Bean: Let LeBron get his points, but stop Korver

Bean: Let LeBron get his points, but stop Korver

Entering the Eastern Conference Finals, we thought a lot of things that have proven to be incorrect. Or I did, at least. 

I thought the Cavaliers were going to win in six games. They still could, of course, but watching the series has changed my mind to think it will be Celtics in seven. 

The other big thing was that it was LeBron James, Kevin Love and nobody else. Through two rounds, that seemed generally correct. 

So, it seemed that if you let LeBron get his points and focus on the other guys, you'd be all set. Yet, the other guys have gotten their points here and there this postseason, and that's why, after four games, Kyle Korver is actually a talking point.            

Here are the Cavs records by how many non-LeBrons had decent scoring nights: 

WHEN NO PLAYER OTHER THAN LEBRON SCORES 15+ POINTS: 2-1, but the two wins came when the Cavs had five and three other scorers with at least 10 points, respectively. 

WHEN ONE PLAYER OTHER THAN LEBRON SCORES 15+ POINTS: 4-4

WHEN TWO PLAYERS OTHER THAN LEBRON SCORE 15+ POINTS: 2-0

WHEN THREE PLAYERS OTHER THAN LEBRON SCORE 15+ POINTS: 2-0 

Now, let's look at it by player. The Cavaliers actually have a better record when Love doesn't score 15+ (6-2) than when he does (4-3). So no, it hasn't necessarily been about the two best players on the team. For some super-duper weird reason, it's been more about 37-year-old Kyle Korver than a lot of people expected. 

The Cavaliers are 5-0 this postseason when Korver scores at least 15 points. And of those five games, he was the only non-LeBron Cavalier with at least 15, so it's not like all of those wins came because Korver cleaned up in garbage time or something. 

Now, let's scale back the parameters from 15 points to 10. The Cavaliers are 8-1 this postseason when Korver scores 10 points. That's an even better record than they have when LeBron scores 40 points (5-1). 

So, the home court should help the Celtics tonight. They haven't lost a game at TD Garden this postseason. Know what else would help them? Stopping that super old occasional bench player/occasional starter.  

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Blakely: Regardless of venue, Celtics have to play better

Blakely: Regardless of venue, Celtics have to play better

BOSTON — The narrative of being back home is one Brad Stevens understands all too well. Up to this point, it has been the key to Boston’s ability to navigate some of the choppier waters of the postseason as they fight to sail another day.

Still, as important as it to be back at the TD Garden, ultimately Boston’s chances of extending their home winning streak in the playoffs to 10 in a row lies in how they play.

“Get ready to play well,” Stevens said. “That’s what we have to prepare to do. We have to prepare to play as well as we can. It’s exciting to be able to compete at this level of the discussion. Certainly in this venue, in front of our fans. But at the same time, we have a job to do once we get between those lines.”

And doing that job has been a lot easier for the Celtics on their home floor.

“We want to come back in front of our crowd and our fans, and get a ‘W’ tonight,” said Jayson Tatum.  

Here are five below-the-radar storylines to keep an eye on tonight in this pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

HORFORD USAGE


The importance of getting Al Horford involved can't be said enough in Boston’s quest to regain an edge in this series. Horford’s usage rate (the percentage of team plays used by a player when he’s on the floor) in Game 1 and 2 wins was 20.0 and 18.1 percent. In the Game 3 and 4 losses, that number dipped to 9.8 and 16.1. The Celtics ensuring as best they can that Horford remain engaged as the main cog in their offense is huge tonight.

FIRST SIX MINUTES


The Celtics don’t necessarily need to come out with a fast start, but they have to do something about how they have been consistently outplayed in the early going this series. Boston has been outscored the first six minutes in all but one game of this series and that was Game 1 when they opened with a 15-7 run.

FIFTH GAME SUCCESS


Game 5's at the TD Garden have been a really good thing for the Celtics. They come in having won 10 straight home Game 5's of series tied at two. Boston’s all-time record in Game 5's series tied at two, is 32-12.

