Celtics humbled by Cavaliers in decisive Game 3 loss

Celtics humbled by Cavaliers in decisive Game 3 loss

CLEVELAND –  The Boston Celtics have been on quite the high lately, praised incessantly for their unselfish, blue-collar work ethic that has paved the way for them to be among the last teams standing. 

But all that talk about how good they are has the potential to be intoxicating to the point where they lose sight of what they did to deserve so much credit for their unexpected success. 

And when that happens, being humbled soon follows in the form of a decisive defeat which is exactly what happened in Game 3 as the Cleveland Cavaliers led wire-to-wire before finishing with a 116-86 win.

Boston’s Terry Rozier was among the Celtics whose play has been highlighted recently as being instrumental to Boston’s success which has them currently up 2-1 in their best-of-seven series with Cleveland with Game 4 in Cleveland on Monday and Game 5 back in Boston on Wednesday. 

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said. 

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Rozier’s comments speak to what is always a growing concern with a team that has unexpected success and finds themselves competing on a stage that frankly, few outside their organization believed was possible. 

But to the Celtics credit, they made Game 3 more about what the Cavs did well rather than what they did wrong.

“They played well today,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum who led the Celtics with 18 points. “They hit a lot of shots. They were the tougher team, more organized, more focused team.”

Boston’s Marcus Morris had similar thoughts on the Boston beatdown. 

“They played well,” Morris said. “They got off to a good start, hit some shots; played well.”

Marcus Smart added, “They (landed) the first punch and we just couldn’t respond.”

Which is not what you want to see or hear if you’re a Celtics fan, even if Boston’s journey to the Eastern Conference has been an unexpected journey few would have imagined possible considering all the injuries and basketball-related adversity that this team has endured. 

Boston being in the Eastern Conference finals wasn’t that big a stretch this season until you factor in that this postseason run has come about with Boston’s top two players – Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – both out of the mix. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was consistent in crediting the Cavaliers for playing a better game on Saturday, doing all the little and not-so-little things needed to win. 

“We were clearly not the harder-playing, more connected team tonight,” Stevens said. “Cleveland was, and they deserve all the credit for that. I thought they played a great game. They came out and really moved it and were really tough, got into us defensively.”

But that’s nothing new to the Celtics. 

Teams have come at them before with tough, gritty defense.

More times than not, Boston has found a way to respond affirmatively and make what had the look of a blowout, into a much closer game or in some instances, a victory. 

But Boston fell short on both fronts in Game 3, never mounting anything remotely close to a comeback as Cleveland delivered an emphatic pounding that if it did anything, it delivered a sense of humility to a team that may have been thinking they were good enough to win without necessarily doing all those little things that we saw in Games 1 and 2 that aided their quest for victory. 

But that didn’t happen on Saturday night.

Rather than bounce back in Game 3, they were buried by a Cleveland team that more than anything else, played with the kind of desperation that’s required this time of the year. 

A number of Celtics players talked about how they had nothing to lose coming into Game 3, acutely aware that regardless of how Game 3 played out the goal for them in Cleveland was to get Game 3 or Game 4 with the latter being a very real possibility despite getting blown out in Game 3. 

But that’s playing with fire, especially when it’s a LeBron James-led team you’re trying to take down. 

If anything, the Game 3 loss serves as a reminder of how difficult it is to win on the road in the playoffs, something Boston has failed to do in five of its six road games in the postseason. 

Of course, there’s the all-too-easy narrative to fall back on that centers around Boston’s youth or the team’s scrappy play despite missing key figures in their regular rotation. 

And yes, a bit of humble pie is certainly in order as well.

But the true takeaway for Stevens’ young team is simple. 

“It’s about how you play between the lines,” Stevens said. “Because I think if you start talking about (home versus road), then you find excuses in both places. We can’t play like we played tonight no matter where we played. If we would have played in Boston like that, we would have gotten beat. We’ve got a game on Monday, and we’ve got to be ready to play better.”

And that requires being tougher defensively, contesting shots without fouling, rebounding the ball, getting contributions from everyone who steps on the floor … all the little things Boston has been praised for in the postseason but were nowhere to be found in Game 3 on Saturday.


Presidential Medal of Freedom: Bob Cousy joins these sports legends

Presidential Medal of Freedom: Bob Cousy joins these sports legends

When Celtics legend Bob Cousy receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump Thursday afternoon, he'll join a very exclusive club of athletes and sports greats who have received the nation's highest civilian honor.

Cousy will become only the fourth NBA player to be recognized, joining his teammate Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Here's a list of the sports legends who have been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom over the years.


Hank Aaron, 2002
Ernie Banks, 2013
Yogi Berra, 2015
Roberto Clemente, 2003
Joe DiMaggio, 1977
Willie Mays, 2015
Stan Musial, 2011
Buck O'Neil, 2006
Frank Robinson, 2005
Jackie Robinson, 1984
Babe Ruth, 2018
Vin Scully, 2016
Ted Williams, 1991


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 2016
Bob Cousy, 2019
Michael Jordan, 2016
Bill Russell, 2011
Dean Smith, 2013
Pat Summitt, 2012
John Wooden, 2003


Muhammad Ali, 2005


Earl Blaik, 1986
Bear Bryant, 1986
Alan Page, 2018
Roger Staubach, 2018


Jack Nicklaus, 2005
Arnold Palmer, 2004
Charles Sifford, 2014
Tiger Woods, 2019


Richard Petty, 1992


Arthur Ashe, 1993
Billie Jean King, 2009


Jesse Owens, 1976

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Medal of Freedom live stream: Bob Cousy honored by President Trump

Medal of Freedom live stream: Bob Cousy honored by President Trump

Bob Cousy is already a six-time NBA champion, a 13-time All-Star, an NBA MVP, and a Basketball Hall of Famer.

On Thursday afternoon, he'll add to that impressive list of accolades when President Trump presents him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

The Medal of Freedom celebrates individuals for their "especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.''

Cousy, 91, was supremely talented on the court, but this award recognizes his stance on racial equality and social justice, especially in the 1950s and '60s. In a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely, he detailed his friendship with Chuck Cooper, and how he refused to stay at the team hotel in North Carolina when it would not let Cooper stay there due to segregation.

Cousy will join Bill Russell as the only Celtics to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom — and he'll be just the fourth NBA player to be so honored, joining Russell, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Here's how to watch:

When: Thursday, Aug. 22, 4:30 p.m., ET 
TV Channel: C-SPAN
Live Stream: C-SPAN

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