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Chris Broussard on M&M: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra ‘in over his head’ 06.06.12 at 12:59 pm ET
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Appearing on Mut & Merloni Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Chris Broussard discussed the Eastern Conference finals series following Boston’s Game 5 win Tuesday night. Broussard said the Celtics will win Game 6 and the series, citing Boston’s championship mentality as a reason for eventual triumph over the Heat. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Celtics. … Even when they lose, you walk away saying those guys are winners,” Broussard said. “They’re champions, they play with so much heart and mental toughness. They play through injuries, through adversity, they’re well-coached, they execute, they can play in the clutch. They’re great.

“And I feel that lack of respect for the Heat, because they don’t play up to their potential. They don’t execute, I don’t think they’re well-coached. … This team needs somebody with the credibility to kick them in the butt and make them perform and make them play with intensity — a Pat Riley, a Phil Jackson, a Gregg Popovich, somebody of that ilk. Maybe it’s not to blame [Erik] Spoelstra; he’s just in over his head. He never should have been put in charge of this situation.”

Broussard said Spoelstra has been unable to come up with effective strategies late in the game, noting that the Heat usually fall back on an isolation play that hasn’t produced good results.

“How about running a play like the Celtics do?” Broussard said. “Doc Rivers goes out of every time out and they run a great play and usually score. At the end of the game, whether it’s something for [Paul] Pierce, something for Ray Allen — and even if it’s for one of those guys, there are other options. If Ray doesn’t have it, you have [Kevin Garnett] as an option somewhere. If Pierce doesn’t have it, Ray or KG is an option somewhere.”

Broussard said Boston’s late-game options are bolstered by the Celtics’ mindset to win.

“I don’t see the mental toughness to make me believe [the Heat are] going to win this game, and I see plenty of mental toughness for the Celtics,” Broussard said.

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Read More: Chris Bosh, Chris Broussard, Erik Spoelstra, Paul Pierce
Chris Broussard on M&M: ‘It comes down to the Celtics and the Heat’ 03.21.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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ESPN’s Chris Broussard joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Celtics and topics of interest around the NBA. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The C’s play the Knicks Monday night in New York. Broussard said despite the initial excitement over the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks aren’t a threat to knock off one of the East’s elite. And that was before the reported locker room discord that is swirling around the team during its recent struggles (five losses in the last seven games).

“They clearly have talent and should be dangerous,” Broussard said. “They don’t look that way right now. Even when they were looking good, I would never have picked them to win their first-round series over those top teams. But I did think they had maybe a puncher’s chance and could make it interesting. I still will say they could make it interesting if they get it together, but right now they don’t look like they’re any major threat to beat any of these top teams.”

The Celtics have their own problems, having lost four of their last seven games. Broussard speculated that much of the reason for the malaise falls on the trade of Kendrick Perkins, noting that Perkins and the struggling Rajon Rondo “were very tight.” He also said the Celtics still have a hole to fill with Perkins off the roster, and Shaquille O’Neal‘s absence exposes it that much more.

“I didn’t like [the trade] in the first place,” Broussard said. “With this kind of mystery involving Shaq, I like it even less.”

Added Broussard: “My biggest concern if I was a Celtics fan would be the lack of bulk and toughness that they now have without Kendrick Perkins. They only needed Perk for a few teams: Miami ‘€” that gave them a big advantage over the Heat ‘€” Orlando and the Lakers. You may be better matching up with Chicago without Perk. But if Shaquille O’Neal can’t come back and give you really quality minutes, and significant minutes, then I think a huge advantage that the Celtics had over everyone in the league is gone.”

Asked which team is the best in the East, Broussard said: “Boston, you’d have to give them their due respect. They’ve been great all year. I’m not going to hold this couple of weeks where they’ve struggled against them.”

Added Broussard: “I think if Miami plays the right way, they can win the East. And I feel a lot more comfortable about picking them in the preseason. But for most of this year, I have felt like it was Boston that’s the best team in the East. I like Chicago, but I still think at the end of the day it comes down to the Celtics and the Heat.”

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Broussard, Grant Hill, Jalen Rose
Chris Broussard on D&H: ‘Long time’ before Cleveland forgives LeBron James 10.26.10 at 2:33 pm ET
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ESPN’s Chris Broussard joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday afternoon to talk about Tuesday’s Celtics-Heat season-opener at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Broussard talked about the fallout from the LeBron James decision and how the people of Cleveland remain angry at their former hero.

“The people, they’re not forgiving LeBron, and I don’t know when they will,” Broussard said. “I think, especially if the Cavaliers struggle, it’s going to be a long time before they’re ready to forgive LeBron. ‘€¦ Most people are heartbroken, and that heartbrokenness has turned into anger and depression. They really are still very angry.”

Broussard said this is not a racial issue. “It’s across racial lines,” he said, adding: “In Cleveland, it’s universal that they are down on him. In the ‘hood, in the suburbs, everywhere, black, white, Hispanic, whatever. They’re down on LeBron all throughout Cleveland.”

