|04.24.15 at 7:46 am ET|
LeBron James has had a lot of different experiences in Boston.
After pushing the Celtics to the brink of elimination Thursday night with 31 points and 11 rebounds in a 103-95 win in Game 3, basketball’s preeminent superstar reflected on what winning as a visitor means in Boston.
James was asked about what ran through his mind Thursday as he played Boston in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when he was eliminated in the same building in Game 6 of the Eastern semifinals, his final game in a Cavaliers uniform before heading off to Miami.
“Most all of the players are different [except for] Brandon Bass being on those teams. It’s the same for me. I get great feelings, I get eerie feelings when I come into this building. I’ve been on both sides of the fence here.”
James has always been reviled by Boston fans but considers himself in some select company, joining Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant as great opposing players who found a way to win in a hostile environment.
“The great thing about being here, these fans are loyal to one thing and one thing only, and that’s green. That’s all they see. That’s all they care about. For me being a competitor and for me being a competitor, someone they know personally, to be able to come out here and perform in front of those guys, it means a lot because they know the game. They know basketball. They know sports. It’s a sports town. Between them, the Patriots, the Bruins and the Red Sox, they know sports. For me to be able to have some type of history in this city, it means a lot I guess for my legacy.”
James, of course, needs one more win for his first playoff victory in Boston. He is 0-2, losing not only in 2010 but two years earlier in the Eastern semis in an epic seven-game series that saw him outscore Paul Pierce 45-41 in Game 7 in Boston.
James, despite some early missed layups, took over the game Thursday from the start. He scored 11 in the second quarter and keyed a 12-0 run before halftime that turned a four-point hole into a 56-48 Cleveland lead at the half.
“I wanted to be aggressive, I love road games in the playoffs,” James added. “I get up for those games even more than the home games. I love the adversity that comes with it. I love going against the opposing fans, the opposing team and everything that comes with it so for me it was my approach and even though I missed some very makeable layups early, I just think my aggressiveness is starting to hit home for our team and they’re just following my lead after that.”
|04.24.15 at 1:51 am ET|
But his team, most of which is experiencing the playoffs for the first time, was not up to the task at big moments Thursday night.
As a result, the Celtics fell in an 0-3 hole with a 103-95 loss to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Celtics committed 15 turnovers. They also had key meltdowns at the end of each half that proved deadly. They allowed the Cavaliers to close the first half with a 12-0 run to take a 56-48 lead. And they allowed the Cavaliers off the hook when they drew to within three on an Evan Turner three with 2:45 left. The Cavs closed the game with a 10-3 run.
“The bottom line tonight was we didn’t play with any poise,” Stevens said. “I don’t know if it was the terrific environment in there, if we were just ‘ I don’t know if it was down 0-2, I don’t know what they deal was, but I thought they really played with poise and in control; we did not. And I thought that was the biggest difference in the game. Our effort was great, we played really hard, but we’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play better. And we’ve said it over and over. It’s an eight-point game at the end of the day, and there’s so many possessions that we threw away.”
But Turner, whom Stevens praised, for playing a great game, disagreed with Stevens’ assessment.
“He said our poise wasn’t good. I think that’s a little strong because we were on the bench encouraging each other. I think we bounced back, I don’t know in regards to poise but I think we were resilient. We had a lot of comebacks and we had a lot of runs and we had a lot of tough runs that led to success for them but you know, to be down three with a minute or two minutes left, it’s somewhat great, but obviously, I don’t think we did a great job to fully help us get over the hump.
“It’s definitely frustrating. It’s definitely tough, especially being out there, we’re battling back and every time we’re coming close they get a big offensive rebound for a big three. Obviously that’s one of the reasons why it was tough today but to really harp on those key moments, we’ve done a lot more stuff in order to be behind and obviously that’s just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Tristan Thompson’s really talented at what he does, he’s been doing it all season, but I think we have a lot of other things we need to do as well, but that’s definitely something that sends us overboard I would say.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.23.15 at 9:40 pm ET|
Different building, same script.
Trailing by three late in the fourth quarter, the Celtics had a chance to tie Game 3 at home, but failed to corral an offensive rebound, and Kevin Love made them pay with a wide-open 3-pointer with 2:13 remaining. And once again, the C’s submitted an inspired effort, but had no answer for LeBron James, who amassed 31 points and 11 rebounds in a 103-95 victory that gave his Cavaliers a 3-0 series lead.
The Celtics‘ last opportunity to avoid a sweep comes in Game 4 at the Garden on Sunday afternoon.
On Thursday, Evan Turner enjoyed his best game of the series, collecting 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, but failed to match a dominant performance by the game’s greatest active player. Jae Crowder added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists off the bench, and Avery Bradley scored 18, albeit on 18 shots. Jared Sullinger (10 points, 8 rebounds) was the only other Celtic in double figures. After scoring 22 points in each of his first two playoff appearances, Isaiah Thomas finished with only five points on 2-of-9 shooting.
For a complete box score, click here.
