|Ric Bucher on D&C: ‘Athleticism has taken over this league’||05.11.11 at 9:09 am ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Ric Bucher made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics-Heat series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Asked if the Celtics will claw and scrape and do whatever they can to avoid elimination in Wednesday night’s Game 5, Bucher said that might be the case, but it still likely won’t be enough.
“I would certainly expect that [effort], knowing the character and the temperament of this team. I just don’t know that it’s going to matter,” he said. “We’ve seen one thing in this postseason, it’s that the athletes and athleticism has taken over this league. It’s just a matter of sort of pushing that big boulder downhill; it begins to gain momentum.
“The Miami Heat, whatever confidence they had playing against the Celtics overall, beating them on their home floor, beating them in last-minute execution just has to do wonders for their confidence. And if there was an Achilles’ heel that the Celtics had to take advantage of with the Heat, it was the fact that the Heat seemed to have a fragile psyche. And if you could get them doubting themselves, you could get that boulder rolling in the other direction. I just don’t see that happening at this point.
“Going home, I just feel like the Heat are going to come out hard, they’re going to play fast. I just don’t know that the Celtics at this point have the requisite physical ability to slow down that freight train.”
Added Bucher: “It’s hard for me, when I look at the width and breadth of this series, to make case for why the Celtics are going to get it to a Game 6, much less get it to a Game 7 and make a great comeback.”
Bucher said the lack of production from the Celtics’ bench players is something the team could not afford. “The big disappointment — and maybe it shouldn’t be disappointment, maybe my expectations were too great — Big Baby Davis, Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic, who didn’t even play in the last game, Delonte West — when those guys gave them something, as they did in Game 3, this was a different team,” he said. “Expecting those role players to give them something, to give them transcendent performances on the road just flies against history and tradition. … At this point, I don’t see any reason for that to change.”
Bucher said the Heat have become the clear favorite to win the NBA title. “When I look around, defensively they’re as good as the Chicago Bulls, and they have two superstars vs. one who can get you shots. That’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but in some ways, I can’t make a case that goes against it,” he said “And when I look around, there’s not another team that plays as well defensively as the Chicago Bulls. It defies everything we know about basketball, and I think Greater America is probably still rooting against the Miami Heat. But all that said, talent trumps all.”
Touching on the Kendrick Perkins trade and how much criticism Danny Ainge will get assuming the Celtics bow out of the playoffs, Bucher said Ainge was doing what ownership wanted.
Said Bucher: “He didn’t have to sell this to Wyc Grousbeck and ownership. Ownership was of the mind that, ‘Hey, look, we’re going to get into a financial pinch here and we’re going to get old in a hurry. We need to hedge our bet this year and move somewhat in a different direction.’ It’s going to play out. Certainly, Danny has earned himself some time, and we’ll get the chance to see ultimately how this pans out.
“I’ve said it in a number of places: Did they hurt their chances of winning a championship this year with the Kendrick Perkins trade? I believe that they did. But when I look at the Celtics moving forward, versus, say, the Lakers, the Celtics have a better chance of rejuvenating themselves than the Lakers, and in large part because they made that Kendrick Perkins deal.”
However, that future isn’t likely to include Dwight Howard, who can become a free agent next year. “Honestly, I don’t see any way in which they can get involved,” Bucher said, adding: “They’re not in the conversation right now.”
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