Tag: EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Butler: ‘We’ll just have to close it out at home’
After three games in the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat led the series 3-0 and were on the verge of what appeared to be a sweep. However, the Celtics fought back in the second half of Game 4 in Miami and kept the series alive.
On Thursday night in Game 5 in Boston, the Celtics led from start to finish and defeated the Heat 110-97.
Boston, who led by as many as 24 points, had four players score at least 20 or more. Derrick White led the way with 24 points, Marcus Smart had 23, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown added 21 points a piece.
The series shifts back to Miami for Game 6 on Saturday, and Jimmy Butler, who had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, believes the Heat will end the series in Miami.
“We’ve just got to play better,” Butler said. “Start the game off better on the starters; make it more difficult for them. They are in a rhythm since the beginning of the game. But we are always going to stay positive, knowing that we can, and we will win this series. We’ll just have to close it out at home.”
Butler explained why he has so much confidence.
“Because the last two games are not who we are,” he said. “It just happened to be that way. We stopped playing defense halfway because we didn’t make shots that we want to make. But that’s easily correctable. You just have to come out and play harder from the jump. Like I always say, it’s going to be all smiles, and we are going to keep it very, very, very consistent, knowing that we are going to win next game.”
On paper, the Celtics are the better team. In the first two games, the Celtics were close but could not close it out. In Game 3, Boston was terrible, and now they may have righted the ship.
We’ll see what happens in Game 6.
Celtics’ Brown on Game 4: ‘We didn’t want to come out and lay an egg’
The Boston Celtics have lived to see another day after defeating the Miami Heat 116-99 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Celtics avoid the sweep and trail the Heat 3-1. Game 5 is Thursday night back in Boston.
Jaylen Brown, who had 17 points, said the team wanted to show some pride in Game 4, and he credited the leadership of Marcus Smart.
“We didn’t want to come out and lay an egg,” Brown said. “We wanted to come out and play together, wanted to come out and trust each other, come out and play some defense, have some pride about yourself, and find a way to win a game. We’re all more than capable of doing it. So, tonight we got it done. Smart was in my ear, letting me know where the game is at. Just keep being aggressive; keep making the right plays.
“It ain’t always got to be you putting the ball in the basket; that helped us win tonight. So just continue to make the right plays, and the game will open up for you, and that’s what Smart does is just being a leader, be vocal, and we found a way to win.”
Smart, who had 11 points, says Boston has to take it one game at a time.
“Now we’ve just got to go win another one,” he said. “That’s all that matters. We take it one game at a time. We understand the odds are stacked against us, but we’re a team that believes in us no matter what, and we’ve just got to keep going, and all that matters is the next game.”
Boston does not win Game 4 without the play of Jayson Tatum. The four-time All-Star scored 25 of his 33 points in the second half. In addition, he added 11 rebounds and seven assists. Like Smart, he’s just taking it one game at a time.
“We just tried to take it one game at a time,” Tatum said. “We tried to break it down. We didn’t play well the first three games, we didn’t deserve to win, but we didn’t want that to define us, define the season. We’ve still got a long uphill battle to go. But tonight was a good start. Just to try to carry this momentum towards Thursday.”
If Boston can win Game 5, this series becomes interesting. The Celtics are a tough-minded and resilient bunch; they don’t give up or give in very easily.
Can they be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit?
They have a shot because they have homecourt advantage, so if the Celtics can somehow get the series back to Boston for a Game 7, anything is possible, but, as they said, the Celtics have to take it one game at a time.
Horford on Butler’s shot: ‘It was nerve-racking’
After falling in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at home, the Boston Celtics knew they would have to come up big if they wanted to defeat the Miami Heat in Game 7 Sunday night.
Boston never trailed in Game 7 as Jayson Tatum had 26 points and 10 rebounds; Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown added 24 points apiece as the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals to face the Golden State Warriors after defeating the Heat 100-96 at FTX Arena.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Thursday night at Chase Center.
With the win, Boston returns to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
“It’s the biggest game of the season, of my career, and I just had faith that we were going to give it all we had, regardless of the outcome,” Tatum, who was named Eastern Conference finals MVP, said after the win. “But it feels great, honestly. Some of those guys been to the Eastern Conference Finals four times; it’s my third time. Obviously, we know we want to win a championship, right, but to get over this hump in the fashion that we did it, obviously, we took the toughest route possible, and then to win a Game 7 to go to a championship on the road is special.”
