Wiggins on Game 5 performance: ‘It’s something I dreamt about for sure’

Thanks to the play of Andrew Wiggins, the Golden State Warriors are one game away from an NBA title after defeating the Boston Celtics 104-94 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Chase Center on Monday night.

Golden State leads the series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night.

Wiggins scored a team-high 26 points to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds; this is Wiggins’ second consecutive double-double as he had 17 points and 16 rebounds in Game 4. 

Golden State led 75-74 heading into the fourth, and they went on a 14-4 run to take an 89-78 lead after a Wiggins driving hook shot at the 5:38 mark; the eight-year veteran capped his performance with a driving dunk over Derrick White late in the game.

Wiggins finished the fourth with 10 points(5/6 FG), five rebounds, and he was +15.

With Steph Curry’s struggles from the field(7/22 FG), including 0/9 from deep, Wiggins had to pick up the slack. According to him, carrying the load in the Finals is a dream come true.

“It’s something I dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” he said. “It doesn’t get bigger than this. I was out there being aggressive. It was a good game.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added on Wiggins: “He’s just been fantastic, not just in this series but throughout the playoffs.”

In this series, Wiggins is averaging 18.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game and has done it on both ends of the court. According to StatMuse, he leads the Finals with 101 contested shots. Also, he is doing a good job on Jayson Tatum, who is shooting 5-21 (23.8%) in the fourth in this series.

Defense is all about energy and effort, and Wiggins has brought that throughout this series. 

“He’s embraced the challenge of consistency and what he’s capable of doing on both ends of the floor.,” Curry said. “The fact that there’s opportunity for him to do what he’s doing because of the way that we play and because of the way that we’ve embraced him from day one. Try to paint a picture of what his skill set can do for us to reach the highest level. Bottom line is he’s just having fun playing basketball.

“That’s the biggest thing. Everything he’s been through in his career. All the talk about him as the No. 1 guy, No. 2 guy, No. 1 pick, all that type of stuff, I’m sure he’s enjoying this more than anything else he’s experienced in this league. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”

In 2020, Wiggins was traded from the Timberwolves to the Warriors. Draymond Green, who had eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists in Game 5, said Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Wiggins in Minnesota, gave him the stamp of approval.

“When he first came here, and I’ll never forget, it was when Thibs [Tom Thibodeau] wasn’t with the Knicks, and Thibs was like, you’re going to love him,” Green said.

“He competes. He defends. And he was telling us Jimmy loved him. And we all know how Jimmy Butler is. If you have any softness to you, Jimmy don’t like you. That’s how Jimmy is cut. He’s continued to show that. He’s continued to get better. He’s taken on every challenge that we have thrown in front of him. And that’s been huge. And we need him to do that for one more win.”

Golden State still has to get one more, and that one more won’t be easy. Boston is a tough, resilient bunch, and they won’t fold very easily. Initially, we had the Warriors in 7, and we’re sticking to that.

Notes:

Curry streak of a 233 games(regular season and postseason) with at least one made three was snapped Monday night. This is the first time in his career that he did not make a three in a postseason game.

Golden State will have big problems if Curry can’t go in Game 4

The Boston Celtics fed off their crowd and came out with a lot of energy in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. 

Jaylen Brown had 22 of his 27 points in the first half, nine rebounds, and five assists; Jayson Tatum added 26 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, and Marcus Smart chipped in with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists as Boston defeated the Warriors 116-100 at TD Garden to take a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 is Friday night in Boston.

The Celtics had their largest lead of 18 points in the first half and led 68-56 at halftime. However, in the third quarter, the Warriors went on a 25-10 run to take their first lead since the first quarter as Steph Curry(15) and Klay Thompson(10) combined for 25 points in the quarter, but things fell apart for the Warriors in the fourth.

The Warriors were outscored 23-11 in the fourth as they shot 33% from the floor and 1/9 from downtown. The Celtics went on a 17-7 run to take a 14-point lead, taking complete control from there.

Curry, who had a game-high 31 points, including six threes, said the first quarter, where the Warriors trailed 33-22 after one, and the first few minutes of the fourth sunk the Warriors.

“That first two or three minutes kind of set the tone for the rest of the fourth and gave them a little bit of a cushion,” Curry said. “We had a hard time responding after that. So between the first three minutes of the fourth and the first 12 minutes of the game, that was pretty much it.”

