Heat's Goran Dragic Discusses Differences Between Bucks, Celtics in NBA Playoffs

Jenna CiccotelliContributor ISeptember 16, 2020

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) and Kemba Walker, right, defend as Miami Heat's Goran Dragic, center, drives to the basket for a shot during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

After a near-sweep of the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic knew his team's road to an NBA Championship wouldn't get any easier with the challenge of the third-seeded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

During media availability over the weekend, Heat guard Goran Dragic said that while the Bucks did have league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on their side, he didn't have much help on the court. The challenge in the next round would come not just from All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, but from the support he had around him:

"I still think Giannis doesn't have so much help than [Jayson] Tatum. If you look, he got around Kemba [Walker] and [Jaylen] Brown. He's the leader of that team, no doubt. We need to prepare for him, but we cannot just throw out the whole defense at him and forget about other guys.

"Brown was huge for them, Kemba too. So they have a lot of guys who feed off of him, and he demonstrated that he's an all-around player. He can make plays for himself, he can make plays for others, so it's going to have to be a team defense."

Ahead of Tuesday's start to the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum led the Celtics with 25.3 points per game (12th leaguewide during the playoffs), with 10.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.2 blocks. Walker, an All-Star in each of the past four seasons, and Brown both added upward of 19 points in the postseason. Guard Marcus Smart earned the league's Hustle Award in 2019, when he was also named to the All-Defensive team.

Even though Tatum led all scorers in Game 1 with 30 points, Dragic's approach was successful—he paced the Heat with 29 points in their 117-114 overtime victory.

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Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is Thursday at 7 p.m.