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5 things we learned as Cavaliers hold off Celtics for 2-0 series lead 04.21.15 at 9:41 pm ET
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The Celtics achieved almost everything they set out to do in Game 2 — as Avery Bradley terrorized Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers shot just 24.1 percent from 3-point range and the C’s out-rebounded Cleveland on the offensive glass — and yet they still lost by eight.

Despite all that went right for the Celtics, they still had no answer for LeBron James, who finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 99-91 victory that gave the Cavaliers a 2-0 series lead. Even with Bradley all over him, Irving managed 26 points, six assists and five boards, spoiling what may have been the C’s best chance for a win.

“Obviously, they’re great players,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in his postgame press conference. “I thought we challenged Kyrie a little bit better. He’s a hard one because he gets fouled on some of those jump shots. That’s tough, but he’s a really explosive ball-handler and scorer. And when LeBron just puts his shoulder down and wants to get to where he wants to go, it’s hard to stop him from getting there. But I thought our guys actually did a pretty good job on different plays. … Those guys are hard to stop, but that’s why we can’t start the third quarter slowly and that’s why we’ve got to finish plays. That’s why every issue we’re having is magnified.”

Isaiah Thomas again led the Celtics with 22 points and seven assists. Jared Sullinger added 14 points, Tyler Zeller scored 11 and Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart each netted 10.

For a complete box score, click here.

BRINGING THE ENERGY

Midway through the first quarter, Brandon Bass wrestled an offensive rebound from Tristan Thompson and LeBron James, and then kicked it out to an open Marcus Smart, who knocked down a 3-pointer that pushed the Celtics‘ lead to 16-8 and forced the Cavs’ first timeout. It was indicative of a tremendous early effort by the Celtics. They matched their Game 1 total of seven offensive boards in the first quarter of Game 2 and added eight points off five Cleveland turnovers in the opening 12 minutes, taking a 26-25 lead after one.

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J.R. Smith compares Avery Bradley to Kobe Bryant, and not in a good way 04.20.15 at 2:58 pm ET
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Granted, Sunday’s game between the Cavaliers and Celtics was questionably officiated, but J.R. Smith hardly has a case he didn’t deserve all four of his fouls — and maybe even more. But that didn’t stop the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year from complaining.

So, apparently Smith thinks Avery Bradley is getting superstar treatment, which is … interesting … since the Celtics guard attempted all of zero free throws, and Smith somehow still managed to complain after trucking Kelly Olynyk like a linebacker.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, J.R. Smith
Tale of the Tape: Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers 04.18.15 at 8:00 am ET
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So, Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman picked them to win their first-round series against the Cavaliers in six games, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge responded, “Well, he had some pretty good evidence,” and we all had a good laugh about the C’s 40-to-1 odds to win the series.

Truth is, the Celtics aren’t going to push this series beyond five games, right? … Right? … I mean, it’s not like Brad Stevens has a history of taking Cinderella to the big dance or anything … RIGHT? OK, I’m going to talk myself into this thing if I don’t look at some cold hard facts real soon, so let’s do this.

The Cavs weren’t really the Cavs until acquiring Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in early January, adding the defense and 3-point shooting that helped LeBron James achieve legendary status in Miami. And the Celts weren’t really the Celts until acquiring Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome at the Feb. 19 trade deadline, adding the scoring punch and lineup flexibility that helped Stevens achieve wizardry status. So, in the interest of fairness, any tale of the tape for these two teams should start with a completely arbitrary date between their current story arcs. Let’s say Feb. 3.

[Editor’s Note: Just kidding. Feb. 3 totally isn’t arbitrary. It’s the date that makes Boston look best agains Cleveland, because otherwise a tale of the tape between them would be like asking the late great Manute Bol to pose for a photo alongside Muggsy Bogues. And who would do such a thing?]

