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Kyrie Irving praises Celtics, Isaiah Thomas following Game 5 victory 05.26.17 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kyrie Irving dominated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. (David Richard/USA Today Sports)

Kyrie Irving dominated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. (David Richard/USA Today Sports)

Despite all the talk about the dominance of LeBron James, who heads to his seventh consecutive NBA Finals next week, in many ways it was the play of Kyrie Irving that proved to be the undoing of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.

The sixth-year point guard was outstanding throughout the series, averaging 25.8 points per game. This was highlighted by his 42-point performance in Game 4, a contest where LeBron had four fouls in the first half for the first time in his career.

Following the Cavs victory and elimination of Boston on Thursday night, Irving heaped praise on the Celtics and their injured leader Isaiah Thomas.

“You have to commend them for accomplishing what they did, especially in the regular season,” Irving said to reporters. “I mean, the goals that they set, they were definitely challenging for us, and it made the league turn for a little bit, just 1 versus 2, 2, 1, who was going to get first place and who was actually ready for the playoffs. That makes basketball exciting. That makes the league exciting. And the fashion that they were playing basketball was at such a high level.”

Thomas, whose extraordinary season and courageous playoff performance was cut short, did not appear in the final three games of the series due to an injured hip.

Irving expressed dismay at the loss of Thomas and complimented his play.

“Honestly we didn’t want IT to go down,” Irving said. “But the way that guy has played, I mean, the way he was playing, he’s deserving of all the credit that he’s gotten. As well as guys like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk and just all their guys. They’re just dedicated to basketball. They’re coming out and their hitting us, and they don’t care who you are. I was watching before tonight’s game the game that they played in Golden State. And the way, in the fashion that they did that [beating the Warriors at Oracle Arena]. That was the testament, that was the turn of how special they could be. And that made it this far. And it was 1 versus 2. It was a matchup that we were all looking forward to, and I’m glad that we prevailed. But they tested us every single minute, and we needed that.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk
Kyrie Irving (42 points) saves Cavaliers, Celtics can’t hold 16-point lead 05.23.17 at 10:54 pm ET
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May 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving drives to the basket against the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. (David Richard/USA Today Sports)

Kyrie Irving saved LeBron James, Ty Lue and the city of Cleveland from a total state of panic Tuesday night. 

With James saddled with four first-half fouls for the first time in his career and the Cavaliers staring a second straight shocking home loss to the Celtics in the face, Irving took over with 21 of his playoff career-high 42 points in an amazing third-quarter display to lead the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena. 

The Celtics, who led by as many as 16 in the first half before a shell-shocked crowd, will try to stave off elimination Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern finals at TD Garden. 

“That stings when you can’t pull those out,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We put together a lot of good basketball here. We didn’t put enough of it together tonight to win the game.”

Irving, on the other hand, put forward his best career postseason performance when his team desperately needed it. And on top of it all, Irving played the entire fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle when he stepped on Terry Rozier on a drive to the basket. 

“In the back of my mind, I’m saying to myself, ‘They cannot tie up this series.'” Irving said. “This Celtics team is not going to give up”

James, who was scoreless in the fourth quarter Sunday in Game 3, had 15 of his 34 points in the final period.

The Cavs came out and turned again to Kevin Love, who hit the game’s first basket, a three. Cleveland scored the game’s first five points. 

Then the Celtics took over, scoring 11 straight points and to take all the energy out of QuickenLoans Arena. 

LeBron James continued his disengaged play of Sunday night, settling for threes and missing them. Love did find James with his trademark length-of-the-court pass and James delivered with a one-handed jam to cut Boston’s lead to 18-13. 

The only bit of troubling news in the first quarter for the Celtics were the two fouls apiece called on Jae Crowder and Al Horford. Crowder stayed in the game to guard LeBron. 

The Celtics led 29-19 after one quarter.  

(For a complete box score, click here.)

