|03.20.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
By now, you’ve seen LeBron James‘ monster dunk over Jason Terry that will probably go up against DeAndre Jordan‘s posterization of Brandon Knight for the NBA’s Dunk of the Year. Well, apparently so has LeBron.
“I’ve had a chance to [review] it, and it was one of my better ones,” James told ESPN.com two days after Miami’s 105-103 victory in Boston. “The fact that it happened to J.T. made it that much sweeter. Because we all know J.T. and he talks too much sometimes. And I’m glad it happened to him.”
The beef began when Terry’s Mavericks defeated LeBron’s Heat for the 2011 NBA title. It continued on the eve of Monday’s Celtics-Heat battle, when Terry declared in his diary: “I know ways to beat them,” and, “The blueprint is right here before us and we know it.” Strong words from the 6-foot-2, 180-pound C’s guard.
Then again, so were LeBron’s in the immediate aftermath of earning a taunting technical for standing over Terry like Godzilla over his own carnage. “I seen him down there,” James said Monday. “I guess he didn’t see me.”
Pretty sure he saw LeBron, who stands six inches taller and weighs 70 pounds more than Terry.
|03.19.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
In the Celtics‘ 105-103 loss to the Heat on Monday night, Green scored a career-high 43 points. In two of the games that Kevin Garnett has missed due to injury, Green has started and stepped up big time, combining for 74 points.
“From what I understand, [in] last night’s game, KG was in [Green's] ear as well before, telling him to be that guy that he was,” Marshall said. “Your shots are going to be different obviously when KG comes back. He’s not Carmelo [Anthony] by any means. He’s not going to take 20, 25 shots, and it may make it easier for Jeff when KG comes back. If I’m a wing player, I throw the ball into KG, I know heads are going to turn. If they don’t go double-team when KG is playing well, they’re still going to have to respect him. That means now it’s my opportunity, my job to cut to the basket, to move without the basketball, and KG is such a great passer that Jeff Green I think will still get that quality shot. … At times, you have to be selfish for your team, meaning you may have to take those shots. You may have to take different risks when you’re out there, and that’s how you, I think, gain the respect of your teammates and also let them know that, ‘OK, I’m here to help you,’ and not just put everything on Paul [Pierce] and KG.”
With Green’s excellent play of late, Doc Rivers may have some thinking to do when Garnett returns. For most of the season, Green has come off of the bench, with players like Brandon Bass getting the starting nod.
“They tried to bring Brandon off the bench and I just don’t think his personality is fit for coming off the bench,” Marshall said. “I don’t think he’s one of those ‘go get it’ guys. You don’t run anything for him in the post. If you think about where most of his shots come from, they come off drive, draw and kick to that little 16-, 14-foot area. So, Brandon Bass is not going to be one of those guys that you’re going to showcase off the bench. So, I don’t know how you go about bringing him off the bench. I think you almost have to keep them in there and keep some semblance of interior with Bass on the floor.”
With the Heat’s two-point victory, they now have the second-longest winning streak in NBA history at 23 games. With seven seconds left, Pierce attempted a fadeaway 3-pointer that clanked off the rim, all but ensuring the Heat win.
“If that shot goes in and it’s Terrence Williams or somebody you’re like, ‘Still probably not a great shot and he got lucky,’ Marshall said. “If Pierce makes that shot, we’re like, ‘There’s Pierce. That’s his legacy, that’s what he does.’ LeBron James to me is not as good a defender as everyone wants him to be. … You have a situation in LeBron James that people think, ‘Oh, great defender. [Pierce] had to get that shot off quick.’ I really don’t believe laterally that LeBron is that great a defender. There are better defenders in the NBA, but he’s so big and so explosive that if Pierce catches that, pump fakes, I don’t think LeBron goes for it. If he does, Pierce is probably going to take one dribble and step back. That’s what he does. … The shot was a little early, but I did not have a problem with that shot because of who took it, and really what the situation was.”
|03.19.13 at 1:00 pm ET|
The celebration in the Heat locker room could be heard from the hallway after Miami’s 105-103 win over the Celtics on Monday night, which seemed strange — considering the absences of Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett — until Dwyane Wade reminded everyone his team doesn’t like Boston all that much.
“It’s a Celtics-Heat game,” said Wade, who scored 16 points in 36 minutes, mostly against Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee. “It’s always like that, man. Whether it’s the first game of the year or the last game of the year, it’s always like that. No matter who’s on the court, no matter who’s playing, it’s going to be a battle, and here they’ve beat us in those games. Tonight, we were able to pull it out, and it just shows the growth of our team.
“We know we’re getting the best from Boston every time we play them,” he added. “There’s a dislike there. It’s a different focus, especially here in this building.”
Conversely, the Garden crowd apparently focused its ire on former Celtics star turned Heat role player Ray Allen.
