MIAMI -- There isn't much time between Game 7 and the start of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Heat, but Celtics players say they prefer it that way.
"You know itís a quick turnaround," said Paul Pierce. "But I kind of like it that way. It keeps us in a rhythm, it keeps us playing. Weíre an older team so we donít want to sit around for too long."
The Heat, meanwhile, have been off since beating Indiana in Game 6 Thursday. The Celtics flew down to Miami late Sunday morning and did not practice Sunday. Their only preparation for the Heat before Game 1 will be watching film and going through shootaround Monday morning.
Here are the details for tonight's game:
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m.
Series: First game
Broadcast info: ESPN, WEEI/850 AM/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Shane Battier
C: Ronny Turiaf
Matchups: Game 1 is all about the two teams feeling each other out. Matchups are slightly misleading, because it's rare that one defender matches up with an offensive player for an entire game. Still, we know Pierce will probably guard James. Ray Allen will take Wade, and that's going to be the one everyone talks about. Allen will need plenty of help. On the other side, though, Miami has to match up with Rondo and Garnett. If Wade checks Rondo, maybe it will limit his effectiveness on the other end.
The Big Two: James and Wade will get theirs, but the Celtics can't allow the pair of superstars to combine for 70 points. That's easier said than done. A lot of this hinges on Garnett and Rondo, who, when they're locked in, are key cogs in the Celtics' defense scheme. It can't all be on Pierce and Allen trying to lock up their guy one-on-one. The Celtics could use a presence at the rim as well. Will Ryan Hollins or Greg Stiemsma be able to deliver?
Win the 50-50 battle: Oh good, coach-speak. Give us some real analysis, Dzen. The reason for mentioning this Doc Rivers-ism is that this series may be won on loose balls, rebounds, and turnovers. The Celtics actually match up pretty well with the Heat in terms of being able to execute on both ends of the floor. But "in random", as Rivers likes to say, the Celtics really only have Rondo. On the other side, Wade and James can take a loose ball and go coast to coast in about negative two seconds. The Celtics hung around in Game 5 vs. Miami during last year's playoffs only to get blitzed out of the game, and the postseason, in the final minutes.