Asked if James could have not been prepared for the reaction, Broussard said the player doesn’t understand the degree of anger. “I think he’s more surprised at nationally, the beating that he’s taking,” Broussard said. “And he is surprised. But I think it’s nationally. Maybe a little bit of the the vitriol, the intensity it from Cleveland may be surprising. I think he was a little bit taken aback when he saw his jersey burned. I don’t know if the thought of that had ever crossed his mind.

“You got the sense on TV, and even some people in Cleveland that said, “Oh, it was just one or two guys doing it in front of the cameras.’ But we found out in neighborhoods people were burning LeBron James jerseys, cutting up LeBron James jerseys. In our piece, one guy talked about how a guy had been beaten up in the basketball courts because he had on a LeBron James jersey. So, the anger was just very intense. I think that LeBron was more surprised nationally by how negative the reaction has been to what he did.”

Broussard said the questions about the Heat’s Big Three should remind Celtics fans of their Big Three debut three years ago. “A lot of the criticism or the doubts are really similar to what I heard with the Celtics in [2007-08],” Broussard said. “There were serious doubts about that supporting cast. And also about whether or not those three players would mesh.

“I had coaches tell me, ‘Oh, Paul Pierce, he doesn’t care about winning. He’s just wants to get his. He’s going to clash with these guys. He’s not going to get as many shots.’ Things like that. And you saw, they came together. They were older, yes. But these guys in Miami are veterans as well. I mean, seven years they’ve played. They’ve all won ‘€” at least LeBron and [Dwyane] Wade have won individual awards. And [Chris] Bosh has been an All-NBA player and a five-time All-Star.”

Read More: Chris Broussard, LeBron James, Paul Pierce,
Broussard on D&H: C’s ‘did what they had to do’ 07.27.10 at 3:25 pm ET
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Dale & Holley welcomed ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard Tuesday afternoon to talk about all things basketball this offseason, including the topics of LeBron James, the Celtics‘€™ offseason pickups and re-signings and Doc Rivers possibly returning for more than one season.

‘€œIf they have a great season, maybe win the championship, I do think that there would be a lot of pull to return to the franchise,’€ Broussard said of the coach. ‘€œI think he’€™s doing the right thing, I think it’€™s a fluid situation and he’€™s leaving his options open, so I’€™m not too surprised to hear Doc say that.’€

Below are highlights. To listen to the full interview click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On when he figured out that LeBron James would be leaving Cleveland:

It’€™s interesting, because throughout that whole process there were a lot of people close to LeBron who wanted him to stay in Cleveland, and it’€™s not a smokescreen, to my knowledge. I would have believed he was trying to get Chris Bosh to go there. Toronto agreed to do a sign and trade, LeBron was trying to sell Bosh on coming to Cleveland and being his second guy. If he was able to do that, then I think LeBron would have stayed in Cleveland.

And then of course, LeBron was also trying to talk to Chris Paul. They were trying to figure out a way Chris Paul could be traded to Cleveland. If one of those two things happened, then I think LeBron would have stayed because there was a part him that wanted to stay, that understood legacy. [Michael] Jordan turned a terrible franchise into a champion, Isiah Thomas did it. You hear it, even in the criticism about LeBron’€™s decision, that the great ones always stay with one team.

He understood that and wanted to stay, a part of him did, but when he realized they couldn’€™t get that second guy, and then you looked down the road [he asked] ‘€œWould I be able to ever get that second guy here? It’€™s been seven years and it hasn’€™t happened.’€ That’€™s when he really had to say, ‘€œYou know what? I may have to go.’€

Now, Chicago was always very strong in consideration and Miami with their situation was always right there too, but I really think he gave Cleveland a legitimate shot. Finally, when Bosh made it clear that [he] was going to Miami with [Dwyane] Wade, that’€™s when LeBron realized he wasn’€™t going to be able to get anybody [in Cleveland]. Can [he] get through Boston what they’€™re going to do in Miami, Chicago and the Lakers, other teams, like Orlando, without that second guy. He had to go make sure that he had a couple of star teammates.

On the Celtics’ offseason strategy of re-signing their veterans:

I think they’€™ve done well. The Jermaine O’€™Neal move was a good one. I know they hate to lose Tony Allen, his defense was critical down the stretch, but I think they should move on without him. I’ve got to admit, I was among the surprised when they played so well in the playoffs, so I do wonder if they’€™ve got enough left to reach the finals again next year.

I was just talking about with age and things like that. You wonder two years from now, they’€™re going to be old and pretty much done with that. With [Rajon] Rondo, who’€™s developing into an All-Star and they’€™ve got a few other young guys, but that’€™s my only worry, I think they did what they had to do. I think it’€™s the right thing to go ahead and try to take one more shot at it. My pick is Miami in the East, but I think the Celtics will be right there.

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Read More: Chris Broussard, Doc Rivers, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
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