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.
The Eastern Conference finals apparently are already over — 24 hours before they've even begun.
It is so interesting to read and listen to the alleged experts (a group in which, amazingly, I am sometimes included) handicap this series and slobber all over the Heat. One week ago, I was in New York City and I stopped into a restaurant/bar to check out the score of the Miami-Indiana game. The Heat were down 2-1 in the series and trailed by 10 points early in the third quarter when I looked in.
What were all these same Miami-ophiles saying then about the Heat?
The point here is that things can change dramatically and often in a very short period of time in the postseason. Adjustments occur. Players get nicked. A series can be like a fine red wine — it needs time to breathe before its real identity emerges. Miami turned it around against Indiana.
Great column by Peter May reminding the world that the Celtics are a formidable challenger to Miami.
Why the short term memory? Less than a week ago the Heat were in a dog fight with Indiana. Lebron couldn't close and Dwyane Wade was threatening his coach and having his knee drained. Two wins (and two injuries to Danny Granger and David West) later and suddenly all of those concerns are gone?
May makes a legitimate case for the Celtics winning (John will have a similar post later today). Will it be easy? Hell, no. Nothing is ever easy with this team. But let's not forget the Heat are flawed.
On Page 2, all the pressure is on Mario Chalmers.
For the Heat, which struggled against the Celtics this season, somehow finding a way to limit Rondo will be the No.1 objective.
Much of that task will fall to Chalmers, who Wade called the Heat’s most important player in the series. Rondo, who averaged 18.7 points, 13.7 assists and 7.7 rebounds, has more postseason triple-doubles (nine) than the rest of the league combined (seven) in the same time span.
“He’s one of the biggest keys to this series,” Wade said of Chalmers. “No way around it. He has to play well for us.”
In the three games he played against the Heat this season, Rondo averaged 18.7 points, 13.6 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Heat lost two of those games and finished the season 1-3 against Boston.
“No one can figure out how to defend Rondo,” LeBron James said. “He’s a unique player, a guy that breaks the defense down and creates for himself and creates for his teammates every single night.
There's just no way Mario Chalmers can stick with Rajon Rondo. It's a safe bet we'll see Lebron and Wade guarding Rondo for stretches during this series.
Not only does Rondo need to exploit Chalmers defense, but the Celtics can't let him shoot open 3s. As a team, Boston needs to limit the scoring of the Heat role players.
The rest of the links:
Globe – They bump into each other again | Celtics to give best shot to turnaround | James, Wade need to lead Heat | Minus Bosh, it's business as usual | Herald – Celtics gear once more for grind | Rondo always seems to get the job done | C's look to Garnett yet again | CSNNE – Celtics/Heat Matchups | Celtics not concerned with quick turnaround | Bass finds stroke going into conference finals |