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."
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Peter King of SI.com join the show to talk about the latest news surrounding deflate gate.
Mike Westhoff joins the show to talk about deflate gate and the Pats innocence. Also what would have happened if he worked with Bill Belichick.
PHOENIX — After landing in Phoenix Monday afternoon, Patriots owner Robert Kraft took to the podium to make a passionate defense of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the organization in response to Deflategate.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out of hardware, and give their Finals predictions
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
The Red Sox have taken over Foxwoods and Red Sox Manager John Farrell sat down with Mut and Bradford to talk about the roster and how the 2015 season is looking.
Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly and 3B Pablo Sandoval sat down with Mut and Bradford. Joe Kelly had a few interesting proclamations. First he said that 95% of pitchers use some sort of grip enhancer, and then he said he was going to win the Cy Young. Pablo leaned over and promised 10 HR's, explaining to Joe that the trick is to set the bar low.
Mut and Rob are in on the Hot Stove Show this week and they're taking calls and talking about the Red Sox pitching as we are 5 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.
Pierre McGuire talks about ways hockey players skirt the rules in the NHL and the development of Dougie Hamilton.
Pierre McGuire joins Lou, Christian and Tim to discuss the resurgent Bruins, the emergence of David Pastrnak, and former Boston College stand-out Johnny Gaudreau looking to trademark the name 'Johnny Hockey.'
We get our state of the B report from NESN's Jack Edwards, right in the midst of a 4 game winning streak and hot return for David Pastrnak.
Ben Volin sits in with the guys and breaks down deflategate and the future of Darrelle Revis.
Kirk wasn't taking any crap from Woody in North Reading.
Tony Kornheiser joins Dennis and Callahan in Arizona to discuss his comment comparing Bill Belichick to Whitey Bulger.
Four-time Super Bowl Champion Bill Romanowski joined the show to share his thoughts on the greatest QB he ever played with, and his Super Bowl experiences.
Chris Mortensen, ESPN, joined the show to talk about all the reports regarding "Deflategate." He thinks that people are making too big a deal out of it. He also hints that he's skeptic of Bill Belichick's attempt to blame science on the balls dropping in pressure.
The Rogue Ball Boy Theory picks up steam...then dies. Is the Rogue Ball Boy the fastest ball deflater ever or is he simply someone with a healthy prostate who probably doesn't even wash his hands. Also, Ted Wells says the investigation will take a while. And Robert Kraft demands an apology if the investigation finds no wrong-doing by the Pats.
We dive deep into some of the shadier things the Patriots have done over the years from a personnel standpoint.
Mike Florio and Peter King talk about some of the latest news surrounding deflate gate and whether the Pats knowingly did something wrong.
Mike Westhoff joins the show and explains other cheating scandals and if he thinks the Patriots are guilty of deflate gate.
A caller named Jumbo from California raises a question that hasn't been talked about too much, what happens if it's determined that the Patriots aren't found responsible for the deflation of the footballs?
Mut and Lenny continue talking and taking calls on deflategate, as well as hearing the sound from Kirk Minihane's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor.
Mut and Lenny are talking deflategate and what impact it could have on the Patriots organization.
Chris and comedian Mike Mulloy recap the final Raw before the Rumble and preview the Rumble itself.
Would you rather watch important games in the stadium or on TV? Also we discuss our worst experiences at stadiums.
Ben and Sam discuss ways to improve the NBA All-Star weekend, hand out some hardware, and give their Finals predictions.
Ben Volin sits in with the guys and breaks down deflategate and the future of Darrelle Revis.More from this show
Former Panthers GM and current ESPN 730 radio host in Charlotte, Marty Hurney spoke, ambiguously, about a lot of "rumors" he's heard about the New England Patriots, dating back to 2001. He did admit he believes Bill Belichick's assertions during Saturday's press conference.More from this show
We get the national perspective on Deflategate and the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl with the playmaker, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.More from this show