Celtics push champs to the limit but can't quite finish


Celtics push champs to the limit but can't quite finish

BOSTON – Those rumblings at the TD Garden Friday night?

It wasn’t just the fans on their feet in the final minutes of Boston’s down-to-the-wire battle with the Golden State Warriors.

It was the NBA landscape shifting like a heated glaciers in a way we have not seen all season.

The Warriors were on the ropes, plain and simple. But like true champions, they responded with a slew of tough, grind-it-out plays to escape with a 124-119 double overtime win. A driving lay-up by Draymond Green with 51 seconds to play in the second overtime appeared to be the dagger, only for Boston’s Evan Turner to come back with a lay-up to make it a one-point game again. Green finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

A Golden State miss was followed by a mad scramble for the loose ball that resulted in Jae Crowder being called for a personal foul with 17.8 seconds to play. Shaun Livingston made both free throws. The Celtics called a time-out, looking to extend the game and their chances at pulling off the biggest upset of the NBA season.

Jae Crowder, who had 15 points, scored on a driving lay-up, only for Stephen Curry to be fouled to stop the game clock. Curry, who led all scorers with 38 points, made both free throws with 13.4 seconds to play. He also had 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Boston called another time-out, but were not as fortunate this time. A 3-point attempt by Crowder was well off the mark. The ball wound up in the hands of Andre Iguodala who iced the game with a pair of free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining.

There were so many moments in the game that jump out and leave a “if only if…” feeling in the mouth of Celtics Nation.

Leading 89-85 in the fourth quarter, Boston's David Lee misses a lay-up. Golden State scores four straight to tie the game up. There were loose balls the Celtics could not get a hold of in overtime, defensive rebound opportunities blown. There were earlier transition scoring opportunities that were broken up by Draymond Green, runner up for Defensive Player of the Year last season and a front-runner for the award this season.

And then there were the free throw misses, the kind of scoring opportunities that can’t be wasted against a team this talented, this strong.

But even with the missed shots and free throws, Boston still found themselves eye-to-eye with the champs in the closing moments.

Well before tip-off, there was a buzz in the TD Garden unlike anything we’ve seen this season. It was more like a Game 7 vibe, with fans throughout the building chanting ‘Let’s Go Cel-tics!’ throughout the fourth quarter, players like Jared Sullinger and Crowder combining to force a turnover that soon led to a 3-pointer by Isaiah Thomas.

Boston was bringing all to the floor in the closing minutes, with their emotions driving them towards what they were hoping would be arguably the most important win in the Brad Stevens era and one of the most significant in regular season NBA history.

But in the end, the Warriors (24-0) made all the plays at both ends of the floor and continue their march towards basketball immortality.

Classic Celtics: Watch C's outlast Suns in epic 1976 NBA Finals Game 5

Classic Celtics: Watch C's outlast Suns in epic 1976 NBA Finals Game 5

When it's referred to as "the greatest game ever played," it's probably worth re-watching.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Larry Bird's dominant performance in Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals on Friday -- is back this Sunday with a gem from the archives: Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns.

With the series knotted at 2-2, the Celtics and Suns battled through three overtimes that featured several controversial calls before C's emerged with a thrilling 128-126 win at the Boston Garden.

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Buoyed that victory, the Celtics went on to win Game 6 and secure what would be the last NBA championship for the iconic core of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, Paul Silas and head coach Tommy Heinsohn.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Suns airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and Heinsohn will join Brian Scalabrine to provide color commentary throughout the game. 

Here's how to watch:

When: Sunday, April 5, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

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Enes Kanter wants to finish season, thinks Celtics have a chance to win title

Enes Kanter wants to finish season, thinks Celtics have a chance to win title

It has now been 25 days since the Boston Celtics last played and 24 days since the NBA suspended its season over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. And right now, it's unclear when -- or if -- the season will resume.

And even if the games do return, there is going to be an adjustment period for players as they look to get back into game shape. In a Zoom conference on Friday, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter outlined why the league can't just jump right back into the playoffs without any sort of tune-up.

"I think we’ll need two to three weeks just to get back on the court because people are in their apartments and not moving at all," Kanter said, as transcribed by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. "We have to make sure everyone is doing their stuff and in great shape, so they can go out and compete. If you jump straight to playoffs, playoffs are like a war, where you have to give it everything you have. Make sure everyone is 100 percent healthy, in game shape, and then we can compete."

This completely makes sense, as the last thing the league wants is to put the players in danger of suffering long-term injuries by bringing them back too quickly. Additionally, the league probably would also want their players in peak physical shape in order to avoid fielding a subpar product in the playoffs.

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Even with the uncertainty surrounding a potential NBA return, Kanter is holding out hope that the season will return. And he's pretty confident in the C's chances of going all the way if it does happen.

"We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,'' he said. "Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.''

Kanter has a point. The Celtics were the No. 3 seed in the East at the time of the league's suspension, but with time to get healthy, they may have a chance to have their full roster available, something they've rarely had this season. And their relative youth could allow them to get into shape quicker than some other more veteran-laden teams.

Still, until the league actually does return, it'll be more waiting and wondering what could've been for the Celtics had the season continued.

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