Celtics

Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

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Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

MIAMI Throughout this crazy, lockout-shortened, injury-riddled season, the Boston Celtics have shown a teflon-like ability to brush off whatever setbacks came their way and keep moving.

Through all the adversity, the Celtics still managed to win the Atlantic Division and punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in the Big Three era.

But what they're faced with now is a 2-0 series deficit to the Miami Heat heading into Game 3 on Friday, the kind of deficit that few teams ever recover from in time to win a series.

The Celtics are well aware that they will bucking historical trends if they are to somehow rally and win four against the Heat.

"We don't have no surrender or retreat in us," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "We're a grind-it-out team. We're going to continue to try and come back, we're gonna fight, we're going to claw, we're going to scratch. We're going to do whatever we gotta do in order to win basketball games."

Boston delivered what may have been their best shot at a win on Sunday night, with Rajon Rondo going off for a career-high 44 points in the Game 2 loss.

The C's are bothered all the time when they lose, but having played so well for so long only to come up short, is a tough pill to swallow.

"You hold on to it for 24 hours, and then you move on," Rivers said. "We have no choice in the matter. We play at home on Friday."

For Paul Pierce, Wednesday's loss was a rare game in which he cracked the 20-point plateau against a LeBron James-led team.

"There are a few little things that we have to do better," Pierce said. "We have to understand what's beating right us right now. It's demoralizing when you play hard defense for so long, and for them to get those (hustle) plays. We have to make it a one-possession game (for them), and rebound. If we continue to play with the passion, I really like our chances."

Having seen the Celtics in the playoffs so many times, the Heat understand that while they have a firm grip on this series, it's far from over.

"They'll learn from this game and come out of it with a fresh mind knowing they have two in Boston," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "We know we are going to get this team's best shot."

Added Heat guard James Jones: "This is a (Celtics) team that has a lot of pride. Now it's 2-0 us, but we're going into Boston which will definitely be the toughest game that we play all year."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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