Boston Ready for the Heat, KP Excited for 1st Playoffs as a Celtic

BOSTON – Even though the Boston Celtics were given less than 40 hours to prepare for their first-round opponent, Jaylen Brown says he has been mentally prepared for this Miami Heat matchup for weeks.

After being eliminated by Miami in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Brown felt that it was inevitable that he and the C’s would tip the postseason off against their biggest playoff rival of the past decade. His vision came true when Miami beat Chicago in Friday night’s play-in game to become the eighth seed, setting the stage for Game 1 on Sunday in Boston.  

“I knew it was going to be Miami,” Brown claimed following Saturday afternoon’s practice. “I knew it from a few weeks back. Just coming from last year to this year, it just makes sense.”

He added, “We’re looking forward to it. It should be a great challenge. Miami is a tough team, well-coached, play hard, they’re physical – all the stuff that we need to emphasize, so it should be fun.”

Part of that fun comes with the possibility of avenging last year’s result. Though for the players, they’re taking a clean-slate approach for the most part.

“You don't forget, but you do your best to live in the moment,” said Brown. “You learn from those experiences, and you can’t bring those thoughts into it. You gotta approach it like you’ve got a new team, you’ve got new players … You come in, you stay in the moment, and you take it one day at a time.”

One of those new players is Kristaps Porzingis, who is just about jumping out of his shorts in anticipation for what he views as his first real playoff experience. This is what he came to Boston for, and now it’s just a few hours away.

“I think it's going to be special,” Porzingis said. “My two experiences in the playoffs was one in the bubble and the second one with almost a full arena, but still kind of COVID. And now finally to play in a full, full arena in Boston, it's going to be very special, I think. So I cannot wait for tomorrow.”

The Celtics had tremendous success against Miami during the regular season, going 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 15.0 points. But they expect the Heat to step their game up in the postseason – even when considering the likelihood that Jimmy Butler could miss the entire series with a sprained MCL.

“We’ve got to expect them to be ultra-aggressive, ultra-handsy, and trying to do all the little things they can to mess up the game a little bit to get some advantages,” Porzingis said. “We have to be ready for that. It’s gonna be a war.”