In the first 1:18, LeBron James got to the rim with ease on back-to-back possessions, giving the Cavaliers an early 4-0 lead. After an uncontested 3-pointer from Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov beat Tyler Zeller on the block twice in a row — dunking over the C’s center and driving around him for an uncontested layup. A third drive to the basket delivered Cleveland a 15-10 lead and forced the first Celtics timeout.
|04.23.15 at 6:59 pm ET|
|04.23.15 at 6:21 pm ET|
BOSTON – Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has decided not to change his starting line-up heading into game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. At practice on Wednesday, Stevens suggested he may make a change, but eventually declined to do so, stating he trusted his starters.
It’s not that Stevens was afraid to alter the lineup, rather that the players had earned their respective minutes. He said before the game Thursday, “[w]hen I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve considered changing with this group. these guys have played really well.”
Stevens noted that, when on the floor, the starters have to be more aggressive.
“I think the biggest thing is we are not going to expect them to play the whole day. I don’t expect anyone to go for 15 in the first five minutes. The way that they are choosing to guard a couple of our guys, they have to be more opportunistic.”
The Celtics will continue to rely on their depth, something Stevens sees as one of the strengths of the team.
“One of the things that helped get us here was everybody being ready and everybody contributing. Sometimes 9 deep, sometimes 10 deep, sometimes 12 deep and I think with our team, that’s a real positive thing.’
|04.22.15 at 12:51 pm ET|
Celtics co-owner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to give his thoughts on the state of his team in the playoffs as well as hit on some current events regarding former C’s. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
After the beginning of the season that the Celtics had, it’s not a stretch to say that people had a hard time imagining them in the playoffs come April. A hot second half propelled Boston to where it is now, heading back to TD Garden for game three of its opening round series against the Cavaliers. While Cleveland might not have been the most favorable matchup for the Celtics, Grousbeck is just happy the team is where it is.
“It was a lot of fun last night [Tuesday],” he said. “I’m very very proud of our team, and I saw the Cavs winning the game, they’ve beaten us twice, it wasn’t super close at the end of either game, but we gave them a scare last night. We played them super hard as a team, missed some shots we could have made, I suppose we deserved to lose. The Cavs are a great team, but I was really proud of how we played last night.”
Losing by 13 points in game one and then by eight on Tuesday night for game two, the C’s are in a bit of a hole going into Thursday. Despite the hole, though, Grousbeck is optimistic of his squad’s chances.
“We’re going be on home turf, we played these guys pretty tough for two games,” he said. “I like the fact that we are going to play hard, we’re going to play as a team, we’re very, very well-coached, we’re playing a team that’s definitely got more talent and has got the edge on us in the series and are contenders for the championship, the Cavs, but I really cannot wait for tomorrow night to kick off. I think it’s going to be a memorable night. I don’t know what will happen, but I know we’ll play hard and we’re going to give them a game.”
And while Grousbeck acknowledged that Cleveland does have the edge over Boston, he expects the Celtics to give their opponents a fight.
“This isn’t a ‘glad to be here, grab a couple appetizers and leave the party early,'” he said. “We’d like to tie this thing up.”
Grousbeck also noted that no one has deluded themselves into thinking that the Celtics have the elite level of talent that some other teams do, but they do possess other qualities that give them a fighting chance.
“We’ve got the heart, we’ve got the teamwork, we’ve got the coaching, we’ve got some great talent, really good players,” he said.
“We are not there yet,” Grousbeck added. “We’re not fooling anybody by saying we’re there, and we’re going to continually try and improve, but I also just love watching these guys step up their games … I love how our guys have stepped up their games and I love the possibilities we have in the future to even get better.”
Regardless of the outcome of the series, Grousbeck knows that making the playoffs and getting to this point is what helps draw people to Boston.
“I love being in the playoffs,” he said. “This is how you build a team, you make it a place that people want to come play.”
|04.22.15 at 12:31 am ET|
But the Celtics guard thought he and his teammates could’ve had a much better chance to pull the upset if a couple of calls had gone Boston’s way.
The first one was a foul called by official Bennett Salvatore on Avery Bradley with 3:08 left. As the shot clock was expiring, Irving was spinning around near the baseline and was actually behind the backboard when he unloaded a desperation shot and fell to the floor.
Salvatore blew his whistle and bailed out Irving and the Cavs. Instead of getting the ball back down just four, 91-87, the Celtics watched as Irving made both from the charity stripe and bumped their lead back up to six, 93-87.
“Avery’s [got position there]. To call a foul right there and to call a foul when a guy’s behind the backboard in that type of possession, it should never be called,” Turner said. “It wasn’t a playable shot. It wasn’t a makable shot. It wasn’t anything. That was crazy call.”
Then, with the game already decided, Irving was called for a traveling violation, the only one of the game, with 16.6 seconds left. Turner found that quite odd as well.
“And then at the game, you call a travel when he’s been [carrying] it the same way the whole time, that’s the only tough part about today. That really didn’t make any sense,” Turner said.
But then Turner, who started and had nine points and a team-high 12 rebounds, turned the focus back on the Celtics, down 0-2.
“You just can’t really worry about it,” Turner said. “You try to do the right thing. The refs are trying their hardest. They can’t see everything. You just try to play hard. The one behind the backboard, in the corner. That was a crazy call, a game-changer down the stretch.
“They’re playing very great. Obviously, Kyrie definitely gifted offensively. When he starts off like that, sometimes you have to worry about him to a certain extent. LeBron tonight kind of kicked in his scoring late and you really have to play close attention to him. Mozgov did a great job as well. It’s definitely tough.”
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