Celtics

Must-read recap: Jayson Tatum is heroic, LeBron James is tired and the Celtics are a win away

Must-read recap: Jayson Tatum is heroic, LeBron James is tired and the Celtics are a win away

WHAT HAPPENED? 

Jayson Tatum happened and I shouldn't have to write another word, but I will. 

Behind a monster performance from Tatum, the Celtics beat the Cavs, 96-83, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to take a 3-2 series lead. They led for essentially the whole game and held as large as a 17-point lead in the first half, and though the Cavs mounted runs here and there (two separate streaks of nine straight), the C's pulled away in the fourth.

The Celtics are now 10-0 at home, though they'll look to close out the series in Cleveland on Friday. 

JAYSON TATUM CONN SMYTHE/ LEBRON ENERGY WATCH

Tatum was downright heroic. It wasn't just the 24 points, seven rebounds or four assists. He was also very aggressive defensively, coming up with four steals and two blocks. Tatum was the best player on the floor. 

LeBron James, meanwhile, was tired. This despite scoring 26.

You knew that LeBron was tired because the ESPN broadcast devoted seemingly every spare second to saying LeBron looked tired. So did every reporter at the game. And everyone not at the game. Over and over and over. Doris Burke, who's great, even gave a report on how a Cavs reporter told her that James makes a point to never show that he's tired. That alone was kind of hilarious. It just never ended. 

WHAT'D MARCUS MORRIS DO TO GET EVERYONE ALL HOT? 

He made a great play to swat away an alley-oop to Larry Nance Jr., knocked the ball out, then stood over Nance's somehow still-alive body and said something. Nance got up and shoved Morris, leading to the two to exchange shoves, with Terry Rozier also jumping in. All three were given technical fouls, with Cleveland ending up at the line. 

SO IT WAS HILARIOUS? 

In the moment, yes. Then it was the worst. At the time of the altercation, the Celtics were smoking the Cavs, 36-19. Kyle Korver's free throw began a 9-0 run for the Cavs, who cut the lead from 17 to eight with 9:11 still to play in the half. 

BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE OF THE GAME 

Right after Nance got called for a charge on a hilarious missed dunk on Aron Baynes early in the fourth, Jaylen Brown missed a layup and buried the rebound to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game at 18. The Cavs answered with a Jordan Clarkson jumper, then Marcus Smart buried a three. 

WORST MOMENT OF MY LIFE OF THE GAME

On the possession after the technical free throw from the second-quarter fracas, Korver missed a three. It was this massive sigh of relief that maybe Korver wouldn't have it this game and that the dustup wasn't going to wake up the Cavs. Then Nance got the rebound, dished it to Korver and that old son of a gun hit a three. 

HOW MUCH DID THE CAVALIERS MISS KYRIE? 

The teams probably missed Kyrie evenly in this one. LeBron and Kevin Love (14 points) were the only players in double digits for the Cavs. 

HOW MUCH DID THE CELTICS MISS KYRIE?

It was another so-so night for Terry Rozier, who had eight points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals.

DID KYLE KORVER GO AWAY? 

Yeah, he didn't do much damage. Only seven points. 

BEST OCCURRENCE OF DANNY AINGE YELLING AT A REF

When Ainge wanted a foul called on the Cavs in the third quarter. He was yelling "wake up!" 

MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD

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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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