“Nobody pulled punches for me today,” said Allen, who scored six points in 30 minutes. “I heard some pretty brutal things in the building today, and people really let me know how they felt. I don’t go into it with any expectation, but I’m on the other team, so they’re going to say whatever they can and whatever they think they need to say.”
Maybe that’s why Allen pretended Celtics-Heat isn’t a rivalry in the aftermath of yet another memorable meeting.
“When I played here, our rivals were the Lakers, Pistons and New York,” said Allen. “That’s deep-seeded. It comes from a lot of basketball, and we’ll see how the years go to determine if that’s the case.”
OK, then. So, I guess those 20 games and 980 minutes of basketball between the two teams over the past three seasons have just been all in good fun. I don’t remember Rondo laughing when Wade dislocated his elbow, when Paul Pierce head-butted James Jones, when LeBron James laughed in Garnett’s face or when KG ignored Allen’s return to Boston. It’s kind of a touchy subject, especially if you ask LeBron.
‘Why does it always have to be, ‘They gave us a war’?” said James. “There’s never us giving anybody else a war, huh? That’s how y’all like it? That’s all that matters is the win. That’s all that matters.’
For more on the rivalry — and that’s exactly what it is — read this column: “James, Heat don’t scare Celtics.”
|03.19.13 at 11:28 am ET|
“I thought we competed well,” Rivers said. “I thought we had a lot of chances to win the game. For me, and for our players, we’re really disappointed. But I think we would enjoy that matchup [in the playoffs], there’s no doubt about that.”
Rivers said the Celtics’ biggest issues were their failure to continue to push the pace after having early success playing the Heat’s preferred uptempo style, as well as turnovers and defensive miscues.
“We did make some mistakes,” Rivers said. “The turnovers, I though, cost us the game. And then our defensive mistakes — game-planning mistakes that I was frustrated with. We gave up three or four, I’ll maybe even say five or six layups to the basket where we were switching and we shouldn’t have. Those are the things that hurt you.”
The Celtics had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Paul Pierce missed a fadeaway 3-pointer off an inbounds pass.
“I don’t mind that,” Rivers said. “Listen, he got a good look at it. He maybe could have drove, I don’t know. I don’t question those types of shots at the end of the game. Because he makes those shots. If it goes in, it’s a great shot. If it doesn’t go in, then could we have gotten a better shot? I don’t know.”
Added Rivers: “Paul takes fadeaways. That’s part of his shot. Having said that, the play was really what it was, except for it wasn’t designed for a 3. Jason Terry actually set a terrific pick on LeBron. LeBron actually got tangled up on it — give him credit, he closes so quick it’s amazing. But the play was just for a pin-down from Jason Terry, because I knew they didn’t want to get off his body. And I thought Paul would have an opening. And Paul went out to the 3. He didn’t probably have to. He may have been able to tight curl that. But I don’t second-guess that.”
Jeff Green scored 43 points, but he was not involved in the Celtics’ final offensive play.
“He just had the shot before that,” Rivers explained. “Paul’s a better shot-maker low clock. Jeff Green is great, obviously. But they guarded him. There was a back screen for him on the back side of that. There was more than one option on the play. The guy who takes the ball out decides who he thinks is open.”
|03.19.13 at 8:45 am ET|
He spoke of his dislike bordering on hatred for the Miami Heat. A heartbreaking, gut-wrenching 105-103 loss to Miami Monday night at TD Garden did little to change that.
“We know what type of team we are. We’re dangerous. So, we’re encouraged. We’re definitely encouraged. We’re not going to keep our head down. This was a self-inflicted game here we lost. Give them credit. They’ve won however many games (23) in a row – hope they lose the rest.
“We’re disappointed, obviously. You have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, you have to get the job done. So, we had a lot of mistakes that we made offensively and defensively that are correctable errors so we just have to get back in here and grind.”
Terry also had this observation about Jeff Green and his 43-point night.
“He came to play. When he comes to play like that, obviously we’re tough to beat,” Green began. “He just has to continue to be aggressive. We’ve said it all year long, when Jeff Green is aggressive, he’s just as good as everybody else out there on the floor. We look for him to continue to do so, take advantage of the match-ups out there because on any given night he’s the most athletic player on the floor.
“Three, four, five whatever position you want put him at, he’s definitely a tough cover when he’s playing like he was playing tonight.”
For Doc Rivers, Monday night was a preview of the playoffs and a good barometer to see how new players would handle it and how his team would do the same, overall. Terry said it’s been like that for a while.
“It’s been like that for us for about a month now,” Terry said. “We just have to continue to grind it out.
“It’s not about competing for us. It’s about winning. We’re already confident, we already know what we’re capable of doing. We just have to continue to build, continue to get better, use this as a learning lesson and move forward.
