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Ric Bucher on D&C: Celtics still can reach NBA finals

ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics [1]‘€™ chances in the playoffs and whether they’€™re still a title contender. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [2].

The hosts opened the segment by asking Bucher which team’€™s expectations have shifted the most since early in the season.

‘€œFor me, it’€™s got to be the Chicago Bulls [3],’€ Bucher sad. ‘€œI keep waiting for them to falter, and maybe we’€™ll finally see it at some point in the playoffs, but they keep defying what we expect from a team that really only has one true superstar [Derrick Rose [4]]. ‘€¦ Boston fans know this as much as anyone, when you have that ubuntu, that sort of collective feeling of confidence, it can do a lot more for you than your simple talent is capable of.’€

A lot of people are picking the Celtics as the team most likely to get upset in the first round. Bucher said he isn’€™t on board with that, though.

‘€œI would still say Orlando-Atlanta is going to be the most interesting series, in spite of the fact Atlanta has kind of fallen down recently,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œThey have played Orlando well this year, in contrast to previous years. They’€™re 3-1 against them.’€

Bucher explained why he doesn’€™t see the Knicks as that big a threat to the Celtics. ‘€œWhen you get to the playoffs and the game slows down and it becomes a half-court game, I just don’€™t see that in the Knicks’€™ arsenal. ‘€¦ I don’€™t see those easy baskets coming.’€

The guys also asked Bucher about what his thoughts were on the Kendrick Perkins [5] trade when it happened and if those thoughts have changed at all.

‘€œI couldn’€™t believe it,’€ he said. ‘€œWe were doing a trade show when it came in, and I thought it had to be a mistake. I refused to believe that the Celtics had done it because it just took them out of the driver’€™s seat of winning another championship. So now it’€™s a matter of survival.

‘€œCould they win it without him? Yeah, there’€™s a path in which I could see that they could, but it’€™s incredibly more difficult.’€

Bucher said NBA circles seem to be split on how they view Jeff Green [6], the main piece the Celtics got in return.

‘€œIt’€™s a mixed bag,’€ he said. ‘€œI have people who really believe he can be the core of a great team, a potential champion team. And then there are others who believe he’€™s the third or fourth wheel on a good team. It really is in the eye of the beholder. From everything that I hear, Danny [Ainge] is one of those guys who believes in his talent.’€

Bucher said he still gives the Celtics, despite their struggles, a good chance of getting past the Heat in the second round.

‘€œAbsolutely,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œIn watching the game [on Sunday], I saw the result initially and thought, ‘€˜Wow, man, the tide has turned.’€™ And then I watched the first five minutes of the game and thought, ‘€˜Wow, the Celtics are getting everything they want against this team.’€™ When they execute, Miami doesn’€™t have any answers. Then they just stopped playing.’€

Bucher said he even gives the Celtics a good chance of reaching the NBA finals [7]. ‘€œI do,’€ he said, ‘€œsimply because we’€™ve never seen this Bulls team in a Game 4 on the road that puts a stranglehold on a series or a pivotal Game 5. ‘€¦ I know what I have in the Celtics. I know that they’€™ve answered that bell. I have a great comfort level there than I do with the Heat or the Bulls because they’€™re playoff-tested.’€