Celtics

A trip home should help shots fall for Celtics youthful core

A trip home should help shots fall for Celtics youthful core

BOSTON – The youthful energy of the Boston Celtics has been a constant this season and is one of the main reasons why the Celtics are still among the teams still with games to play.

But being too excited has its downside, something we have seen more of in Boston’s last two games against Cleveland – both losses.

That exuberance on the part of some of the Celtics’ young players manifested itself into missed dunks, blown lay-ups and some bad defensive sequences that have factored heavily into this series being tied at two games apiece after Boston jumped out to a 2-0 series lead.

Boston is hoping the comforts of home will settle down the young troops in tonight’s Game 5 matchup.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 25 points in Game 4, but his point tally could have been even higher if not for missed dunks and lay-up attempts driving towards the basket.

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“Just … going too fast, too excited,” said Brown, in his second NBA season. “I just need to slow down; missed a bunch of easy opportunities. Made some bad turnovers, things like that.”

In the first quarter of Game 4, Brown had two points but missed six of his seven shot attempts and played all but 20 seconds in the first. And rookie Jayson Tatum, the team’s leading scorer (18.0 points per game) in the playoffs, was scoreless after missing all three of his field goal attempts in the first quarter of Game 4 before finishing with 17 points. Their struggles were a reflection of the Celtics as a team which shot a collective 26.9 percent (7-for-26) from the field in the first quarter. But the point made by Brown about being in a rush, is what you come to expect from a team that’s strength lies heavily in something as unstable as youth.

It hasn’t been an issue this season, but with what’s at stake and most of these guys having never been in this deep in the postseason, it’s understandable how their anxiousness to do well might at times get the best of them.

That said, don’t think for a minute that the struggles they had at times in Game 3 or 4 will do anything to dent their confidence coming into tonight's game.

“Sometimes you just miss shots,” said Tatum who was named to the NBA’s all-rookie first team on Tuesday. “Some of the dunks, the lay-ups we missed, more than likely will go in next time.”

And as far as being sped up by the Cavs, Tatum believes that had a lot to do with the Celtics being in catch-up mode.

“We been through that sometimes,” he said. “On the road, once you get down it gets loud. You get in a hurry, trying to get the lead back. We have to understand that we can’t get it back in one play."

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Or with one player.

Because for Boston to get regain a series edge with a Game 5 win tonight, it won’t be one or two players to get it done.

Boston will have to do it the way they’ve been doing it all season, and that’s with a collection of players chipping in with whatever it is they do best.

Many of those contributions will most likely come from their youthful core as they continue to help pave the way for more success for the Celtics and with that, sustain the youth movement that has been instrumental in Boston's unexpectedly deep playoff journey. 

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NBC Sports Boston's NBA All-Glue-Guy team

NBC Sports Boston's NBA All-Glue-Guy team

BOSTON – When it comes to winning in the NBA, it’s clear that you have to have a few stars on your roster. But to really win at the highest of levels, it requires contributions from players that may go unnoticed but are essential to a team’s success.

These players all have skills, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the NBA.

But often those skills aren’t on full display because for the team to be successful, they need to excel in one or two particular areas.

And with that, here’s the NBA All-Glue team heading into the 2018-2019 season.

Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Here’s why: He might be the most non-descript five-time All-Star of this generation. But that doesn’t diminish the impact that Horford has made ever since he came into the NBA. His ability as a playmaker in the post ranks him among the best passing big men in the NBA. And in recent years, Horford has developed a deadly 3-point shot that makes him even more impactful. But the one thing Horford does as well as any player in the league, is win. He has been in the NBA 11 seasons, each of which involved his teams in Atlanta and Boston getting to the postseason.

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Here’s why: A Three-time All-star and former Defensive Player of the Year (2017), Green is everything you want in a glue guy. He has the versatility to defend all five positions on the floor, and doesn’t grumble about whether he gets enough touches or not. Like Horford, he doesn’t make all-star teams because of his stats; it’s due to the success that his teams have and his role in making that happen.

Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks

Here’s why: As the Bucks make their way into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference this season, they are going to need reliable players who can handle doing the little things that are needed to win but don’t necessarily appear on the stat sheet. Brogdon isn’t a great scorer, but has shown a fearless nature in close, down-to-the-wire games. Defensively, he can guard multiple positions and not lose his effectiveness. The Bucks don’t win at a high level without Brogdon doing what he does best, which is being a solid contributor in a multitude of areas of the game.

