Celtics

Celtics take Game 1 from Sixers, 92-91

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Celtics take Game 1 from Sixers, 92-91

BOSTON You didn't see a lot of the Boston Celtics' brand of basketball in Game 1 of their second-round series with the Philadelphia 76ers.

But the C's, as they have done most of this season, did just enough to come out on top as they rallied for a 92-91 win.

After a pair of free throws by the Sixers brought them within 92-91, the C's threw the ball to Rajon Rondo who simply ran out the game clock as Evan Turner desperately tried to catch him to no avail.

Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 at the Garden on Monday.

The Celtics spent most of the game playing from behind, but a 15-4 run in the fourth put them ahead 90-84 with 1:18 to play.

A 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala brought the Sixers within 90-87, but a jumper by Rondo pushed Boston's lead back to 92-87.

It was an impressive win for the C's, and quite deflating for a Philadelphia team that controlled the action for most of the night.

Part of that control had to do with the Celtics squandering several opportunities early in the fourth quarter before Rondo drilled an 18-foot jumper to put the C's ahead, 83-82, with 3:37 to play.

Boston did not take their first lead of the game until they opened the third with a 6-0 spurt to lead, 48-47.

The two teams went back and fourth in the third until the Sixers, trailing 53-51, went on a 15-6 run and held off a late surge in the quarter by the C's to lead, 71-67, going into the fourth.

Boston was within striking distance most of the night, but consistently failed to come through with that one shot, that one shot that would have put the Sixers on their heels.

And the worst part about it?

Many of the potential game-changing shots were wide open looks by some of their more reliable shooters such as Ray Allen.

Trailing 80-77 in the fourth, Garnett had the ball underneath the basket with no one around except Spencer Hawes.

After a pivot towards the basket, Garnett lost control of the ball as it went out of bounds off of him.

Before that, Mickael Pietrus had a wide open 3-pointer that hit every part of the rim before deciding to roll out.

It was that kind of shooting night for the Celtics, who had several good looks at the basket all game that did everything but touch the bottom of the net.

And that's exactly what Philadelphia needed to get off to the kind of start that any team opening up on the road, would like to have.

The Sixers delivered the first punch - and it was a doozy - as the Celtics fell behind 7-0. Philadelphia continued to control the game's flow as the C's clanked one shot after another off the rim.

Part of Boston's problem was that they relied far too much on the perimeter game instead of working it inside to Kevin Garnett who was coming off a huge 28-point, 14-rebound performance in Boston's Game 6 win over Atlanta.

The C's went to Garnett at times, but the Sixers would immediately crowd him and Garnett would wisely pass the ball out of the double and at times, triple-team.

Rather than allow Garnett to re-post and feed him the ball again, the C's did just what the Sixers wanted them to do - settle for jumpers.

And on this night, the Celtics' perimeter game was in a word, awful.

Aside from Ray Allen, the C's got very few contributions from their perimeter game which was a major contributor to them shooting just 40 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, the Sixers got solid contributions in the first half from both their starters and their bench which was among the highest-scoring second units in the NBA during the regular season.

Boston fell behind by as many as 13 points in the first half, but a 10-2 run by the C's to end the second quarter brought them within 47-42 at the half.

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

We have seen the Boston Celtics play less-than-stellar basketball for long stretches, only to turn it on in the second half and escape with a win.

But Monday night’s game at Dallas was different.

Usually it has been Boston’s offense that has kept the game closer than expected, but on Monday it was the team’s defense that struggled more than usual.

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But this team continues to show an ability to withstand all in-game struggles to eventually emerge victorious which was exactly what happened as the Celtics rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to knock off the Mavericks 110-102 in overtime.

The Celtics (16-2) have now won 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

But this win, like so many of its predecessors during this historic run, was not one to celebrate afterwards.

“Quite a resilient comeback in the fourth,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not our best foot forward before that. Of all the comebacks, that did not look good for a long time. We found a way to win it.”

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 47 points, 10 of which came in the overtime period.

But his performance was just one of many Boston needed to extend its winning streak.

“In a game like this, you have to do whatever it takes, both ends of the floor,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum told reporters afterwards.

