Celtics

Celtics pummel listless Cavaliers in Game 2

Celtics pummel listless Cavaliers in Game 2

BOSTON – As expected, Hurricane LeBron James arrived at the TD Garden Tuesday night, unleashing some pretty serious damage to a Boston Celtics defense that has been among the league’s best this season. 

Considering all the basketball adversity the Celtics have experienced this season, no team in the postseason now was built better to withstand James’ scoring onslaught like the one we witnessed in Game 2 as James tallied a super-sized triple-double of 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Boston used a second half surge to take control of Game 2 and in doing so, pull away for a surprisingly comfortable 107-94 win. 

The Celtics now have a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively. 

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 23 points while Al Horford who came through in a big way in the fourth, tallied a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists. Off the Celtics bench, Marcus Smart was trending towards a double-double before finishing with 11 points and nine assists. 

Boston didn’t take its first lead of the game until the third quarter when Smart hit a 3-pointer that put Boston ahead, 72-71. The Celtics would push their lead up to five points (79-74) following a 3-pointer by Aron Baynes which capped off an 18-8 run. Boston’s late surge in the third quarter continued to swell as the third quarter ended with Boston ahead 84-77 courtesy of a 23-11 run to end the quarter.

Boston’s third quarter surge carried into the fourth quarter, leading to Cleveland calling a time-out just 46 seconds into the fourth after Boston scored on back-to-back possessions, the last being a lay-up for Greg Monroe with Smart on the assist which gave Boston its first double-digit lead 88-77.

So much of the focus leading up to Game 2 centered around James, and understandably so. After Boston’s 25-point thumping in Game 1, James has shown the ability to bounce back with monster games and most important, win. 

He delivered in a big way for the Cavs, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics now find themselves two wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals, a place where few outside the Celtics’ payroll would have expected this team to be after losing Gordon Hayward five minutes into the season and later, no Kyrie Irving for all of the playoffs. 

But here they are, on the cusp of doing the seemingly unthinkable which has in so many ways, been one of the few constants with the Celtics this season.

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Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

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Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.

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