ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher joined Dennis & Callahan Monday morning to talk about the Celtics-Hawks first-round playoff series. The Celtics rolled to a 101-79 victory Sunday night to take a 3-1 series lead.
"Paul Pierce has a great game, Rajon Rondo has a great game -- getting those two to have great games in the same game happens, but it doesn't happen consistently. And what they showed last night is when they can get both of those guys rolling at the same time, this team still has championship qualities about it, has the capability of doing that," Bucher said.
"Now, I don't know how many more performances like last night they have. When Rondo's stepping up and knocking down 3's as if he's Ray Allen, you know things are rolling in your favor. But the fact that they had those two guys going at the same time instantly made me think, 'You know what? Maybe that one-game suspension wasn't the worst thing to happen this team.' "
The Celtics need one more win to close out Atlanta, although Bucher said he wouldn't be shocked if the Hawks turned things around in Tuesday night's Game 5.
"They are just crazy enough to have that ability," he said. "I really feel as if they're going to need an emotional push. And we've seen this, and Celtics fans know this, too: Atlanta plays different at home than they do on the road. They get geeked up if the game is rolling in their favor.
"To me, it's going to be decided in the first quarter. What I don't like about the Hawks is that they're very much a front-running team. And I feel that if the Celtics can carry over what they did, or just hold serve through the first quarter, the first half, that the Hawks are eventually going to succumb in this next game.
"But that's going to be the key, because if they get out and they're rolling and Josh Smith running and dunking, that's not the kind of game the Celtics want top play in. That's the kind of game that gets the Hawks playing above their heads."
If the Celtics can finish off the Hawks, Bucher sees big things developing in Boston.
"I think the important thing for the Celtics is dispatch with that series … as quickly as possible and make sure you're right for the next step," he said. "Because with the way the Celtics have come on at the end of the season and the way they're playing right now, if they weren't already, they have to start thinking about the idea of, 'You know what? People closed the door on us. We might be able to sneak out of here with one more ring.' "
Added Bucher: "The way they're playing right now, I like them against anybody in the Eastern Conference."
If it comes down to a Celtics-Heat matchup in the Eastern Conference finals, Bucher said not to overlook the C's because they execute better, the Heat have yet to figure out Rondo, and the Celtics now have some youth and athleticism in the form of Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass.
Then there's the matter of LeBron James and his late-game disappearing acts. In Miami's two-point loss to the Knicks Sunday, Dwyane Wade dribbled out the final seconds before launching a wild 3-pointer while James again failed to take control.
"I'm just baffled," Bucher said. "Last night, [James] had it going in the final minutes. And they have the last possession for the game. And look, some of this is lip-reading, some of this is interpretation, but it looked to me that he was saying, 'No, no, Dwyane, you take the ball on the last possession.' And I'm thinking if there was ever a time for that guy to feel confident about taking the last shot, it would have to be that.
"I can't recall a great player, MVP-type talent, who is OK with not having the ball in his hands at the end of a game. It's just extraordinary to me."
Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday
Former Patriot Heath Evans, now with the NFL Network, joins Dale, Holley and Thornton every Monday for a thorough analysis of the Patriots and the NFL. This week we break down the shutout of Houston, and look ahead to the Bills.
We check in with safety Patrick Chung for a brief visit on Patriots Monday and discuss the win over Houston, and the upcoming game against the Bills.
Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.
Isaiah Thomas talks to Glenn and Lou about why he loves Boston, the NBA Money Bump, oh, and some Durant guy
Danny Ainge joins Glenn and Christian to explain the Celtics draft process; and he also discusses the trade rumors that permeated the night.
Rob Bradford is joined by former Red Sox, and current Cubs, catcher David Ross, who admits to joining teammates Jon Lester, John Lackey and many members of the Chicago front office in at least contemplating the idea of a Red Sox vs. Cubs World Series. Ross also compares his retirement tour to David Ortiz's, reveals stories of clubhouse celebrations, while suggesting that Lester is pitching better than ever.
Dale, Michael and Jerry speak with Sox slugger David Ortiz in his final regular season week of his career. We touch on the 2016 Sox heading into the playoffs, retirement, memories and Jose Fernandez.
Joe and Tim talked to the Sox catcher, who caught 23 strikeouts from Sox pitchers in the extra-inning win in Tampa Bay.
Joey Mac joins Ken Laird on his Saturday show to discuss the David Backes addition and Loui Eriksson departure in NHL free agency
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Kirk flipped out at Curtis and Fred Couples cried.
In hour three Tomase, Callahan and Minihane discuss Trump's comments this morning on Fox and Friends as well as Big Papi's farewell weekend at Fenway.
The guys continued to pick through Trump's performance in the debate and Kirk discussed a new Hollywood divorce in Headlines.
An angry female caller got Ordway rattled to the point where he starts complaining about an LA bar that only lets beautiful people inside. Unfortunately for Glenn (and most of the WEEI staff, really), he doesn't think they'd let him in.
Glenn, Lou and Christian kick off the show talking about last night's presidential debate, and how poorly Donald Trump looked during it.
In their first game since the tragic passing of Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon hit a lead off home run -- his first home run of the season. Glenn, Lou and Christian talk about the tragic news and the emotion surrounding that game last night.
We sit down with the head coach of the Patriots Bill Belichick to break down the win over Houston, and look ahead to the Buffalo Bills this Sunday.
Kirk Minihane sits down with the Boston Globes Sports Media Columnist, Chad Finn. Kirk and Chad talk about the long and storied feud between WEEI and the Boston Globe and the ongoing ratings war between WEEI and the Hub.
Kirk and Gerry talk about how the show is going since the departure of John Dennis, how the fill-in hosts have been doing so far, and what they are looking for in a third host.
Kirk Minihane loves TV and movies, he sits down with TV critic and author of the new book "TV (The Book)" Alan Sepinwall to discuss the best TV shows of all-time and which show should be number 1. Kirk and Alan disagree on which show is the best of all-time and they both have compelling arguments. Kirk and Alan talk about "Cheers" being one of the most underrated and forgotten TV shows of all-time.
Lucy, Ken and Curtis are back for episode four after the Monday edition was spiked by station management for "an unfathomable screw up". The new, careful edition discusses the John Tomase appearance and Curtis' trip to meet Jim from The Office with Kirk.
Thomas and Conor give a breakdown of the BC-Wagner game this weekend and look forward to next week's Buffalo game.
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