Celtics

Bass' hard work shines through in big-stage performance

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Bass' hard work shines through in big-stage performance

BOSTON Brandon Bass spends too much time working on his game for it to not pay off eventually.

Monday was indeed the night that Bass cashed in as he tallied a playoff career-high 27 points in helping the Celtics knock off Philadelphia, 101-85, to take a 3-2 series lead over the Sixers with Game 6 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The way the Sixers have been defending Paul Pierce, getting good looks at the basket has not been much of a problem for Bass.

The issue has been him knocking them down, something he did plenty of in Game 5 which included him shooting 9-of-13 from the field, in addition to grabbing six rebounds.

"They've been doubling Paul and we got a few good players on the team that they've got focus on," Bass said. "So they left me open (in Game 5) and I was able to hit the shots."

But Bass becoming a one-man scoring machine involved more than him just knocking down jumpers - and that's what makes his performance in Game 5 a tough one to handle if you're the Sixers.

At this stage of the game, teams don't normally make radical changes to how they defend one another. And conversely, players - the best players - generally try to stick with what they've been doing best.

But Bass clearly caught the Sixers off-guard when he began to hurt them with an offensive game that entailed more than just mid-range jumpers.

"They were just quicker to the basket, Brandon was," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. "He didn't depend (in Game 5), strictly on his jump-shot. He made some dunks, got in the paint and what happens is that opens up the basket for you. All of a sudden that basket looks a lot bigger for that jump-shot. He must have had three, four, maybe five dunks (in Game Five)."

It was actually three dunks, all in Bass' dominant third quarter which saw him out-score the Sixers, 18-16.

Bass, who spoke at a podium for the first time during the playoffs here - or anywhere for that matter - didn't know that he had that good a quarter until someone mentioned it to him.

"It's a blessing for me," Bass said. "It's just hard work. I've been working at it for a long time and I'm just grateful it was able to pay off."

That hard work includes spending time after practice working on his game, in addition to siting around watching video.

It all added up to a monster game for Bass, one that he hasn't really given much thought to in terms of its impact on him and the Celtics moving forward.

"You know as many jumpers as Bass hit, he had lay-ups and free throws," said Sixers forward Elton Brand who had a team-high 19 points. "That's how you get 27 points, on those 13 shots."

It was the kind of performance that might make the jobs of Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Rondo easier as well.

Because they all know when Bass is playing this well, the Celtics become a difficult team to compete with, let alone defeat.

"We need different guys, on different nights to step up," Pierce said. "A lot of times they're gonna collapse on me, Rondo, KG and there's opportunities for other guys to take advantage."

Bass did just that in a game in which he played bigger than anyone anticipated, and displayed the kind of cool under pressure that even he admits probably wasn't around when he did his post-game interview at the podium.

"This is the first time for a lot of things for me," Bass said. "And I'm grateful! That's why you see all these beads (of sweat) on my forehead, 'cause I'm nervous. But I'm grateful. Like I said, I haven't thought too much about it (his big game); for me, it's just hard work. My motto is God, grind, greatness. And grindin' is what got me, ya know, to this point and that's what I'm gonna continue to do."

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
 
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
 
According to Smith, James will play. 
 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
 
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."