Celtics

Cavs latest team to beat slumping Celtics

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Cavs latest team to beat slumping Celtics

CLEVELAND A three game losing streak. The Boston Celtics' biggest homer, head coach Doc Rivers, threatening to push for new players if things don't change soon.

So how did the C's respond against the 10-32 Cleveland Cavaliers?

As if the rhetoric from their coach and the losing ways meant nothing.

For most of the game, it was an emotionless, passionless performance by the Celtics, symbolic of how they have played all season.

And the Cavaliers took the C's lethargic play and used it to their advantage in pulling out a 95-90 win.

There were mental breakdowns, defensive lapses, poor shot selection - just about anything and everything that can be done to lose a game, the Celtics did on Tuesday.

Trailing 88-87, the Celtics had a chance to regain the lead only to have Kevin Garnett's fade-away jumper come up short.

Moments later, Kyrie Irving sprinted down court and finished an acrobatic lay-up to give the Cavs a 3-point lead with 52 seconds to play. He finished with 40 points.

Boston called a time-out, and had plenty of time to still win the game.

But the way their season has gone, the way they played on this particular night, there was little optimism outside of their huddle that they could still win the game.

And true to form, the Celtics squandered an opportunity to potentially tie the game or trim it to one point when Rajon Rondo missed a driving lay-up.

Garnett committed a foul moments later, and this game's outcome became a formality at that point.

As has been the case all season, the Celtics showed flashes of the promise that Rivers has been looking for all season.

But they were once again too few and too far between one another to make a serious impact on the game.

Boston (20-21) led on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, but simply could not do the little things - box out, don't turn the ball over, make open shots - that have to be done in order to win.

Although Tuesday's game wasn't decided until the final minutes of play, Cleveland was the latest team to get off to a good start with Cavs Kyrie Irving leading the charge.

The reigning Rookie of the Year award winner had 19 first-quarter points which was key to the Cavs leading 31-27 after the first.

Keeping the C's from getting blown out the gym was rookie Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger, who grew up in nearby Columbus, OH, had six points and seven rebounds in his first eight minutes on the floor. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the game.

His play was instrumental in the C's pulling ahead by as many as four points in the second quarter, only for Cleveland to regain the lead shortly after Irving re-entered and take a slim 54-53 lead into the half.

The inconsistent play that has been the identity of this Celtics team, was on full display once again.

There were moments in which the execution from defense to offense was seamless. But far too often the Celtics would do what they want defensively, only to take a bad or ill-advised shot. And when there was great ball movement offensively and it resulting in a Celtics basket, often the defense was break down and allow Cleveland an easy score.

The Cavs came into the game ranked dead-last in assists per game this season, with 19.4 per game. At the half, Cleveland had 13 assists.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

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Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

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