Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion


Celtics understand banner night will be full of emotion

MIAMI -- Defending an NBA title is not easy.

Winning the first game of the following season is no walk in the park, either.

The emotions of opening night interspersed with the feelings that come about in receiving an NBA championship ring can be a bit overwhelming. The Celtics certainly hope that's the case tonight when they open on the road against a Heat team that will receive their championship rings prior to the game.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows all too well how challenging it can be to tip the hat one more time in acknowledgment of the previous season's success, and to follow that up with a game that is often against one of the teams you rolled over to win that title.

After Boston's 2008 title, they opened the following season at home against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers with a hard-earned 90-85 win.

It was a game that Rivers was pleasantly surprised that the C's were able to win.

"I thought we were going to get destroyed," Rivers recalled. "It was a great (ring) ceremony, but when Paul (Pierce) started crying I turned to one of my assistant coaches and said, 'We have no chance tonight.' "

Banner 17 came more than 20 years after the Celtics' previous title, so it was understandable how emotions would be all over the place that night.

However, the Heat aren't nearly as far removed from their previous championship which came in 2006.

"Miami has the advantage of going through it twice," Rivers said.

After they won the franchise's first title in 2006, they proceeded to get blown out on ring night by the Chicago Bulls 108-66. Last season began for the Heat in Dallas on their ring night, with the road team once again finding success as Miami prevailed, 105-94.

Because of those experiences, Rivers said, "they'll be a little more prepared than the average ring team."

Heat players and coaches are well aware of the struggles the home team often has on ring night.

"We want to honor and respect this night in the ceremony, to be able to raise that banner in front of our fans," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "It took a tremendous amount of work collectively to accomplish that. We don't want to diminish that."

Spoelstra added: "We don't want to celebrate that and stink up the joint in the most important thing, which is the game."

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

The Golden State Warriors are the least of Tyronn Lue's worries, Cleveland Cavaliers coach explained Tuesday.

Even though Lue and the Cavs are up 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is apparently overwhelmed with the Boston Celtics to the point where he isn't even thinking about Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the 67-win Warriors.

"We're just focused on Boston," Lue said of the Warriors following the Cavs' Game 4 win, via ESPN.com. "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing."

No, seriously.

"Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s---," Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens' schemes. "I'll be like, 'F---.' They're running all kinds of s---, man. And Brad's got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It's tough, you know, it's tough."

Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics finished Game 4 with four players who had 15 points or more. They also had six players who scored double digits in Boston's Game 3 win. Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Al Horford have made heavy offensive contributions. And they not just scoring. The Celtics are working hard off the ball by setting screens and cutting to the hoop to pressure the Cavaliers defense.

The Celtics may not have the Warriors' star power -- but Stevens and Boston are still managing to leave Lue in a state of clear befuddlement after a win.

LeBron James praised Stevens more directly when discussing how the Celtics "run different things" after losing Thomas to injury.

"So they had to kind of reshape, and that’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach," James told reporters. "You’re able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It’s been challenging for us to kind of — plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we’ll be better in Game 5."