Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins discuss the heated rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. (Boston Globe)
“I think it’s something that’s turned into a rivalry,’’ Pierce said. “We’ve played them already one time in the playoffs. It just seems like every game we play against them, whether it be at home or on the road, it gets kind of heated. So this is a big series for us.
“You’ve got to expect some tempers to probably flare, a physical series, just two heavyweights going at it for one thing and that’s to advance and go to the next round.’’ [...]
“Just guys who want to win,’’ Perkins said. “We know that in order for each team to reach their goal — to win a championship — they’ve got to go through one of us. So a lot of noise talking when we play, a lot of guys don’t like each other.’’
With intensity likely to bursting from every player (except maybe Rasheed Wallace), it will be key that the Celtics keep their composure. Losing Kevin Garnett to suspension was fine against Miami, but losing any pivotal player for a game or more would be devastating against Cleveland. Even poorly-timed technical fouls could swing a game or two the wrong way. The C’s need to stay away from altercations and technicals — the Cavs are good enough without giving them free points.
But the Celtics can’t be a bunch of pansies. Emotion drives them. Passion makes them better. The C’s can’t let anger and hatred for the Cavs get out of control, but they’ve got to maintain that fire in their bellies. They’re at their best when talking smack and throwing their bodies around.
I just hope they don’t let their animosity and competitiveness get carried away.