Celtics-Cavs Game 3 preview: C's have a huge injury added to insult

Celtics-Cavs Game 3 preview: C's have a huge injury added to insult

CLEVELAND – Following the total dismantling of his team in every way imaginable, Celtics coach Brad Stevens made the walk from courtside back to his office.
Inside was UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, someone whose teams could better relate to what Cleveland had just done to Boston than what Stevens was trying to compartmentalize.
“I picked his brain for as long as I could,” Stevens said.


Indeed, Stevens, as well as his players, are in full-blown search mode right for something, anything that can help them make this series more competitive.
Two games into this thing and the Celtics have been blown out twice with Game 2’s 130-86 beatdown being the worst playoff loss in franchise history.
And things went from bad to worse with the news that Isaiah Thomas (right hip) will be out for the remainder of the playoffs after re-aggravating the injury in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss.
So. if the Celtics can get smashed like that in their own building, it’s kind of scary to think what might happen now that the series has shifted to a place where the Cavs will have the full support of a Q Arena crowd that can sense Cleveland is on the cusp of a return trip to the NBA Finals.
Well aware that his team is in full control, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue isn’t about to get ahead of himself and start thinking about the NBA Finals.
“We’re going back home. We’re not going to get comfortable,” said Lue, a former Celtics assistant. “We understand that this is a good team. They’re not number one in the East for no reason. [Game 2] was one of those nights, and that’s it. We won, and we’ve got to move on. We’ve got to get focused for Game 3.”
There are so many areas where Boston has to be better just to be competitive in Game 3.
Maybe the two biggest areas are the Celtics' inability to make open shots and being too reliant on making shots as a precursor to playing good defense.
“Us having those empty offensive possessions where maybe you miss an open shot and they go down and convert, or you have an opportunity and you turn it over and they go down and convert, those things were bigger than just the three points they were scoring,” said Stevens. “I felt like they had a negative impact on kind of our look, and again, credit them.”
Despite how they've been outplayed, players still speak with an air of confidence that there’s still hope for them in this series.
“As bad as it is for us and our group right now, it’s not over yet,” said Al Horford. “We still have Game 3. It hurts right now. It’s tough. We have that to look forward to. We just want to play better. We need to go out there and play better, compete throughout the 48 [minutes] and see what happens. Our backs are against the wall, and this will be a good opportunity.”
And while the Celtics will continue to review video from Game 2 and put together a game plan from an X’s and O’s standpoint to try and combat the overwhelming momentum Cleveland has created in this series, Horford knows it’s pretty simple what has to happen right now.
“There’s no magic formula,” Horford said. “We need to just go out there and play, help each other on defense. And I’m sure that shots will fall [tonight]. The biggest thing for us defensively is to do what we do. We need to be way better. We haven’t played to our potential I feel like the first two games...just looking forward to Sunday.”

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.