Celtics

Final play a microcosm of Celtics' night

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Final play a microcosm of Celtics' night

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The stage was set for another heroic victory by the Boston Celtics on the parquet. Down 2-1 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, all the pieces were in place to reclaim momentum with a dramatic win in front of their home crowd on Monday night.

Nineteen-and-a-half seconds left in regulation.

A play drawn up out of a timeout.

The final possession of the game.

But the script had a different ending this time.

The Celtics, a team founded on chemistry and communication, failed to execute the final play. What was supposed to be a series of pick-and-rolls to get teammates open ended in a contested jumper by Paul Pierce that missed the mark as time expired. The game went into overtime, where the Heat outscored the Celtics, 12-4, for a 98-90 victory.

The final seconds of regulation looked like a flurry of confusion by the Celtics and left many scratching their heads wondering what just happened. After the game, the main components of the play broke down how the game was supposed to end if all had gone as planned.

Doc Rivers: We didnt execute the play, Ill just leave it at that. Ended up leaving Paul on the island. Its a play weve run several times and we just didnt execute it. It was supposed to be a pick-and-roll with a flare and none of it happened, which was unusual for us. But it happened.

Paul Pierce: It was supposed to end up with a fade for Ray Allen, then I was coming off a pick-and-roll for Kevin Garnett. I guess there was a little confusion right there and we never got into it, and I had to force a bad shot.

Ray Allen: We wanted to get a pick-and-roll with Paul and Kevin. We kind of screwed it up because we wanted Paul to get the ball, and Im at the free-throw line and I wanted to kind of fan off and create some misdirection and then Kevin go set the screen, and then from there see what we got. But I dont think we got a great shot. Paul still got a shot at the basket. Were kicking ourselves over that.

Kevin Garnett: The timing actually got messed up when he went and got the ball and miscommunication. Paul went with a couple seconds on the clock and felt like he had to be aggressive in that situation. But plays are all timing. If you dont come off at a certain time, clocks going, and Paul felt like he had to go. Its what it was.

Rajon Rondo: "It's a surprise but it happens, you know? Lotta talking in the huddle, but there wasn't enough listening, I believe."

Although the Celtics failed to connect on the final play of regulation, execution was a recurring problem that forced them to take a last-second shot in the first place. The Celtics committed 16 turnovers, including four in overtime, leading to 28 Heat points.

Rivers called the turnovers killers and pointed to missed opportunities on botched fastbreaks. The chances for the Celtics to win were there -- they just werent capitalized on.

Execution was poor down the latter part of the game, said Garnett. I thought we had opportunities to win, actually, and poor execution, good team, you cant do that.

The Celtics tried to reclaim the series with buzzer-beating heroics in Game 4. Now down 3-1 and facing elimination, they cannot afford to wait for a last second shot. Time in this series is running out.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBAShe can bereached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

'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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