“Not only take care of the ball but defensively, you have [to protect] a 10-point lead,” Terry said. “Our game is predicated on our defense. We gave up three layups and they cut the lead in a minute and a half. That can’t happen.”
|03.19.13 at 12:43 am ET|
Jeff Green scored a career-high 43 points, including 26 in the first half, but it was not enough as LeBron James countered with 37 points, including the game-winning basket with 10.5 seconds remaining, as the Heat extended their winning streak to 23 games with a 105-103 win over the heartbroken Celtics on Monday night at TD Garden.
This was a sample of what Green had to say after the game:
On his 43 points: “I didn’t pay attention to that. I was just in a zone. The ball just kept going in.”
On Doc Rivers saying he needed a blow in the fourth quarter: ‘Yeah, I was tired. I was guarding one of the best players on the floor. You know, I played basically the whole game. But I mean, we still had a chance to win. Those couple of minutes that I was out we were up probably eight at the time, so we still were in the lead, so we just got to figure out a way to win at the end.’
On fans chanting his name: ‘Yeah, I heard it. It’s a good feeling, but you’ve just got to stay in the game, stay focused. Think about the next play.’
On the confidence a game like this give him moving forward: ‘Every game’s a new game, every team is different. You’ve got to find different ways to attack. You’ve got to find different ways to help your team out. So, I mean, the next game is going to be a lot different than this game, so I just have got to figure out another way, of how I can continue to stay aggressive.’
On if Kevin Garnett being out changed his mindset: ‘No. Even if he’s in, I still have got to continue to be aggressive.
‘You know, you can’t rely on a jump shot. I know I missed a couple at the beginning of the game. That’s when I’ve got to try to get to the free throw line, try to get a rhythm, and I did.
‘It was the best team in the league and we took them to their breaking point. We’ve just got to, when Kevin comes back, continue to play like we did today. With the addition of him, I think we will be more lethal. So as long as we continue to attack, get stops, we’ll be in pretty good shape.’
|03.18.13 at 11:00 pm ET|
Jeff Green (career-high 43 points) became the first Celtics player not named Paul Pierce in more than 12 years to score 43 points in the regular season, and it still wasn’t enough to end the Heat’s winning streak, which LeBron James (37 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) extended to 23 games in a 105-103 thriller in the Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Garnett loss: Considering they shot 62 percent from the field in the first half, the Celtics’ offense didn’t miss Garnett all that much — thanks to Green’s monster night. The defense? Different story. After building a 17-point lead, the C’s allowed five straight second-quarter layups. Doc Rivers quickly reinserted Avery Bradley — whose ridiculous chase-down block of Norris Cole gave the C’s a brief lift — but Miami responded with a 12-4 run to close the half, taking a more manageable six-point deficit into the break. That doesn’t happen with Garnett. Of course, neither do the Heat’s 8-0 run to start the second half nor the 18-4 string down the stretch of the fourth quarter, each of which erased comfortable Celtics leads.
LeBron being LeBron: Growing increasingly frustrated with his teammates — even showing up Chris Bosh when the Heat center allowed Brandon Bass to waltz into lane for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw — James took over. He showed again and again why he’s the game’s greatest player, even if for one night Green gave him a run for his money. When he wasn’t posterizing Jason Terry, he was drawing defenders and finding everyone from Ray Allen to Shane Battier for wide-open 3-point attempts.
Bench pressed: At some point, there’s a breaking point. Since Garnett’s absence moved Green into the starting lineup, the reserves featured only two players who started the season with the Celtics. Outside of Jason Terry, who knocked down four of his six attempts in 24 minutes, the C’s didn’t get much from the rest of the roster. For the most part, Jordan Crawford (8 points) seemed lost, Chris Wilcox racked up the fouls and the China trio of Terrence Williams, D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph didn’t see the floor.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Green lantern: Either James and Green switched jerseys, or Green played his best basketball in a Celtics uniform. The C’s closed the first quarter on a 17-0 run, including 12 points from Green, to take a 31-19 lead after one. That momentum carried into the second, as Green scored 22 points in a span of 10:43, nearly playing the Heat to a standstill (24-22) through the games’s first 15 minutes. What’s more, he grabbed six boards in that same span — twice his season average. Basically, Green unlocked God mode for 15 minutes.
Truth matters: You can bet Rivers took mental note as his starting combination of Green and Pierce gave the Heat fits. While Miami attempted to guard one of the two with Udonis Haslem (and for some reasonn Chris Andersen), Green and Pierce took advantage. As the former enjoyed a career night, the latter submitted another retro performance, quietly approaching a triple-double (17 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds) in tandem.
Quality Lee: Courtney Lee followed up perhaps his most complete performance of the season (13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks against the Bobcats) with another solid effort against the Heat. He contributed 13 points — including a huge fourth-qaurter triple to snap a 9-0 Heat run — to go along with four assists, three rebounds and three steals. His performance helped offset a mostly underwhelming night for fellow pitbull Avery Bradley, who struggled in the face of fullcourt pressure from Miami’s Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.