Boston had its largest lead of 17 points in the second quarter and led 98-85 with 3:35 left in the fourth. However, Miami went on a furious 11-0 run to cut the lead to 98-96 with just under 20 second to go with the ball in the hands of their best player, Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 35 points and had Al Horford on his heels.
However, Butler pulled up for three, which was short, and Smart hit two free throws to seal the game. Butler appeared to have had the advantage and probably could have gotten a layup or fouled, but he went for the win, which he was comfortable with after the game.
“My thought process was go for the win, which I did,” he said. “Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”
According Horford, who will be making his first NBA Finals appearance after 141 career playoff games, the most in league history, Butler’s shot was nerve-racking.
“Yeah, I was loaded,” he said. “I didn’t know what he was going to do. It seemed like he was going to go for the shot, but I had to make sure that I stayed solid and when he pulled up for the three, I was like, let me contest the best way that I can. He got a good look at it, and it was nerve-racking. It was nerve-racking. He pulled up, and anything could have happened there. He could have made the shot and fortunately contested it enough, and he missed it, and we were able to get control of the ball.”
Boston’s Brown had this reaction to Butler’s shot: “I didn’t want to give up an offensive rebound, but when he shot that, I was like, man, what the hell. But he missed, we get the rebound, we move on.”
The Celtics made a lot of changes last offseason. Their former head coach Brad Stevens replaced Danny Ainge in the front office, and they hired Ime Udoka as head coach.
It wasn’t all pretty for Boston as they got off to a slow start this season, and at one point were 18-21 on January 6, but through it all, they battled, fought, and now they’re in the NBA Finals.
For Udoka, who became the first rookie head coach to win multiple Game 7s in NBA history, this win epitomized Boston’s season.
“It’s been a long road obviously throughout the season,” Udoka said. “Feels like it was always meant to be this way, difficult, obviously, two Game 7s in the last two series, and shows what I said about our group, that we fought through a lot of adversity this year, a resilient group, and tonight seemed to kind of typify our season.”
The Celtics split the season series with the Warriors, but that means nothing. Both teams are playing well, and both teams have found ways to get the job done. The Warriors have the experience as no player on Boston’s roster has played in an NBA Finals’ game, but Boston has defied the odds all season long, and we’ll see if that continues in the Finals.
Celts’ Udoka on Smart: ‘As always, he sets the tone’
In the Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics jumped out early on the Heat and led by as many as 13 in the first half, and had a 62-54 lead at halftime.
However, Miami would explode in the third quarter and cruised from there to win Game 1.
In Game 2, Boston jumped out early on Miami, and this time, they kept the lead for good.
The Celtics led by as many as 29 points in the first half and had their largest lead of 34 points in the third as they routed the Head 127-102 Thursday night at FTX Arena to tie series at 1.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.
Also, in Game 2, Boston got back two starters who missed Game 1 in Marcus Smart(foot) and Al Horford(health & safety protocols).
Smart had a near triple-double with 24 points(8/22 FG), nine rebounds, and 12 assists, and Al Horford added 10 points.
According to StatMuse, the Celtics are 4-0 when Marcus Smart scores 20-plus points these playoffs, and they are 6-0 when he takes 12-plus shots.
“We just wanted to come in and be the harder-playing team tonight, and we did that,” Smart said after the win.
According to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Smart, who is the Defensive Player of the Year, always sets the tone, and he set the tone Thursday night.
“Yeah, as always, he sets the tone,” Udoka said about Smart. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at Butler, Adebayo, some of those guys and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line, and adding Al back there, as well, is another versatile guy. Wasn’t surprising to see how well we guarded with our guys back.”
Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 27 points, was happy with the team’s response in Game 2.
“I think we just had a better presence about ourselves,” Tatum said. “They kicked our butt last night, and we just wanted to respond and play better on both ends of the floor, and I think we did that.”
The Celtics got the response they needed in Game 2, and more importantly, they stole home-court advantage. Now, as they return to Boston, the Celtics have the momentum on their side, and they’re hoping to take that momentum into Game 3.
Hawks’ Young suffers bone bruise in right foot, questionable for Game 4
Hawks’ Trae Young was given an MRI on Monday, which revealed a bone bruise to his right foot, the team announced on Monday. He will be listed as questionable for tomorrow’s Eastern Conference finals Game 4 against the Bucks.