Things went from bad to worse for the Warriors as Curry’s leg was rolled up on late in the fourth. Curry would remain in the game until he was removed along with the rest of the starters.

According to Curry, who missed 12 games in the regular season after injuring his foot against the Celtics in March, he should be fine.

“I’ll be all right,” he said. “I got caught — obviously in some pain, but I’ll be all right. See how it feels tomorrow and get ready for Friday…

“Same thing I did in Denver — or against Boston in the regular season, but I’ll be — not as bad.”

If the Warriors don’t have Curry, they won’t win this series. It’s that simple. Hopefully, for the Warriors, the NBA, and the fans, Curry will be ready to go in Game 4.

Notes:

Draymond Green, who was public enemy number one in Boston, was not very good Wednesday night as he had two points, four rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes of action. Green would foul out in the fourth.

According to StatMuse, Green has as many fouls as points, more techs than threes, and more turnovers than baskets.

When asked how he played in Game 3, Green said: “Like sh**.”

Tatum and Brown are perfect together

Earlier in the season, when the Bostons Celtics were floundering, many were calling for the team to trade either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown.

After a loss to the Bulls in November, Marcus Smart called out Tatum and Brown and said the following:

“Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen,” Smart said. “I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball.”

On Wednesday, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka discussed that moment during NBA Finals media availability.

“The thing about the Chicago game was that nothing said publicly had not been said privately,” Udoka said. “Although it may rub people wrong because it was said publicly, that was something we were working on behind the scenes every day, film session, one-on-one sessions. We all understood the areas we need to improve. That was what it was, and we moved past that pretty quickly.”

That moment changed things for the Celtics.

As the season progressed, Tatum and Brown figured it out, and after falling to 18-21 in January, Boston went 33-10 over the final 43 games.

Brown became a first-time All-Star, and Tatum was first-team All-NBA for the first time in his career.

The duo had big moments together in the regular and the playoffs. In April, Tatum had 31 points and six assists, while Brown added 32 points and seven assists in the 128-123 victory over the Pacers. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time since Game 2 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Semifinals that two Celtics had recorded 30 points and five assists in the same game.

Tatum and Brown are averaging at least 20 points per game during the 2022 playoffs. According to StatMuse, they are the third pair of teammates aged 25 or younger to reach the NBA Finals, with each player averaging 20 or more points per game.

Both Tatum and Brown discussed the struggles.

“Were there like moments that were tough? It was just like, you know, it was very frustrating,” Tatum said. “You know, head-scratching and all those type of things. It was more so, how can we figure it out? It wasn’t, like man, we can’t do this. It was; we got to figure something else out. It was tough. There were definitely some tough moments…

“Beginning of this year, every game was like, I don’t know if we’re going to win. It was a lot tougher than it should be, and that’s something I wasn’t used to.”

Brown added: “Last year, obviously things didn’t work out, etc., for other reasons, but this year, I didn’t feel like it was because of the way we played basketball. I just think they didn’t come together at the right time. Early on in the season, I was injured. I missed about 15 games. You know, the narrative isn’t going to say that. They are just going to say that you guys lost. Doesn’t matter what the excuse is. We’ve got a first-year head coach. We were trying to figure it out. We play in a city that it has no patience for any excuses, so we didn’t make any. But as things started to come together, we got healthier. We made a couple moves in the front office that were vital for us, and things started to fall in line.”

If the Smart moment doesn’t happen, who knows if Boston would be in the Finals at this point? But one thing is for sure, the Celtics have figured it out and are four wins away from winning an NBA title.

Prediction:

This is a tough series to call. Both teams are defending at a high level, and both teams are getting production from multiple players. The Warriors have the experience as this is the sixth time they have been to the Finals in the last eight years, while no one on the Celtics has been on this stage before. 

However, it might come down to who has the best player, and you can argue that Tatum has been one of the best players in these playoffs, and Brown has not been too far behind. In addition, Boston has been battled-tested in these playoffs as they won two Game 7s. One on the road and one at home. 

The Warriors do have something to prove as they want to show that the duo of Curry, Thompson, and Green can another title without Kevin Durant.

Here’s a shot in the dark: Warriors in 7, but Boston in 7 would not be surprising.

Adebayo, Tucker carry Heat to win in Game 3

In the second half of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Boston Celtics., the Miami Heat were without their best player in the playoffs and their best player in this series, Jimmy Butler(knee inflammation), and they were missing Tyler Herro(groin), who sat out the final eight minutes of the fourth.

