Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

774922.jpg

Celtics facing uphill climb vs. Heat in East final

MIAMI Throughout this crazy, lockout-shortened, injury-riddled season, the Boston Celtics have shown a teflon-like ability to brush off whatever setbacks came their way and keep moving.

Through all the adversity, the Celtics still managed to win the Atlantic Division and punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in the Big Three era.

But what they're faced with now is a 2-0 series deficit to the Miami Heat heading into Game 3 on Friday, the kind of deficit that few teams ever recover from in time to win a series.

The Celtics are well aware that they will bucking historical trends if they are to somehow rally and win four against the Heat.

"We don't have no surrender or retreat in us," said Celtics guard Keyon Dooling. "We're a grind-it-out team. We're going to continue to try and come back, we're gonna fight, we're going to claw, we're going to scratch. We're going to do whatever we gotta do in order to win basketball games."

Boston delivered what may have been their best shot at a win on Sunday night, with Rajon Rondo going off for a career-high 44 points in the Game 2 loss.

The C's are bothered all the time when they lose, but having played so well for so long only to come up short, is a tough pill to swallow.

"You hold on to it for 24 hours, and then you move on," Rivers said. "We have no choice in the matter. We play at home on Friday."

For Paul Pierce, Wednesday's loss was a rare game in which he cracked the 20-point plateau against a LeBron James-led team.

"There are a few little things that we have to do better," Pierce said. "We have to understand what's beating right us right now. It's demoralizing when you play hard defense for so long, and for them to get those (hustle) plays. We have to make it a one-possession game (for them), and rebound. If we continue to play with the passion, I really like our chances."

Having seen the Celtics in the playoffs so many times, the Heat understand that while they have a firm grip on this series, it's far from over.

"They'll learn from this game and come out of it with a fresh mind knowing they have two in Boston," said Miami's Dwyane Wade. "We know we are going to get this team's best shot."

Added Heat guard James Jones: "This is a (Celtics) team that has a lot of pride. Now it's 2-0 us, but we're going into Boston which will definitely be the toughest game that we play all year."

Jerebko shoots, and shoves, and will get a chance to do both in Game 4

Jerebko shoots, and shoves, and will get a chance to do both in Game 4

CLEVELAND -- Back in 2009, a team official with the Pistons was trying to sell me on the idea that Jonas Jerebko, selected by Detroit in the second round that year with the 39th overall pick, was different. 
 
Big men from Europe back then had a reputation for being more finesse than forceful when on the floor, guys who would rather shoot than shove. 
 
“This kid, he’s different,” the official told me at the time. “He doesn’t mind mixing it up.”
 
While he is often praised for his ability to help stretch the floor with his long-range shooting, Jerebko’s desire to be physical at both ends of the floor is one of his strengths. 
 
As for those who don’t know that’s a big part of his game, Jerebko says, “They probably haven’t seen me play enough.”
 
That may change beginning with Game 4 against Cleveland. 
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson suffered a right shoulder injury after Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson appeared to have tugged on it while both were going for a rebound in Game 3. Johnson told CSN that he will meet with medical officials sometime today, and is questionable for Game 4.
 
If Johnson is unable to play, coach Brad Stevens will likely consider putting Jerebko in the starting lineup. 
 
Stevens made a similar move in the first round of the playoffs last season against the Atlanta Hawks, and the Celtics went 2-2 with Jerebko starting. 
 
 “I like to compete. I hate to lose, I love to win,” Jerebko told CSN. “So whatever it takes. If you have to play hard, you play hard. You got a lot of tough players out there. You gotta be one of them.”
 
He was just that in Game 3 as he came off the bench to score 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting display that included a go-ahead basket in the final minute of play.
 
“My job is to stay ready,” Jerebko said. “That’s all I can do; control what I can control and stay ready, be in the gym on a day like this and try to get better. Just stay in the gym and always be ready.”
 
His preparation in advance for big moments made the final minute of Game 3 just another game for him. 
 
Coming out of a time-out with 36.3 seconds to play, Avery Bradley penetrated deep into the paint, which sucked in four Cleveland defenders. 
 
At the last second, he kicked it out to a wide-open Jerebko, whose 22-footer with 30.3 seconds to play put the Celtics ahead 108-106.
 
“I wasn’t the first option but I knew I was going to be open,” Jerebko said. “I saw Avery looking at this corner and I saw my defender go in so I knew I would get a good shot. I was hoping Avery would kick it out and he did. It felt good.”
 
And his play has been good for the Celtics, seemingly whenever he has been called upon. 
 
Johnson has seen first-hand how Jerebko has handled his inconsistent role on the eve of him becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. 
 
“You just have to do nothing but salute him,” Johnson told CSN. “Of just being professional, staying ready and that’s what veterans do; they stay ready and he gave us a big game in this playoff series. You have to respect his professionalism. I’m proud of him.”

Report: C's first-rounder Yabusele expected to miss Summer League

Report: C's first-rounder Yabusele expected to miss Summer League

It’s early for Celtics fans to be looking ahead to summer league play, but the C’s know at least one of their prospects likely won’t be there. 

Guerschon Yabusele, the second of Boston’s three first-round picks in the 2016 draft, recently had surgery to remove bone spurs from the top of each of his feet, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. As such, Yabusele is not expected to play this summer.

A 6-foot-8 power forward from France, Yabusele was taken 16th overall in last year’s draft. He began this season playing in China before finishing the season with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.