Celtics-Heat review: What we saw . . .


Celtics-Heat review: What we saw . . .

MIAMI The Boston Celtics got a huge lift from their Big Three in defeating Miami 115-107.

No, the other Big three - as in, the three players that the C's now turn to off the bench - Ray Allen, Sasha Pavlovic and Greg Stiemsma.

All three played important roles in the win, delivering a little bit of everything when the C's needed it most.

They were especially effective in the first half.

"End of the first, and the second quarter, you could make a case was the biggest part of the game," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's when we stretched (the lead) with our bench."

Of the three, the play of Pavlovic has been the biggest surprise.

Although he played less than eight minutes, he had six points on a pair of 3-pointers in the first half in addition to one blocked shot.

"We just have to be ready to go out and play whenever coach (Rivers) calls our names," Pavlovic said. "If we do that every night, we're going to be fine."

Stiemsma, the lone big man off the Celtics bench, had a strong game with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots while playing less than 20 minutes. And then there was Allen, who had nine points and three assists.

"This whole season has been about opportunities," Stiemsma said. "Tonight was just another one."

And when they're playing this well, it makes life a lot easier for the likes of Paul Pierce and the rest of, you know, that other Big Three.

"With so many games, back-to-back nights, these guys have to come up big," said Pierce who led all Celtics with 27 points. "It's going to be nights where they're going to have to save the starters, and they've been doing a good job of that lately."

The play of Boston's bench was indeed a major factor in the C's victory. Here are some of the keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: You can bet one of the first things the Heat will try and do is get LeBron James to get his teammates involved. Of all the problems Boston presented in their 91-72 win over Miami on April 1, it was James' inability to establish scorers around him that put the Boston beat-down in motion. So it's important that Paul Pierce do a good job of not allowing James to find teammates for open or slightly contested shots. But James said he's not coming into tonight's game looking to establish any one particular style of play. "I just kind of let it flow," James said. "Throughout the course of the game, just see if guys have it going, or if I have it going, then I just play it by ear."

WHAT WE SAW: LeBron James didn't waste any time, getting an assist on the Heat's first made basket. He would finish with a team-high seven assists, but there was never a point in the game where James' ability to get his teammates involved seemed to have an impact on the game. In addition to his seven assists, he also had a game-high 36 points along with seven rebounds.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs. Dwyane Wade: You could tell this game really means a lot to Wade, who took Sunday night off against Detroit to rest (wink, wink) a sore ankle. As for Bradley, he has to be prepared for a lot of hard screens set to free up Wade. But to his credit, Bradley's ability to move without the ball and get into position to score off cuts will make Wade work hard on defense which if you're the Celtics, you hope will take away some of his offensive fire power. Needless to say, Wade has been impressed with Bradley's emergence. "One thing about Boston, they have a lot of triggers going on," Wade said. "As a defender, you're looking at (Rajon) Rondo with the ball, you're looking at all the triggers the have and he's one of the best cutters. He finds a way to cut, when the triggers are going on. So you're doing what you're taught to do - pay attention to the ball - and he's going the other way. So you just try and be aware of it."

WHAT WE SAW: Wade was better, but it was yet another game in which Bradley made him work a lot harder than he's used to. Wade finished with 20 points, but shot just 9-for-21 in doing so. Bradley only had 11 points, but he did it by shooting 5-for-8 from the field.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has had 17 straight games with 10 or more assist, and the last time he saw Miami on April 1 he had a triple-double. Look for the Heat to try and get the ball as much out Rondo's hands as possible, which would force Paul Pierce into being more of a facilitator as opposed to the C's primary scorer.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo continues to play at a ridiculously high level for the Celtics. He finished with 18 points and a game-high 15 assists for his 18th double-double this season in addition to extending his streak of games with 10 or more assists, to 18. "Rondo really facilitated everything," said Paul Pierce. "With the movement, with the pushing the ball, mixing it up and also I thought he did a better job offensively."

STAT TO TRACK: One of the biggest problems Miami has had following the All-Star break, has been poor rebounding. Prior to the break, the Heat ranked 10th in bench rebounding, with 43 per game. Since returning from the break, they rank 26th with 39.6 per game. If the Celtics can keep this trend going, it'll provide a huge boost to their chances of beating Miami for the second time in the span of 10 days.

WHAT WE SAW: The Celtics became the latest team to give the Heat major problems on the boards, as Boston won the battle of the boards, 40-34.

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official


Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.


Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds