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. 

Cavs Allen on win over Heat: ‘We went out there and threw the first punch, and we took it home’

This is a week of milestones for the Cavs. They beat the Mavericks in Dallas for the first time since 2017, and on Wednesday, Cleveland defeated the Heat in Miami for the first time since 2010 as the Cavs routed Miami 111-85.

Before Wednesday’s win, Cleveland had a 20-game losing streak in Miami.

Cleveland had six players in double-figures, and just like they did against Dallas, led Miami(13-9) by as much as 31 points. 

Miami was without Jimmy Butler(tail bone contusion) and Bam Adebayo(thumb).

After losing five consecutive games, the Cavs(12-10) have won three straight. 

The Great for the Cavaliers:

First Quarter:  Cleveland got out early on Miami. The Cavaliers shot 65% from the field, including five threes. The Cavs forced seven turnovers, and they also had five blocks. Allen had three, and Mobley two. In addition, they held the Heat to 28% shooting from the floor and 1/9 from downtown. Ultimately, the Cavs had a 31-16 lead after one.

Second Quarter Kevin Love: Love was 3/3 from the field, all threes, and scored 11 of his 17 first- half points in the second quarter off Cleveland’s bench. He finished with a season and game-high 22 points, including six threes, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Third Quarter Evan Mobley: After a scoreless first half, the rookie scored 15 (two threes) of his 17 points and grabbed four of his 11 rebounds in the third. He also added four blocks. Cleveland took a 24-point lead into the fourth.

This was Mobley’s fifth double-double of the season.

Block Party: A block party broke out in South Beach. The Cavs had a season-high 14 blocks against Miami. Allen led the way with five blocks, and Mobley had four. According to Cavs Notes, Allen and Mobley are the first Cavs’ duo to each have four-plus blocks in a game. Cleveland held Miami to 38% shooting from the field Wednesday night. 

-Darius Garland had 16 points, including four threes and seven assists. This was his fifth straight game with 7-plus assists(tied for the longest streak in his career).

-Jarrett Allen has done it again. He had his fifth straight double-double with 19 points(7/8 FG) and 11 rebounds. Allen has been a beast this season and continues to play at a high level.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

The Cavs have to clean up the turnovers. Cleveland had 21 turnovers against Miami. They also committed 20 turnovers against the Mavericks Monday night.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland got another big road win and broke another streak along the way. It’s no coincidence that since Mobley’s return, the Cavs have gone 3-0. He’s just a winning player. Yes, Miami did not have Butler and Adebayo, but again, Cleveland had been battling injuries, too, so that’s the way it sometimes goes in the NBA.

“We all know they’re down a couple of star players, but that’s no excuse for us to go out there and be lackadaisical,” Allen said after the game. “We went out there and threw the first punch, and we took it home.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game road trip Friday night against the Wizards. The Cavs hope to finish the road trip 3-0.

Best of the Rest: 

-Miami had five players in double figures led by Tyler Herro’s 21 points.

-Cleveland shot it well from all over the floor. The Cavs shot 54% from the field, including 52% from downtown. (16-31), and 91% from the line(21/23). According to Cavs Notes, it was just the fifth time since 2000-01 the Cavs had a game with .500+ FG%, .500+ 3FG%, and .900+ FT%.

-Lamar Stevens added 12 points off the Cavs’ bench. He also chipped in with two blocks.

-Cleveland’s last three wins have been by at least 13 points or more.

-Cavs were again without Cedi Osman(back) and Dean Wade(Calf).

Listen below as Love, Allen, and Mobley react to big win over Miami:

Canelo on fight with Yidirim: ‘I know we will put on an exciting fight’

Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez will defend his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight titles against Avni Yidirim on Saturday February 27 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, live on DAZN in over 200 countries and territories (excluding Mexico) or on cable/satellite pay-per-view in the U.S. and Canada.

Canelo (54-1-2 36 KOs) cemented himself as one of the pound-for-pound fighter in the world and the top dog in the 168-pound division with a dominant win over previously unbeaten Briton Callum Smith in San Antonio, Texas in December with the WBA, vacant WBC and Ring Magazine belts on the line in front of a sold-out socially distanced crowd in the Lone Star state.

The Mexican star declared after the fight his desire to become the undisputed champion at Super-Middleweight, but before targeting the remaining belts, the four weight World ruler must deal with his dangerous WBC mandatory Yildirim at the home of the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes.

“Avni Yildirim is a good boxer and I know we will put on an exciting fight,” said Canelo. “I’m very glad that we are able to bring this event to Miami, a short distance from where my hero, Muhammad Ali, trained. February 27 will be a great night for the sport.”

Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) has been biding his time to fight for the WBC title once again, having been frustrated in his last outing when his clash for the vacant crown with Anthony Dirrell in Minnesota in February 2019, with the clash ending in a technical decision win for Dirrell after he suffered a cut over his eye.

The 29 year old challenger will be aiming to shock the world two years on from that disappointment and does so in his third fight in the States and second in Miami, having beaten the ‘Road Warrior’ Glen Johnson in August 2015, and the Turkish star returns to the Sunshine State for the biggest night of his career.

“I am honored as a mandatory to fight again for the big green belt – thank you to everyone who is involved,” said Yildirim. “I always give my all – and everybody should be ready to see a war. I am coming to make my country proud – I am representing the whole of Turkey.”

Following a great night in San Antonio, Canelo teams up with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn for a two-fight deal starting with the clash with Yildirim, and Hearn is excited to develop the relationship with Canelo and his Ring Magazine trainer of the year and manager Eddy Reynoso.

“It is an absolute honor to promote the pound-for-pound number one and I’m so excited to head to Miami and the home of the Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium,” said Hearn. “Even in a pandemic, Saúl is looking to be more active than ever and in his plan to be undisputed he must overcome his mandatory challengers to keep his belt. Yildirim is the first of those challenges who will be attempting to dethrone the king on February 27. We look forward to a huge night of boxing on DAZN and the start of a huge year for Canelo.”