Clint Capela, Houston Rockets

Here’s why: When you think defense in the NBA, the Houston Rockets are one of the last teams that comes to mind. And their defense will be even more challenged with the departures of Trevor Ariza (Phoenix) and Luc Mbah a Moute (Los Angeles Clippers). That leaves Capela, an athletic, rim-protecting rebounder that will be counted on defensively more than any other Rockets player. The 24-year-old big man signed a five-year, $90 million contract this summer which tells you how much the Rockets are counting on him to be a major contributor. Last season, he was seventh in the NBA in contested shots (12.8) per game. But more telling was the fact that Capela averaged 27.0 minutes played per game, while the six players ahead of him logged at least 32 minutes per game according to NBA.com/stats. But as much as that helps, the true value in Capela will be the shot attempts that opponents don’t take because of his presence around the basket, or the turnovers he causes by forcing opponents to make passes or plays they did not intend to do.

Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Here’s why: Arguably the strongest player in the NBA, Adams understands knows the pecking order in town begins with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. His role is to be available to score when they’re not, and consistently rebound and defend the hell out of the ball in addition to setting some of the most bone-jarring picks in the NBA. It is that latter part of his game, screen-setting, that really opens things up for both himself and teammates. Last season, Adams was second in the NBA in screen assists (4.9) per game, which is a screen that leads directly to a made basket. It’s not the sexiest stat out there, but it speaks to the value Adams brings to the table that might be overlooked by those outside the Thunder organization.

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These guys will put up numbers. But winning games this season? Unlikely

These guys will put up numbers. But winning games this season? Unlikely

BOSTON – The NBA is full of talented players who will put up eye-popping numbers all season, only to come up short more nights than not in what truly matters, winning.

Here we take a look at the best players on bad teams, and by bad we’re talking about clubs that are expected to finish with a sub-.500 record.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Here’s why: Devin Booker gets buckets like few in the NBA are capable of doing. Making his scoring all the more impressive is that he gets little if any consistent support. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Last season, he averaged 24.9 points per game which ranked 10th in the NBA. More significant than the numbers, was the fact that it was the highest scoring average in the league for a player whose team failed to make the playoffs.

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Here’s why: The good news is that the Cavs’ roster isn’t nearly as depleted as it was the last time LeBron James came and left. But this team has the feel of those not-so-great Minnesota teams Love played for; teams that failed to get to the playoffs while Love became a double-double machine. While this team won’t sink to the absolute bottom of the NBA landscape, they will far removed from being a playoff team even as Love puts up big numbers.

Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets

Here's why: A two-time All-star, the Hornets have made moves in recent years that indicate Walker’s time with the franchise may be coming to an end. With our without Walker, Charlotte isn’t expected to be a factor in the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Kemba Walker remains a keeper for fantasy league owners with a career scoring average of 18.9 points while having put up at least 20 points per game each of the last three seasons.

Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks

Here's why: Rookie Luka Doncic and offseason signee DeAndre Jordan will get much of the attention this year in Dallas, but folks shouldn’t act like Harrison Barnes isn’t a baller. In his two seasons with the Mavericks, he has averaged 19.2 and 18.9 points, respectively. The addition of Doncic whose strength as a playmaker is clear, and that should result in an increase in Barnes’ scoring. But even with Doncic playing well and Barnes scoring more, the Mavericks won’t make up enough ground to really enter the fray for a playoff spot this season.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings

I really wanted to have D’Angelo Russell of Brooklyn in this spot, but with the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie last season, there’s no telling exactly what we’ll see from him this season and the Nets truth be told, may scrap and fight their way into one of the last playoff spots in the East. That's not happening with the Sacramento Kings and their top scorer from a year ago, Willie Cauley-Stein. He averaged a career-high 12.8 points per game last season and will once again be among their top point producers. But even as one of their top players, the Kings are still viewed by most as a team that will struggle this season. Even as Cauley-Stein’s numbers rise, the same won't hold true for the Kings’ win total. Still, that doesn’t take away from the 25-year-old developing into a solid pro which for a Sacramento team with lots of youth and little proven talent, is a good starting block towards what will be another rough season in terms of wins and losses.

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