Celtics

Hurricane Garnett rips through Philly in Game 3

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Hurricane Garnett rips through Philly in Game 3

PHILADELPHIA Kevin Garnett is not supposed to be doing this; not now, anyway.

Garnett jumped into the DeLorean once again and went back in time, to a time when he was a one-man scoring machine that nobody could stop.

He has indeed brought that KG of the past to the present-day Boston Celtics who lead their best-of-seven series 2-1 over Philadelphia following another big game by Garnett.

Garnett led all players with 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, four assists and a steal.

"He's a great player," said Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young. "He's a guy who's going to go out there and do all the dirty work and play hard all the time."

And that hard work has indeed paid off for Garnett and the C's as they move one step closer to advancing to the Conference finals.

But the night did not get off to the best of starts for Garnett, who picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter.

After sitting for about half of the first, which is normal for him, he came back in the second quarter with a vengeance as the Sixers defenders were defenseless against his offensive onslaught.

Just like that, a five-point Celtics deficit was flipped around and turned into a double-digit halftime lead for the C's. And it was Garnett carrying the load, scoring 13 points in the second quarter. That was just three points less than the entire Philadelphia team in the second quarter.

"That was the initial game plan," said Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. "We wanted to give him the ball in the post. Ithink we did a pretty good job of executing."

Of Garnett's 12 made field goals, seven were baskets that were 10-feet or less from the rim. Seeing him spend so much time around the basket is not as easy to accept for Garnett as it is for some other centers.

But C's coach Doc Rivers has been on him all season to continue making his presence felt in the post, and not rely so much on his jumper. That's one of the reasons Rivers likes to keep him on the floor with the second unit.

"When he's in there with the second unit, we play through him; him and Ray," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "We rely on him to be on the post. That's his time to kind of establish his post-game."

Garnett did just that as the Sixers were no match for him in Game 3. Philadelphia has gone with length (Spencer Hawes) and power (Elton Brand and Lavoy Allen), and nothing seems to be working.

"We just have to go out there and find a way to stop him," said Philadelphia forward Thaddeus Young. "Which is probably just pushing him out of the paint and not letting him get as many post-ups, double team him on the catch a little bit more and get the ball out of his hands."

That sounds good, but that has typically freed him up for good looks at the basket. And that has led to dominant performances that don't seem anywhere close to ending any time soon.

"We're chasing something special," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "We're all extremely motivated to win."

That "special" thing is Banner 18, a pipe dream earlier this season that's gradually becoming a realistic goal this season. But before the C's can start planning the parade on Causeway Street, they must first dispatch of the pesky Sixers who are sure to play better in Game 4 on Friday than they did in Game 3.

"The biggest challenge is to try and repeat that effort," Garnett said. "It has to be a supreme effort from a defensive standpoint. When you beat a team like this at home, you have to expect them coming out with a lot of energy. But we'll be ready and we'll be having a lot of energy ourselves."

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

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Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

BOSTON -- These are tough, heart-tugging times for the Boston Celtics, who are less than 24 hours removed from the gruesome left-ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of their 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
 
Hayward is scheduled to have surgery today, and potentially could be out for the entire season.
 
As much as their hearts go out to Hayward and his family, the Celtics know they can’t spend too much time sulking. The nature of this business won’t allow them, evident by the fact the C's step back on the floor tonight to host the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
“You hurt for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s put in a lot of great work. I thought he had his most comfortable week as far as feeling like he was going to play really well. It’s a tough, tough deal but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
 
But in the same breath, Stevens is a realist.
 
He's been in the league long enough to know that grieving for a lost player won’t help that player in the short-term. Or the team, for that matter.

MORE ON GORDON HAYWARD

 
The best way the Celtics can help Hayward is to continue to compete in his absence.
 
We saw that in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers.
 
When Hayward was carted off the floor, the Celtics were ahead, 12-9. The lead disappeared and was eventually replaced by an 18-point deficit, only for Boston to chip away and eventually go ahead in the fourth quarter.
 
But down the stretch, too much LeBron James and Kevin Love would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.
 
While the loss was disappointing, it gave the team some insight into how to fight on now that one of its main guys will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
We saw Jaylen Brown emerge from being a second-year pro on the rise into a matchup problem who dropped a career-high 25 points on the Cavs.
 
And Jayson Tatum reminded us all that he’s a teenager in age only, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. The last rookie to tally a double-double for the Celtics in his opening night debut was Larry Bird in 1979, who had an identical 14-point, 10-rebound line.


 
But Bird didn’t have to play most of that game with one of the then top-three Celtics out for all but the game’s first five minutes.
 
When it comes to adversity, NBA players don’t have the luxury to pick which ones to handle and which ones to pass on. They either step up to the challenge or be consumed by it.
 
Under Stevens, Door Number One is the only option under consideration.
 
And since Stevens has been in Boston, his players have risen to the challenge.
 
That doesn’t mean they'll win every game, but they've shown the ability to at least be competitive. And in defeat, they'll refuse to use injury as an excuse.
 
That means younger players like Brown and Tatum will assume a larger role at both ends of the floor if Boston is to make it through these tough times relatively unscathed.
 
Veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Smart will be leaned upon more heavily to be leaders, both on and off the floor.
 
And Stevens, considered by many to be one of the better coaches in the NBA, will once again be tasked with making on-the-fly adjustments with his lineup and rotations under less-than-ideal conditions.
 
Nobody hurts more than Stevens when it comes to Hayward’s injury. Remember, he's known him longer than anyone associated with the Celtics, having recruited Hayward to play for Butler. It was the platform that launched both of their NBA careers.
 
Which is why the way he approaches not having Hayward is the example for all his players to follow.
 
Shortly after the loss to the Cavs, Stevens was asked about moving on while handling the emotional dynamics of losing Hayward for an extended period of time.
 
“We’ll be ready to play [tonight],” Stevens said with a heightened level of seriousness in his voice that spoke to how important it was to him and his players that they came out and performed at their best on Tuesday against Cleveland.

And that's the blueprint required for them going forward if they hope to be successful in handling adversity as it comes their way.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.