Cavs lineup says they're not putting up a fight for No. 1 seed

Cavs lineup says they're not putting up a fight for No. 1 seed

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics could certainly use the top overall seed in the East more than Cleveland. It looks like the Cavs aren’t going to put up a huge fight for it.
Both Boston (51-29) and Cleveland are tied for the best record in the East, each with two games remaining.
All indications are that the Celtics will play their usual starting five tonight against Brooklyn (20-60), but the Cavs have other plans.
Their lineup for tonight’s game at Miami does not include LeBron James, Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving. In addition, Tristan Thompson is expected to miss his fourth straight game due to a thumb injury.

Not only will the Celtics face a weaker foe in their quest to take a one-game lead in the East tonight, but Cleveland made it that much easier by having their top four players sit out a game that their opponent, Miami, desperately needs to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Miami (39-41) comes into tonight’s game against Cleveland tied with Chicago for the eighth-best record in the East. But if the playoffs were today, they would be ninth -- just outside of the playoffs -- due to the Bulls having the tie-breaker.
Cleveland is doing this to give their core guys rest before the playoffs, something head coach Tyronn Lue has said he would do.
However, it didn’t feel like a sure thing because of the erratic play of the Cavs lately, which has led to them losing some games that frankly, they should not have lost.
Case in point: Sunday’s 126-125 overtime loss at Atlanta, a game in which the Cavs led by as many as 26 points … IN THE FOURTH QUARTER!
James and his teammates pointed out some bad calls in the fourth that contributed to the loss. They were right.
When the two-minute report the league releases in connection with that game comes out, there will be one or two missed calls by the refs that in hindsight, probably cost the Cavs the game.
But when you’re up by 26 points in the fourth and you’re the defending NBA champions, the last thing you should be talking about is blown calls.
This move has the feel of a win-win-win for the three teams involved: Miami, Cleveland and of course, Boston.
The Heat get a huge win to bolster their hopes of getting one of the last playoff spots that’s up for grabs.
Cleveland’s core gets rest, something they have had little of this month.

If Cleveland loses tonight and the Celtics win, Boston then controls its own destiny as far as getting the top overall seed. All they would have to do is win their regular season finale at home against the Milwaukee Bucks whose playoff position might be established before tip-off and they might take a cue from the Cavs and rest their core guys in that game on Wednesday.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.