Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

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Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

WALTHAM At this point, there's no point in reminding the Boston Celtics that Game 5 is, you know, kind of a big deal in this series.

With the series knotted up at 2-2, Game 5's winner will be in great position to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where a sure-to-be-bludgeoned Miami-Indiana series winner will be.

But if you expect Celtics coach Doc Rivers to deliver a Knute Rockne-esque speech to his players leading into Monday's Game 5 tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers . . . that's just not going to happen.

"I don't think I have to talk about it a whole bunch," Rivers said. "It's a swing game; but it's a swing game for both teams. Game 5s and Game 7s are pretty much the same."

With the one difference being a Celtics loss in Game 5 means they'd have to win the final two games of the series, the first on the road and another at home.

That would flow well with the team's season-long knack for making most situations tougher than they should be.

But there's no "maybe next game" following a Game 7 loss.

The season is over and you're making plans for offseason beach shores, and for some of the Celtics, offseason surgery.

Boston wants no part of that, which is why Monday night's Game 5 battle should be one of the C's better performances this season.

Having an extra day in between games certainly bodes well for the many Celtic players dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises.

But that extra time off means one more day to think about the opportunity they let slip away in Game 4.

"If we had played today, it would have been over, gone," Rivers said when asked about whether the team would have trouble moving past the Game 4 loss. "We don't play today, so that may allow it to stick a little longer. But for the most part, you get over it. You have no choice."

Indeed, the Celtics have had their share of tough defeats both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

More often than not, they don't just bounce back with a better performance.

They respond with some of their best individual and collective performances, the kind of track record that leads one to expect a Celtics team in Game 5 to play at an extremely high level.

"A lot of it is mental, preparation, understanding what it takes," said Paul Pierce. "All of those things, a combination of those things, really helps us out being a veteran ball club."

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All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

All-Stars, studs and duds: Westbrook's reign as MVP comes to an end

NEW ORLEANS – You don’t rack up triple doubles at a historically ridiculous rate the way Russell Westbrook does without being able to dish out an assist from time to time.

The biggest assist he made in the 66th annual NBA all-star didn’t make its way on to the stats sheet.

But it was historical in so many ways.

Westbrook’s advice to Anthony Davis on how to win the game’s MVP award was indeed taken to heart with Davis winning the award following the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the East All-Stars.

Davis finished with a game-high 52 points, shattering the previous mark set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Davis won the MVP award after Westbrook had won it each of the two previous All-Star games.

Prior to the game, Davis said he did do a little lobbying among his fellow all-stars in the locker room.

“I stressed that, I think more than enough, to the guys in the locker room before the game that I wanted to get the MVP for this crowd, for this city, and I ended up doing it.”

Following the game, Westbrook acknowledged that he did speak with Davis about how to win the MVP award.

When asked about what he said, Westbrook replied, “I’m not going to tell you, but he did a good job and got it done.”

Despite not winning the MVP award, Westbrook had a dominant game of his own as he tallied 41 points which was one point shy of the previous record.

But after the game, it was clear that he was more pleased with the performance of Davis.

“It was great,” Westbrook said. “It’s definitely always a great thing to do, especially here where he plays in front of his fans, his family. It’s a great experience and definitely happy for him.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the 66th annual NBA all-star game.

 

STARS

Anthony Davis

The hometown team’s best player delivered a scoring night for the ages, finishing with an All-Star record 52 points on 26-for-39 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. The previous record of 42 points was set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook

His All-Star reign as the game’s MVP came to an end after having won the award the previous two All-Star games. He finished with 41 points.

 

STUDS

Giannis Antetokounmpo

He was an above-the-rim monster, scoring 30 points primarily on a dozen dunks.

Kevin Durant

He was filling up the stat sheet in several categories for the West, finishing with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving

Arguably the best performer for the East, Irving had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

There were others who had a more prolific night shooting the ball, but Thomas’ impact off the bench was indeed felt. He led all East reserves with 20 points.

James Harden

The bearded one had a triple-double as well, although not the kind he would prefer. Along with scoring 12 points, and dishing out 12 assists, Harden also racked up a game-high 10 turnovers.

 

DUDS

None

There were some guys who didn’t do much statistically, but with this being such an exhibition-like event, putting too much stock in any player’s performance is a waste of time. They are among the top 24 or so players in the NBA. No amount of missed shots or turnovers will change that fact.