However, Bam Adebayo scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half, and P.J. Tucker had nine of his 17 points in the second half as the Heat held on to beat the Celtics 109-103 at TD Garden Saturday night.

Miami leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Boston.

Miami led from start to finish and led by as many as 26 points in the first half, but Jaylen Brown came alive in the second half as he had 25 of his 40 points in the second half, including 14 points in the fourth. Boston cut the lead to 93-92 with under three minutes left, but Max Strus would connect on a three; Adebayo hit a jump hook as the Heat went on a 16-8 run to close the game.

Miami came out with renewed purpose on Saturday night after getting routed by Boston in Game 2. 

“Well, as everybody knows, in the previous game, they beat us like we stole something,” Adebayo said after the win.”That should wake anybody up, getting beat like that at home. From my point of view, that says it all.”

The Heat got it done, but concern has to shift to Butler and Herro. They were able to weather the storm without both players in Game 3, but if these two are out for an extended period, Miami will have to figure some things out going forward. 

“That’s the part that sucks about the game, the injuries, and you know, this is tough,” Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points after missing the first two games of this series, said. “Jimmy is a warrior. Tyler is a warrior. But we have to continue to stay focused on what we did as a group tonight, and hopefully, those guys will be back and ready to go next game.”

Everybody is battling something at this point of an NBA season, and it could come down to which team is the healthiest. Boston was without Marcus Smart and Al Horford in Game 1, and Jayson Tatum left but returned in the fourth after injuring his shoulder.  

It appears we will have a long series; we’ll see who is the last team standing. 

Cavs’ Garland: ‘It’s next-man-up mentality’

Health and safety protocols have been the talk of the sports world right now, and it has impacted the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Wednesday against the Celtics, Cleveland had seven players out due to health and protocols, including three starters, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Isaac Okoro.

However, just like they always do, the Cavaliers fought, but they were outmanned and outgunned by the Celtics, and they fell 111-101 at TD Garden.

Boston led by five after one and took a 63-48 lead at halftime. The Celtics took their largest lead of 23 points in the third, but Cleveland went on a 14-1 run to cut the lead to 10 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

With the loss, Cleveland’s(19-13) six-game winning streak is over, while Boston(16-16) moved to .500.

Here is the Great, the Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Boston.

The Great for the Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 28 points and six assists. He also had three steals. Coming into this game, Garland led the league in plus/minus, and while this is not a great thing, he was a team-best -6 Wednesday night.

-Kevin Love had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Love has scored in double figures in eight straight games, and he has been in double figures 10 out of the last 11. 

-Tacko Fall, yes, Tacko Fall. He got his first NBA start in the city where it all began for him. Fall was originally signed by the Celtics after going undrafted and spent two seasons in Boston. On Wednesday, Fall had four points, 10 rebounds, and blocked two shots in 19 minutes of action. 

The Not so Great for the Cleveland Cavaliers:

Three-point shooting: Cleveland was 9/38 from downtown. Lauri Markkanen was 0/5, Love was 1/5, and Cedi Osman was 1/5 from deep.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 16 turnovers, which led to 19 Boston points. Turnovers are expected when you are trying to integrate new players. However, this has been an ongoing issue as they are 26th in turnovers per game(14.6).

-Lauri Markkanen struggled with his shot as he was 2/12 from the field, including 0/5 from deep. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds.

-Ricky Rubio, who got the start for Okoro, also was 2/12 from the field and 1/5 from downtown. He had a game-worst -20 rating.  Rubio had eight points, six assists, and three steals.

Bottom Line:

Boston had their two best players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, so they had a clear advantage Wednesday night. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league has no plans to press the pause button on the season, but should they? Around the league, stars are missing games, and we are seeing a lot of G League talent on NBA basketball courts, and while it’s a great thing for those players, it’s probably not good for the product on the court. 

“It’s next-man-up mentality,” Garland said postgame.

What’s Next:

Cleveland will have a few days off as they return to the court Sunday at home against Toronto.

Best of the Rest:

Four out of Boston’s five starters scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown’s 34 points and six rebounds. Robert Williams III added 21 points and a team-high 11 rebounds,  a game-high seven assists, and two blocks, and Jayson Tatum chipped in with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. 

40-year-old Joe Johnson, who signed a 10-day contract with Boston, made his debut late in the fourth and scored two points.

