Celtics

Highlights of Celtics' 104-96 Game 3 victory over the Pacers

Highlights of Celtics' 104-96 Game 3 victory over the Pacers

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 104, Pacers 96

IN BRIEF:  Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Kyrie Irving 19 points and 10 assists as the Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 104-96 in Indianapolis on Friday night to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series. The C's can complete the sweep Sunday in Indy. BOX SCORE

HIGHLIGHTS:

TATUM EXTENDS C'S EARLY LEAD:

BROWN HEATS UP EARLY:

KYRIE STICKS A 3 WITH EVANS ON HIM:

MORRIS PUTBACK IN 3RD:

IRVING TO TATUM:

KYRIE PUTS C'S UP 3 IN 4TH:

KYRIE WITH THE STEAL AND BIG HOOP AT THE OTHER END:

UP NEXT:
Game 4: At Indianapolis, Sunday, 1 p.m., ABC
*Game 5: At Boston, Wednesday, TBA
*Game 6: At Indianapolis, Fri., April 26, TBA
*Game 7: At Boston, Sun., April 28, TBA

*if necessary

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Celtics boast strong NBA title odds under reported 22-team return format

Celtics boast strong NBA title odds under reported 22-team return format

The NBA is set to return later this summer, and the Boston Celtics should be particularly excited about that.

The league's Board of Governors reportedly is expected to approve a plan to resume the 2019-20 season that will involve 22 teams playing eight regular-season games each at Walt Disney World in Orlando to determine seeding for a traditional 16-game playoff.

The Celtics, who own the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, are guaranteed a playoff spot under this format -- and oddsmakers like Boston's odds to make a deep run.

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Here are Westgate Superbook's updated 2020 NBA championship odds, which have the C's tied with the Houston Rockets at +1600, or 16/1:

Only the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Clippers have better title odds than Boston, which should benefit from having a healthy Kemba Walker alongside talented young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown when the NBA season reportedly resumes July 31.

The C's could face a tough test of out the gate, though. They're currently the No. 3 seed in the East (three games back of the Toronto Raptors) and would face the No. 6 seed Philadelphia 76ers -- who have won three of the teams' four meetings this season -- if the playoffs began right now.

The Sixers have the same record as the No. 5 seed Pacers, however, so Boston potentially could play Indiana pending the results of the final eight games.

Either way, it appears sportsbooks are bullish on the Celtics, who boast stronger title odds than the No. 2 seed Raptors and could be a legitimate title contender in Orlando. 

Cedric Maxwell: LeBron James, not Michael Jordan, is the GOAT due to activism

Cedric Maxwell: LeBron James, not Michael Jordan, is the GOAT due to activism

If you believe Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, Cedric Maxwell wants you to consider a new perspective.

The former Boston Celtics star joined NBC Sports Boston's "Arbella Early Edition" to explain why LeBron James, not Jordan, should be considered the GOAT -- for reasons that go beyond on-court talent.

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"LeBron James is the GOAT now," Maxwell said. "He's the GOAT because, not only on the basketball side, but social issues: He's been involved in every social issue that we look at.

"When somebody says, 'Shut up and dribble' -- LeBron James has put his money where his mouth is, and that to me resonates. That's why I think more of our players and more NBA people need to step up and find that same courage."

 

James has consistently used his public platform to speak out against social inequality and call attention to racial injustice. The Los Angeles Lakers star has shared several statements on social media about the recent killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and in 2014 wore a shirt reading "I Can't Breathe" prior to a Cleveland Cavaliers game to call attention to the death of Eric Garner at the hands of a New York police officer.

Jordan, meanwhile, has been criticized for staying out of politics and not taking a stand against racial injustice. Most notably, the former Chicago Bulls star took heat for not endorsing Harvey Gantt to become North Carolina's first African-American U.S. Senator in 1990. He later rationalized his decision by noting that "Republicans buy sneakers too."

Maxwell believes Jordan still values commercial gain over standing up for what's right, which is why he believes James deserves the true "GOAT" title.

"During this pandemic, Georgia opened up, and there was a shoe store that dropped Jordan's shoes during that time," Maxwell said. "And it showed all these kids with no masks on (trying to buy Jordan's shoes). Did Nike need that kind of publicity? Did Jordan need that kind of publicity?"