TIGHT POINT TOTALS


Even though the scores in the four games, by and large, haven’t been that close, the total points scored by both teams is surprisingly razor-thin. Cleveland has scored a total of 404 points in this series. The Celtics? Right behind them with 403 points scored.

SEMI OJELEYE


Brad Stevens is considering making a potential lineup change to the first unit. While most have talked about Stevens possibly replacing Marcus Morris with Aron Baynes, there’s another possibility to consider: Semi Ojeleye.

Stevens shocked many earlier in the postseason when he inserted Ojeyle into the starting lineup for Boston’s first-round series against Milwaukee right before...wait for it...GAME 5!

Ojeleye was plucked to be a starter primarily as a means of slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo. He definitely helped as Boston eliminated the Bucks in seven games. Stevens has to give some thought to having Ojeleye start especially when you consider how well he has done guarding James this season. Ojeleye has defended James on 47 possessions in this series, according to NBA.com/stats. Against Ojeleye, James is shooting 2-for-7 (29 percent) from the field while having scored nine points to go with eight assists and two turnovers.

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Blakely's Game 4 Storylines: Brown knows he's got to be better early

Blakely's Game 4 Storylines: Brown knows he's got to be better early

CLEVELAND – That old basketball adage of “taking it one game at a time” has been modernized by today’s players, who have replaced it with “staying in the moment.”

Jaylen Brown is part of that movement, for sure.

Still, Brown has long exposed us to the reality that he’s a next-level thinker, someone who balances the reality of today with the promise that tomorrow brings, basketball and otherwise.

That’s why for him, the connectivity between tonight’s game and Boston’s ultimate goal – winning a championship – are intertwined in such a way that you can’t realistically look at one without acknowledgement of the other, which is why he’s operating on a level of focus unlike any prior to this point in his basketball career.

“We’re two games away from going to the NBA Finals,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “And six [wins] away from doing something special. We’re too close and we came too far to not be focused.”

And Brown knows his play will be among the keys to Boston leaving Cleveland with a Game 4 win and with that, absolute control of the series.

In Boston’s two wins in this series, Brown averaged 13.5 points in the first quarter.

The Game 3 loss saw Brown go scoreless in the first quarter while taking one shot attempt.

“We have to come in and play Celtics basketball and find ways to win,” Brown said.

Here are five other under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena:

HORFORD STREAK SNAPPED


Before scoring just seven points on 2-for-4 shooting in Game 3, Al Horford had reached double figures in points in every playoff game this season. Look for the Celtics to make a more concerted effort to get Horford going offensively tonight.

ROZIER’S RISE


Terry Rozier has had one of the best postseasons ever by a Celtic when it comes to knocking down 3-pointers. He currently has 41 made 3’s in this postseason, which ranks fifth all-time for a single postseason. Boston has at least two more games in this series with Cleveland (tonight and Game 5 in Boston on Wednesday) and at his current rate of 2.7 made 3’s per game, Rozier is on pace to finish this postseason with at least 46 made 3’s which would rank third all-time behind Ray Allen, who made 56 three-pointers in 2010 and 55 in 2008.

IN GOOD COMPANY


Much has been said about the Celtics’ struggles on the road in the playoffs, and justifiably so. They have lost five of six road games in the postseason, which gives them the worst road record among teams still playing. Their struggles aren’t all that different than Boston’s 2008 title-winning team, which also had problems away from the TD Garden. In fact, that team didn’t fare much better than this current Celtics with losses in nine of their 12 road games. That team survived round after round due to having home court advantage, a similar blueprint that has been working for this current crew of Celtics players.

SMART'S POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS


Even though the shots falling continue to be sporadic at best for Marcus Smart, you can’t knock the man for what seems to be good things happening most of the time he’s on the floor. Smart has a plus/minus of +18 in this series, which is tops among all players.

POWER OF 3


The 3-point shot has been the ultimate litmus test for whether Cleveland wins or loses in the playoffs. In losses, the Cavs averaged 8.8 made 3-pointers while shooting just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. In victories, the number of made 3s increases to 11.8 per game while Cleveland’s 3-point shooting also rises, to 39.4 percent.

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