Celtics

Celtics take back home court with 107-91 win over Sixers

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Celtics take back home court with 107-91 win over Sixers

PHILADELPHIA It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The Boston Celtics were hurting at so many positions. The Sixers had home court advantage and apparently some momentum from their Game 2 win, and would feed off their fans.

And you know what all that meant to the Celtics?

Absolutely nothing.

The only thing the C's were concerned about was getting a win, something they were able to do in emphatic fashion with a 107-91 victory. The C's now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 in Philadelphia on Friday and Game 5 back in Boston on Monday.

The 'You Can't Stop Me' Tour featuring Kevin Garnett was rolling along, with Garnett delivering yet another show-stopping performance with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had a solid night as well, with 23 points, 14 assists and six rebounds. Ditto for Paul Pierce (24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists).

After taking a double-digit lead into the half, the Celtics were hoping that the third quarter would be better - much better - than it was for them in Games 1 and 2.

In less than five minutes, the Celtics' lead had ballooned to 20 points (71-51) with Garnett leading the charge.

His ability to score both inside the paint and from the perimeter, not to mention his defense, was just too much for the Sixers to handle.

Boston's blowout win was a bit surprising when you consider the game's early moments which saw Philadelphia open the game with a 7-2 run.

Throughout those early possessions, the Celtics were seemingly a step slow in getting free for shots, as well as their defensive rotations.

But the steadying force during those struggles, Garnett, continued to remind us all that there's still good basketball - a lot of good basketball - in those soon-to-be-36 year old bones of his.

However, Garnett soon found himself battling something much tougher than the Sixers defense - foul trouble.

He picked up two in the first quarter, which ended with the Celtics behind 33-28.

Garnett's departure might have been a blessing in the disguise for Boston.

It forced them to run more of their offense through Pierce.

Pierce, still dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament injury in his left knee, appeared to have found that much-needed bounce with back-to-back emphatic dunks followed by a pair of primal yells for good measure.

His play, along with Rondo's scoring, was instrumental in the Celtics being within striking distance going into the second quarter.

Facing a five-point deficit to start the second, Garnett immediately made up for lost time with the first of many baskets.

It didn't' take long before Garnett was joined by Rondo. And Brandon Bass. And Keyon Dooling. And Mickael Pietrus. And

Yeah, it was becoming that kind of game for the C's, courtesy of their small ball lineup that Celtics coach Doc Rivers normally waits until the fourth quarter to use.

But in the first, the C's had a stretch in which their lineup included Rondo, Ray Allen, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce and Greg Stiemsma.

The Celtics thrived with a similar small ball unit in the second quarter that included Garnett who was trending towards a double-double (17 points, nine rebounds) by halftime.

Boston pulled ahead by as many as 13 points (56-43) in the second, but soon saw its lead down to just seven after a 3-point play by Lou Williams and a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala.

The C's had played too well for too long to go into the half without a double digit lead. Boston took a 60-49 lead into the half following a pair of free throws by Rondo and a driving lay-up.

Boston had a chance to make the lead even bigger when Pierce stole the ball and launched a desperation, off-balance shot that was on line with the basket but came up short as time expired.

It didn't matter, though.

Because the half ended with the Celtics ahead comfortably, setting the stage for them to walk off the floor accomplishing the only thing they wanted all along - a victory.

All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
 
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
 
According to Smith, James will play. 
 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
 
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."
 

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It’s hard to believe the Celtics are just hours away from their first regular-season game after having been together for less than a month. 
 
The quick turnaround isn't all that different than it is for the other 29 teams in the NBA.  But the Celtics, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, are returning only four players -- and just one starter -- from last year.
 
Training camp was indeed a crash course called Getting to Know My Teammates 101.
 
But listening to the players, and coach Brad Stevens, it’s clear there will be lessons learned all season long.

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“We have a good feel about how things can look, in the preseason,” said Al Horford. “But it is the preseason. Now it all starts. And right away we face a tough test (in the Cavaliers). But yeah, we’ll start learning even more. We’ve already learned a good amount, but even more when Tuesday rolls around.” 
 
That's when the Celtics kick off the regular season at Cleveland, which will once again be the favorite to advance to the NBA Finals.
 
Not too far behind (right behind them, by most accounts) are the Celts, whose season ended in the Conference finals a year ago in a five-game loss to the Cavs.
 
And the Boston players collectively feel that, despite the short amount of time together, they’ve developed a good sense of chemistry and understanding of how to play effectively with one another. 
 
Having said that, they also understand that there’s still plenty of room to grow. 
 
“I don’t expect it to be perfect by any means at all,” said Gordon Hayward. “We’ll definitely have some ups and downs this season. Like I said, one thing is we’ll be able to compete every night. We’ll be able to play together. Those things should stay the same.”
 
In many respects, the Cavaliers are going through a similar challenge this season.  They've added Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder -- and, when he recovers from his hip injury, Isaiah Thomas -- to a core group that’s led by LeBron James. 
 
While the increase in talent is undeniable, it’ll take some time before they too develop the kind of on-the-court cohesiveness that comes with time. 
 
“It’s gonna take time,” Rose said. “It’s going to be a process for everybody to learn their roles, learn everybody’s tendencies, and not think while they’re out there.”
 
And while there’s a heightened level of uncertainty as to how things will play out with the Celtics this season, Stevens embraces the unknown. 
 
“I think we're going to be learning about ourselves through the middle of the season,” Stevens said. “I think you do that with every team, but I think that's especially the case now. But this is, I've said this before, like, the first week, the first 10 days, the first few weeks, we have such great and unique challenges that it's gonna be really good for this team regardless."
 
Stevens added: “Because, to have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc., is great. It's great to experience that in game one. A tremendous learning experience for our group. So, we're preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they're really, really good. But this is, I'm looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”

Hayward added, “It’s a fun first game to start the year. Regardless of what happens, we’ll have some improving to do and things to get better at.”
  
 

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