Celtics

Celtics hold on, beat Heat in OT to even up series

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Celtics hold on, beat Heat in OT to even up series

BOSTON Another overtime game, a much different outcome for the Boston Celtics.

A playoff home loss last year in overtime put the Celtics in a playoff deficit to the Heat that they could not dig themselves from under.

Much different result on Sunday as the Celtics managed to hold on for a 93-91 overtime win against the Heat that ties the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Game 5 will be in Miami, with the winner of that having an opportunity to advance to the NBA Finals in Boston for Game 6.

Miami's Dwyane Wade, who had 20 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the field, tried to put the game away in overtime with a step-back 3-pointer that rimmed in and out as time expired.

Rajon Rondo had yet another big-game performance for the C's, tallying 15 points to go with 15 assists.

And Paul Pierce had 23 points before he fouled out in overtime.

LeBron James, who led all scorers with 29 points, also fouled out with less than two minutes to play in overtime.

Both teams had several opportunities both in the fourth quarter and overtime to take control of the game, only to see those efforts - much like many of their shots - come up short.

Boston led by as many as 18 points but soon found themselves in a nail-biter after a lay-up by James tied the game at 74 and moments later, Norris Cole - yeah, Norris Cole - put the Heat ahead for the first time all night, 76-74, with a driving lay-up.

Both teams continued to go back and fourth with neither establishing a strong sense of control.

Miami was living at the free throw line, but dying a slow death as they continued clank one free throw after another. For the game, they were 17-for-24. The C's were even worse, connecting on 14 of their 20 attempts (70 percent).

This game's ending was a sharp contrast from its beginnings.

The Celtics could not have scripted a better start to the game, with an 8-2 start followed by a 13-7 spurt that gave the Celtics a commanding 21-9 lead about midway through the first quarter.

With so much attention paid to Kevin Garnett coming in, the Big Ticket morphed into the Big Decoy as Pierce, Rondo and Brandon Bass combined for 27 of the C's 34 first-quarter points. Bass finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

But the Celtics are all about defense, and their defense was pretty good for long stretches - but probably not as good as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers would have liked.

For Celtics Nation, a 34-23 lead after the first quarter is something to feel good about. Rivers' concerns probably stemmed from the fact that the Heat were still relatively close despite the Celtics outplaying them in just about every statistical category that mattered.

Boston's control didn't let up in the second quarter, with the Celtics' bench once again coming up with timely contributions.

Keyon Dooling had a pair of 3-pointers early in the second quarter as the C's were able to maintain a double-digit cushion in part because of their ability to double-team Wade akin to what the did in their Game 3 win. He finished with 10 of the Celtics's 11 points off the bench.

To put Wade's first-half in perspective, he had eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

All five Boston starters had at least eight points scored at the half which ended with the Celtics ahead, 61-47.

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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