The Cavaliers showed a little spark with a transition-inspired rally. James started to get to the basket for layups. 

Momentum continued to roll in the Celtics’ favor in the second quarter, as they built their lead up to 49-33 on threes from Terry Rozier and Avery Bradley. At that precise moment, the Celtics had outscored the Cavs, 105-64, since trailing 77-56 midway through the third quarter of Game 3. 

But without question, the biggest storyline was the foul trouble of LeBron James. After getting called for a highly questionable third personal foul on a touch foul of Marcus Smart shooting a three with 8:55 left in the second quarter. But Ty Lue decided to keep him in the game. 

That move backfired when James bowled over Rozier in the lane for his fourth foul with 6:46 left in the second quarter and the Celtics up, 43-33. James, with four first-half fouls for the first time in his career, sat for the remainder of the half. Down 49-33, it was Irving to the rescue, who scored the next 10 points in a 10-2 Cleveland run. 

The Cavs had the lead down to six before the Celtics finished the half on a 6-2 spurt for a 57-47 advantage. Without Isaiah Thomas for a second straight game, ball movement for the Celtics was outstanding. In the first half, the Celtics had 17 assists on 21 field goals.

“I thought we played as well as maybe we have the entire playoffs during the first half,” Stevens said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2017 Eastern Conference finals, 2017 NBA Playoffs, Al Horford, Avery Bradley
After Game 7 thriller, can Celtics give LeBron James, Cavaliers a real run for it? 05.16.17 at 12:17 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk channels Larry Bird, scoring 14 of his playoff career-best 26 points in a stunning fourth-quarter display while Isaiah Thomas was his typical brilliant self, scoring 29, as the Celtics put away the Wizards in Game 7. Not much time to savor as LeBron James and the Cavs are up Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern finals. Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon recap an electric night at TD Garden.

Read More: 2017 NBA finals, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas
Wizards react to F-bomb chants against Kelly Oubre: ‘That’s Boston, man’ 05.11.17 at 10:51 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk (41) is fouled by the Wizards' Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Kelly Olynyk (41) is fouled by the Wizards’ Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Wizards forward Kelly Oubre already knew he’d be hearing it from TD Garden fans before facing the Celtics in Game 5 on Wednesday in Boston. That’s what happens when you’re suspended for steamrolling Celtics counterpart Kelly Olynyk during a chippy Game 3.

A bit more surprising was the choice of words.

With fans chanting, “[Bleep] you, Oubre!” late in Boston’s 123-101 win, even the Wizards were a bit taken aback by the level of vitriol.

“It’s Boston, man,” forward Markieff Morris told reporters, including Kevin Duffy of MassLive. “You’ve got to be prepared for anything. That’s how I look at it.”

Shooting guard Bradley Beal turned to a phrase favored by courtside visitor Bill Belichick.

“It is what it is, man,” he said. “It is what it is. They’re trying to make it bigger than what it needs to be. We’re playing basketball here. They’re going to protect Olynyk here. We’re going to protect Oubre on our team. When he comes to D.C., Friday’s going to be the same thing. We booed him. It’s just part of the game. We don’t pay attention to that.”

Oubre finished with 13 points and three rebounds in 19 active minutes.

“They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” said Wizards point guard John Wall, per Duffy. “I think Kelly did a great job of handling it. He didn’t let it bother him. He kept playing basketball. We told him what to expect from the crowd. We didn’t think those types of words, but all we’ve got to do is play basketball. We’re his brothers. We stick behind him.”

Read More: Celtics fans chant, Kelly Olynyk, Kelly Oubre Jr., NBA playoffs
Isaiah Thomas lambasts Draymond Green for calling Kelly Olynyk ‘dirty’ 05.09.17 at 5:10 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas says Kelly Olynyk isn't dirty. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Isaiah Thomas says Kelly Olynyk isn’t dirty. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

Al Horford’s sister isn’t the only member of the Celtics family who’s taking Warriors forward Draymond Green to task for calling Kelly Olynyk a dirty player.

