Thomas: Celtics second-half collapse vs. Clippers 'unacceptable'

Thomas: Celtics second-half collapse vs. Clippers 'unacceptable'

LOS ANGELES -- There was no mistaking that the frustration level on Isaiah Thomas' part was about as high as it has been this season following Monday's 116-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Uncut interview w/ Brian Scalabrine and Paul Pierce

"We should have won this game," Thomas said following the loss. "We should have won last night [at Phoenix]. We can't be experimenting in Game 63."

 When asked to elaborate, Thomas said, "You can watch film and you know what it is."
With Al Horford (elbow) and Jonas Jerebko (sick) both unable to play, Boston went with an uber-small lineup in which all five starters for Boston -- Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson -- were shorter than their Clippers counterpart.

Size wasn't a factor of great significance in the first half, as the Celtics led by three points in part because of the 26-26 tie on the boards.

But the second half was a different matter as the Clippers won the battle on the boards by 10.
Boston was more cut-and-paste with its lineup than usual without Horford and Jerebko. Their absences, coupled with foul trouble, left coach Brad Stevens little choice but dig a little deeper into the second unit than he normally would.
Thomas wouldn't say whether his "experimenting" comment was in regards to the lineups used on Monday, but it's hard to imagine he was referring to anything else.
Regardless, the bottom line is Boston has lost two straight and three of its last five.
And while the Celtics are in good position to return to the postseason for the third straight year, and the first with home court through at least the first round, the team's recent struggles should not be glossed over.
That said, Thomas isn't overly concerned with the loss as much as he is how it came about.
"It's the way we lost [Monday night]; it's unacceptable," he said. "We lost the game in the last 15 minutes of the game. We played a good game up until the last 15. That's the players' fault, coaches' fault, everybody in this locker room's fault. We could have done a lot better."

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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