Celtics

Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

INDIANAPOLIS -- This is the adversity Kyrie Irving has been talking about.

Boston did not play its best game of the season, or of this series with the Indiana Pacers getting a clear and undeniable bump from playing in front of their own fans.

But when it mattered, it was Boston making the tough shots, getting the defensive stops and rebounds and in doing so, are on the verge of ending this first-round series in as little time as possible after Friday’s 104-96 Game 3 win.

The victory gives Boston a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close out the series on Sunday.

Boston kept the Pacers faithful quiet for most of the first half, only for Indiana to close out the second quarter with a 26-10 run to lead 61-59 at the half.

The Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with a slim lead, with the Pacers doing just enough to stay within striking range.

But when it mattered the Celtics did what they had done in the first two games - close things out playing strong.

And in doing so, they are positioned to sweep the Pacers.

Here are some of the standout performers in Friday’s game.

MVP

Jaylen Brown

The importance of Kyrie Irving down the stretch goes without saying for the Celtics. But for large chunks of the game, it was Jaylen Brown’s play at both ends of the floor that really stood out for Boston. He would finish the night with another solid job defensively against Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points on 6-for-16 shooting) while scoring 23 points himself.

Most Improved

Kyrie Irving

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, his impact was steady for the first three quarters but as we’ve seen from him in the past he took it to another level in the fourth. He would finish with a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists to go with five rebounds.

Jayson Tatum

For the second time in as many games, Jayson Tatum came through with a strong game, finishing with 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

Turning point

Boston, leading 93-89, got a 3-pointer from Al Horford to go ahead 96-89 which put the Pacers in the kind of hole they could not climb their way out of.

Sixth Men

Tyreke Evans

He was really the most impactful player for the Indiana Pacers. He would finish with 19 points which is usually a good thing for Indiana which had a 10-3 regular season record when he scored at least 15 points. Now 10-4, the only team to beat them in the Eastern Conference when Evans has 15 or more is the Celtics who did it back in January and again Friday night.

Marcus Morris

It was indeed a night of redemption for Morris who followed a 20-point Game 1 performance with a big fat goose egg in Boston’s Game 2 win. On Friday, Morris was somewhere in between, which is a good thing for Boston, as he tallied 11 points and seven rebounds.

Duds

Myles Turner

He has spent the lead-up to the last two games talking about needing the ball more. Well, he got his wish but couldn’t deliver the monster game Indiana needed from him He tallied 13 points but did so on 4-for-10 shooting from the field in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

Up next: Boston has a chance to close out the series on Sunday with Game 4 at Bankers Life FieldHouse at 1 p.m.

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Report: Some teams down on signing Kyrie Irving after rough series vs Bucks

Report: Some teams down on signing Kyrie Irving after rough series vs Bucks

While everyone has been focusing on which team Kyrie Irving should or will choose to play for once free agency begins on June 30, some teams have reportedly fallen out of love with the idea of signing the All-Star point guard to a big contract. 

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, at least two teams are saying they will only go after Irving if they can land another big-time free agent first who wants to play with him. 

The most interesting bit of information from several sources that we’ve been able to consolidate and confirm is that some teams thought to have interest in Irving as a free agent are now a great deal more wary. Based on the way things played out with the Celtics this season and Irving’s role both off the court all year and on it in the playoff loss to Milwaukee, certain clubs are concerned about putting too many eggs in his basket right away.

Irving was not his usual self against the Bucks. He shot 35.6 percent from the field, 21.9 percent from three and averaged 3.6 turnovers per game compared to the 2.6 turnovers he averaged during the regular season. 

Much of that can be attributed to the Bucks, who have proven they are a juggernaut after blowing out the Raptors to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. But it seems the way Irving struggled on offense and how he let it negatively impact his effort on defense has resonated with teams who have the cap space to sign him. 

The 2019-19 season did not end how the Celtics or Irving expected it would. After declaring his commitment to the team before the regular season began, Boston's roller-coaster year could have changed his mind. 

If the Celtics want to want to pursue a trade for Anthony Davis, having Irving in the fold would seemingly be the linchpin in that plan. 

However, one executive told A. Sherrod Blakely that it's possible Irving is, "Playing all of you guys right now," and will return to the Celtics once he gets a chance to look at all of his options. 

If this report is true, Irving's options may be dwindling.

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Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren says 'nearly any kind of transaction is in play' this summer

Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren says 'nearly any kind of transaction is in play' this summer

This summer is going to be an interesting one for the Celtics.

Obviously, all eyes will be on Kyrie Irving as he decides where to go in free agency. Along with that, the C's have three first-round draft picks and are sure to be involved in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. There's a chance Boston ends up being one of the more active teams in the NBA in the upcoming offseason.

Mike Zarren is ready for it.

The Celtics' assistant general manager talked with Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe about how busy the team expects to be in these next few months.

“Given the state of our roster and the draft assets we have now and going forward, nearly any kind of transaction is in play. To trade for players around the league, to move up or down in the draft, for future picks, to use our picks,” Zarren told Himmelsbach. “We’ve got a lot of flexibility this summer, but also a lot of big decisions to make. So the next two months are going to be very, very busy.”

Buckle up, Celtics fans.

Fortunately for Zarren, he'll have "Trader Danny" by his side during the hectic offseason. The Celtics' president of basketball operations is "back at it" after suffering a heart attack on April 30.

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