The Celtics' edge is gone


The Celtics' edge is gone

By Rich Levine

MIAMI With seven minutes left in Game 2 Tuesday night, the Celtics had the Heat right where they wanted them.

To that point, Bostons play had been largely uneven. As in Game 1, the Celts spent most of the night chasing LeBron and Co., reacting to Miamis game instead of enforcing their own. Often times, the Cs looked overmatched, on the verge of disaster, only to repeatedly respond with the resiliency to crawl back within striking distance and keep hope alive.

And with seven minutes to go, hope was never higher, as Paul Pierce drained two free throws to tie the game at 80-80.

If you erase the debt record, we all go back to zero. It'll create total chaos. The Narrator, Fight Club.

Suddenly, all the Heat had done over those first 41 minutes was meaningless. Now, all the Celtics struggles were irrelevant. Everyone was back to zero and chaos was about to set in. And thats when Boston had always been at its best.

For all the advantages the Heat had in this series in terms of speed, athleticism, home court and overall talent, the Celtics' crunch-time edge was the assumed difference maker.

When experts, or anyone, predicted the Celtics to win this series, it was for that very reason. When it came down to it, the Celtics were the team that knew how to win. When chaos ensued, the Celtics would remain calm. They'd come together, while Miami would fold. LeBron would get caught up in his own ridiculous sense of self. Chris Bosh would crumble in the face of KG. Dwyane Wade wouldnt want overstep LeBrons jurisdiction and never quite find his groove. Without the Big Three in gear, the supporting cast would collapse under the pressure, while the Celtics pushed them around, laughed in their faces and forced their way into the conference finals. Bostons psychological edge would once again rule the day.

That was how the last seven minutes were supposed to play out.

Instead the plot was flipped on its back.

With everything on the line on Tuesday, the Heat went on a 14-0 run to put the game away and send the Celtics to back Boston not only resting uncomfortably in a 2-0 hole, but also with one very important and unfortunate piece of knowledge.

The edge is gone.

The fear is gone.

They can no longer count on just outlasting Miami for 40 minutes and then ripping out their hearts in crunch time. The Heat have grown. Theyre better. Theyre no longer afraid to make the right move. Theyre no longer waiting around for one of their teammates to take the reigns or fearing how others might react if they take it themselves. Now theyre a team. They have clear roles, legitimate chemistry and honest on-court relationships. And unless the Celtics can match that, all those experts are going to be wrong.

And the question is: Can they?

Are the Celtics prepared to go toe-to-toe with the new and improved Heat? Do they have what it takes to win four of the next five games, knowing that now, if they push the Heat, the Heat will push back? Or even more, are they ready for the Heat to initiate the pushing? Are the Celtics, the team that is always the instigator, ready, willing and able to win from the other side? Or once you're on that other side, does that mean you've already lost?

We'll find out Saturday, and of course, a lot can happen between now and then. When the Celtics take the court, for the first time at home in what seems like an eternity, you never know exactly where their heads will be. You can only assume they'll be right, or maybe you can only hope, because make no mistake: As much as it's physical, the rest of this series will be a mental battle. Once fueled on swagger, confidence, and the ability to get it done when everything seasons, legacies, in some cases, careers is on the line.

The Celtics cant match Miamis firepower in this series. If they want to get in a game of "top this" with Lebron and Dwyane Wade, two of the top five players in this league currently playing at the absolute top of their games, they will lose.

If the Celtics are going to pull this out, and somehow take four of the next five games, theyre going to have to regain that inner strength and prideful identity that was lost sometime over the past two months.

Otherwise, the Heat have Boston right where they want them

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

@font-face font-family: " ";@font-face font-family: " ";@font-face font-family: "Cambria";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Cambria; .MsoChpDefault font-family: Cambria; div.WordSection1 page: WordSection1;

Red Sox promote Eddie Romero assistant general manager, won't hire GM to replace Hazen


Red Sox promote Eddie Romero assistant general manager, won't hire GM to replace Hazen

The Red Sox on Tuesday named Eddie Romero senior vice president and assistant general manager. In a press release announcing the move, the team stated it will not fill the position of general manager for the time being. 

Romero’s promotion comes following the departure of general manager Mike Hazen, who left this month to become Arizona’ GM. Hazel brought Amiel Sawdaye, who had served as Boston’s vice president of international and amateur scouting, with him to the Diamondbacks, with Sawdaye serving as an assistant GM for Arizona. 

The 37-year-old Romero is the son of former Red Sox infielder Ed Romero Rr. Romero served last season as Boston’s vice president of international scouting, overseeing amateur scouting in Latin America, the Pacific Rim and Europe. 

Romero is in his 11th season with the Red Sox, having previously worked in international and professional scouting for the team and becoming Boston’s director of international scouting in 2012. 

Giants finally release Josh Brown


Giants finally release Josh Brown

From the It’s About Time department, the Giants announced Tuesday that they have released kicker Josh Brown. 

Brown’s release comes after a messy week for both the organization and the NFL as details about Brown’s admitted domestic violence emerged. The NFL, which initially suspended Brown for one game for a 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge, placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list Friday. While on the exempt list, Brown was still under employment with (and therefore paid by) the Giants. His release ends a four-year stint in New York after previously playing for the Seahawks, Rams and Bengals. 

"We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh," Giants president and co-owner John Mara said in a statement. "Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility.

"We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father. We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.

"We have great respect and feel strongly about our support for the good people who work tirelessly and unconditionally to aid the victims of domestic violence and who bring awareness to the issue. We have been partners with My Sisters' Place (a domestic violence shelter and advocate based in Westchester, New York) for nearly 20 years. The leadership of that organization has provided invaluable insight as we have considered our decisions in this matter. We value and respect their opinion, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."