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2012 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Boston Celtics

Beat Philadelphia in the conference semifinals, 4-3.
Beat Atlanta in the first round, 4-2.
Seed: #4 (East)
Record: 39-27
Stat Leaders: Paul Pierce (19.4 PPG), Kevin Garnett (8.2 RPG), Rajon Rondo (11.7 APG, 1.8 SPG), Greg Stiemsma (1.6 BPG).
Opponent: #2 Miami Heat, 46-20
Record Against Them This Season: 3-1
Writer: John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John)
Web Site: Red's Army

No rest for the weary. The Boston Celtics are a beat-up team but they keep pushing on. They just survived a grueling (unwatchable) seven-game go-round with the Sixers. Now they get the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. I bring back John Karalis of Red's Army to get his reactions about the Celtics' playoff run so far. I'm sure he's a bit giddy at the moment.

Did you, at some point, think that the Celtics would lose this series at home? Or did you think Boston was going to pull this off no matter what?

I know I told you six games, but I later thought it might be 5 the way things were shaping up. Losing Bradley hurt them A LOT, but I always thought the Celtics were going to pull this out. I will admit I did get nervous in the fourth, though, especially once Pierce fouled out. Gotta hand it to Philly, they didn't quit. They're young and that made them do some stupid things, but they didn't quit.

Tell me how big the loss of Avery Bradley is. Not many casual fans know who he is.

It's such a huge loss because he's their best on-ball defender. With him and Rondo in tandem, you have a great combination in the back court where Bradley creates chaos on the ball and Rondo swoops in and picks up a steal. Bradley's defense was a catalyst for the Celtics offense. And he's young and fast enough to keep up with Rondo in transition.

He didn't get the starting nod over Ray for nothing. Doc doesn't make those calls without serious thought when it comes to someone with Ray's stature. Now Ray Allen, 36 years old and playing on an ankle that needs surgery, has to chase Dwyane Wade around.


We know how important the Big Four can be but how important has Brandon Bass been this postseason?

He's struggled a bit, but he's shown how important he is in those games he's performed well. Bass gives the Celtics much-needed floor spacing. He and Garnett, with their ability to shoot the long J at a very high rate, force defenders out of the paint. That gives Rondo and Pierce, as the team's resident slashers, room to operate.

He's also an underrated defender. I know he's not known for it, but the numbers do show that 1-on-1, he does a very good job defensively.

Say hello to the Heat again. They beat the Celtics last year. So how do the Celtics intend to stop the Heat this time?

Rondo's going to have to make Chalmers pay every time he handles the ball. LeBron will bring the ball up often enough, so when it's in Chalmers' hands, you have to take it from him.

Beyond that, you take away every option you can and let this become an iso-Wade and iso-LeBron show. The Heat offense is at its worst when they just take turns and try to score points. You CANNOT turn the ball over against Miami, unless you enjoy watching yourself in their highlights. They have to be turned into a half court team with no ball movement.

On offense, the Celtics will rely on Rondo again to have a monster series. He's going to have to have the best series of his life to make this one competitive. Pierce's knee won't let him drive past LeBron very often, so Rondo's going to have to be the guy living in the lane, drawing defenses, and then picking Miami apart.

There will also be a heavy dose of Kevin Garnett, regardless of whether Bosh plays or not. KG will have a lot of touches and a lot of chances to bury that long jumper of his. But that's going to come only if Rondo can dominate offensively.

Paul Pierce has a bad knee. Ray Allen is banged up. But Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have been carrying this Boston team. From a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that Boston can advance to the NBA Finals for the third time in five years?

Honestly, it's at about a 3 or 4. The Celtics are just too banged up. By the end of June, six different Celtics since the beginning of training camp will have needed surgery (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Jermaine O'Neal, Avery Bradley, Ray Allen and Mickael PIetrus). Pierce has said his knee is at 20%. Greg Steimsma's foot is a mess. KG is running on fumes ... even Rondo walks around wrapped up like a mummy some games.

At full strength, the Celtics have the matchups to make this an interesting, 7 game series that could go either way. At the level they're at now, it will take a Hall of Fame level effort to make this close.

Do you have anything else to say, young man?

Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn! Einhorn is a man!

Oh my GOD.... Einhorn is a man!!!


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