Celtics look to improve individual defense for Game 3

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Celtics look to improve individual defense for Game 3

In preparation for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Boston Celtics will watch game film for each shot they missed. They will also look over every shot they gave up to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics system is rooted in defense. Even when struggling with their own offense, they have been able to clamp down on D and keep their opponents from scoring.

After their 82-81 loss to the 76ers in Game 2, they are looking to get back to that fundamental approach as they head to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.

Its just about individual defense at that point, said Paul Pierce. Thats it. I dont think it was really the plays. Its about us manning up at the end and taking the challenge.

Pierce further explained, Individual defense. It wasnt anything special they were running. They were setting picks, getting to the point where they get their guys in isolation, so its up to us to be able to play great individual defense toward the end.

The Celtics fought back from a 57-49 third quarter deficit to tie the game, 65-65, with 4:33 left. But even though they outscored the 76ers, 32-25, in the fourth quarter, the visiting team scored six straight points in the final minute to go up 80-75 with 8.5 seconds remaining, enough to hold on for the 82-81 win.

I thought the third quarter really hurt us when we couldnt score but our defense wasnt there, said Pierce. They were taking a nine-, ten-point lead and its hard when youre trying to fight back. We got the lead and we just didnt get the stop we needed down the stretch.

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett echoed Pierces sentiments of buckling down on D. While the Celtics will look to execute their own offense late in the game, it will be a priority to stop the 76ers from doing the same.

We have to play better individual one-on-one defense, Rondo said. I have to guard the ball better, keep the ball out of the paint.

Added Garnett, Defensively, we have to be a lot more sound on the ball. A lot of missed assignments tonight. Theyre a good team, too. They made some adjustments tonight, shot the ball better, attacked the basket.

Garnett said the Celtics are better than how they performed in Game 2. Looking ahead to Wednesdays Game 3 in Philadelphia, they are determined to prove it.

Well watch film Tuesday and get better, he said.

Brad Stevens podcast: "Only goal around here is a championship"

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Brad Stevens podcast: "Only goal around here is a championship"

Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine talk with Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens at Celtics Media Day about raised expectations for the upcoming season, how Al Horford will fit, can Isaiah Thomas build off an All-Star season, and how high are his goals. 

Plus, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss whether or not some critiscism could come Stevens' way if the Celtics doesn't perform well in the playoffs.

MORE PODCAST Isaiah Thomas: ‘Just getting to the playoffs in Boston isn’t good enough’

SUBSCRIBE Audioboom | iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher

C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

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C's players mull how to utilize platform as athletes for social commentary

WALTHAM -- The national anthem protests by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have had an undeniable ripple effect on professional sports teams across the country. And that includes the Boston Celtics.
 
“We as an organization know what’s going on,” said Marcus Smart. “We read and see and hear about it every day. It’s a sensitive subject for everybody.”
 
While it’s unlikely that Celtics players will do something similar to Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, there’s no question some are figuring out the best way to utilize their platform as athletes to express their views on current social issues.
 
“Us athletes have to take advantage of the stage we’re on,” said Jae Crowder. “Try to make a positive out it. You can’t fix negative problems with negative energy. I don’t want to do anything negative; I want to do something positive, shed light on the situation.”
 
Kaepernick, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, and a number of professional athletes have tried to have more attention paid to recent killings of African-Americans by police officers where, based on the video footage, it appears excessive or unnecessary force was used.
 
It is a topic that has brought a wide range of responses from many in the sports world, including the dean of NBA coaches, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich.
 
During the Spurs’ media day this week, he was asked about the Kaepernick’s protests.
 
“I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” Popovich told reporters. “The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it.”
 
As examples of the political pressure he was referring to, Popovich mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to galvanize group, as well as the NBA and other organizations pulling their events out of the state of North Carolina because of its legislation as it relates to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
 
“The important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is keep it in the conversation,” Popovich said.
 
And while there may be differing opinions as to whether Kaepernick or any other athlete should be protesting, the one common thread that seems to bind the Celtics players and the front office is them having the right to speak out not only as professional athletes, but Americans.
 
“The biggest thing is we all really value the freedoms that we have and that we’ve been allotted,” said coach Brad Stevens, who added that he has had individual discussions with players on this subject. “We certainly support an individual’s freedoms. It’s been great to engage in those discussions. It’s been really fun for me how excited our guys are about using their platform.”
 
And that more than anything else is why Crowder feels the Celtics have to have a united front as far as the message they present to the masses.
 
“If we want change we have to do it together,” Crowder said. “I feel like those guys (other athletes) used their platforms well. I think more athletes should do the same. You can’t do it with any hatred; you can’t do it with any negative. You have to do it with positive energy.”