Celtics look to home court to stop the bleeding


Celtics look to home court to stop the bleeding

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Nobody said this march toward Banner 18 was going to be easy for the Boston Celtics.

But as it stands now, the path could not be much tougher.

The Celtics are down 2-0 to the Miami Heat, a team that's younger, more athletic and, right now, playing with the kind of swagger the Celtics aren't used to having to deal with this early in the playoffs.

Just when it seemed the Celtics were turning the corner on what has been a season filled with injuries, Paul Pierce (left Achilles strain), Ray Allen (chest) and Rajon Rondo (back) all left the floor at some point in Game 2 with injuries.

And we're not even going to get into the Shaq-who-cried-wolf tale that seems to have no ending in sight.

It all adds up to the Celtics returning to the TD Garden for Game 3 on Saturday in as dire a hole as we've seen this core group.

"We need to go protect our home court, period," said Kevin Garnett. "There isn't much to talk about. It's do-or-die."

Indeed, the Celtics are banking on a change of scenery being just what they need in order to gain some footing in a series in which they are sinking fast.

"They held their serve at home," said Pierce. "Now it's our job to go home and get two wins."

Boston was among the NBA's best teams at home during the regular season, compiling a 33-8 record. Only Chicago and San Antonio, which each finished 36-5, were better.

The Celtics' home-court advantage was on display in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks, a team the C's defeated in both Game 1 and 2 of that series in Boston.

Home or away, it really doesn't matter at this point for the Celtics.

"We just have to win," said Rajon Rondo. "I thought we had a decent sense of urgency (in Game 2 against the Heat), but we didn't play smart down the stretch. We have to find a way to get stops those last three minutes of the game."

Limiting Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the closing minutes of quarters, is among the issues that the C's have to work through between now and Game 3.

After spending most of Game 2 playing from behind, the Celtics rallied to tie the score at 80-80 in the fourth.

The Heat responded with a 14-0 run to put the C's away with James scoring seven of his game-high 35 points during the spurt.

And while the C's clearly have to make some adjustments in how they defend Wade and James, the biggest change needs to come about in their attitude.

Points. Defensive stops. Turnovers.

The Celtics are allowing all these things to happen too easily, a trend they have to reverse.

Boston prides itself in being a defensive-minded team first. But far too often, their struggles offensively have dictated their play defensively and for a team that's serious about winning a championship, that can't happen.

"They've played well and we can't allow them to play like this or it's going to be tough at our place," Rivers said. "Bottom line is we have to go back and take a look at what we're doing, fix it and be ready for Game 3."

Part of that process of preparation involved giving the players Wednesday off to, according to Rivers, "do whatever they want to do, just stay away from each other, stay away from film and stay away from basketball. Just relax. We'll get right back at it (practicing) the next day."

Then comes more specific adjustments that the Celtics hope will get them a much-needed win to get back into this series.

"We'll be ready (for Game 3), I can guarantee you that," Rivers said.

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

Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'


Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Retired NBA star Ray Allen said he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen filed an emergency motion in Orange County, Florida, on Tuesday, one day after Bryant Coleman told the court he is being stalked by the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion.

Allen said Coleman is the one who is stalking.

“Coleman pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in Ray Allen,” read the motion filed on Allen’s behalf. “Ray believed he was speaking with these women and communicated with them.”

Attorney David Oscar Markus released a statement saying Allen took legal action in an effort to put an end to threats against him and his family, and that Allen was the victim “of an online scheme to extract money and embarrass him by someone who appears to be troubled.”

In the filing, Allen said Coleman threatened to reveal details of their conversations, and that the sides eventually struck a deal to keep everything private. Allen said that deal has been violated and that Coleman has continued to harass him and his family through several social-media accounts.

“He posted about Ray’s wife, Ray’s children, Ray’s dog, Ray’s homes, Ray’s wife’s restaurant, and numerous other personal items,” read the motion. “Coleman not only posted about these things, he would actually post while physically located inside Ray’s wife’s restaurant in Orlando. And he would make sure they knew it, tagging Ray and his wife on those posts.”

Allen asked the court to stop Coleman from “cyber-stalking.” It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found.

“Ray regrets ever engaging with this person online and is thankful they never met in person,” Markus said. “This experience has negatively impacted Ray, and he hopes that others might use his mistake to learn the dangers of communicating online with strangers.”

Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made. He starred in college at UConn and won championships with the Celtics in 2008 and Miami in 2013, the second title coming after he made one of the most dramatic shots in playoff history — a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of The Finals against San Antonio, a game that the Heat would win in overtime to extend the series to a seventh game.

Allen also played for Milwaukee and Seattle, and last appeared in the league in 2014. He and his family have lived in the Miami area since.

© 2017 by The Associated Press 

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Brad Stevens likes the fact that the Celtics have shown an unusually strong resolve this season by consistently finding ways to win on nights when they don’t play their best.
It’s to the point now where fans, as well as the players, feel no deficit is too steep to overcome.


That said, there’s a level of expectations on this team now that you would think would bring about a heightened level of pressure, right?
They’ve won 16 in a row, the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Not according to Stevens.
“Coaching basketball is not pressure,” Stevens told reporters after Monday night’s win. “Playing basketball is not real pressure. Sometimes we overdo this stuff. We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game. That’s all we’ve done, that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me; maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better and finding ways to get the job done.”
Here are five other takeaways from the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas that extended Boston’s winning streak to 16:

There may not be a player on this team – maybe in the NBA – that’s more difficult to get a read on, than Marcus Smart. He has been a historically bad shooter throughout his career in Boston. And yet when you look at their 16-game winning streak, he’s one of the main reasons for it. He plays with an edge; he’s gritty and defends at a level that few can match. He makes big plays in big moments. But he's having his worst season ever shooting the ball yet his impact when he’s on the floor has never been greater. So, what do you do if you’re Stevens? You keep playing him. Because as much as his poor shooting hurts the team’s overall scoring, he makes so many clutch plays whether it’s facilitating, defending or – wait for it – making shots. He adds tremendous value to winning, even if his shooting numbers might suggest otherwise.

When you’re getting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants on the road, you know you’re ballin’ hard. Kyrie Irving wowed the Dallas crowd with 47 points, 10 of which came in overtime as Boston rallied after facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. If the numbers continue to climb along with the win total, Irving will continue to cement himself as a top-five MVP candidate. 

One of the few constants in Boston’s string of success has been their rebounding. Against the Mavericks, the Celtics once again won the battle on the boards, 53-45. And it hasn’t been one or two players, either. Against Dallas, the Celtics had five players grab at least four rebounds with no one securing more than nine. That kind of rebounding balance makes Boston an extremely difficult team to out-work on the glass.

The scoring punch we’ve come to expect lately from Horford just wasn’t there against Dallas. Instead, he seemed more consumed with getting others (mainly Irving) involved offensively. He missed four of his five shots from the field and scored just three points. But he almost had a double-double in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven) along with blocking a couple of shots. And as always, his plus/minus was among the best on the team with the Celtics being +7 when he was on the floor.

While Irving was delivering one big shot after another down the stretch, one of his running partners in late-game situations this season has been Jayson Tatum. He ranks among the league’s best shooters in the fourth quarter and Monday’s victory only solidified his status. Against the Mavericks, Tatum had six points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum is shooting 64.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which ranks eighth in the NBA among players who take at least two field goal attempts per game in the fourth. Right ahead of him is teammate Marcus Morris (65 percent).