-Osman added 13 points off the bench for Cleveland.

Watch below as Fall and Garland react to the loss to Boston:

Cavs’ Rubio on injuries: ‘We can’t be complaining about this guy being out or that guy’

Beating a team twice in a two-game set is very difficult, and it becomes even harder when you are down many of your key players. That is what the Cavaliers had to do on Monday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as they concluded their two-game set against the Boston Celtics. 

Coming into this game, Cleveland had won two straight and six of their last seven.

Cleveland, who overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Celtics on Saturday night, was already missing Lauri Markkanen(Return To Competition Reconditioning), Kevin Love(Return To Competition Reconditioning), Collin Sexton(knee), Lamar Stevens(Ankle), and Jarrett Allen(Illness). They would also lose rookie Evan Mobley(elbow) early in the fourth. 

The Cavaliers(9-6) trailed by as much as nine points in the fourth and got within one late in the game, but Boston’s Dennis Schroder hit two big shots and stretched the Celtics lead to five, and Cleveland would fall to Boston(7-7) 98-92.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottomline of the Cavs’ loss to Boston:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cedi Osman scored 12 of his 26 points, including four of his game-high six threes in the fourth. He also dished out five assists off the Cavaliers’ bench. The five-year veteran is giving the Cavs great minutes off the bench this season, and he is shooting a career-high 42% from three-point range. 

-Ricky Rubio scored 26 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including 14 in the third quarter. Rubio got the start for Cleveland. He also added six rebounds and two assists on Monday. He, like Osman, kept the Cavs in this game, and was making array of shots off the dribble.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley: Mama said there would be days like this, and Mobley, who started at center for the injured Allen, had an off day for the Cavs. He was 0/11 from the floor and scored only two points, but he did have nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Mobley will learn from this one as Boston’s Al Horford defended him very well. 

On Tuesday, the Cavs announced that Mobley would be out 2-4 weeks after an MRI confirmed that he had a sprained right elbow. According to the team, Mobley will now undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation.

Shooting: Cleveland shot 38.6% from the field on Monday night, but they did shoot 40% from downtown, so it wasn’t all bad. 

Bottom Line:

Both teams were playing their third game in four nights on Monday, and it showed.

Cleveland would’ve had to play better than they did on Saturday night to get this one, and without their key players, including Mobley, defeating Boston was going to be tough.

Mobley going down is a significant loss for the Cavaliers. He was playing so well. Hopefully, they can get Markkanen and Love back soon. Cleveland battled injuries all last season and is struggling with injuries now, but this is a resilient bunch, so expect this team to fight. 

“Hopefully, the guys who are out get healthy and recover fast,” Rubio said postgame. “We are who we are. Tonight, nine players played. If we have to play with five players we will. We can’t be complaining about this guy being out or that guy. At the end of the day, everybody goes through a lot of stuff.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland, who went 2-2 on their four-game homestand, goes to Brooklyn to battle the Nets before returning home for another four-game homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Darius Garland had 17 points, including three threes on Monday night; Isaac Okoro had a bounce-back performance for Cleveland as he had 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists. On Saturday, Okoro was 0/7 and finished with two points.

-Boston’s Jayson Tatum scored 23 points, and in his return from a back injury, Horford added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Watch below as Osman and Rubio react to Cleveland’s loss to Boston:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Boston: ‘There is no basketball reason why we should have won’

With 3:06 left in the third quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed the Boston Celtics 72-53. However, Cleveland outscored Boston 38-17 the rest of the way and would defeat Boston 91-89 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Saturday night.

After losing to Washington on Wednesday night, Cleveland(9-5) has now won two straight. Boston’s(6-7) two-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday night.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of Cleveland’s big win over Boston.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley has been exceptional in the first 14 games of his career, and after a slow start, he was outstanding on Saturday night. Mobley scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth. He added nine rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. He made big shots down the stretch and made great plays on defense, including this block on Jayson Tatum.

In addition, according to the Cavs, Mobley became the fastest player in team history to reach 200 points and 100 rebounds.

-Darius Garland led the Cavs with a season-high 22 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds. Garland also hit the game-winning free throws after he was fouled by Marcus Smart on his drive to the basket with 09.4 seconds left. It was Garland’s second straight game with 20-plus points and six-plus assists.

-Cedi Osman brought energy and effort off the bench against Boston. He scored all nine of his points in the fourth. Osman, who played the whole fourth quarter, also had three rebounds, two steals, and a block in the final period. 