Here we go. All of the per-game and advanced statistics below were culled from NBA.com/stats.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA,
Mike Gorman on MFB: Celtics will beat Cavaliers in 6 games 04.17.15 at 1:58 pm ET
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Mike Gorman

Mike Gorman

Celtics CSNNE play-by-play commentator Mike Gorman joined Middays with MFB to discuss his predictions for the C’s upcoming playoff series against the Cavaliers. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Gorman believes that the Celtics have the ability to pull off an upset against LeBron James and the Cavs. He has picked the C’s to win the series in six games.

“It’s how you’re playing right now that matters, it’s not what you did before,” Gorman said. “And you could take a pretty substantial sample size of the last 36 games where Celtics have gone 24-12. … They’ve got the fifth-best defense in the league over the last 38 games. They have got, also — this number surprised me when I was doing the research — when Isaiah Thomas is on the floor according to the NBA statistics, they have the second-best offense in the league. Only Golden State has a better offense than the Celtics do when Isaiah Thomas is on the floor.”

Added Gorman: “There are going to be certain keys to this series that goes along right from the very beginning. One to watch for in the first quarter of the first game is the intensity level of both sides, who’s the more energetic teams that’s on the floor. And are the officials going to let Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart play very tough defensively against the guards of Cleveland.”

Cleveland is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Celtics occupy the No. 7 seed after a 40-42 season. Vegas oddsmaker Westgate SuperBook has the Cavs as the favorites to win the NBA championship.

“Yes, [the Cavaliers] have more talent, but [the Celtics] play as a team,” Gorman said. “The Celtics I think are third or fourth in the last two months in fewest turnovers a game. They take care of the ball, they’re not reckless. … I think one of the keys to this game when you watch it on Sunday is the Celtics need to make Cleveland have six, seven, eight touches per offensive possession. You can’t have somebody get a rebound, fire it to LeBron, LeBron goes the length of the court and gets a dunk or Kyrie [Irving] gets a kick from LeBron and gets a 3 off one pass. You’ve got to make them play offensively and move the ball around. If the Celtics can do that, I think they can keep this game well within reach.”

For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas, Mike Gorman
An oral history: How Brad Stevens’ Celtics earned a playoff date with LeBron James’ Cavaliers 04.15.15 at 2:16 am ET
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JULY 9, 2014

In what seemed on the surface like a minor move, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sent a $10.3 million trade exception — acquired for dealing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in 2013 — to the Cavaliers for Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton’€™s expiring contract and Cleveland’€™s 2016 first-round pick.

Ultimately, the trade transformed the NBA, allowing the Cavs to free up enough cap space to bring LeBron James back home. From a Boston perspective, the reward of a young center project and a couple more tradable assets was worth the risk of altering the Eastern Conference’€™s balance of power for the foreseeable future.

AUGUST 21, 2014

‘€œA lot of people might say that we can’€™t be this, we can’€™t be that,’€ Celtics guard Avery Bradley — fresh off signing an oft criticized four-year, $32 million contract extension — told a group of bewildered reporters from a basketball camp. ‘€œI feel like with the coach that we have, we can be anything that we want to be. We just have to listen to [Brad Stevens] and buy into what he’€™s trying to do, his plan for us. I feel like we have a chance to make the playoffs and make a lot of noise this year if we listen to Brad.”

AUGUST 27, 2014

During a tour through Asia, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo declared himself ‘€œin great shape’€ after his return from ACL surgery. ‘€œI want to win another championship,’€ he told Hoop China, before adding, ‘€œYou can’€™t have a great team every year.’€ When asked if sixth overall pick Marcus Smart could eventually start for the Celtics this season, Rondo replied, ‘€œNo. He’€™ll play a lot of minutes, but starting as a rookie at the guard position is probably impossible or one of the toughest things you can do.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 

Asked by one reporter at the C’€™s annual preseason charity golf outing to name his favorites in the East this season, Ainge listed the Cavaliers, Bulls and Wizards.

‘€œYou left off the Celtics,’€ another media member countered.

