Celtics

Brown looks to make adjustments after Cavs limit him in Game 3

Brown looks to make adjustments after Cavs limit him in Game 3

CLEVELAND – The first two games of the Eastern Conference finals between Boston and Cleveland, the Cavs' defense was hell-bent on trying to limit Jayson Tatum which as it turned out, paved the way for big games from Jaylen Brown. 

Well, the Cavs ditched the usual plan which was to pay added attention to Tatum, and instead do all they could to limit Brown in the first quarter. 

It worked. 

Brown, who has done some of his best work in this series in the first quarter, was being paid significantly more attention than Games 1 and 2 at the outset of Game 3 which proved to be an important key to Cleveland’s 116-86 win. 

Brown, who was also in foul trouble early and often in Game 3, tallied just 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting along with turning the ball over three times which tied Marcus Smart for the team lead.

What stood out about Brown’s first quarter stat line was how he was scoreless on one missed shot from the field in the first.

Brown acknowledged after the game how the Cavaliers defended him very differently than they had in the previous two games. 

“I just don’t think they let me catch the ball,” Brown said. “They were denying me. They didn’t want me to get the ball and when I did get it, it wasn’t in the position I was comfortable in.” 

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged after the win that part of the game plan was to pay closer attention to Brown who had been averaging 13.5 points scored in the first quarter. 

“We changed a couple things up,” Lue acknowledged. “We know Jaylen is a first-quarter player. He plays good throughout the game, but he really sets the tone early in that first quarter. So we wanted to do a good job on him. I thought LeBron (James) did a good job of closing out to him, making him put it on the floor, cutting him off and making him play in a crowd. It was good for us to slow him down that first quarter because he’s been really good in Boston.” 

There’s no question Brown was disappointed with the loss. But he’s far from deterred in achieving his primary goal here in Cleveland – come away with at least one win.

“I got to go back and look at it (Game 3),” Brown said and then added, “make adjustments and come back and try to get one here.”

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Celtics might not have a choice in getting Robert Williams III more minutes

Celtics might not have a choice in getting Robert Williams III more minutes

BOSTON -- It was something most Boston Celtics fans didn’t expect to see this time of year -- rookie Robert Williams III mobbed by media after a game in which he played a career-high 26 minutes and contributed to a Boston win.


But his play in Boston’s win over New Orleans warranted some post-game love, the kind that may become more of a regular occurrence going forward. 


One of the main reasons Williams saw so much playing time was because Al Horford did not play due to what head coach Brad Stevens described as patellar tendinitis. 


It is a condition where often the best treatment for it is rest, which means there’s a pretty good chance that Horford will miss a few more games this season to deal with the ailment. 


And that could mean more nights like Monday when the Time Lord graced us with his presence and play that included not one, but two rejections of shots from perennial All-Star big man (and target of Celtics Nation) Anthony Davis. 


More time for the Time Lord is seemingly on every Celtics fan’s wish list this holiday season.


But the Celtics have been overly cautious in their approach to bringing along Williams, the 27th pick in last June’s NBA draft who weeks prior to that was seen as a lottery (top-14) pick by many experts. 


He too has had some tendinitis issues that he and the Celtics staff have been managing since he arrived.


Boston will take a similar approach with Horford going forward.

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“He’s (Horford) been dealing with (patellar tendinitis) for a while,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “So, we’re going to see how this goes. He’s day-to-day now, but we may go slowly with him.”


Which may result in a speeding up the Time Lord’s workload beyond practice and playing in the Development League with the Maine Red Claws. 


Whatever Williams is called upon to do, there’s a different kind of confidence he has in himself in part because of his own personal growth since becoming a Boston Celtic. 


Being late for a conference call, missing his first practice, losing his wallet on more than one occasion … Williams did not get off to the best of starts after being drafted by Boston. 


If there was a turning point for him, it would have to be the conversation he had with Brad Stevens shortly after he missed his first practice. 


Williams said the meeting lasted about a half hour, with Stevens making his feelings on the matter crystal clear to Williams. 


“It’s a job; this ain’t college,’” Williams, in an interview with NBC Sports Boston earlier, recalled being the gist of Stevens’ message. “It ain’t time for them (expletive) ups; that was basically what he was saying. I understood him. I heard him loud and clear.”


Stevens declined to go into details about that conversation with Williams, but made it clear that he has been pleased with his overall effort and approach to things since they got past those early season gaffes on Williams' part. 


“He’s done a really good job of just working, doing all the little things you need to be a professional in this league. I like where he’s at and where he’s going as a player, as a person.”

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And depending on how injuries play out, he may be going straight up the Celtics depth chart to the point where steady minutes become the norm and not the exception. 


Playing time is something Williams knows he has no control over. 


It’s what he does when called upon, that serves as a driving force for him now. 


Williams knows the way he began his career as a Celtic brought about a lot of uncertainty as to how reliable a teammate he can be. 


But Williams has made a point of doing all he can to not just gain but solidify the trust of his teammates as well as his head coach. 


“I looked at it as another blessing,” Williams said. “Any coach could have easily be done with me already. But Brad gave me another chance. I’m trying to stay on track, do everything I can to help the team.”
 

Having the support of his teammates has also been one of the many blessings Williams is proud of since becoming a Celtic. 


“It motivates me to want to do everything the correct way now,” Williams said. “It’s another blessing. I don’t want him (Stevens) or my teammates to feel they can’t trust me. I keep that in the back of my mind; don’t give him or them any negativity about me.”

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Warriors' Kevin Durant enjoys watching film of "best friend" Kyrie Irving

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Warriors' Kevin Durant enjoys watching film of "best friend" Kyrie Irving

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is a student of basketball.

When he's not playing basketball and winning championships, he's probably watching basketball, either a live game or film on some of his favorite players. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic's Shams Charania, Durant revealed three players who've really impressed him while watching film, and one of them is Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.

“Kobe (Bryant), MJ (Michael Jordan) and Kyrie,” Durant said. “Just the way they move, I don’t understand why people don’t realize what they’re seeing in these three, especially Jordan and Kobe. Kyrie is younger than me, and that’s one of my best friends, so I watch his stuff. I get to play with Steph every day so I know his game inside and out. But watching Kobe and Mike, I’m like, ‘How do you not realize how good these dudes are?’ How do you not say they’re by far better than anybody who’s played the game? Just by the way they move, how fluid they are."

Later in the interview, Durant added: “I can’t do what MJ does. I can’t palm the ball. I wish. I can’t shoot the turnaround, pump-fake spin, half-spin fadeaway like Kobe. Or crossover like Kyrie. I can’t do it. But I can try it. I can do it in my version, do it in my way. It keeps me creative and my excitement level for the game.”

In fairness to KD, there are many players who cannot do what he does, especially at 7-feet tall. He's one of the most unique and most talented players in NBA history. 

It's interesting, though, that Durant considers Irving one of his "best friends." Of course, Durant can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, with rumors and speculation linking him to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and other teams.

He met with the Celtics in free agency in 2016 before ultimately signing with the Warriors. Would he consider the C's again if he decides to leave the Warriors? If he would, the Celtics should have one of his "best friends" try to convince him to take his talents to Boston.

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