Celtics

Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

191544.jpg

Celts benefit as Davis finally returns to form

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK For most of the Boston Celtics' first-round series with New York, the Glen Davis we had come to expect was nowhere to be found.

Known for stepping his game up in the playoffs, the Celtics' undersized power forward was consistently underwhelming at every turn.

In Boston's first three playoff games against New York, he was 5-for-16 from the field.

And his defense?

That wasn't much better, either.

But then came Easter Sunday 2011, a day folks across the world recognize the power of resurrection.

On a much smaller scale that day at Madison Square Garden, we saw Davis return to the game-changing, high-impact super-sub the Celtics have come to know and love.

The end result was a 14-point night, one of several factors in the Celtics knocking off the Knicks, 101-89, to complete a four-game sweep.

By beating the Knicks in such a quick fashion, the Celtics came home to a couple days off as opposed to having to prepare for a Game 5 matchup against the Knicks.

Even as the Celtics rolled through the first three games against New York, it was clear Davis was trying too hard.

"I feel relief," he said following Sunday's win.

Coach Doc Rivers is often Davis' biggest critic.

Although it doesn't always look like it, he's also one of his biggest supporters.

That's why even when Davis struggled, Rivers never lost faith in that at some point, Davis would get on track and help the Celtics win.

But there are times when Rivers, who knows all too well how emotional Davis can be, has to take that additional step with the 25-year-old and sit him down for a one-on-one talk.

The two had such a conversation recently, and the result . . . well, we saw it on Easter Sunday.

"Sometimes, emotionally I can get down on myself or get frustrated," said Davis, who made 6-of-8 shots in the C's series-clinching victory. "Emotionally you kind of worry about the wrong things."

Lately, Davis said he has been worrying about what he can do to help the C's instead of just playing his game.

Rivers reminded him this week that simply being who he is, is exactly what the Celtics need.

"I wanted to help my team anyway possible," Davis said. "Things weren't working my way, so you get frustrated."

What Davis was experiencing, Rivers said, was symbolic of what the Celtics' second unit as a whole was going through in this series.

In the first three games, it was clear Boston's success was primarily because of the starters playing exceptionally well.

But in Game 4, Boston's bench proved to be the difference.

"We had a big lead (in Game 4), and it was because of our bench," Rivers said. "They all were feeling the adversity and going through it, and they just hung in there. That's what happens in the playoffs. This was a great example of that. You play one or two bad games, and everyone tells you how bad you are, you start rushing. They just came out and played."

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

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

celtics_al_horford_101617.jpg

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

MORE:

“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE