Celtics-Hawks Game 6 preview: C's need to get offensive


Celtics-Hawks Game 6 preview: C's need to get offensive

BOSTON -- Win or go home for the rest of the summer.

That is the plight the Boston Celtics find themselves in facing a 3-2 series deficit to the Atlanta Hawks heading into tonight’s Game 6 matchup.

There’s no question that the players for both teams will come in feeling a bit of pressure to produce in the most important game of the season.

Well what about Brad Stevens?

He was among the top vote-getters for the league’s Coach of the Year award, and the move he made in getting Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko in the starting lineup has been instrumental in the Celtics getting back in this series after losing the first two games.

Just like players have a tendency to press matters when they so desperately want to do their part in winning, coaches are vulnerable to making similar mistakes.

But Stevens, as we have seen during his three seasons in Boston, isn’t like most coaches.

Many of the pitfalls that tend to engulf some of the best coaches, are not on the list of possible choices Stevens would even consider.

His approach to Game 6 isn’t all that different than it has been for previous playoff games in this series.

“What you have to figure out, you always start with a mountain load of information,” Stevens said. “And your desire is to get basketball in its simplest form. That’s a coach’s job to make it as short, sweet and simple as possible.”

Of course that’s a lot easier said than done, especially in preparation for a game that could potentially be the last one played this season.

While Stevens isn’t expected to make any radical changes like he did prior to Game 3 when he inserted Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko in the starting lineup, there will surely be some noticeable tweaks at both ends of the floor.

At the top of the list will be finding ways to either 1) get Isaiah Thomas going after he scored a season-low 7 points in Game 6 or 2) inject his players with the confidence they need to make more plays to not just help the Celtics but also take some of the pressure off of Thomas in carrying the team.

Doing those things will give the Celtics their best shot at forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 in Atlanta.

“The one thing that is obvious is when you (play) a 10th game against a team, six in the last how many days, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do,” Stevens said. “It’s a matter of going out there and doing it.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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