Celtics

About last night: Kawhi pushes Bucks to brink of elimination

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About last night: Kawhi pushes Bucks to brink of elimination

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Blakely: Raptors take control of Eastern Conference Finals 

Less than a week ago, the Toronto Raptors were an overmatched, underperforming hot mess against a Milwaukee Bucks squad that was clicking on all levels. 

Today? 

The tide of the series has turned dramatically with the Raptors now having won three straight over Milwaukee to be within one win of advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. 

Kawhi Leonard continues to be arguably the best player in the postseason, and was sensational in Game 5 with 35 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. 

But the true difference-maker was Raptors reserve Fred VanVleet, who had 21 points, including seven 3-pointers, the same number of made 3’s by the entire Milwaukee starting five. 

With steady play by veteran Kyle Lowry (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Pascal Siakam (14 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots), the Raptors have gone from a disaster to being a win away from venturing into unchartered territory: the NBA Finals. 

Forsberg: Troll job goes to waste 

Biggest disappointment for the Bucks has to be wasting the amazing troll job by owner’s daughter Mallory Edens, who wore a Pusha-T T-shirt courtside as a hilarious shot at Drake. 

Well, that and losing three straight games for the first time all season. Not ideal timing there for Milwaukee. 

But cyborg Kawhi Leonard continues to come up with all the big plays and his big-game experience and poise is accentuated compared to these young Bucks.

SO... THAT HAPPENED

https://twitter.com/Bucks/status/1131750118925979654

NUMBER OF NOTE

35 — Kawhi Leonard has seven games with at least 35 points this postseason. The only other player in the last 20 years to have seven 35-point games before the NBA Finals? LeBron James, on three separate occasions.

THEY SAID IT

"This isn't the sexy answer, but from the first day of training camp we've been saying we're going to stay level. A s---ty preseason game is just gonna get written off. A great win at Golden State, same thing. A terrible game in San Antonio, 'Let's bounce back.' And we've done it all year. We've kept it even-keeled."

— Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to ESPN, on storming back to move within one game of the NBA Finals

THURSDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Raptors 105, Bucks 99 (TOR leads series 3-2)

WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING

BlakelyDurant-drama continues… 

The he-said, he-said back and forth between Kevin Durant and FS1’s Chris Broussard makes for good theater

But more than anything else, it serves as a timely distraction from what’s really going on with the Golden State Warriors. 

Whether they will own it or not, his absence has in many ways brought this group closer together, a team that’s embracing the fact that they need one another more than ever with Durant’s uncertain return.

He is a brilliant basketball player, one whose presence makes the Warriors damn near unbeatable this time of year. 

But the social media beef he and Broussard are involved with, only cements the perception that Durant is overly sensitive when it comes to being criticized or questioned by the media. 

As I said earlier, it makes for good theatre. But Durant returning to the floor for the NBA Finals?

That’s the show that everyone is eager to see him involved with this time of year.

Forsberg: Backed against the wall 

Love Giannis’ attitude after the loss, and now Game 6 can’t come soon enough.

“We're gonna come back to Milwaukee being pissed,” Giannis told reporters. Now it’s time to go show it.

The Bucks had a chance to step on Toronto’s throats early in Game 5 and let the Raptors off the ropes. Are the Bucks just not ready for the moment yet? We’ll find out when they have to fight for their lives on the road.

Selfishly, we want two more games out of this series. 

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NBA Rumors: GMs in favor of play-in tournament when season resumes

NBA Rumors: GMs in favor of play-in tournament when season resumes

On Thursday, the NBA took another step toward figuring out the best way to return to action.

Commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with the league's general managers to review a survey that was delivered to teams last week. In the survey, GMs voted on potential formats to resume play.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reports about 75 percent of GMs were in favor of a play-in tournament between bubble teams rather than a World Cup-style group stage. Front-running teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks favored the play-in tourney as it would give them a far easier path to the NBA Finals.

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More from O'Connor:

General managers were surveyed about a 'playoffs-plus' format—either a play-in tournament between the bubble teams to determine the final seeds in the playoffs, or a World Cup–style group stage, which would replace the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs with a round-robin format. About 75 percent of teams voted in favor of a play-in tournament, sources said, while 25 percent of teams voted in favor of the group stage.

Although many GMs are in favor of the play-in tournament, that doesn't mean the league will go in that direction.

“Adam [Silver] isn’t taking the results seriously,” a team executive told O'Connor. “Every team is obviously gonna vote for what’s best for them.”

Still, it's a noteworthy development and one that could not only impact how the NBA proceeds with its 2019-20 campaign, but also how it approaches future playoff formats.

For more details from O'Connor, check out his full article here.

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Celtics At Home: Daniel Theis recalls experience playing games without fans

Celtics At Home: Daniel Theis recalls experience playing games without fans

The Boston Celtics hosting a playoff game in an empty arena would be a bizarre experience.

Take it from the guy who's played in front of empty arenas.

Celtics big man Daniel Theis played several years of professional basketball in his native Germany before joining the C's in 2017. On the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics At Home," Theis explained that preseason games often didn't have fans, which created an atmosphere he didn't exactly enjoy.

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"It's definitely weird just thinking about it," Theis told host Brian Scalabrine. "Thinking back for me, playing in Germany in preseason games when you have scrimmages and no fans in there. You hear every voice, every word, every step. It's annoying."

Games without fans could be the NBA's new reality as it aims to safely resume play amid the coronavirus pandemic. Germany's top soccer league, the Bundesliga -- which Theis has been following intently -- is already playing games in empty arenas.

But while Theis wants to get back on the court, he doesn't sound thrilled about playing games without fans again -- especially if that means losing the home-crowd advantage that Boston provides.

"When I watched the soccer games this weekend, it was just -- it didn't feel right," Theis said. "Especially in Boston, when it comes to the playoffs and the fans at TD Garden are so important and so loud ... Then I can imagine now just playing a playoff game with nobody in there, it feels probably like a practice game or scrimmage."

Theis also discussed some of the Celtics' best Zoom guest speakers during Episode Three of "Celtics At Home," which includes guest appearances from C's legends Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Walton.

Check out the full episode of "Celtics At Home" below or on our YouTube page: