Celtics

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving celebrated his 27th birthday doing what he seems to do a lot of lately - get buckets. 

Scoring has been the strength of his game for years, but he is in a rhythm now offensively that we just haven’t seen from him like, ever. 

Irving dropped 31 points but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets rallied for a 124-117 win. 

While it certainly was a disappointing loss for Boston, it continues what has been a red-hot stretch of shooting by Kyrie Irving who extended his streak of games with 30 or more points to a career-best five in a row. 

Here are three pointers from Saturday’s game against Charlotte. 

SAME OL, SAME OL’

Boston had the Hornets on the ropes early in the fourth quarter, seemingly one or two scoring possessions away from calling it a night after a Jayson Tatum bucket put Boston ahead 112-94. 

 But the Hornets closed out the game with a blistering 30-5 run for the win, a victory that was fueled in part by Marcus Smart picking up a few offensive fouls and thus leaving head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to bench him which opened the gateway towards their defeat with Smart saddled on the bench.

“When you lose an 18-point lead, there’s a lot of things that go wrong,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

It was yet another game in which the Celtics let a very winnable game get away from them, the kind of game that will haunt this team going into the postseason - just like so many other games have in the past. 

KEMBA WALKER

No matter how you look at it, Kemba Walker was the best player on the floor. He would lead all scorers with 36 points as part of a near triple-double that included 11 rebounds and nine assists. And Walker was at his best down the stretch when it mattered most, draining one big shot after another in leading the Hornets coming back from 18 points down in the third quarter. 

And as good as Kyrie Irving was, he was very much a non-factor in the fourth quarter when he missed four of his five shot attempts. 

 JAYLEN BROWN

One of the bright spots for Boston was the play of Jaylen Brown off the bench. Continuing his red-hot shooting off the Celtics bench, Brown would finish with 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. 

As Boston inches closer towards the postseason, Brown is positioning himself to be one of the more prominent players off the Celtics bench. In addition to his scoring, Brown has also shown himself to be capable of contributing in other ways as well such as defense. 

“QUOTE, UN-QUOTE”

“We should have probably trapped him more like every other team does in the league but we didn’t. He torches us every time we play them so it’s no surprise.” - Boston’s Kyrie Irving, speaking about Charlotte’s Kemba Walker who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on Saturday. 

UP NEXT

Boston hosts the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Round 2, here come the Celtics

Round 2, here come the Celtics

INDIANAPOLIS -- As fans made their way into BankersLife Field House, some came wearing summery shirts with flamingos and palm trees.

It would be in many ways a sign of what was to come as the Boston Celtics sent the Pacers vacationing for the summer with a 110-106 win.

The Celtics swept the first-round series against the Pacers, becoming the first team this season to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

And by doing it in just four games, this Celtics team became only the sixth in franchise history to pull off a sweep in a best-of-seven series, and the first under sixth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Boston could not have begun the game any better, scoring the game’s first eight points before Pacers head coach Nate McMillan had seen enough and called a time-out.

During the time-out, the Jumbotron showed Indiana all-star Victor Oladipo who suffered a season-ending injury in January.

The time-out, his presence, it doesn’t matter.

Moments after the Jumbotron sighting, Indiana came out and played better and eventually did enough damage to lead 23-21 after the first quarter.

But the second quarter looked eerily similar to the first as Boston opened with an 8-2 run only for the Pacers to come back and eventually take a slim 49-47 lead into the half.

As the two teams went back and forth, there was an undeniable flatness about the usually-vocal Pacers fans who had the kind of energy you expect in a preseason game and not a playoff one.

The second half saw the Pacers faithful come alive as their team opened the quarter by scoring five of the quarter’s first seven points.

But the Celtics, as we’ve seen time and time again in this series, put together a strong third quarter to go into the fourth ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by Marcus Morris.

The fourth quarter saw the Celtics make just enough plays to escape with the win and with it, move on to the next round of the playoffs while the Pacers as well as their flamingo, palm tree-wearing fans are now officially on vacation.

Here are the standouts in Game 4 of the Boston-Indiana first-round series.

MVP

Gordon Hayward: He played with a steady level of aggression that we had not seen at any point in this series. There were drives to the basket, aggressive play defensively and overall, Hayward doing a lot of little things that really stood out. He was Boston’s go-to guy when it mattered most in the fourth quarter as he finished with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting.

MOST IMPROVED

Terry Rozier: This has been a tough series for Rozier, who came into Game 4 shooting 5-for-18 from the field and 3-for-11 on 3’s. On Sunday, Rozier tallied 11 points while connecting on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

Al Horford: He had a double-double game for Boston, but they can’t afford to have him struggle like this in the next round when he has so many open to lightly contested shots. Still, Horford made a number of key plays whether it was defense or passing in the second half that would play a role in Boston getting the win, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

SIXTH MEN

Domantas Sabonis: Other than an occasional tug on Marcus Morris’ shorts or a nudging of Terry Rozier into a Pacers shooter to create a foul, Sabonis played a clean, hard-fought, well-played game before finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Marcus Morris: He closed out the series similar to how it began - knocking down big shots. Morris would finish with a near double-double of 18 points and eight rebounds.

MR. NOT-SO-GREAT

Wes Matthews: It’s never good when a guy brought in to help with shooting, goes 1-for-7 in the biggest game of the season. But that was indeed the stat line on Wes Matthews which included him missing four of his five shots from 3-point range.

TURNING POINT

With Indiana ahead 82-81, the Celtics force a turnover as Terry Rozier gets the ball up court and into the hands of Jayson Tatum for a likely dunk. Indiana’s Corey Joseph, trailing on the play, fouls Tatum with the contact that included a blow to the head resulting in a Flagrant-1 penalty. Boston would not trail for the remainder of the game.

UP NEXT: The Celtics move on to face the winner of the Milwaukee-Detroit series which the Bucks lead 3-0.

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Celtics injury report: Marcus Smart, Guerschon Yabusele both out

Celtics injury report: Marcus Smart, Guerschon Yabusele both out

The Boston Celtics' injury report isn't very long, but they are going to be without a couple of players against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

The Celtics are operating without Marcus Smart, who could be out for the first two playoff series after suffering an oblique injury late in the year, but the team also won't have Guerschon Yabusele. Yabusele is dealing with a sore back, so he will be out.

In his place, Jonathan Gibson, who was signed by the C's late in the year, will suit up.

Yabusele's absence won't have much of an impact on the Celtics in this series. He has only played 28 seconds so far through three games in the series, and it's likely that he would stay buried on the bench. He is behind big men like Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, and probably rookie Robert Williams in the pecking order, but still, losing interior depth is notable.

Gibson played in four games for the Celtics last season and averaged 8.5 points per game in those contests. However, he is likely to be the last man off the bench, so he probably won't play unless the game turns into a blowout.

How to watch Celtics vs. Pacers online>>>

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