Celtics squeak out win over Warriors, 105-103

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Celtics squeak out win over Warriors, 105-103

OAKLAND, Calif. The Boston Celtics know all too well just how dangerous an undermanned team can be.

On most nights, it's a role that they find themselves.

But with the Golden State Warriors down a few bodies following their five-player trade (none of the players involved with the trade had taken their physicals yet and thus, could not play) with Milwaukee on Tuesday, they were out to prove that sometimes desperation can trump depth.

Golden State put forth a great effort, but the C's managed to squeak out a 105-103 win.

A 21-foot jumper by Kevin Garnett would prove to be the game-winner, with 5.1 seconds to play.

Boston had a strong third quarter, but their strong play gave way to a mini-surge from the Warriors in the fourth, who tied the game at 95 on a free throw by Dorell Wright with 4:21 to play.

Boston countered with baskets from Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, only to have former Celtic guard Nate Robinson make it a two-point game, 99-97.

However, a pair of free throws followed by a dunk from Bass seemingly put the C's in firm control of the game with about two minutes to play.

Not with the Celtics. Not this season.

A pair of free throws by David Lee, followed by a driving lay-up by Robinson after turnover number 18 for the C's cut Boston's lead to 103-101 with 1:01 to play.

A Paul Pierce miss gave the Warriors a chance to tie the game or take the lead.

They choose door No. 2, as Robinson strolled into the lane for a game-tying lay-up with 30 seconds to play.

Boston called another time-out, well aware that the game was slipping away from them.

In other words, it was anyone's game for the taking.

The down-to-the-wire finish was indicative of how the first two quarter of the game was played.

Both teams went back and fourth throughout most of the first half which featured 10 lead changes and nine ties before the Warriors closed out the second quarter with the final four points and led, 60-55, at the half.

The Celtics seemed to find their way in the third quarter, and leading the charge ... Greg Stiemsma.

Boston closed out the third with a 9-3 spurt, capped off by a put-back dunk by Stiemsma -- his second dunk of the game, and fourth this season -- to give Boston an 81-77 lead going into the decisive fourth quarter.

MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

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MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

Brian MacPherson calls in to Toucher & Rich to speak on the shoulder surgery Pablo Sandoval underwent, which will keep him out of use for the season.

Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

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Haggerty: Anticipate ‘great deal of player movement’

Ahead of the expansion draft, teams may look to get something in return for players they’d otherwise lose for nothing.

McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

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McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

CHICAGO -- His left shoulder surgically repaired, Pablo Sandoval is now out of sight and out of mind for the Red Sox.
     
Travis Shaw, who beat out Sandoval for the third base job in the spring, is showing that the Sox made the right move with his play at third and his strong start at the plate.
     
Shaw may not be a natural third baseman, or even an above-average one. But his range is superior to that of Sandoval and his offensive production strong.
     
The move was addition by subtraction. Disregard the salaries attached to both players: the Red Sox got better -- not worse -- when Shaw became the starter and Sandoval the stand-in.
    
But the notion that the Red Sox have arrived at some permanent solution here is a false one.
     
Yes, Sandoval will be gone from Fenway, exiled to Florida to rehab his shoulder, and perhaps, reshape his physique.
     
But he's not really disappearing. He'll just be in hiding for a few months. And when spring training begins next February, Sandoval will be a problem all over again for the Red Sox.
     
This surgery -- beyond repairing Sandoval's mysteriously injured shoulder - can be seen as kicking the can down the road. Sandoval's not really going away.
     
When 2017 begins, the Red Sox will still owe him $58 million over the next three seasons ($17 million in 2017, $18 million each in 2018 and 2019 and a $5 million option buyout for 2020).
     
For that, the Red Sox will get a player coming off major surgery who's performance has been in decline for several seasons, who can play only one position, and despite nominally being a switch-hitter, can actually only hit lefthanded.
     
What a treasure.
     
Trimming one year of salary off the $95 million mega deal signed by Sandoval helps some, but it's really only a small step. There's still a lot of money owed to a player who will soon turn 30.
     
In the unlikely event that a player with that profile could interest another team, Sandoval will start have to prove that he's healthy next spring. No team is going to take on even a portion of that contract without having it demonstrated that Sandoval's shoulder is in working condition.
     
Could Sandoval then be pawned off elsewhere? Perhaps. But it will require the Red Sox to subsidize a significant portion of that contract to faciliate a trade.
     
Whatever that price may be -- half of the reminaining money? - the Red Sox should pay it. It's clear that Sandoval won't ever be a contrbuting player in Boston.
     
The Red Sox have Shaw, just 25, as their third baseman of the present and future. They have Hanley Ramirez to either handle first base or slide into the DH vacancy to be created by David Ortiz's retirement.
     
If the Sox want Ramirez to remain at first, they could seek a veteran slugger like Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to fill the DH job.
     
Or, they could have Ramirez move to DH and promote Sam Travis to be their first baseman.
     
Whatever plan they select, there's no role for Sandoval beyond "aging, overpaid, limited role player.''
     
That's not in anyone's best interest. So until the Red Sox find a more permanent solution, don't be fooled: Sandoval remains a burden - financially and otherwise -- who will, eventually, end up elsewhere.