‘It’s going to be war’

The Celtics’ first-round matchup against the Heat starts tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 EST, and Kristaps Porzingis knows it’s going to be a tough game.

“We have to expect them to be ultra-aggressive and super-handy, and try to do all the little dirty things they can – not dirty things, but screw up the game a little bit to get some advantages,” Porzingis told reporters at the training. Saturday. “We have to be ready for that. It will be war.”

The Celtics and the Heat have had very different seasons so far – Boston finished the season 64-18 – securing the league’s best record weeks ago – while Miami finished 46-26 and was one loss away from the elimination after the season. Boston won all three of its regular-season games against Miami this season, but the two teams haven’t played each other since February.

Tensions ran high in that game, with Duncan Robinsons and Jaylen Brown getting into an argument with Brown shoving Robinson after the two got into a fight.

Afterwards, Robinson described the play as “dangerous, unnecessary and excessive”, while Brown defended himself after the game.

“Miami is known for getting away with a lot of things like that and kind of ruining the game,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, you have to protect and own your space. I feel like Duncan Robinson knew what he was doing. There, trying to get caught up, trying to draw whatever. I don’t know what he was trying to do, but I bet he won’t do it again.’

Bam Adebayo, who has been a cornerstone of the Miami squad that has faced the Celtics in three of the last four postseasons, also said he expected a fight. After the Heat defeated the Bulls in Friday’s win-or-go-home play-in game, the star center looked ahead to the first round.

“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Adebayo said, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “It’s going to be a battle. It’ll be in the dirt, it won’t be pretty basketball, and that’s usually how it is when we see that team.

Most pundits predict a win for the Celtics, while all twelve ESPN analysts expect the Celtics to advance. Still, the Heat find themselves in a similar position to last year: an eighth seed armed with significant postseason experience. Last year, Miami upset the Bucks, Knicks and Celtics en route to an NBA Finals appearance, and while the Celtics are heavy first-round favorites, Porzingis noted that he expects the first-round matchup to be a challenge.

“The intensity is much higher. Every game has some adjustments – it’s like a chess game,” Porzingis said. “And to play against an experienced team like Miami and coach (Erik) Spoelstra, who always has a trick or two, will be very, very interesting. We look forward to that challenge.”

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