And he did just that.

In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Tatum’s defense forced a Harrison Barnes miss that would have won the game for Dallas.

And in the fourth quarter, Tatum’s rebounding was critical to Boston (16-2) extending its stay atop the NBA standings.

The 6-foot-8 rookie had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, with four of his boards coming in overtime.

Boston also got another strong game from Jaylen Brown (22 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Smart, whose shooting was well off the mark most of the night (3-for-15) but like he has done too many times to count, Smart managed to make a positive impact on the game.

He led the Celtics with eight assists off the bench, in addition to a slew of hustle plays that included a desperation save of a ball going out of bounds that managed to find its way into the hands of Kyrie Irving, who drained a much-needed 3-pointer late in the game.

“Those are worth more than whatever the shot goes in,” Stevens said. “That’s why it’s hard to quantify Marcus Smart.”

The same can be said about Boston’s winning streak, which has come about despite several stretches, every game seemingly, where the Celtics struggle.

But to their credit, they don’t allow the in-game setbacks take away from their focus night-in and night-out and that’s to find a way, any way possible, to emerge with a victory.

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Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

As NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper talked with Kyrie Irving following his best performance as a Boston Celtic, you could hear the chants “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the crowd behind him.
 
Considering the way Irving played on Monday night, that’s not just a case of fandemonium people!
 
Irving delivered a performance that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, tallying 47 points in leading Boston to a 110-102 overtime win at Dallas.
 
With the win, Boston has extended its winning streak to 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
While there were lots of Celtics who contributed to the victory, no one stood as tall as Irving who tallied 10 of Boston’s 16 points in overtime.
 
“We had to claw, fight our way back for this one,” Irving told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper. “But we had to earn it. These guys, the Dallas Mavericks, they gave us their best shot.”
 
And the Celtics countered with their best shot – Irving.
 
Even before the edge-of-the-cliff finish, Irving was in a rhythm that made it absolutely clear that he was going to have a big night scoring the ball.
 
“We just have to continue to get better from this point,” Irving said.
 
And as far as those “M-V-P” chants?
 
“It’s pretty awesome,” Irving said of the chants. “But we got a long way to go.”
 
Here’s a look at Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-102 overtime win over Dallas which extends Boston’s winning streak to 16 in a row which is the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
 
STAR

Kyrie Irving

This wasn’t even close, folks. Irving kept the Celtics afloat for most of the game, then guided them to victory with a dominant performance. He finished with 47 points, the most he has scored as a Boston Celtic. And on a night when most of the team struggled to make shots, they needed everything he had to offer.
 
 
 
STUDS
 
Harrison Barnes

He had a chance to win it in regulation, but failed to knock down the game-winning shot. Still, Barnes had a strong game for the Mavericks while finishing with 31 points and six rebounds.
 
Jaylen Brown

Kyrie Irving’s backcourt mate had yet another strong performance for the Celtics. He had a near double-double of 22 points and nine rebounds.
 
Jayson Tatum

Don’t let the 15-point total fool you. Tatum was a major factor in Boston’s comebacks with his ability to finish in transition and his defense down the stretch on Barnes gave the Celtics a shot as the game went into overtime.
 
J.J. Barea

The former Northeastern star was a huge spark off the bench for Dallas, tallying 16 points.
 
Marcus Smart

You can count me among those who cringed at a lot of those shots Marcus Smart took – and missed. Despite going 3-for-15 from the field, Boston doesn’t win this game without Marcus Smart. He made hustle plays defensively. He set teammates up for easy scores. And as bad as Smart shot the ball, he did make one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer that cut Dallas’ lead to 96-94 with 1:23 to play.
 
 

DUDS
 
Al Horford

He poked the ball free from Harrison Barnes late in the game which was a huge play, but for the most part Horford’s imprint on the game was non-existent. He missed four of his five shots from the field, tallying 3 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.
 
Dennis Smith Jr.

He is an explosive guard and scored six points in the first couple of minutes. From there, he was a non-factor, finishing with eight points on 4-for-16 shooting and maybe most significant, being nothing more than a cool breeze defensively as Kyrie Irving blew by him time and time again.

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