Celtics dont stand up to Rockets backcourt


Celtics dont stand up to Rockets backcourt

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON -- Aaron Brooks looked up at the numbers hanging in the rafters.

Then he stared across the court at the names on his opponents jerseys.

He soaked it all in . . . and attacked.

Brooks scored 24 points on Monday night against the Boston Celtics, bringing his total at the TD Garden to 54 over the past two seasons. The offensive spark is no coincidence.

Theyve got all those numbers up in the rafters, he said. Sooner or later, theyre going to add 9, 34, 5, and 20. So I want to be able to say, Hey, those guys up there, I beat them at least once or twice.

The Rockets beat the Celtics, 108-102, extending their streak in Boston to three straight wins.

They were led by Brooks and Kyle Lowry (17 points), who teamed up to pester the Celtics with a backcourt duo that both got in the paint and found the open man on the wing.

By the end of the night, the undersized guards had made a major impact.

They always looked to attack, said Nate Robinson. As small guards, youve got to play with chips like that. Youve always got to use your ability to your advantage, and they did that.

Rather than trying to beat the Celtics with individual efforts, Brooks and Lowry played off each other and formed a two-headed monster of sorts.

Weve got two guys in their creating and shooting the ball, said Brooks. As long as Kyle can guard the two-man, that makes us really dangerous because Kyle can rebound the ball down there . . . We just wanted to get in the middle and kick it out to our shooters. I think we both did a good job of finishing in the paint so they have to respect that.

Brooks knocked down five three-pointers while Lowry shot a perfect eight-for-eight from the free-throw line. When they werent scoring, the pair was getting their teammates open looks. Lowry dished eight assists and Brooks added five.

This ball movement helped the Rockets shoot 50 percent (10-for-20) from 3-point range and score 30 points from behind the arc, including three treys by Chase Budinger. The Celtics entered the game holding their opponents to 34.4 from three-point range.

The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams out there, so youve got to pick your spots and when you get an open look, you have to take it, said Budinger, who scored 24 points (6-for-8 3PG) against the Celtics last season. You cant second-guess yourself. You cant try to create for another person because they only will give you that one opportunity when youre open. I think we did a good job of that tonight at finding our spots and everybody took spots when theyre open.

Ray Allen agreed. The Celtics defense struggled to challenge the Rockets looks at the basket.

They just moved the ball, Allen said. They moved the ball and they got to their spots. I dont think at any time we made them kind of veer off of the path that they were set. Offenses are designed to you cut here, go here, you have your shot, screen, whatever. The whole time we kind of let them go to their spots.

There are a handful of backcourt match ups dubbed as the ones to watch every season, headlined by stars like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Brooks and Lowry arent exactly at the top of the list, but after teaming up to tackle the Celtics, they showed they should have been watched more closely.

Weve got a good backcourt, Lowry told CSNNE.com. Weve got an awesome backcourt, to me. I think we have one of the top backcourts in the NBA.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

Horford admits he was 'very emotional' after 'special' win

CLEVELAND – For about 30 or so seconds following Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland, Al Horford was not Al Horford.

He’s a passionate player, but seldom is it on display in as outwardly a fashion as it was following their Game 3 victory.

In an interview with CSN’s Abby Chin after the game, Horford tried to put into words what the victory meant.

But the aggressive high-fives to teammates passing him by, the intense way he looked into the camera … that spoke volumes about what this game meant to the veteran big man.

“It’s big, it’s big!” Horford said in between high-fives with Jonas Jerebko and other Celtics who came past him.

“A lot of people doubting us out there!” Horford said, staring intently into the camera as if he was saying, ‘yeah, I’m talking about you!’”

Less than 24 hours after the game, Horford’s emotions had cooled down considerably.

“It was an emotional game,” he told CSN following a short practice at the Q Arena on Monday. “Just, having to hear … since the blowout, everybody counting us out. Everybody really believing that it was over.”

The Celtics came into Game 3 having lost both Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 57 points which includes the worst playoff loss (Game 2, 130-86) in franchise history.

So with that as the backdrop, knowing full well that no one outside of their locker room gave them an ice cube in hell’s chance at winning Game 3, the victory brought about a level of satisfaction that Celtics players had seldom experienced before if at all.

“The emotions at that time were high for our group,” Horford admitted. “And it shows what we’ve been talking about all year, a resilient group that has a lot of fight in them. We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded.”

Thomas re-aggravated a right hip injury in Game 2, and was later ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. 

After falling behind 77-56 in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the third with a 26-10 run to come within 87-82 going into the fourth quarter. During the run, Marcus Smart had 11 points which turned out to be equal to LeBron James’ scoring output … for the entire game.

This is Horford's 10th NBA season, all of which have included a trip to the postseason.

That, combined with having won a pair of national championships when he played at the University of Florida, serves as a reminder that the 30-year-old has been on the winning ledger of big games before.

But even he acknowledged Sunday’s Game 3 win was … different.

“I have had plenty of moments like this,” Horford said. “But this was definitely emotional. This was very emotional, exciting, on the road, no one really giving us any chance. To be able to come through like that, it just felt great. I’ve been part of emotional wins, but this one was a special one.”

That was evident in Horford’s energy-charged, post-game comments.

“Heart! Heart! This team got heart!” he yelled. “We got beat bad (in Game 2), but it’s all about how you rebound!”

And we get that message, loud and clear!

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”