The Celtics' edge is gone

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The Celtics' edge is gone

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

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 CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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Carlo "ready for everything" as he looks to build on strong camp

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Carlo "ready for everything" as he looks to build on strong camp

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- Brandon Carlo enjoyed about as good a game as one could possibly hope for in his preseason debut earlier this week.

The 19-year-old was smooth and poised with the puck on his stick, and picked up an assist when Danton Heinen redirected his point blast to the back of the net. He was also a little dirty, mean and nasty in his own end throwing bodies around in front of the net, and at one point taking a penalty call when he was a little overzealous throwing an opponent down in the crease.

So the 6-foot-5 prospect gave a pretty good glimpse into what he can offer at his best, but the youngster also knows it will keep getting more and more difficult as the games get closer to the end of the preseason.

“In that first game I felt like I was doing a lot of really good things. I was moving the puck well, playing well and doing all of the things that I wanted to do. So I’m really excited to build on that opportunity. I feel like I started myself off well, but it’s about building throughout the camp to reach your main goal at the end,” said Carlo, who may be in line for top pair duties again on Friday night after skating in that role in his first game. “Throughout camp I got three games last year, and I noticed that with each game the action got harder and faster. So I’m ready for that. I feel like it’s going to be a lot of fun out there. I’m ready for the speed, and I’m ready for the physicality. I’m ready for everything.”

Carlo will again team with veteran puck-mover John-Michael Liles on Friday night in a road exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings, and both he and the Bruins will be looking for him to build on that first outing’s promise. If the youngster can keep it up then the Bruins will have a really difficult choice on their hands with seven D-men already signed to NHL contracts ahead of the young prospect types, so Carlo would have to displace somebody.

But that’s another problem for another day, and will require young Carlo to keep impressing on people , and being extremely hard to play against, when the Bruins take the ice against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.

Watch live stream online of the Celtics Green vs White scrimmage

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Watch live stream online of the Celtics Green vs White scrimmage

Tonight at 7:00pm on CSN and CSNNE.com, the Boston Celtics play their annual Green vs White scrimmage at TD Garden. 

Our broadcast team of Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn, Abby Chin, Brian Scalabrine, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely bring you all the action from the scrimmage as we get our first look at the 2016 Boston Celtics.

Also, Wyc Grousbeck and Danny Ainge are scheduled to join us during the broadcast.