Celtics

Celtics stumble in loss to Hawks, 88-83

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Celtics stumble in loss to Hawks, 88-83

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

ATLANTA It was only fitting that the final made basket was by the Atlanta Hawks, and it came on an offensive rebound put-back.

It was that kind of game for the Boston Celtics, whose struggles in the second game of back-to-backs continued with Friday's 88-83 loss to the Hawks.

After a 6-2 start in the second game of back-to-backs, Boston (52-23) has now lost eight of its last nine such games.

"It's the same prescription for us in back-to-backs," said coach Doc Rivers.

The game's control seemed to change in the third quarter when the Celtics built a 12-point lead.

Boston had ample opportunities to increase the margin, but failed to get it done.

Big mistake by the Green team.

"We had a chance to go from 11 up to 18 up in my opinion," Rivers said. "We took horrible shots on one end, and get lax on the other end and it became a game."

Just like that, the Hawks not only had trimmed Boston's lead down to just six points.

But even more important they had momentum, which is a tough thing to shut down, even if it's on the road in a arena that had arguably as many of your fans as the home team's followers.

The improved play by the Hawks in the third quarter carried into the fourth, which began with Atlanta going on a 20-7 run that set the stage for Boston losing for the fourth time in its last six games.

Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia had 15 points and 10 rebounds, including a pair of clutch free throws with 36 seconds to play.

"Zaza Pachulia, the substitution of him changed the game," Rivers said. "He was the toughest dude on the floor."

Pachulia's ability to generate multiple possessions with his hustle, effort and ability to get loose balls - and even make balls loose like the time he snatched the ball out of Kevin Garnett's hands on a play that ultimately led to a foul by Paul Pierce.

"That was a great move by them," Rivers said. "We had a chance in the third quarter to stretch the game. We didn't. They got back in the game. Now the back-to-back comes into play."

Following the loss, Pierce was the first Celtics player to speak to the media.

And while there were plenty of plays and moments on Friday in which the Celtics simply did not play well, the third quarter stood out among the others in his mind.

"I thought we settled," he said. "We took a lot of jumpers there, and we could have pushed the lead to about 15, I think. Because we were getting stops all night."

But those defensive stops weren't enough, evident by the Atlanta's ability to to outscore the Celtics, 18-2, in second-chance points.

"We have to be a better rebounding team, especially if you play great defense for 19, 20, 22 seconds and the ball goes up, you gotta be able to get those rebounds," Pierce said. "That really bit us in the butt tonight."

While Pachulia's play was key, he wasn't the only Hawks backup making an impact.

Jamal Crawford who is once again among the NBA's top sixth men, had a team-high 20 points off the bench for the Hawks.

"The game ball goes to both Pachulia and Jamal Crawford tonight," said Hawks first-year coach Larry Drew. "Both guys came off the bench and did what we look for from them to do when they come in the game."

And the Celtics players, both starters and backups, continue to play both well and woeful in spurts.

While it's certainly one of those things that happens over the course of a season, Boston's struggles seem to be more pronounced in the second game of back-to-back sets of games.

"Back-to-back is part of the NBA," said Garnett. "It has been since I've been in the league, so that's no excuse. Either we can quit and go home, or we can continue to get better. There's no history of quitting in this team, so we'll just move forward."

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

Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'

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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.

MORE CELTICS

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.
 
Pressure?
 
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:


 
MARCUS SMART
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.


 
KYRIE FOR MVP?
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. 


 
REBOUNDING
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.
 

AL HORFORD
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.
 

FOURTH-QUARTER TATUM
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).