Celtics

Celtics' history of closing in on closing out playoff series

Celtics' history of closing in on closing out playoff series

INDIANAPOLIS -- There was no bottle poppin’ or celebratory cups of water dousing Celtics players after their 104-96 win over Indiana on Friday night, a victory that gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead. 

Kyrie Irving knew how excited his teammates were about the win, but he had little choice but to hit them all with a splash of reality shortly after gathering together after the game. 

“I told these guys when we got in the locker room, the hardest game of the series is the closeout game, especially on the road,” Irving recalled. “We know what’s at stake. We know the amount of pressure they’re putting on themselves and we know the amount of pressure we’re going to put on ourselves to play great.”

This is the second consecutive postseason run for the Celtics that has included at least one crack at sweeping a series. 

Last year, the Celtics won the first three games against Philadelphia in the second round of the playoffs, dropped Game 4 in Philly only to return to the TD Garden and close it out in five games. 

As cool as it might be to end this series at home, this group seems locked into closing this series out as soon as they can to claim the franchise’s first sweep since 2011.

“We’re not settling for going home; we want to win here,” Celtics forward Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “We want to get some rest, kick our feet up for the next round.”

That sweep in 2011 came in the first round against the New York Knicks and was only the fifth sweep of a best-of-seven series in franchise history and only the 11th sweep overall.

And while all the talk about a sweep can’t be ignored, the Celtics are focusing their thoughts on Sunday being the first close-out game of the series, which in itself poses a tremendous challenge for teams. 

Historically, the Celtics have not been great in Game 4s when they've jumped out to a 3-0 lead, which is evident by their 5-8 record in such games. 

But the big thing about this Pacers series has been how Indiana’s consistently high effort level has forced Boston to play more connected in order to win. 

And just like the first three games, the Celtics are well aware of that challenge and how important it is to winning on Sunday and in doing so, closing out this series. ?

“They’ve played hard all three games,” said Jaylen Brown, who led all scorers in Game 3 with 23 points. “We’ve matched their intensity but Game 4 we expect it to be taken to another level. So we have to come out and not take our foot off the gas; come out and still play some great basketball at a high level and close this thing out.”

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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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