-Ricky Rubio also was big-time off the Cavs’ bench. He did not shoot it that well from the field(4/17 FG), but he did score four of his 16 points and had five of his seven assists in the final quarter, including a beautiful lob pass to Jarrett Allen to give the Cavs an 89-87 lead with 35.4 seconds left in the game. Rubio also added five rebounds.

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed by as many as 19 in the third but cut it to 12, heading into the fourth. The Cavs went on an 11-0 run to start the final period to cut the lead to one. Led by the lineup of Mobley, Rubio, Osman, Denzel Valentine, and Dylan Windler, Cleveland scrapped, clawed and got back into the game. Ultimately, Garland and Allen returned to put the Cavs over the top. The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 25-15 in the final period, and Boston shot only 30%  from the field.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

The First Three Quarters: Boston held the Cavaliers to only nine points in the first quarter on 15% shooting from the field and six turnovers, which led to 11 Celtic points. The second quarter was a little better for Cleveland, but they trailed 52-38 at halftime. The Cavs did outscore the Celtics by two in the third, but they were down as many as 19 that quarter. 

-Isaac Okoro was 0/7 from the field and finished with two points in 18 minutes of action.

Bottom Line:

What an amazing comeback by the never-say-die Cavaliers. They definitely should have lost this game, but they found a way, and it appears this team has the heart, the scrap, and the toughness to keep finding a way.

“There is no basketball reason why we should have won, but there was a collective spirit,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame.

What’s Next:

Cleveland battles the Celtics again at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night as they conclude their four-game homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Boston’s Dennis Schroder had a game-high 28 points; Jayson Tatum had 21 points, and Robert Williams added 12 points, a game-high 16 rebounds, and three blocks.

-Jarrett Allen chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers.

-Both teams were missing key pieces as Boston was without Jaylen Brown(hamstring), Al Horford(back), and Josh Richardson(knee). Cleveland was still without Kevin Love(Reconditioning) and Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), and they were missing reserve Lamar Stevens.

Watch below as Garland, Mobley, and Osman react to Cleveland’s big win over Boston:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton: ‘There’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight’

He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.

However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime. 

Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn. 

“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight… 

“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”

Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.” 

Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.

“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”

Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.

“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”

Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

 

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan on Celtics’ Horford: ‘He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success'(Video)

When the season ended for the Boston Celtics, many believed that Kyrie Irving had played his last game with the team. Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent, had reportedly been unhappy in Boston for most of the season, so him wanting out of Boston is not that much of a surprise. However, what surprised many was the report that Al Horford, who has a player option for next season, may opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Horford is scheduled to make $30.1 million in 2019-20.

While the 33-year-old Horford may opt out of his contract, reports are that he and the Celtics could come together on a multi-year deal. However, Horford should garner a lot of interest on the open market, and according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, Horford could be harder to replace than Irving.

“I think he’s(Kyrie Irving) going to move on. I think the Celtics have known that he’s going to move on for quite a while,” Elhassan recently told Paul Gant. “I don’t think that was as unexpected to them as the Al Horford stuff. That’s the kick in the gut for them because you are talking about a guy who they thought they could lock in at a lower number for a few more years. Now, it looks like he’s looking to leave. He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success there. Defensively, he has been their best player, and offensively, such a high IQ player. To lose him, I think that would be difficult to replace piece for the Celtics.”

Horford, with his versatility, would be harder to replace, and losing him would hurt the team. Therefore, it’s imperative that Boston does whatever it can to keep him around.

Listen below as Elhassan talks Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, Warriors, and more:

Stephen A. Smith believes Kyrie Irving should test free agency(VIDEO)

The Boston Celtics are one of the favorites in Eastern Conference, especially with the return of their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With LeBron James out of the East, and if Boston stays healthy, there is a good shot they get to the NBA Finals.

Arguably, the Celtics best player is Irving, and the five-time All-Star can become a free agent at the end of the season, but the 26-year-old Irving recently told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he wants to stay in Boston.

However, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, even though Irving is happy in Boston, he should still test free agency.

Listen below:

Last season, Irving missed the playoffs due to a knee injury.

It would not hurt for Irving to see what is out there, especially if he confident in his ability to stay healthy. In my opinion, he should test free agency. It’s always good to have options in life, and by becoming a free agent, Irving would have options.