ESPN analyst and former NBA player Tim Legler joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics' loss to the Heat.
Much of the talk about Tuesday night centered on Rajon Rondo's flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade in the closing seconds of the game. Legler did not have an issue with the play.
Said Legler: "I look at it as a guy who's competitive and feisty. … To me, I was just saying to myself, 'Why [is it] with 18 seconds left in the game before somebody does that?' Because I got sick personally -- I'm not even a diehard Celtics fan -- I'm getting sick watching the game, how many times are guys just going to turn the corner and get to the basket without any sort of resistance or contact?
"All of the talk about Kevin Garnett shrugging off Ray Allen before the game and all of those things, there's an attitude there with Boston, but I didn't see it manifest itself on the court. They didn't play that game with the physical intensity of a playoff game. And that's what you need to do. It didn't really occur until 15, 20 seconds left in the game when somebody finally took a hard foul. So, I don't have a big problem with it. I just wish, if I'm Doc Rivers, it happened sooner."
Legler acknowledged that Rivers should be concerned about Rondo, but the mercurial point guard does too much to be overlooked.
"I'm sure it's something that keeps [Rivers] up at night at times, and it's probably never going to change," Legler said. "But Rajon Rondo is a guy that -- and I couldn't believe last year as many times as I heard his name come up in trade rumors -- he just does too many things to help you win basketball games. The one thing that has to happen, though, for this team to max out and really make a serious run at a title is I just think there are times in a game that he has to be so much more aggressive offensively looking for his own shot and looking for his own game. … I think there are times when he is looking for guys too much.
"They need him, because he's the quickest player on the floor at times and he has a defensive matchup advantage, they need him to be more aggressive as a scorer and not go six, eight minutes at times where he's really not aggressive, not looking to score. They need that out of him because they need his athleticism and his ability to put pressure on teams at the basket."
Legler said Tuesday night's outcome doesn't change his thinking that the Heat and Celtics are 1-2 in the Eastern Conference.
"Going into the season I said that these are the two teams that are going to play in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite the fact that Boston really struggled last night defensively and didn't offer a lot of resistance to Miami, I still think they're going to be a better team this year than they were a year ago," Legler said. "The Miami Heat right now, clearly to me, are the best team in the East, and they showed it last night. I was a little bit surprised that Miami was that effective offensively this early in the season. They typically have been slow out of the gate to get going to the last couple of years. But last night offensively they executed and shot the ball as if they were in midseason form. I give them a lot of credit because they really looked sharp."
Added Legler: "The Heat are a better team right now. They are. They won a championship a year ago, and you can just tell there's a more relaxed tone about that team. They also went out and added Ray Allen, they added Rashard Lewis. This is a team that now is just very, very difficult to defend."
Legler said if the Celtics are to have a chance to upend the Heat, they're going to need to shore up their defense. The return of Avery Bradley should help in that regard, but Legler said the rest of the Celtics need to step it up.
"Boston clearly wasn't close to as good as they're going to be defensively last night," Legler said. "They gave up too many easy baskets. You can't give up easy baskets against the Heat. … You certainly didn't see Boston's best performance defensively last night. And I don't know how much better Miami can play than they did last night. So I think that's the one thing that can give Boston hope. But as I said a couple of minutes ago, if both of these teams are firing on all cylinders, the Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA."
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