There is a new energy, a new hope, especially with the young guys we have in the organization now. I think this year we have kind of turned the corner, we haven't gotten as many questions about the last couple years. I know that is a sign of turning the corner and talking about the roster we have now.
5. I know he was the #1 pick in the draft, but are you surprised by just how quickly Kyrie has been able to come in and have success?
Parker: I mean the kid can play. And considering he missed most of his one year of college, he's only logged, I don't know how many hundreds of minutes since high school. So just his pace that he plays with, his ability, his natural talent and his feel for the game is far ahead of what I expected from him, his future is bright.
Who do you got, Pats or Giants in the Super Bowl?
Parker: (laughs) You know what, I'm a Bears fan. So one of the corny answers, I just want a good game. But either way, I think if Eli wins it, you know I'm happy for him in that market and kind of taking the beaten he's done. But then for Tom Brady to come back and win, what would it be, his 4th? (Keefe: Yeah, it would be his 4th win.) I think that would be awesome, and it would certainly cement him as being one of the elite quarterbacks of all time.