Boston Celtics: 2012Round3
ESPN's Bruce Bowen drops by SportsCenter to preview the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Bowen tackles key topics like, 1) The Heat without Chris Bosh; 2) Boston defending Dwayne Wade and LeBron James; 3) A quick turnaround for the Celtics in Game 1 and whether they can steal an early win; and 4) If Boston can push the Heat in this series.
More links to offday video:
* LeBron, D-Wade, & Spoelstra on facing the Celtics
Jackie MacMullan: Heat in 6
The exhausted, battered Celtics have no business thinking they can beat Miami -- which is exactly why they WILL think that. That's what positive self-talk does for you. Too bad they simply don't have the healthy bodies to back it up.
Chris Forsberg: Heat in 6
Avery Bradley dealt this team a crippling and potentially fatal blow in this round. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett should individually carry Boston to a couple of wins to make things interesting, but Boston would need a near flawless series in order to emerge and we simply haven't seen the consistency (or the health) necessary to pull that off. Yet again, Boston will be left to wonder what could have been if it had full health in the postseason.
Peter May: Celtics in 7
Defense will rule the series with occasional bursts of Rondo Magic, but it will all come down to the fourth quarter of Game 7 and LeBron will come up short once again.
Greg Payne: Celtics in 6
The Heat have the two best players in the series, but Boston boasts two significant advantages at the point guard spot with Rondo and inside with Garnett, who is playing some of his finest basketball since joining the Celtics. Rondo will probably have to average a triple-double, and the C's will need to figure out how to guard Dwyane Wade, given Ray Allen's ankle woes. But with Bosh out, the Celtics become the overall better team, which will be enough to conquer two stellar players and a so-so supporting cast.
With their own Big Three assembled last season, Miami ousted Boston in 5 games in the second round en route to the NBA Finals. But Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said the Celtics won't be looking for revenge this time around.
Rondo toughed out the end of last year's series with a dislocated elbow suffered in Game 3. Boston is nursing its own batch of maladies this year, which only makes the task at hand that much tougher.
"It's what it is, man. (The Heat are) playing well right now," said Kevin Garnett. "They beat a very tough Indiana team. I think LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade are playing at high levels right now. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves, so it should be an interesting series.
"This is the cream of the cream. This is what it's all about, conference finals. We definitely don't like the way we left last year, so we'll see what happens, man. We'll see what happens. Let's get it on."
The Celtics are sure to be underdogs, particularly coming off a grueling (and often ugly) seven-game series with the 76ers. Boston has already played two more playoff games than the Heat, who have also been resting since closing out the Pacers on Thursday.
"It is what it is; We’re up for the challenge," said captain Paul Pierce. "We know how tough it is to win in this league, especially in the playoffs. We know how hard it is to win a championship. So we expect this to be tough.”
Echoed Mickael Pietrus: "We know that we have to focus on Miami. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be a tough matchup. But we’re willing to take the challenge all the way, and do what we’ve been doing: just fight.”
Garnett was playfully asked after Saturday's Game 7 triumph over the 76ers if he had any thoughts on Miami fans (this after drawing the ire of some by suggesting Philly had 'fair-weather' fans).
"Not at all," said Garnett, eliciting laughter. "You got me with that once, you won't get me twice."
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