Boston Celtics

Celtics' plan to go to Garnett pays off

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Celtics' plan to go to Garnett pays off

BOSTON The Boston Celtics were intent on getting the ball into the hands of Kevin Garnett a lot.

Why?

Because from what they had seen through the first two games, there wasn't a whole lot Miami could do with Garnett once he had the ball in the post.

Garnett had his way around the basket for most of the night as the Celtics climbed back into this Eastern Conference finals series with a 101-91 victory.

They now trail the Heat 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday and Game 5 at Miami on Tuesday.

Garnett had another strong game with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

More impressive than the scoring, was where the majority of his points came from.

Of Garnett's 10 made baskets, seven came within a couple feet of the rim, as clear an indicator as to where the Celtics wanted to go - down low to Garnett, a lot.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers had stressed to his players to get the ball to Garnett as much as possible in the post.

"Nobody can jump as high as Kevin," said C's point guard Rajon Rondo, with a number of his game-high 10 assists being passes to Garnett.

And it didn't seem to matter who the Heat put on Garnett.

Ronny Turiaf. Joel Anthony. Udonis Haslem. Even LeBron James.

It was pointless.

None of them could stop Garnett from controlling the action around the basket which factored heavily into Boston outscoring the Heat, 58-46, on points in the paint.

"He played great," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "They established him deep in the paint."

There was at least one Heat player who didn't seem all that impressed with Garnett's scoring.

"I don't really think he killed us one-on-one," said Haslem. "I think it was free throws and a couple of late shots down the stretch. I don't really think we had bad defense on KG. As a team, we just didn't defend well and they knocked down shots; and we gave them shots we wouldn't normally give them."

Garnett's strong game was due in part to the predicament that the C's came into the game facing.

After having lost the first two games in Miami, Garnett understands just how important Game 3 was for the C's to have any shot at rallying back to win this series.

"Desperation game, to be honest," Garnett said. "And we played like it, too. You don't want to be down 3-0 to a team like this. Very, very good team, very talented team, well coached team. I feel like we played desperation basketball."

As dominant as Garnett was, he did take his share of bumps and bruises.

At one point in the game, Garnett took a hard foul from Udonis Haslem. Moments later while still on the floor, Garnett began to do push-ups on his knuckles.

"As an athlete, you have to get yourself going, especially when you get knocked down, you don't want your opponent to see you vulnerable," said C's guard Keyon Dooling. "So that was his opportunity to show them that they can keep hitting him. He loves it. he plays a lot of mental games with himself, and with others."

There were other instances where Garnett got tangled up with Heat players who suspected Garnett was trying to get under their skin whether it be trash talking or physical play.

"That's his game," said Heat guard Mario Chalmers. "We (have) to stick to our plan, not worry about him or let him get in our heads; which we didn't."

Maybe so, but he certainly got into the heads - and hearts - of Celtics Nation who seem to feed off his energy and intensity.

But in Game Three, the roles in many ways were reversed as the boisterous crowd seemed to provide even more energy - if that's even possible - to Garnett.

"We're playing at home, we have to give it our all out and it will be all-out," Garnett said. "The jungle was rocking' tonight. I want to thank all the fans who came out. (Expletive) jungle was rockin' tonight! I loved it. (Expletive) loved it."

Horford: 'Trying to figure out the best way to help' after Hurricane Maria

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Horford: 'Trying to figure out the best way to help' after Hurricane Maria

CANTON, Mass. –  Hurricane Maria ravaged a number of Caribbean Islands, including the Dominican Republic – the home of Boston Celtics big man Al Horford.

“My immediate family is OK,” Horford told CSNNE.com during Boston’s Media Day on Monday. “But we look at everything in the big picture. We were very lucky in comparison to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, a lot of smaller islands.”

Hurricane Maria hit the Dominican Republic with heavy wind and rain but delivered a much more powerful punch to other islands.

