Celtics

Supermax deal not a factor in Anthony Davis' forthcoming decision?

Supermax deal not a factor in Anthony Davis' forthcoming decision?

With each sunrise and sunset, it seems, sprouts new waves in the infinity pool that is Anthony Davis' future rumors.

The latest development comes Friday night from The Athletic's Sam Amick, who says that the lucrative potential of what the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to offer the once-a-generation talent to keep him in the Big Easy through what would be the prime of his career is not the be-all, end-all:

Amid all this escalating noise about Davis and his uncertain future – from the LeBron James flattery in his recent ESPN interview to the Friday report that small-market general managers believe his comments qualified as tampering – there’s this revelation that should concern Pelicans ownership and management far more than all the rest. According to a source with knowledge of Davis’ thinking, he does not see the extra $87.3 million that New Orleans is expected to offer in a five-year, $239.5 million supermax extension this summer as a factor in his eventual decision.

If that’s the only chip they have in this game of AD poker, in other words, then they’re bound to bust.

The Pelicans are the only team that can offer a supermax deal to the five-time All-Star, a five-year deal that can take up to 35 percent of the team's salary cap. Davis can hit free agency in 2020 if he elects not to sign an extension, presumed to be of that supermax ilk, and the Lakers and Celtics have frequently been talked about as potential destinations if so.

MORE ANTHONY DAVIS RUMORS

Davis got a rousing ovation from the Celtics fans in the Pelicans' Dec. 10 loss to Boston at TD Garden, and Davis heard the roars, telling reporters after the game, "I heard it tonight. But I’m just focused on this team. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It’s been a rocky season so it’s on me to try to figure it out. I know the team follows me. I’m the leader and I’ve got to be the one to make sure that we’re ready to play every night.”

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has said the team won't trade Davis "under any circumstance". But should that disposition change between now and the Feb. 7 trade deadline, it won't be to the benefit of the Celtics, who wouldn't be allowed to trade for Davis unless Kryie Irving was included in the deal, due to a little-known rule known colloquially as the "Derrick Rose Rule".

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Celtics' second unit delivers first-rate play to start the fourth quarter

Celtics' second unit delivers first-rate play to start the fourth quarter

INDIANAPOLIS -- The way Kyrie Irving has dismantled the Indiana Pacers in the fourth quarter has been a thing of beauty for Celtics Nation. 

He has been a point-producing assassin, locked and loaded on putting away the Blue and Gold Pacers with seemingly one dagger of a shot after another. 

Still, Irving’s late-game heroics have been fueled in part by his fourth-quarter set-up men whose play to start the quarter, has made things a lot easier for Irving to thrive in the role as closer. 

And Game 3 was the latest example of Boston’s strong play to start the fourth laying the groundwork for a forceful finish that has the Celtics on the cusp of moving on to the second round after Friday night’s 104-96 win over the Pacers. 

The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 with a chance to close it out on Sunday and move on to play the winner of the Milwaukee-Detroit series. 

Irving, who finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists, had six points and a pair of assists in the decisive fourth quarter. 

But as good as he was in closing the game out, his teammates once again delivered at the start of the fourth to ensure that Irving’s return to action in the fourth - he usually spends at least four or so minutes at the start of the fourth on the bench - wouldn’t require him to lead a comeback but instead continue with the already strong play of the team’s second unit players who by and large are on the floor to start the fourth. 

Starters Al Horford and Jayson Tatum were joined by Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Morris to start the fourth quarter on Friday. 

They began the quarter with an 80-73 lead that, despite the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd being loud and rowdy, was still on solid ground when Irving returned with 8:49 to play and the lead stood at 84-78.

“Those guys have played in a lot of big games,” said Boston’s Brad Stevens. “We have a lot of faith in them.

Said Rozier: “We come into the game and we still play hard. It’s been a huge help for us.”

Morris echoed similar sentiments about the bench, which is a plus-9 in the three games at the start of the fourth quarter prior to Irving seeing his first action in the fourth. 

“We’re just trying to come out there and bring energy,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston of the second unit’s play to start the fourth. “We’re trying to impact the game every time we’re out there.”

Bench play has been among the strengths of the Celtics despite various players being in and out of the second unit for various reasons. 

Jaylen Brown, who has been one of the team’s more consistent reserves of late, has shifted to the starting lineup with Marcus Smart (torn oblique injury) being out for what’s likely to be at least another month. 

With the first unit, he went off for 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting in Game 3 in addition to grabbing seven rebounds. 

But even without Brown coming off the bench, Boston’s backups continue to make their presence felt in this series. 

“We have to go with the flow; it’s the playoffs,” Morris said. “We can’t sit and think about how everything has changed … the one thing we can do is go out and play hard and win the bench matchup because that’s big in the playoffs.”

“Guys being ready, doing what they do when they’re out on the court,” Hayward said. “We got a lot of guys that can play, do a lot of different things. We expect guys to step up in those moments.”

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Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

Celtics' dominance over Pacers continues with Game 3 victory

INDIANAPOLIS -- This is the adversity Kyrie Irving has been talking about.

Boston did not play its best game of the season, or of this series with the Indiana Pacers getting a clear and undeniable bump from playing in front of their own fans.

But when it mattered, it was Boston making the tough shots, getting the defensive stops and rebounds and in doing so, are on the verge of ending this first-round series in as little time as possible after Friday’s 104-96 Game 3 win.

The victory gives Boston a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close out the series on Sunday.

Boston kept the Pacers faithful quiet for most of the first half, only for Indiana to close out the second quarter with a 26-10 run to lead 61-59 at the half.

The Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with a slim lead, with the Pacers doing just enough to stay within striking range.

But when it mattered the Celtics did what they had done in the first two games - close things out playing strong.

And in doing so, they are positioned to sweep the Pacers.

Here are some of the standout performers in Friday’s game.

MVP

Jaylen Brown

The importance of Kyrie Irving down the stretch goes without saying for the Celtics. But for large chunks of the game, it was Jaylen Brown’s play at both ends of the floor that really stood out for Boston. He would finish the night with another solid job defensively against Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points on 6-for-16 shooting) while scoring 23 points himself.

Most Improved

Kyrie Irving

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, his impact was steady for the first three quarters but as we’ve seen from him in the past he took it to another level in the fourth. He would finish with a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists to go with five rebounds.

Jayson Tatum

For the second time in as many games, Jayson Tatum came through with a strong game, finishing with 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting.

Turning point

Boston, leading 93-89, got a 3-pointer from Al Horford to go ahead 96-89 which put the Pacers in the kind of hole they could not climb their way out of.

Sixth Men

Tyreke Evans

He was really the most impactful player for the Indiana Pacers. He would finish with 19 points which is usually a good thing for Indiana which had a 10-3 regular season record when he scored at least 15 points. Now 10-4, the only team to beat them in the Eastern Conference when Evans has 15 or more is the Celtics who did it back in January and again Friday night.

Marcus Morris

It was indeed a night of redemption for Morris who followed a 20-point Game 1 performance with a big fat goose egg in Boston’s Game 2 win. On Friday, Morris was somewhere in between, which is a good thing for Boston, as he tallied 11 points and seven rebounds.

Duds

Myles Turner

He has spent the lead-up to the last two games talking about needing the ball more. Well, he got his wish but couldn’t deliver the monster game Indiana needed from him He tallied 13 points but did so on 4-for-10 shooting from the field in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

Up next: Boston has a chance to close out the series on Sunday with Game 4 at Bankers Life FieldHouse at 1 p.m.

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