Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

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Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

MIAMI Throughout this crazy, lockout-shortened, injury-riddled season, the Boston Celtics have shown a teflon-like ability to brush off whatever setbacks came their way and keep moving.

Through all the adversity, the Celtics still managed to win the Atlantic Division and punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in the Big Three era.

But what they're faced with now is a 2-0 series deficit to the Miami Heat heading into Game 3 on Friday, the kind of deficit that few teams ever recover from in time to win a series.

The Celtics are well aware that they will bucking historical trends if they are to somehow rally and win four against the Heat.

"We don't have no surrender or retreat in us," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "We're a grind-it-out team. We're going to continue to try and come back, we're gonna fight, we're going to claw, we're going to scratch. We're going to do whatever we gotta do in order to win basketball games."

Boston delivered what may have been their best shot at a win on Sunday night, with Rajon Rondo going off for a career-high 44 points in the Game 2 loss.

The C's are bothered all the time when they lose, but having played so well for so long only to come up short, is a tough pill to swallow.

"You hold on to it for 24 hours, and then you move on," Rivers said. "We have no choice in the matter. We play at home on Friday."

For Paul Pierce, Wednesday's loss was a rare game in which he cracked the 20-point plateau against a LeBron James-led team.

"There are a few little things that we have to do better," Pierce said. "We have to understand what's beating right us right now. It's demoralizing when you play hard defense for so long, and for them to get those (hustle) plays. We have to make it a one-possession game (for them), and rebound. If we continue to play with the passion, I really like our chances."

Having seen the Celtics in the playoffs so many times, the Heat understand that while they have a firm grip on this series, it's far from over.

"They'll learn from this game and come out of it with a fresh mind knowing they have two in Boston," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "We know we are going to get this team's best shot."

Added Heat guard James Jones: "This is a (Celtics) team that has a lot of pride. Now it's 2-0 us, but we're going into Boston which will definitely be the toughest game that we play all year."

Thomsen: 'Andre Drummond is the dark horse' in Celtics trade rumors

Thomsen: 'Andre Drummond is the dark horse' in Celtics trade rumors

Ian Thomsen adds his thoughts on potential Celtics trade rumors and who he believes the C's need to target before the trade deadline.

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast is worth a listen, as it features plenty of talk about what the Celtics may or may not due ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Lowe brought up the possibility of the Celtics top-1 or top-2-protecting Brooklyn’s first-round pick and including it in a deal for Butler. He surmises that the inclusion of the Brooklyn pick -- protected or not -- might not come until the final minutes. 

“Look, if Butler gets traded or if Paul George gets traded, that’s when it’s going to happen,” Marc Stein responded. “It’s going to happen in the last five to 10 minutes, so Boston has to make a decision, and let's see if they’re doing the math that they’ve had these assets for a while and it is time to do something bold and the time is now. Really, I think Boston will do it. The question is what will Chicago or Indiana do? And those are two hard reads.” 

Stein spoke to the Celtics’ lack of activity at certain points, but he said that if the C’s do fail to come away with a star player Thursday, it won’t be for lack of aggressiveness. 

MORE TRADE TALK

“I think the Celtics are taking criticism for waiting, and they’ve had all these assets they haven’t moved yet, but I think the record shows that Danny Ainge in general, in total, is very aggressive, not afraid to roll the dice, not afraid to make the aggressive move,” Stein said. “So I have less doubt about Boston saying, ‘Let’s just do it.’ I have far more questions about what Chicago and/or Indiana would do.” 

Lowe said that he imagines the Bulls would “think about” trading the C's Butler if Boston threw in the Nets’ pick unprotected, but added that Chicago would demand to also take two players out of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

“I think that will be the offer and they’ll get there and Chicago will either have a moment where they say, ‘We walk away or we’ll do it.’ And Boston’s not going to throw in the other Nets pick,” Lowe said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Rating the aforementioned foursome in terms of trade value, Lowe said that Crowder is the best piece because of his “ridiculously good” contract, followed by Brown, Smart and Bradley. 

Lowe added that he considers Bradley one of the “sneaky interesting pieces at this trade deadline” because his contract is up after next season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas’ contract expires. Lowe says that given the uncertainty of his future in Boston, he wouldn’t be overly surprised if Bradley is moved at the deadline.