‘€œI did. Yes, I did. Good observation,’€ said Ainge, pausing, and then adding, ‘€œbut I do believe the extraordinary is possible.’€

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

Amid widespread speculation that Rondo had broken a bone in his left hand at a trampoline park, the Celtics point guard addressed those rumors at media day, assuring everyone the injury resulted from a slip in the shower. In his 12-minute session, Rondo professed his love for both Boston and Stevens, confirmed his desire for a max contract and conceded again, ‘€œI know this isn’€™t a championship team.’€

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

‘€œWe have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience, and that’€™s Phil Pressey,’€ Stevens said as training camp opened. ‘€œAnd that’€™s not a lot of it. I’€™m not as worried about [the point guard position] because I think people are going to put you in a box for your position, and I’€™m just not going to do that. I’€™m not going to worry about it. [Evan Turner‘€™s] a ball handler, he can make plays, he’€™s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions that they’€™re most comfortable.’€

OCTOBER 2, 2014

Zeller drew rave reviews from his new teammates as the biggest surprise in camp. ‘€œHe just runs the floor,’€ Stevens said. ‘€œHe’€™s a very unselfish player, he’€™s a smart player. He stands out because he does little things well. He’€™s a guy that can score on the block in the right matchup, but his strength is in beating people to spots.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas
5 things we learned as LeBron James’ Cavaliers blow out Celtics 03.03.15 at 9:56 pm ET
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After a three-game win streak and a hard-fought loss to the Western Conference-leading Warriors, the Celtics began answering questions this weekend about possibly playing in the playoffs.

Well, nothing tempers expectations like a 31-point blowout by the surging Cavaliers.

LeBron James scored a game-high 27 points, and Cleveland dominated from start to finish in a 110-79 victory against the visiting Celtics on Tuesday night. The loss marked the second straight for the C’s (23-35), who fell two full games behind the Nets for the eighth seed in the East playoff race.

Brandon Bass‘ 15 points led an anemic Celtics offense that finished 35 percent from the field. Meanwhile, five more Cavs joined LeBron in double figures: Kyrie Irving (18 points), Kevin Love (12), J.R. Smith (12), Timofey Mosgov (10) and Tristan Thompson (10).

For a complete box score, click here.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James
Celtics growing tired of explaining how they’re blowing big leads 11.15.14 at 10:06 am ET
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The Celtics are quickly growing tired of talking about blowing big leads. It’s hard to blame them, but the painful truth is that it’s an ongoing trend that’s obvious to anyone watching them play early on in the 2014-15 season.

And it’s been a trend from the start. Against Brooklyn in the season opener they led 101-72 after three quarters. Brooklyn closed it to 15 before the C’s eventually held off the Nets. Still, they were outscored 33-20 in the fourth and gave up 64 second-half points. It may not have been a concern at the time in a one-game sample, but it’s turned into a troubling trend.

Against the Bulls in Chicago, they led 83-67 after three. They held on for dear life for a 106-101 win. But on Wednesday against the Thunder, it finally caught up with them. The Celtics raced out to an 18-3 lead and led, 51-42, at the half. They were outscored 67-43 in the second half and lost. Friday night, they had their biggest lead going into the fourth quarter, 101-84 against King James and the Cavs. They were outscored 38-20 in the fourth. Against the Nets, Thunder and Cavaliers, they have given up 64, 67, and 63 points, respectively in the second half, losing the last two.

The Celtics are learning that there’s no better way to blow big leads than playing porous defense.

“I’€™m frustrated by it,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I want to be better at it. I thought our energy and togetherness and sustainability was much better [against Cleveland]. When things went south, we came back. They went up by three; we ended up tying the game. Jeff made a great hustle play to get the free throws. You know if you turned on the TV last night you saw it in at least two games, maybe three — and that happens. You’€™ve got to play all 48. You’€™ve got to be great all 48 against this team. And it’€™s not the same against everybody, but you still have to be on your A-game the whole time.”

‘€œWe just got to win games, point blank, we just got to win,” Jared Sullinger added. “There’€™s no more lessons, no more moral victories, we just got to win flat out. Kyrie [Irving] made some shots, LeBron made some shots; that’€™s what great players do. There’€™s no answers we just got to win. In the NBA, no 15, 20-point lead is safe. You just have to keep playing.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jared Sullinger, LeBron James
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