MIAMI –– This wasn’t exactly Larry Bird calling his team “soft,” or was it? Rajon Rondo thought the Celtics allowed Dwyane Wade and LeBron James too many easy looks at the rim in Game 1 and said more resistance is in order.
“They have to hit the deck,” he said, and for the second straight series, the Heat might be provoked by a desperate opponent. The Pacers tried that last week, with Tyler Hansbrough whacking Wade hard enough to draw blood, which in turn had Udonis Haslem seeking justice.
James, for one, simply shrugged off Rondo’s warning.
“I don’t need to prepare for something I already think is going to happen every game,” he said. “I expect to be put on the deck and then you go to the free throw line. Being physical has always been a part of the opponent’s game plan against every team I’ve been on.”
Wade was dismissive, too, but only to an extent: “We’re not just going to let anyone come and punk us.”
James and Wade never put themselves in position to get ejected for fighting; they know they’re too important for that. The retaliating is usually left to others. Besides, all Rondo did was alert the referees to be quick with their whistles, in case the physical play creeps close to being over the line.
Strangely enough, the last time a player hit the deck hard in a game between these teams was Rondo. Last spring, in a collision with Wade, Rondo nearly broke his arm. He showed amazing toughness and a competitive spirit by returning to play with a dislocated elbow, which limited him the rest of a series that Miami easily won.
But, as Rondo clarified the other day, he and the Celtics don’t plan anything “dirty.” Which was nice of him to say.