ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics ‘ chances in the playoffs and whether they’re still a title contender. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
The hosts opened the segment by asking Bucher which team’s expectations have shifted the most since early in the season.
‘For me, it’s got to be the Chicago Bulls ,’ Bucher sad. ‘I 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 ]. ‘¦ 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.
‘I 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. ‘They 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. ‘When 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  trade when it happened and if those thoughts have changed at all.
‘I couldn’t believe it,’ he said. ‘We 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.
‘Could 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 , the main piece the Celtics got in return.
‘It’s a mixed bag,’ he said. ‘I 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.
‘Absolutely,’ Bucher said. ‘In 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 . ‘I do,’ he said, ‘simply 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.’