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."
Rodney Harrison, NBC Sports, joined MFB to discuss last night's game against the Chiefs, the Patriots' issues on both offense and defense, and how he feels Brandon Browner will impact the defense as he returns from suspension.
Greg, Steve and Chris zero in on the O-line specifically and look at what it will take to right the ship. Is the running game a solution or more blocking from TE's, LaFell etc. ?
The boys discuss what is going on with the Pats offense and why Brady has looked a little off so far. Is it O-line or WR issues? They specifically discuss Amendola, Thompkins and Dobson - who's the odd man out?
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Joe Castiglione does his annual wrap-up of the season by reading the poem by Bart Giamatti.
Mut and Rob discuss the "kids" and the variety of young bodies the Red Sox called upon this season. Specifically, they look at Bogaerts and Bradley, Jr. and where things went wrong. They give their opinions on which one will right the ship next season.
Description: Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett looks back at the 2014 Red Sox prospect season by answering listener questions about a number of Red Sox prospects as well as broader issues and themes in the farm system.
DJ Bean, WEEI.com, joined the guys to talk about the Bruins signing two young stars to 1-year contracts.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys opened the show discussing the Pats brutal Monday night loss.
John Dennis left the show mid segment.
Christian's nephew twisted his ankle and missed Sunday's game because he (supposedly) slipped while rushing down the stairs to stop his puppy from peeing on the floor. Lou addresses the Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty from last night's game, in which a Chiefs player was flagged for dropping to his knees during a TD celebration. And Christian is dubious of some photos of LaRon Landry.
A familiar sentiment has arisen regarding the Patriots offense. Tom Brady is locking in on 2 guys (Edelman and Gronk) and no one else seems to be getting a look. A 37 year old, future Hall of Fame QB, has little to no weapons in 2014.
Lou, Christian and Tim break down last night's embarrassing loss on national television. They wonder just how much progress has been made towards building a championship team.
We discuss the Rajon Rondo injury and conspiracy theories, and whether or not his tale about falling in the shower holds any water. Get it? Shower... water? Nevermind.
We bring you the stuff you might have missed that we didn't have a chance to touch on today.
We tackle four topics all inspired by Derek Jeter's long goodbye.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Ben and Russ break down some rumors surrounding Real Madrid and Manchester United. Also on the docket is the MLS and your New England Revolution.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Gerry's passionate defense of Tom Brady, going to lunch and clock issues in the third edition of Breaking Balls.
Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett looks back at the 2014 Red Sox prospect season by answering listener questions about a number of Red Sox prospects as well as broader issues and themes in the farm system.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show