Puerto Rico has been devastated by the storm which has knocked out most of the electricity on the island along with heavy flooding.

The U.S. Virgin Islands was hit hard as well.

While the Dominican Republic wasn’t hit quite as hard as some other islands, they too are going through what’s likely to be an extended recovery period.

“We do have a lot of flooding,” Horford said of the Dominican Republic. “There’s a lot of need.”

Horford intends to address that need in some capacity.

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out the best way to help down there,” he said. “We want to make sure whatever we do as far as money and help-wise, it’s going to the people in need.”

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Stevens says new challenges haven't changed Celtics' expectations

Stevens says new challenges haven't changed Celtics' expectations

CANTON, Mass. – There is no way around it.

When conversations shift towards the best teams in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are one of the first teams talked about.

With that elevated status comes increased expectations, the kind that will kick into full gear when the team begins practice.

But within those expectations is the reality that despite the increased talent pool Brad Stevens will have to work with this season, there will still be an adjustment period.

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Increased expectations and maintaining a sense of urgency while being patient with the team gelling, will be among the biggest challenges awaiting Boston this season.

But head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t believe it will be an issue his team will contend with this season.

“Our expectations haven’t changed so there’s no balance,” Stevens said. “You do what you do, work every day to try to be the best you can be. We know what goal is in Boston; that’s stated pretty clearly with the banners that hang above us. Ultimately that has nothing to do with how good we become tomorrow and the next day. We just focus on the process.”

And that process begins in earnest on Tuesday with the first day of training camp.

“We’re looking forward to getting to work as a full team,” Stevens said.

Despite having a team with 10 new players, the expectations have not been any higher than they are now for Stevens who is entering his fifth season as Boston’s head coach.

He has a roster that includes a trio of All-Stars in Al Horford (4), Gordon Hayward (1) and Kyrie Irving (4), with a combined nine All-Star appearances among them.

Boston also has a talented but youthful roster outside of their Big Three that includes second-year wing Jaylen Brown and first-round pick Jayson Tatum not to mention returners Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier who will both be competing for prominent roles in the Celtics’ rotation this season.

The additions made by Boston should help balance out an offense that will continue to look for ways to score.

“We have a lot of new pieces,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “But I feel like we’re moving in the right direction as a team.”

Part of that progress involves not only getting the new guys up to speed, but also internal growth from among the handful of players back from last season’s squad.

The most talked about returnee on Monday was Marcus Smart, who comes into training camp having lost nearly 20 pounds.

Smart said he weighed 223 points after having weighed himself earlier on Monday, which is down from his playing weight of last season which hovered around the 240-pound mark.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said the organization talked to Smart about the need for him to lose weight this summer.

Smart agreed.

The added weight began to bother him during the playoffs, leading to increased back pain and sleepless nights.

“I remember times putting on my shirt and tucking my stomach in because I didn’t like how it looked,” Smart said. “And that pain was causing me, I was always tired, I wasn’t as explosive and I was exerting so much energy to go out there every day and do the things I been doing my whole life. I wasn’t too fond of that. I knew I had to change.”

And when it comes to the Celtics heading into this season, change is indeed an appropriate description for this team.

But for newcomer Kyrie Irving, dealing with change is nothing new.

When LeBron James returned to Cleveland three years ago, it was expected to usher in a wave of victories from the outset.

Instead, the Cavs opened the season with a 5-6 start before getting on track and advancing to the first of three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

“It definitely, definitely attributes to figuring out how patient you are at that moment,” Irving said when I asked him about that slow start in Cleveland. That takes a while. You have to be very patient in your approach. I speak on that pretty often. So it’s not trying to figure out one thing or a few things in one day or after one game. It’s going to come in waves, man. These ups and downs we’re about to face as a team, as a collective group it’s going to be fairly interesting.  It’ll really echo in terms of our identity, how we respond. I’m looking forward to that aspect.”

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