Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Expectations meet

MIAMI — In 2010, Boston ousted Dwyane Wade in the first round and LeBron James in the second round. A year later, Wade and James were teammates and turned the tables, sending the Celtics into the offseason.

Here comes the tiebreaker.

Celtics-Heat, one more time, for a berth in the NBA Finals.

For the fifth time in seven years, it will be Boston or Miami winning the Eastern Conference championship. Game 1 is tonight in Miami, with Heat players saying it almost seemed predestined that they would see the Celtics again, and Boston's perspective being that the team in green is exactly where it expected to be.

"Inevitable. It's the matchup the game of basketball wants," Wade said Sunday. "Obviously, with the Chicago Bulls being out, this is the biggest matchup the Eastern Conference can have. So we accept the challenge and we look forward to the series."

Added Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Was there any doubt that it'd be us and Boston?"

Well, maybe a little. Boston weathered a Game 7 against the 76ers Saturday, winning 85-75.

"This is a good time right now," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. "This is the cream of the cream. … We definitely didn't like the way we left last year. … Let's get it on."

Miami beat Boston in five games in last year's East semifinals, and the Celtics took three of four games from Miami this season. Both sides cautioned against reading too much into those results.

James said the game changes in the playoffs, even more so as teams get deeper into it. The Celtics know what he wants to do, he knows what the Celtics will try, familiarity born from James having already faced Boston in 18 playoff games — more than any other active player, and more than any club the reigning MVP has squared off with in the postseason.

"I wouldn't have it no other way, personally," James said. "It's really the only team I'm accustomed to playing in the playoffs. No matter where I go, I find a way to play Boston. … We've got a lot of history."

James and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in seven games to Boston in 2008. In 2010, the Celtics topped the Cavs in six games, one round after easily beating the Heat. Last season, Miami's five-game win was far from easy. This time, the perception of the Celtics is that they're old, tired and weary.

"No. Get out of here with that," Wade said. "… They're all 100 percent to me because when they play the Miami Heat, different ballgame and vice versa."

The Celtics like the short turnaround. "I kind of like it for us," Paul Pierce said. "It keeps us in rhythm. It keeps us playing. We're an older team so we get kind of stiff when we sit around for too long. We like the fact that we're going to go right into it."

Comments
Lightning journal: Cory Conacher ready to take advantage of J.T. Brown’s departure

Lightning journal: Cory Conacher ready to take advantage of J.T. Brown’s departure

TAMPA — The loss of wing J.T. Brown to Anaheim will be a gain for some Lightning forwards in terms of ice time. Whether those players are currently with the team or still at AHL Syracuse has yet to be determined.For now, C Cory Conacher will try to t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising.After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had players-only meeti...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosNASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony8 p.m.NBCSNCollege basketballBuffalo at Western Michigan7 p.m.ESPNUSt. Bonaventure at Davidson7 p.m.ESPN2Canisius at Manhattan9 p.m.ESPNUIllinois at Wisconsin9 p.m.FS1College gymnasticsFlorida at Kentuc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Strong ties: USF vs. Louisville

Strong ties: USF vs. Louisville

TAMPA — USF has scheduled a three-game football series with Louisville — coach Charlie Strong’s former team — starting in 2022, giving his Bulls nine games against Power Five teams over the next seven years.USF visits Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 18

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls basketballNortheast 64, Largo 24Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Berkeley Prep 2Palm Harbor U. 7, Tarpon Springs 0Girls soccerCountryside 5, Pinellas Park 0Palm Harbor U. 5, Tarpon Springs 1...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Djokovic wins in rising heat

Djokovic wins in rising heat

MELBOURNE, Australia — On a day when shade was a valuable commodity in the searing heat at Melbourne Park, Roger Federer played it cool at the Australian Open. Six-time champion Novak Djokovic, however, complained about the brutal conditions during h...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sports in brief

GymnasticsUSA gymnastics Ends deal with KAROLYI ranch tainted by SEX abuse allegationsINDIANAPOLIS — The long relationship between USA Gymnastics and the Karolyi Ranch is over. The organization announced Thursday that it has terminated its agreement ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Star battle: Team LeBron versus Team Stephen

Star battle: Team LeBron versus Team Stephen

Team LeBron against Team Stephen is the NBA’s new All-Star matchup. Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry will go head-to-head again, this time as captains who pick teams for the revamped All-Star Game. James and Curry received th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bruins continue climb up Atlantic Division

Bruins continue climb up Atlantic Division

NEW YORK — Patrice Bergeron scored three goals to lead Boston to a 5-2 victory over the Islanders on Thursday night, giving the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game. Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0...
Updated: 5 hours ago
McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy’s patience was tested Thursday on his comeback, needing three late birdies to shoot 3-under 69 that left him three strokes behind first-round leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara at the Abu Dhabi ...
Updated: 5 hours ago