Celtics

Celtics embrace best-of-three, look to bring the intensity

Celtics embrace best-of-three, look to bring the intensity

BOSTON – This best-of-seven series between Boston and Milwaukee has been reduced to a best-of-three affair with the two teams locked into a 2-2 series tie.

As we’ve seen in the past, there’s an increased amount of pressure for both teams as a series progresses.

Still, with the Celtics being at home and the stakes being what they are – the loser will be facing playoff elimination in Game 6 on Thursday – a heightened level of stress for all involved seems a given right?

“You can certainly look at it that way,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Or you can look at it and say we have been around basketball all of our lives and we got a best of three to go on to the next round. It’s a challenge, it’s fun. It’s what you’re here for.”

Jaylen Brown has been one of Boston’s top players in this series, averaging a team-high 23.8 points per game.

Brown knows as well as anyone how these are highly stressful times but understands his focus – and the rest of the Celtics' for that matter – has to be on doing whatever is needed to come away with a Game 5 win.

“It’s one game at a time,” Brown said. “That’s how I look at it. We come out and play as if it’s Game 1. Be relaxed but also come out and have that same intensity that we brought in Game 4, Game 1 and Game 2 and see where that takes us.”

Here are five below-the-radar storylines heading into Game 5:

HORFORD IN THE POST

Boston has been at its best in this series when Al Horford has had a good amount of touches in the half court where he can work on Milwaukee’s low-post defenders. According to nba.com/stats, Horford is averaging 5.3 points on post-ups which is third in the playoffs behind San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge (10.5) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (6.5).

SPOTTING MIDDLETON

Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton has been scoring in an array of ways for the Bucks, with a sizable chunk of the scoring damage he inflicts coming by way of the spot-up shot. In fact, he’s averaging 8.0 points on spot-ups in the postseason which trails only Portland’s Al Farouq Aminu (11.5).

PASSING ROZIER

Terry Rozier will be looking to step his scoring game up tonight, for sure. His passing game in the playoffs has really strong. In fact, only Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (88.5) has more passes in the postseason thus far than Rozier (76.8) according to nba.com/stats.

SEMI OJELEYE

While Giannis Antetokounmpo has had success against pretty much every Boston Celtic in the playoffs, rookie forward Semi Ojeleye has done as good a job as anyone when it comes to defending Antetokounmpo. Don’t be surprised if Ojeleye sees a spike in minutes played in Game 5. In Boston’s Game 4 loss, Ojeleye saw more than 17 minutes of court time, with Marcus Morris (he played 26 minutes, 19 seconds) being the only Celtic reserve to log more minutes.

BUCK-ING HISTORY

The Milwaukee Bucks are shooting 54.2 percent from the field in the playoffs which is tops among all playoff teams. That includes them shooting at least 50 percent from the field in their past three games, something Milwaukee hasn’t done in the playoffs since April 27-May 1, 1990.

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Report: If Spurs can't retain Kawhi Leonard, they'll trade him to Eastern Conference team

Report: If Spurs can't retain Kawhi Leonard, they'll trade him to Eastern Conference team

If the San Antonio Spurs can't retain disgruntled Kawhi Leonard, they'll likely trade him to an Eastern Conference team, according to a USA TODAY report.

The Celtics have made inquiries about Leonard, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this month. 

More from Sam Amick's story in USA TODAY: 

Fellow West teams have been told, in essence, to get lost – none moreso than the Lakers, according to ESPN. As it stands, the Spurs are determined to either fix the situation or trade Leonard to an Eastern Conference team. For teams other than the Lakers, the threat of losing Leonard in free agency next summer makes the prospect of offering meaningful assets a complicated, calculated risk.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich flew to San Diego earlier this week to meet with Leonard, who reportedly will tell any team he's traded to that he intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers when he becomes a free agent next summer. 

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CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Robert Williams' college coach Billy Kennedy discusses the C's draft pick

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CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Robert Williams' college coach Billy Kennedy discusses the C's draft pick

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely bring you the latest in Celtics and NBA news in this episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast...

1:40 - The Celtics select Robert Williams with the 27th overall pick. Draper and Blakely discuss why he was still on the board and if the reward will outweigh the risk.

5:15 - Blakely says that a comparison to Roger Williams could be Clint Capela, with maybe a chance to be even better. Also, a discussion about why the Celtics did not move up in the draft.

8:27 - 18:18 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely are joined by Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Kennedy. Kennedy describes the potential he sees in Robert Williams, if he thought he would go higher in the draft, and what part of his game he will need to improve in the NBA.

18:53 - All eyes will be on Roger Williams during the Celtics summer league. What will he be able to bring to the Celtics?

20:04 - Would you want the Celtics to sign Dwight Howard? Or would you rather have Aron Baynes return to Boston?

26:02 - The Spurs are not going to be able to get full value for Kawhi Leonard and how it's looking less and less likely that the Celtics will trade for Leonard.

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