Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
"I expect everybody to be ready," said Boston's Allen. "A game like that I don't look over my shoulder, wondering if guys are going to be ready to play."
Pierce had similar thoughts on the C's approach to Sunday's nationally televised matchup.
"This is a big game for us," Pierce said. "That's what we are playing for, for the home court advantage. Not only for the first round, but hopefully we will see them in the second round. This is a big game for us when you are talking about seeds and trying to advance in the playoffs. It's huge."
And while the Celtics have shown a certain dominance over the Heat, even with all their highly regarded additions, there's no mistaking that the Miami Heat team they see on Sunday will come in with a playoff-like mentality.
"You are going to get an extremely hungry team in Miami for a lot of reasons," Rivers said. "We're going into a hornet's nest and we're going to have to deal with it."
I'd like to believe them… I realy would.
Maybe I should. Maybe I should read those words, take them at face value now, and then when the game is over, judge this team against their words.
If they gave a 100% effort, then they are worthy of our confidence. If they don't, then they C's are no longer contenders… just a bunch of old guys whose minds have gone as weak as their legs.
Because if they're going to keep feeding me this crap, at some point I'm going to have to use it as a baseline on which I'll judge performances. And if they keep saying this same crap, then I'll have to accept that I was wrong.
The losing? I don't care as much about the losing as I do about the WAY these guys are losing. The long lapses… the extreme sloppiness. And while I've been frustrated, I've accepted it as the way it is because that's how it was last year and they turned it on.
But this year, they tell me, is different. So this year, maybe, we should look at it differently… no matter how much it looks exactly the same.
The guys are saying the right things… now lets see if they do the right thing on the court.
Related links: Herald: Doc Rivers expects team to C's the day
On Page 2: How a win today can make life much easier for the Celtics
A win Sunday would mean the Celtics would need just one win over their final two games — Monday in Washington or Wednesday against New York — to lock up the maid of honor spot in the East (which would ensure that, should top seeds win out, Boston would boast home-court advantage over the Heat in the conference semifinals). Boston could also clinch that spot with a win Sunday and a Miami loss over its final two games (road games at Atlanta and Toronto).
If the Heat win Sunday, they'll need to maintain that one-game cushion over Boston to the finish line due to the tie-breaker.
But here's the added bonus for Boston: Wins on Sunday and Monday would not only lock up the No. 2 seed, but take all the meaning out of Wednesday's regular-season finale against the Knicks. Not only could Boston rest its starters that night — giving it what amounts to a week break, given that the team is not likely to open the first round until Sunday, April 17 — but Boston would have the luxury of — ahem – allowing New York to win that game, which could ensure a first-round matchup with what seems like a more desirable Philadelphia squad, depending on how the 76ers and Knicks close out their schedules.
New York currently boasts a ½-game edge for the sixth seed. Boston would play the No. 7 seed in the opening round.
At first I wanted the C's to avoid Philly at all costs in the first round just because they gave the C's so much trouble… but I think a little effort goes a long way against them so I'd be happy with that matchup. I don't know why everyone is so afraid of NY, though. Yes, I'm aware of the players on their roster. I'm aware of their 6 game winning streak. I'm also aware the 5 teams they beat in that streak are a combined 153-244 right now. They're lucky Orlando was the first win, because the last 5 wins came over teams that are a combined 103-215.
Either way I have confidence in the C's in the first round. At least I do now. Let's see how they play today and maybe I'll have to revisit that.
Related links: Globe: Heat is on Celtics
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Spot start, rim finish for Krstic | WEEI: KG: "Fatigue is not an option" | All eyes on Big 4 as Celtics begin playoff push | CSNNE: Garnett fueled by failures | NYTimes: Q&A with Julius Erving | Herald: Miami not so hot | Tony Allen groovin' in Memphis | Phil Jackson isn't kidding about his concerns | Ty Lawson hits 10 3's | Are Heat ready to stand up to Boston | Globe: Miami needs to get on board | Glen Davis' advice carries considerable weight | KG Blog: "We need to work harder"