Celtics

Celtics earn Game 5 win over Cavaliers, 96-83

Celtics earn Game 5 win over Cavaliers, 96-83

BOSTON – Throughout the TD Garden, you could find seat after seat adorned with t-shirts that read, “Protect the Parquet.”

It has become more than just a catchy slogan to slap on a t-shirt. 

It is the mindset that these Boston Celtics bring to the floor for every home game – at least in the playoffs where they have won 10 in a row.

That postseason grit at home produced yet another gem of a performance as Boston defeated Cleveland 96-83 to take a 3-2 series lead in their best-of-seven series with Boston now one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

Jayson Tatum delivered a strong game for the Celtics, tallying a team-high 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Jaylen Brown (17 points) had a nice game, as did Al Horford who tallied a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. 

For the Cavs, it was James once again leading the way with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists. The only other double-digit scorer for Cleveland was Kevin Love who had 14 points and seven rebounds. 

Boston would lead by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland responded with a 9-0 run capped off by ex-Celtic Jeff Green draining a 3-pointer to make it an 83-71 game with 7:49 to play.

Brad Stevens, having seen enough, called a time-out. 

Both teams struggled to get shots to go down, but a 3-pointer by Al Horford gave Boston a 17-point lead that would prove to be the final straw. 

Boston opened the game with a 7-2 run, only for the Cavs to counter with a 10-2 run to lead 12-9 with 6:49to play in the first.

The Celtics soon regained the lead and continued to surge ahead, giving the usually raucous TD Garden plenty to cheer about as they led 32-19 after the first quarter which was their largest lead in the series after the first 12 minutes of play.

But the game took a dramatic turn early in the second quarter when Marcus Morris and Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. got into a brief pushing match. 

Officials reviewed the incident with 10:46 to play in the second quarter and wound up calling double technical fouls on Morris and Nance Jr., in addition to a third technical foul against Terry Rozier for his role in the incident. 

That seemed to be just what the Cavs needed to get going. 

Kyle Korver made the technical free throw, which began the jumping-off point for Cleveland’s 12-3 run which cut Boston’s lead back to single digits, 39-31. 

The two played to a virtual standstill the rest of the second quarter which ended with Boston ahead 53-42 at the half. 

Boston was indeed a better-playing team in just about every phase of the game, effectively making the Cavs a two-man scoring team –James and Love – for most of the half. 

The James-Love tandem had 26 of Cleveland’s 42 first-half points, connecting on 11-of-19 shots. 

Cleveland’s supporting cast was a combined 4-for-18 shooting with 16 points.

The third quarter was just another installment of the Jayson Tatum show, as the 20-year-old continued to dazzle with strong play at both ends of the floor whether it was forcing a Cavs missed shot and getting out in transition for a lay-up or pulling up for a shot-clock beating jumper. 

The youngest man on the floor was for long stretches, the best player while displaying a dominant end-to-end-game that had the Celtics ahead 76-60 going into the fourth quarter.

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NBA Rumors: 76ers 'highly interested' in Kyle Korver trade with Cavs

NBA Rumors: 76ers 'highly interested' in Kyle Korver trade with Cavs

The Philadelphia 76ers just used a few valuable trade assets to acquire star forward Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but there's a chance Philly isn't done making moves to improve its roster for what it hopes is a deep playoff run this season.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Tuesday the 76ers "remain highly interested" in trading for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kyle Korver.

This move would make sense for the Sixers, who are in dire need of more 3-point shooters, even after the Butler trade. J.J. Redick is the only elite outside shooter on the roster, and with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz either unable or unwilling to stretch the floor with consistent outside shooting, Philly needs to address this weakness before the trade deadline.

The 76ers rank 20th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage despite being 10th in 3-point attempts per game. They shot well from the perimeter (14-for-29) in Butler's debut against the Orlando Magic -- a 111-106 loss -- on Wednesday night, but it's unlikely that success rate will continue. 

Korver is shooting 38.7 percent on 3-point attempts this season, and he's a career 43.1 percent shooter from that range.

What would the 76ers need to give up to acquire Korver? Stein didn't specify, but given the likely rebuild coming in Cleveland during the post-LeBron James era, draft picks might be the best way to get the Cavs interested. 

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Danny Ainge responds to Kyrie Irving's request for '15-year veteran'

Danny Ainge responds to Kyrie Irving's request for '15-year veteran'

Kyrie Irving already has clarified his apparent suggestion that the Boston Celtics sign a 14- or 15-year veteran. But what does Irving's boss think of his request?

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked Thursday morning what he thought of those remarks, which Irving made Sunday after Boston's road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

"I talk to Kyrie all the time," Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich" during his weekly interview. "Kyrie can tell me whatever he wants to tell me anytime, privately or publicly, I guess. But I don't think he's trying to send any message. He can walk right up to my office and send me any message he wants."

Ainge admitted he hasn't had private discussions with Irving about adding a 15-year veteran, however.

"I think that at that moment, he was probably feeling that we needed -- I'm not even sure what he meant by that," Ainge said. "I haven't even talked to him about that comment. I don't know if he meant a 15-year player or a 15-year guy in the locker room, or what it was."

Irving downplayed his initial remarks after Wednesday's win over the Chicago Bulls, insisting he wasn't talking about any specific player. But if the 8-6 Celtics hit a few more rough patches over the next few weeks, perhaps Irving and Ainge will sit down and hash this out.

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