Celtics

Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

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Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

The Boston Celtics put together their most complete game of the playoffs, easily defeating New York, 113-96. Boston now has a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday.

Star of the game: Lots of worthy candidates for this, but the play of Paul Pierce stood out for several reasons. You love the fact that he had a game-high 38 points on an efficient 14-of-19 shooting night. Even more impressive than that was the way his defense on Carmelo Anthony, which set the tone for the C's overall play defensively against the Knicks' top scorer in this series. Anthony had just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field.

Studs: Rajon Rondo looked a lot like the Rajon Rondo we saw early in the season whose play was worthy of at least being mentioned among the top players in the game. He finished with his fourth career triple-double, scoring 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 20 - yeah, that's right - 20 assists. And as usual, Ray Allen continues to deliver big games that far too often get overshadowed by the play of his teammates. Rarely has 32 points seemed to come as easy as it looked for Allen, who drained eight of his 11 3-point attempts.

Duds: The back spasms that cut Amar'e Stoudemire's night short in Game 2, were clearly an issue for him Friday night. When he drove to the basket, he didn't have nearly the explosiveness that we've come to expect. And when he shot jumpers, there was little to no lift on the shots. The end result was a seven-point game on 2-for-8 shooting from the field.

Key stat: The Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season, were plus-10 (44-33) on the boards Friday night. Many of those rebounds were offensive grabs, which factored into the Celtics having a 22-15 advantage in second-chance points.

What to look for in Game 4: Can Rondo, Pierce and Allen continue to dominate the Knicks the way they did in Game 3? Can Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms) get healthy enough between now and Sunday to give them more than seven points on 2-for-8 shooting? And what about Chauncey Billups? Will his left knee injury heal in time for him to return on Sunday? Speaking of returning, what about Shaquille O'Neal? Even if he's healthy enough to play, do you play him with a 3-0 series lead and risk him getting hurt prior to a second-round matchup with Miami?

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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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