Celtics

Celtics have no answer for Davis in loss to Pelicans, 108-89

Celtics have no answer for Davis in loss to Pelicans, 108-89

The Boston Celtics found themselves on the comeback trail most of the second half on Sunday, with a pathway toward success remaining elusive all night as the New Orleans Pelicans got a much-needed 108-89 win over the Boston Celtics. 

MVP candidate Anthony Davis had another huge game against the Celtics as he tallied 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston (47-23) has now lost three of its last four games, while the Pelicans (40-30) are hoping Sunday’s victory will jumpstart them after losing four of their previous five games prior to Sunday night’s victory. 

The game’s turning point came in the fourth quarter when Boston’s Abdel Nader was fouled on a 3-point attempt with Boston trailing 82-76. 

On the play, New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry was whistled for a technical foul. 

Nader, a 72.0 percent free throw shooter this season, missed all four – yes, all four – free throws.

New Orleans responded with a 10-3 run and their control of the game was never an issue afterwards.

It was indeed a tale of two different halves as New Orleans opened the third quarter with an 11-3 run to lead 58-52. 

The Pelicans continued to soldier on as their lead peaked at 11 points following a free throw by Davis made it a 76-65 game. 

Boston was able to cut into New Orleans’ lead but still trailed 82-76 going into the fourth quarter.

The ending was in stark contrast to how the night began for Boston.

The Celtics continued their run of strong starts to games, with an 8-0 run which sucked for the New Orleans Pelicans fans who stood on their feet until New Orleans finally scored on a lay-up by ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo with 8:35 to play in the first.

That would be the catalyst for a much-needed spurt by the Pelicans which brought then within 10-8. 

But Boston didn’t waste any time putting some distance between the team and New Orleans as the Celtics maintained a comfortable 28-20 lead at the end of the first quarter which extended Boston’s run of leads after one quarter of play, to nine in a row and 11 of the last 12.

The second quarter proved to be a much tighter affair for the Celtics as the Pelicans took their first lead of the game, 43-42, on a lob dunk by Davis. 

New Orleans lead didn’t last long as Boston closed out the quarter by scoring seven of the game’s last 11 points to lead 49-47 at the half. 

Despite having a patchwork lineup because of injuries, Boston still managed to spend most of the game playing with a lead. Fill-in starter Marcus Morris was a matchup nightmare for the Pelicans as the 6-foot-9 forward had 14 points in the first half.

Boston also got a strong first half from Jayson Tatum who led all Celtics with 15 points in the first half, and a team-high 23 for the game.

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How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, as the Celtics host the Bucks at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

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Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

BOSTON -- We are at that point in this Boston-Milwaukee playoff series where X’s and O’s have little value. 

There’s very little either team can do at this point that would come as a complete shock to the other, and make sense at the same time. 

“It’s nothing new anymore,” said Jayson Tatum. “We’ve played them four games in a row. We know what we are going to do, they know what we are going to do.”

MORE ON THE SERIES

So what’s left?

“It’s just effort,” Tatum said. “Who wants it more.”

So far in this series, desire to win has been directly tied with the game’s location. 

Boston won an overtime nail-biter in Game 1 at the TD Garden and followed that up with another win in Game 2. The Bucks returned home and delivered a decisive Game 3 beatdown, then survived a late Celtics surge in Game 4 to hold on for a two-point win that included some late-game controversy

“The biggest thing that you learn as you go further into this is transition matters so much more; and rebounding matters so much more,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Making the right reads on offense matters so much more and those are the things that are somewhat within your control.”

And control is exactly what’s at stake tonight for both teams, knowing the loser will be in the first true must-win scenario when these two square off again in Milwaukee for Game 6. 

The significance of tonight is not lost on any of the Celtics players.

“Got to protect home court,” said Jaylen Brown. “Got to protect our house. They felt comfortable the last two games until those last few quarters, and that’s how we want to continue to play.”

Boston fell behind by 20 points (65-45) in the third quarter of Game 4, then steadily chipped away at the Bucks lead and eventually went ahead 100-99 with less than a minute to play on a jumper by Tatum. 

But Milwaukee eventually came away with the victory following a tip-in by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 5.1 seconds to play. 

Boston had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Marcus Morris’ fadeaway jumper was off the mark as the final horn sounded. 

The Celtics had practice on Monday and watched some video. But at this point, there’s very little they will do or see that will dramatically change their outlook and approach to tonight’s game other than the prospect of Marcus Smart (right thumb) suiting up tonight. That seemed a long shot until late Monday afternoon when the Celtics listed him as “questionable” for the game, the first time since his right thumb was surgically repaired last month that he hasn't been ruled out.

MORE ON MARCUS SMART

Regardless of who steps on the floor, the Celtics know at this point there are no secrets among these two teams.

“It becomes a game of inches now,” Brown said. “We played this team what, three or four times in the regular season, now it’s game five of the playoffs. We both know. Through the film, like we both know what each team wants to do and get out of it. Now it’s just who is going to come out on top.”

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