Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3

191544.jpg

Celtics out of life lines, must win Game 3

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Since dropping Games 1 and 2 in Miami, the Boston Celtics have talked about a lack of effort in both games, and the team's sense of urgency not being where it should have been.

Neither should be an issue in Saturday's Game 3 matchup, a game the Celtics desperately need to win in order to get back into this series.

And while players have talked about having a sense of urgency before Games 1 and 2, they know that it's put-up or shut-up time now.

"This is it," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We've used all our life lines. This is it. I hate to say it like that, but it's true."

Coming back from a 2-0 deficit will be a daunting challenge, evident by only 14 teams in NBA history ever doing so.

A 3-0 hole has proven too steep a hole for any team to climb out of and claim success.

Even before they fell behind 2-0 to the Heat, the Celtics anticipated this series would be challenging.

"Winning championships is never a clear-cut formula how to do it," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "We talk about having resolve all year. We've proven we have it. Now we're just in a playoff situation where we have to prove that we have it."

That won't be easy, not against a Heat team that's starting to live up to its lofty billing at the beginning of the season.

While the Celtics acknowledge they haven't played their best basketball of the season, that doesn't mean returning to Garden will in itself cure all that ails them.

"You can't just hope that because you haven't played well, now if you play well things will work out for you," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "You have to deal with them now. They have great confidence, and we gave that to them."

And dealings with the Heat will challenge the C's mental toughness which for years, has been one of the team's greatest strengths.

"I always think new situations brings on new reactions," Garnett said. "You can always learn something. In order to want to learn, you have to be open to it. You can always learn something about yourself."

While that may be true, it doesn't take away from the sting of being down 2-0.

"Losing hurts," Garnett said. "It's not like you can just turn around and play back-to-back, play (in) two days. You have to prepare, and that's what we've been doing. Now it's about taking what we've done in practice, and apply it to the game."

That's much easier said than done against a Heat that is feeling good about its chances of winning in Boston despite losing its last 10 on Celtic soil.

"We're taking their best shot," Garnett said. "I still think we haven't played our best basketball. We have to do that. We can't just come out here and be talking about it. We're not in the white sands of the beach no more, we're back in the jungle. Hopefully that'll be good for us. We'll figure it out.

Garnett added, "I told you man, we're all in. I've got two pocket kings and I'm all in. Let's do it."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities. 

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum was excited about working out for the Boston Celtics. 

But he knew that, health-wise, he wouldn’t be at his best. 

TATUM SPEAKS

 
He could have easily pulled out like others had, or just told the Celts in advance so they could take it into account when they were deciding on who to take with the No. 3 pick. 
 
Instead, he kept it to himself until after his workout, focused on doing what the best in the NBA do on a nightly basis -- finding a way to play their best when at their worst physically. 
 
“I wasn’t feeling well, but you can’t make excuses,” Tatum said during an interview with CSN’s Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “There can be times in the future where there’s a game or playoff game where you’re not feeling well. Nobody is going to care. You have to produce.”
 
Did. He. Ever. 
 
The workout didn’t just go well.  It ranked among the best Danny Ainge had seen, which made the decision for Boston to select the 6-foot-9 forward from Duke with the No. 3 pick an easy call. 
 
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, had an eye on Tatum all season and acknowledged he had high expectations for him to perform at during his workout in Boston. 
 
“He was better than I actually thought,” Ainge said during the CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “Which was hard to do, because we thought highly of him before.”
 
During the workout, Ainge saw a young man who had worked on improving his perimeter shooting to the point where it was actually one of his stronger qualities. 
 
 “As I watched him play earlier in his life  . . . what he lacked was his range shooting,” Ainge said. “He was a very good mid-range player and good passer off the dribble. But the range shooting, what he showed us in the workout here was very impressive. We had two workouts with him. And in both of them, he was one of the best shooters in this whole draft at any position, and one of the best shooters we’ve had in here for any draft.”
 
Making Tatum’s workout all that more impressive was it came with him far from at his best health-wise, something the Celtics didn’t learn of until afterwards. 
 
“He wanted to be here from the very beginning, even before we got the number one pick,” Ainge said. “He wanted to be here. He came in here and showed it. He came on his workout and was sick. He was on antibiotics, nose was dripping and he didn’t complain. And he still played and played well. That was impressive, how much he showed, how much he wanted to be here.”
 
Tatum said his mindset coming into his workout was simple.
 
“I knew the draft pick was on the line,” Tatum said. “I had to really perform and I think I did really well.”