Series Analysis: Boston Celtics (3) vs. Indiana Pacers (6)
Randy Ayers coached the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003-04. Before being named head coach, Ayers was Larry Brown's top assistant and Ayers helped guide the 76ers to five-straight NBA Playoff appearances including a trip to the Finals in 2001. Known for his pressure-defense mindset and up-tempo style, Ayers learned under the likes of Pete Gaudet, a Mike Krzyzewski assistant, at the U.S. Military Academy, Eldon Miller and Gary Williams at Ohio State, and Brown. He joined the team as the physical conditioning coach in June 1997 before earning a spot as an assistant coach in July 1998.
By Randy Ayers (as told to John Hareas)
What to expect from Boston
Loughery says that Wade is already one of the league's best.
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"Bostonís inside play is gonna be a key for them.
"The way Antoine came in and really dedicated himself to going inside and being a threat down low really helped them win their division. He needs to do the same thing in the playoffs. I like Bostonís depth and I think their bench gives them good energy. Coach Rivers tried to get them some extended playing time down the stretch so if he needed to call on some of those during the playoffs, he could.
"I really like what Doc did during the last three or four games of the season. Their bench has to play a prominent role in this series."
What to expect from Indiana:
"As far as Indiana, Rick Carlisle has to be considered for NBA Coach of the Year. He did a phenomenal job. Rick has always been well-respected around the league and what he did in Indiana this year, in terms of keeping his team together, was great. The suspensions were handed out and he had some injuries to key players, but he still kept his team together, focused and was able to get to the playoffs.
"Jermaine OíNeal is the key for them. He needs to stay healthy during the playoffs. Reggie Miller is also an important piece for Indiana. Heís been great over the course of his 18-year career and it would be nice to see him advance in the playoffs. Over the course of his year, Reggie didnít get the credit he deserved. Heís been a phenomenal player. Heís been great for the league and for basketball.
"He works hard and he prepares himself for each game and heís a professional. Thereís some incentive with his teammates for them to take him as far as he can go. It would nice to see Reggie get involved and be a factor in the series. We all appreciate what heís done for the league. But the great thing about Indiana is they can defend. Theyíve gotta get their defense into the game early. You saw in their last game against Chicago, they can really turn a game around with their defense.
Ayers' prediction for the series:
"This is a seven-game series, but I would favor Indiana because of their defense."