Celtics

Stevens: Larkin (shoulder) out for Game 5 and beyond

Stevens: Larkin (shoulder) out for Game 5 and beyond

WALTHAM, Mass. – No disrespect to Shane Larkin, but the news of him being out for Game 5 tonight got nothing more than a shoulder shrug from Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

That’s because Larkin being out with a left shoulder injury is the latest setback for a team that has had plenty of them all season.

And yet here they are, one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals, where the Cleveland Cavaliers, having swept the top-seeded Toronto Raptors earlier this week, will be waiting.

“I don’t anticipate him back anytime soon,” said Stevens. Larkin, the C's backup point guard, was injured when he collided with Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the first half of Game 4. He immediately left the game and didn't return.

While Larkin did not play major minutes for Boston, his presence was among the many factors that have led to Boston jumping out to a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia.

“We’re just going to have other guys step up,” Stevens said. “We’re used to that. At the end of the day, it is what it is.”

Stevens added, “He’s played well in this series and has done a lot of great things for us all year and through the playoffs. It’s a bummer for him. That’s where you always start in these scenarios. And then we’ll figure it out.”

Without Larkin, the Celtics may rely on Terry Rozier to play longer shifts than we’ve seen thus far in this series.

When speaking to the media prior to the team’s morning shoot-around, Rozier said he didn’t know Larkin was out.

“We just have to do what we can,” Rozier said. “This has been our team. We had to get Game 1 without Jaylen Brown. It’s the story of this team; that’s just how it goes.”

Larkin has played in all 11 of Boston’s playoff games this year, averaging 3.7 points, 1.8 assists and 1.0 rebounds per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

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About Last Night: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

About Last Night: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

What we’re talking about: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

Even with a change of venue, a fired-up fan base and another double-digit lead in the first half, the Golden State Warriors wound up doing what they always seem to do this time of year - find a way to win.

The absence of Kevin Durant has been a non-factor. In fact, one could argue not having the former league MVP has brought out the best in the rest of the Warriors who seemed to have found that hunger that champions often struggle with discovering after having won at the highest of levels over and over again. Steph Curry has been a killer shot-maker in this series, but the MVP has been Draymond Green. It was his aggressiveness during the early stages of Game 3 that kept Golden State in the game before finishing with a triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He showed tremendous leadership both in his play and his words, frequently offering words of encouragement to his younger teammates when they made mistakes. This is the version of Golden State teams fear: the one that’s hungry and when challenged, plays as close to their best brand of basketball which as the Blazers are finding out now, makes them damn near impossible to beat.

What we’ll be watching: Raptors must-win mode now

This is it. The Toronto Raptors’ amazing season comes down to this game. Facing a 2-0 series deficit, there is no way they can lose tonight and bounce back from a 3-0 series deficit and beat the Bucks. Milwaukee has won with Giannis Antetokounmpo dominating as well as with his teammates carrying the load towards victory. Kawhi Leonard has been the best individual talent in the playoffs from beginning to where things stand now. But his team’s 2-0 series hole is a reminder that being great in the playoffs doesn’t necessarily catapult you to victory unless your success becomes contagious. While Leonard may be the best player, no one has elevated the play of those around them more than Antetokounmpo. His scoring is lethal, obviously. But when he’s finding guys in their sweet spots the way we saw in the Boston series and now against Toronto? He becomes an unstoppable force that has the Raptors on the ropes who will continue to get big-time production from Leonard.

But will anyone else step up?

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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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