On an episode of the “Uninterrupted” podcast, Green called out Olynyk when discussing his skirmish in Game 3 with Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. “He’s dirty. Dirty player,” Green said. “Man, I don’t respect guys like that. I know he’s not like the greatest basketball player of all-time so maybe he feel like he’s gotta do like that. Just dirty. I don’t respect that, man. He’s dirty.”

It’s beyond ironic for Green to make that comment, considering he kicked both Thunder center Steven Adams and LeBron James in the testicles last postseason. Isaiah Thomas seemed to recognize that when he spoke to reporters Tuesday. 

“I don’t know how he can call anybody dirty,” Thomas said, via ESPN. “It’s a joke that [Green] said that. The playoffs, everything somebody says is blown out of proportion. Everything somebody does is blown out of proportion as well. We can’t worry about what others are saying or doing.”

Olynyk also came under fire in 2015, when Cavaliers forward Kevin Love separated his shoulder while the two players were chasing down a rebound. Olynyk held Love’s arm in order to keep him back. 

When asked about Olynyk’s apparent reputation, Thomas downplayed the question. 

“No, he’s nowhere near dirty. A couple of occasions, wrong time, wrong place. Things happen in basketball, especially physical playoff basketball. He’s definitely not dirty.”

Read More: Draymond Green, Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Olynyk,
Al Horford’s sister takes down Draymond Green for calling Kelly Olynyk a ‘dirty player’ 05.08.17 at 3:12 pm ET
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Al Horford’s sister continues to defend the honor of her brother’s team in the most incendiary manner possible. 

On an episode of the “Uninterrupted” podcast, Warriors forward Draymond Green called out Kelly Olynyk when discussing his skirmish in Game 3 with Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr.

“He’s dirty. Dirty player,” Green said. “Man, I don’t respect guys like that. I know he’s not like the greatest basketball player of all-time so maybe he feel like he’s gotta do like that. Just dirty. I don’t respect that, man. He’s dirty.”

Anna Horford, a prolific and hilariously vulgar tweeter, alluded to the irony of Green calling somebody else a “dirty player.” Last postseason, Draymond Green kicked both Thunder center Steven Adams and LeBron James in the testicles. 

It’s been an active few days on Twitter for Horford, who passive aggressively called out Brad Stevens in the midst of the Wizards’ 26-0 run Sunday in Game 4. It appears as if Horford thinks the coach should’ve called for a timeout at the beginning of the run, opposed to waiting until his team was already trailing by double digits. 

While that’s quite the subtweet, Anna Horford’s best moment on Twitter remains when she told Michael Felger to “f*** right off” after he criticized Al Horford for skipping a November regular season game to see the birth of his child. 

Read More: Al Horford, Draymond Green, Kelly Olynyk,
Draymond Green calls out Kelly Olynyk for being a dirty player at 1:08 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk has been called out for being a dirty player. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Kelly Olynyk has been called out for being a dirty player. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

It appears Kelly Olynyk isn’t getting the best reputation around the league.

Olynyk and Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. have been going at it all series. Oubre Jr. said Olynyk has repeatedly hit him in the head while setting screens and then during Game 3, Oubre charged at Olynyk, knocking him to the floor.

He was ejected and suspended for Game 4.

This has led to some across the league considering Olynyk a dirty player, including Draymond Green.

Appearing on ESPN’s Uninterupted podcast, Green called Olynyk out.

“He’s dirty. Dirty player,” Green said. “Man, I don’t respect guys like that. I know he’s not like the greatest basketball player of all-time so maybe he feel like he’s gotta do like that. Just dirty. I don’t respect that, man. He’s dirty.”

The Celtics and Wizards are tied at two and will play Game 5 Wednesday night.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Draymond Green, Kelly Olynyk, Kelly Oubre Jr.,
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