Why potential C's-Heat first-round series worries Cedric Maxwell


If you ask Cedric Maxwell, the Boston Celtics should be rooting for the Atlanta Hawks to win Tuesday's play-in game vs. the Miami Heat.

Maxwell admits that although the No. 2 seed Celtics are the superior team, the idea of facing Miami in the first round is worrisome. The C's shared his thoughts on the possible matchup Monday on Arbella Early Edition.

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"Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler put a little twinge in my heart when I start thinking about how they play and what he brings to the table," Maxwell said. "There's a certain way that you see these guys play, and they up to another level when they play against the C's.

"I think the Celtics definitely are the better team, and they will beat Miami probably in five. But still, there's a little, just a slight hint of fear in my heart sometimes when I think about the Miami Heat and what they can do."

What exactly makes the Heat a scary first-round opponent?

"Jimmy Butler's scoring, Tyler Herro getting hot from the outside and knocking down shots. They have some scorers," Maxwell said. "Bam (Adebayo) has done a terrific job again this year of playing the game. So they have some players.

"But overall, at the end of the day, if you start adding up the pieces, the Celtics have more pieces consistently than Miami and they should win this series without any doubt."

Miami gave Boston trouble when the two teams met in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. It took seven games for the Celtics to finish off the series and advance to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Butler averaged 25.6 points per game in last year's series and led the Heat to victory with 47 points in Game 6. He dropped 35 in Game 7, but the C's escaped Miami with a 100-96 win.

This season, the Celtics went 2-2 against the Heat and 3-0 against the Hawks. Miami went 3-1 against Atlanta.

The Heat-Hawks play-in game is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Game 1 between the Celtics and the winner of that matchup will take place Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Coverage of Game 1 starts at 2:30 p.m. right here on NBC Sports Boston with Celtics Pregame Live.

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