Celtics: ‘We’re Not Underdogs’





MIAMI – If not for the Boston Celtics, 2007-08 edition, the superstar-heavy version of the Miami Heat that came together in July 2010 might never have happened. It was that Celtics team’s ability to gel around an instant Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen all the way to a championship that inspired the Heat’s own trio of stars to do in free agency what Boston exec Danny Ainge did via trades.

So here they are now, five years along for the prototypes, second year in for the newer, younger versions, ostensibly headed in different directions. For LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat, anything short of a return to the Finals and an NBA title this spring will feel like a failure. For the Celtics, this is more of a last gasp, the Eastern Conference finals as a victory lap for a squad in its last days together.

Lots of NBA insiders consider this best-of-seven series almost ceremonial, two proud, ambitious teams headed in opposite directions. Their play this season would appear to back that up: Miami was a contender for the league’s top record for much of the 2011-12 schedule, boasts one of the most explosive attacks and stingiest defenses, had 29 blowout victories (by 10 or more points), has the reigning Most Valuable Player (James) and is humming again with its adjustment to Bosh’s absence due to an abdominal strain.

Boston, on the other hand, was 15-17 at the All-Star break and was sub-.500 (15-18) in road games. It no longer leans as heavily on its three stars, instead relying on younger point guard Rajon Rondo as its key player. The Celtics endured injuries early (Jeff Green’s heart condition) and late (Avery Bradley’s shoulder surgery), struggled to generate offense and had their hands full in the conference semifinals with No. 8 seed Philadelphia.

That would make the Celtics decided underdogs now, right? That’s not how they see it.

“I never look at it that way,” Rivers said before his team’s shootaround Monday. “We don’t look at ourselves as anything other than combatants. Call us what you want, but we’re going to come play regardless. That’s the way we look at ourselves. How everybody else looks at us, that’s up to them.”

The Heat aren’t heading into the series feeling like favorites, either. “We understand the challenges we have ahead of us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They have championship experience. You cannot discount that, and they have proven that in the last two series. Everybody was counting them out. They’re exactly where they want to be: Everybody counting them out and claiming that they’re this or they’re that. They’re not. That’s how they’ve been able to win.

“Even when they had that championship run — seven-game series, they grind games, they do it with their defense, they do it with timely proficient offense. They still have the Hall of Famers playing out there. They have the five years of experience. They have all the grind games that they’ve been in. They’ve been in every single situation. Nothing will surprise them and they’re playing with great confidence now. Both teams are, and that’s the way it should be.”

22 Comments

  1. Fonzy says:

    Why all of you are talking about this series when in fact the NBA finals are playing now between the okc and the spurs. I don’t see Miami or Boston will give spurs and thunder a good series. Both OKC and SA will sweep them.

  2. Judith says:

    hey sick,its a 7 games serie

  3. James says:

    I am a loyal Heat fan ever since TIm hardaway and Alonzo’s years… loyal up to now. I’m also a big fan of Bron ever since he came from Cleveland and fell the world has been to hard on Miami’s big 3 even if they actually sacrificed a lot of money just to have c chance and play together…

    The big 2 is actually 2 of the best 4 basketball players in the planet today (Mix in Kobe and Durant)

    But they will hit a road block against the Spurs. IT’S INEVITABLE!!! A galant stand for the Heat and the biggest challenge for San Antonio (maybe the ONLY challenge this post season), But I pick Spurs in 6.

    Another Game 6 finals’ heartbreak for the Heat… Even if Bosh returns, he will be out of shape… Man, I hate our unlucky breaks, with this good old timers (Duncan, Nowitzki, Kidd, Ginobilli, Terry, Parker) always spoiling the EHat party….

    Not one, not two… but 5 championship… failures…..

    The East is always in the bag but somehow, but a different beast emerges from the West.
    They better get Steve Nash, if he joins a powerhouse team in the West to win a ring (say Lakers or Thunder) next season, it will happen again next year….

    Three championship…. failures in a row for the Heat. They did not join forces to win 5 East conference championships right?

  4. MaximoConTodo says:

    1-0 in favor of Heat.. Celtics showed they can still catch up, don’t count the C’s out, not just yet. This’ll be a long series. Celtics in 7 games…

  5. crate blanche says:

    celtics will beat SPURS AND MIAMI …in 10 games!

  6. Smith says:

    Wahahahah definitely celtics are underdogs ,, 1-0 baby and w/0 bosh what a joke heat in 4!! To old celtics… Look at Paul p. Chasing James Wahaha can’t even run ,, gasping for air ;) WEAK!!

  7. BamBam says:

    Boston got torched. Dwade and LBJ are too much for them. now the heat bench are alive no one is stopping the heat.

  8. MIAMI 3 6 1 says:

    @spelkey55 where’s the fire you’re talking about???? They run out on gas…. Why don’t you just packed your things and prepare for fishing trip…. the only direction your cetics are having now is downwards…. celtics simply get into ECF by accident… as a HEAT fan we really love to see bulls VS HEAT in ECF to settle the score once and for all…. but still they can dump the bulls just as simple as that…as long as DWADE and LBJ playing together….drose has no chance in the EAST and the only chance for him to play in the FINALS is going to the WEST and join the fakers …. bulls and cetics may beat the HEAT on regular season but that’s it…. They will fold to the HEAT during playoffs… Just like last season….

  9. John From OKC says:

    It would help the Celtics if Doc Rivers could remember that veteran mediocrities are still mediocrities. Or to pt it slightly differently, give more playing time to people like E’Twan Moore and JaJuan Johnson (the defensive player of the year in the Big 10 last year) whose primes are still ahead of them, and less to Mikael Pietrus, who wouldn’t even be on the roster if it were my decision. Experience is something most of the C’s players have more than enough of.

  10. Ozman says:

    Boston are only there by default, cause the bulls folded due to injuries, miami will sweep them

  11. gerald29 says:

    too old celtics cant done it …heat in 6 over spurs…

  12. spelkey55 says:

    The Hawks fans were taking trash, the Hawks are home watching on tv after returning from their fishing trip. The 6ers fans were talking trash, now the 6ers are out fishing. Now we got Miami fans talking trash? The Celtics are just loving the fact that everyone thinks they are washed up. It just gives them more incentive to shut all the trash talkers up which makes them play harder. So go ahead Miami fans and yuck it up! Your just adding fuel to the C’s fire! LOL

  13. Seattle SuperSonics says:

    I really believe the Celtics have a chance of winning this series. Or at least making it last 6 or 7 games. I think defensively, Celtics are a fantastic team, and the Heat’s bench will struggle, leaving Lebron and Wade to make up most of the offense. I’m really dissapointed the Pacers couldn’t beat the Heat, I really believed they could do it. I think the Celtics may be able to do it because they have three proven Hall of Famers. And Rajon Rondo is one of the top-5 Point Guards, and best True Point guard in the game today. Watch out for the Celtics. Either way, this is gonna be a great series.

  14. Doug BR says:

    It’s gonna be a great series. I’m a Celts fan, but I know the chances are slim. If the hole team play focused, there is a chance. 7-games series for sure!

  15. jESSIA says:

    CELTICS FOR LIFE <3

    YOU CAN BEAT THE HEAT, I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!

  16. Bryan says:

    Go Miami Heat!

    Beat the Spurs! Lol!

  17. Aaron says:

    The Celtics will win this series in five games.

  18. Celtic Fan says:

    CELTICS CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!
    BEAT THE HEAT!!!!!!

  19. Bev says:

    This is going to be an all out “DOG FIGHT”!!
    Gooo Heat !!!