Young, who had 35 points and four assists on Sunday night, left Game 3 late in the third quarter after he stepped on referee Sean Wright’s foot.
The Hawks’ star was able to return in the fourth quarter, but he was clearly bothered by the injury.
The Bucks lead the series 2-1.
Bucks shutdown Young, defeat Hawks in Game 2
The Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Atlanta Hawks from start to finish in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. Milwaukee, who never trailed in this game, led by as many as 41 points and would defeat Atlanta 125-91 at Fiserv Forum on Friday night to tie the series at 1.
Milwaukee took complete control of this game in the second quarter. The Bucks shot 78% from the field in the quarter and outscored the Hawks 43-17.
Jrue Holiday had 14 of his 22 points in the second. The Bucks would go on a 20-0 run in the quarter and led 77-45 at halftime. In the words of the great Marv Albert, it was extended garbage time from there, especially in the fourth quarter when both teams’ starters were on the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. After losing Game 1, the two-time MVP knew Milwaukee needed to get Game 2.
“I think everybody is on the same page,” Antetokounmpo said postgame. “We know what we’ve got to do. And everybody knew that we’ve got to come in here and get this game.”
Khris Middleton, who had 15 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds on Friday night, felt Milwaukee needed to be more physical in Game 2.
“So tonight, we wanted to set the tone,” he said. “Just make sure they weren’t going to be comfortable. We wanted to be physical with them, do it without fouling, of course; that was just the main message tonight; the aggressiveness that we didn’t have from Game 1 needs to be here in Game 2.”
Trae Young had 48 points and 11 assists in the Hawks’ Game 1 victory, but Game 2 was a different story. Young struggled with his shot(6-16) and finished with 15 points, six assists, and nine turnovers. Holiday, with assistance from Brook Lopez on the pick-and-rolls, limited Young.
“I think just mix it up, make it difficult for him,” Holiday said about Young. “Not get too many easy looks. Last game, he was living in the paint. Had a lot of floaters. Was pretty much there for him. We didn’t really want to get him started early, and I don’t think he went to the free-throw line much tonight, which is also pretty big for us.”
Young felt the officials allowed the Bucks to be more physical with him in Game 2.
They didn’t do anything too much different,” Young said. “They just played more aggressive. It was just more aggressive, and Scott (Foster) and them allowed more to go tonight. Just got to be better and be able to respond a lot better.”
The NBA is a game of adjustments, and the Bucks adjusted and played better on Friday night. Now, the series shifts to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4. We’ll see what adjustments both teams make at State Farm Arena. Game 3 is on Sunday night.
Twitter reaction to the “Blowout in Boston”
It was not very close, and at this point, this series has not been close. Cavs win game 2 130-86. Cleveland leads the series 2-0. A sweep seems inevitable!
Here is how Twitter reacted:
Can't believe I'm saying this but this embarrassment is actually making me miss Paul "Don't Blame Me" George and the Indiana Pacers.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 20, 2017
This is just a disgrace. I'm not even speaking against @celtics. But if you're the @nba how can you be okay with this?#Massacre
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 20, 2017
Hang in, Celtics threatening to cut it to…40.
— Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) May 20, 2017
Shaq is the Cavs
Dude in the white shirt is the Celtics pic.twitter.com/sP3GvVaZex
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 20, 2017
George, Butler or Hayward aren't going to make a 40+ pt. difference if Celtics & Cavs meet in finals next year. Not worth trading the pick.
— Kristine Leahy (@KristineLeahy) May 20, 2017
The @cavs set a new #NBAPlayoffs franchise record for points in a Game Two win over the Celtics! pic.twitter.com/DJGXwPDE9Z
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 20, 2017
Can we take Bradley Beal at his word and just sub out the next two Eastern Conference finals games, Wizards for Celtics!
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) May 20, 2017
Me: The Celtics will win two games
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) May 20, 2017
The Celtics are the first team ever to tank AFTER winning the lottery.
— Michael Rosenberg (@Rosenberg_Mike) May 20, 2017
Celtics advance to ECF; NBA on TNT Twitter page says so!
Spoiler alert! No need to watch Game 7 of the Wizards-Celtics tonight. According to the NBA on TNT Twitter page, the Celtics will advance and battle the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Enjoy game 7!
🤔🤔🤔 @NBAonTNT, you guys trying to tell us something with this header? pic.twitter.com/C53chOTkJ8
— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) May 15, 2017