Celtics

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

usatsi_10375870.jpg

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Markelle Fultz no longer a starter for 76ers after Jimmy Butler trade

Markelle Fultz no longer a starter for 76ers after Jimmy Butler trade

Markelle Fultz has struggled to make an impact for the Philadelphia 76ers through 15 games, so he's going to be taking on a new role.

Fultz now will come off the bench for the new-look 76ers after they acquired star forward Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves over the weekend. 

It was revealed Wednesday that Fultz will be dropped from the starting lineup. J.J. Redick will start at shooting guard, which is a smart move on several levels, one being Redick is the best 3-point shooter for a 76ers squad that's lacking in that department. Wilson Chandler, who the 76ers received in an offseason trade with the Denver Nuggets, also will start. 

Fultz's career in Philly has been mediocre at best. He missed most of last season because of a shoulder injury, and his shooting form, which was fine during his freshman season at Washington, is completely broken. He's even parted ways with renowned shooting coach Drew Hanlen.

Rock bottom for Fultz likely came Monday night when he sort of pump faked a free throw attempt, a move that resulted in a Twitter meltdown among NBA fans.

There's still plenty of time for Fult to become a quality player, but there's no question the trade between the 76ers and Celtics that sent the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft (Jayson Tatum) and another protected first-round pick to Boston in exchange for the No. 1 pick (Fultz) looks worse and worse for Philly each day.

Kevin Durant to Celtics? Glen Davis lays out case for free agent signing

Kevin Durant to Celtics? Glen Davis lays out case for free agent signing

Kevin Durant to the Boston Celtics, who says no? Well, probably lots of people. But Glen Davis would like you to hear him out.

The former Celtics forward and 2008 NBA champion raised some eyebrows Wednesday on Instagram by dropping this hot take in a comment section: "Boston kd is on the way !!!!! Y'all heard it here first"

Durant can opt out of his contract next summer to become a free agent, and after his on-court beef with Draymond Green on Monday night, there's speculation he'll do just that.

But why would he sign with the Celtics? Well, "Big Baby" did us the favor of laying out his theory.

"Guys think about it," Davis wrote, as tweeted by WBZ's Adam Kaufman. "For real listen to what kd said earlier about Boston and (their) team and how they are a tough match for the warriors. Plus who talks about money at this time during the season. Then also uncle drew (Kyrie Irving) said 2 weeks ago saying I need a 15 year vet. It's coming together for sure now. Especially seeing this fallout in the second half of that clippers game. The warriors will handle business this year but kd leaving. Cause believe it or not the lakers are coming and kd doesn't want no part of Lebron when he's full throttle."

There you have it, folks. Durant to the Celtics, confirmed.

Davis makes a few good points, referencing Durant's possible motives for leaving Golden State and Irving's desire to add a "15-year veteran." We're not sure Durant is the player Irving has in mind, though, as KD likely would want to be the face of the franchise in his next stop rather than share the spotlight with Kyrie on a talented Boston roster.

Oh, and Big Baby doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to these predictions...