Celtics find one bright light in the darkness: Jaylen Brown

Celtics find one bright light in the darkness: Jaylen Brown

CLEVELAND -- For Celtics Nation, it's hard to find much to feel good about after Cleveland handed Boston the worst playoff defeat in franchise history, a 130-86 Game 2 thrashing on Friday night.
But the one glimmer of positivity they'll take away from the game was the play of Jaylen Brown.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound rookie led all Celtics with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting, to go with four rebounds and two steals.
More than the numbers, Brown did what most of his teammates failed to do.
He came to compete.
And that, more than the drubbing itself, is what made Game 2 such a sad affair.
Not even the most die-hard Celtics fan came into this series expecting the C's to win. But, at a minimum, it was expected they would show up, fight hard and give themselves a chance to be competitive.
Two games into this series and we're still waiting for the Celtics to show legitimate fight and competitive spirit. Up to now, it's been nowhere to be found.
"We have to have the mindset to come out and be aggressive, no matter what the matchup is," Brown said. "The mindset [in Game 2] was to come out and be aggressive, but the execution didn't match it."
He added: "We have to keep fighting. We have to hit shots."
And while a decent chunk of Brown's points came after the game was well in hand for the Cavs, even then he showed a willingness to go at whoever was guarding him offensively and stick with that aggression as a defender.
Of his 11 shot attempts, six were contested. And of those six, he wound up making five.
Defensively he didn't hesitate to foul a Cavs player if he was out of position, which led to him picking up five personal fouls for the night.
"We can't put our head down when we miss one," he said. "We have to do a better job of cheering each other on, getting each other open shots and supporting each other when we do hit them."
Brown is right about Boston needing to do a better job of knocking down shots, particularly those that are uncontested. In Game 2, Boston hit on just 28.9 percent (11-for-38) of uncontested shots. The Cavs, by contrast, made 53.2 percent (25-for-47).
But that's part of the problem in this series.
The Celtics don't want to admit it, but for much of this season they've allowed their offense to dictate how they defended. When shots go down, their defense locks in. When shots aren't falling, their defense becomes a sieve as opponents have little trouble just pouring on the points.
"I felt like two games in a row now, I've felt like when we've missed multiple opportunities in a row offensively, we've really let that dictate how we played on the other end of the court," said coach Brad Stevens. "That's disappointing. But they've taken advantage of us both nights."
And now that the Cavs are back at home, it's difficult to imagine that Cleveland will ease up to the point where the Celtics can emerge with a win.
But there's a chance that the Celtics will make one last-ditch effort to shake up their starting five in Game 3.
Isaiah Thomas has a right hip injury and it's unclear if he'll play on Sunday. He re-aggravated the injury, which he suffered in Game 6 of Boston's second-round series with Washington, on Friday and wound up with just two points -- both from the free-throw line -- after missing all six of his shots in the first half. The hip injury he suffered kept him out for the entire second half.
Stevens can go in a number of directions if Thomas can't play (most likely Marcus Smart will start). But one thing we do know, and that's Brown will get on the floor and play.
And unlike some of his teammates (at least recently), there are no questions or concerns about whether Brown will compete out there.
"I think we can still pull this off," Brown said. "We have a job to do; we have to regroup. I still believe."

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

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NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win. 

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

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Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

BOSTON -- As I made my way towards the Boston Celtics locker room following their 100-99 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, I walked past co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who, as you might expect, was pleased with what he had just witnessed.
“That was a good one,” he said.
That’s one way to describe it.


But explaining the Houdini-like way the Celtics seem to get out of some serious jams over and over again, and against really good teams, is indeed a head-scratcher for most.
It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of fresh adjectives to describe this team, which has a knack for the comeback.
“Improbable” doesn’t do justice to how Boston’s hit-the-lottery luck has played out so often on nights when it seemed on the doorstep of defeat.
And this town loves a good comeback story, whether it’s Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win after being down by 25 points, or the Celtics spotting the NBA champ Golden State Warriors a 17-point cushion before rallying for a meaningful November win -- a rarity in the NBA.
But the obscure and unexpected have become standard in this seemingly alternate basketball universe that the Celtics play in, one that we have been bearing witness to all season.

I mean, look at their body of work:

DECEMBER 18: Down by one on the road at Indiana in the closing seconds of play in what appears to be a tough road loss, Terry Rozier steals and races down the floor looking like Deion Sanders in high-tops, for a game-winning dunk.

DECEMBER 28: Trailing the Houston Rockets by 26 points in the third quarter, they rally back and steal the win with not one, but two offensive fouls drawn in the last minute by Marcus Smart against perennial league MVP candidate James Harden.

JANUARY 11: In London, they erased a 22-point deficit and defeated Philly.

FEBRUARY 4: There was a buzzer-beater by Al Horford to beat Portland on Super Bowl Sunday.

And . . . well, you get the idea.

Boston has six wins by a single point this season, which is tied with Miami for the season lead and is one shy of tying the franchise record for one-point wins in a season. 

In addition, Boston has won 10 games this season in which it fell behind by 12 or more points. 
Winning so many games under less-than-ideal circumstances has not only padded the Celtics' win total, but also reinforced this team with a Teflon-strong mindset. They believe they're tthe ultimate practitioner of basketball necromancy, consistently finding a way to rise up from the basketball graveyard of defeat and win in dramatic fashion.

Like they did Tuesday night against the Thunder.

How can you bank on Carmelo Anthony, a career 81.2 percent free-throw shooter, missing a pair with less than nine seconds to play?
Or botching the play Brad Stevens drew up at the end of the game -- "We kind of messed [it] up," said Jayson Tatum -- but, rather than it leading to a turnover, instead becoming a game-winning 3-pointer by Marcus Morris with 1.8 seconds to spare? 


 It was another crazy ending in what has been a season filled with bizarre finishes, jaw-dropping rallies and a never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has kept Celtics fans on the edge of their seats all season.
“It’s great to be in a situation where you’re down six with under a minute to play or whatever it was, and you find a way to win the game,” said Stevens. “That’s going to be pretty unique, but they just kept playing the next possession and we were fortunate that that shot went down. That was a heck of a shot by Marcus."
A heck of a shot?
But in this bizarro world of Celtics basketball this season, it was predictable as the Thunder became yet another team to play Boston and leave wondering the same thing most Celtics fans do … “Did THAT just happen?