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."
Dr. Tony Schena joined the show to give insight into what lies ahead for Rob Gronkowski. He said a tough road is in front of the Patriots tight end.
We discuss the improbable win over the Browns and the loss of Rob Gronkowski with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday.
Ninkovich sits in with Mut and Merloni to look back at yesterday’s comeback win against the Browns. Rob also explains the range of emotions the team experienced after Rob Gronkowski suffered a potentially season ending injury.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
It's a baseball round table from the winter meetings in Orlando, Rob Bradford talks with Ian Browne, Scott Lauber, Tim Britton, and Jason Mastrodonato.
Buster joins Mut and Merloni live at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Buster explains that the market for Stephen Drew has cooled off considerably and executives around the league believe he will return to Boston.
Hazen talks with Mut and Merloni about the on-going offseason process. Mike explains how the Red Sox dove in to free agency immediately after the team’s World Series win. He also explains how the team creates opportunities for young players that are ready to make the jump to the Major League level.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys went over a list of the most annoying people to see on your flight.
The guys opened the show discussing the great reception Doc Rivers got last night at The Garden. They said it was not surprising and well deserved.
Boston College running back Andre Williams joined the show and discussed his record setting season. He said that he will work on his acceptance speech on the flight down to New York.
Jackie MacMullan joins the show to discuss the return of Doc Rivers to Boston and what really happened during the offseason that led to Doc's departure.
Brick joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Shawn Thornton's on ice actions last week against the Penguins and what type of suspension he may be facing.
Mut and Merloni react to Doc Rivers' emotional return to Boston and they discuss the way he left the Celtics.
We debate the hit, and what Shawn Thornton deserves to get and will get for a suspension from the NHL when he faces his discipline hearing on Friday for his K/O hit of the Penguins Brooks Orpik.
We check in with Jack Edwards of NESN and focus on the Bruins, and more specifically Sean Thornton's upcoming discipline hearing for his cheap-shot hit on Brooks Orpik of the Penguins.
We focus on multi-sport athletes in today's four topics at 4PM.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
No Jenny Dell today, but Mikey's back and we're answering questions bitches!
We answer what you ask... and by we mean Salk, Holley and special guest Jenny Dell of NESN!
Answering questions, its what we do.
We discuss the comers and goers for the Red Sox and the rest of MLB with former GM Steve Phillips, now of MLB Radio on Sirius XM.More from this show
Ho, hum. We're live at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, and it seems like everything of merit was done last week. We still discuss the Sox roster moves and potential for 2014.More from this show