Celtics roll in second half, take 3-2 series lead over Sixers

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Celtics roll in second half, take 3-2 series lead over Sixers

BOSTON Because of the earlier than usual 7 p.m. start, the Boston Celtics had a late-arriving crowd at the TD Garden for their Game 5 matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The same could be said for the Celtic players, whose slow start had many in Celtics Nation ready extremely nervous.

But as the game wore on, the crowd grew louder.

And as they continued to make their presence felt, the players did the same.

When all was said and done, the C's pulled away for a 101-85 Game 5 win that gives them a 3-1 series lead. Boston now needs one victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals to face either Indiana or Miami.

This game, like so many for Boston, certainly had a heavy dose of that Green team defense fans have come to know and love.

And while there were a number of moments in which the Celtics showed signs of life, they ultimately got a spark from about as unlikely a place as you could imagine - the officials.

Trailing 57-53, Kevin Garnett drove into the lane for what he thought was a foul.

It was a foul against him, with official Ed Malloy ruling that Garnett used his arm to shield the defender, Spencer Hawes, from cleanly blocking the shot.

After the play was shown on the Jumbotron, the crowd came to life with a chorus of boos that seemed to be just what the Green team needed to hear.

From there, they reeled off 10 straight points before the Sixers called a time-out.

That was just the beginning, as the Celtics went on to close out the quarter with a 22-9 run that gave them their biggest lead of the night at that time, 75-66.

The key player during that run by Boston was Brandon Bass, who went into the fourth quarter having already scored a playoff career-high 23 points. He finished with 27 points and six rebounds.

Boston's fantastic finish came after the Sixers dominated the first half with some hot shooting and strong rebounding.

Philadelphia connected on 54.8 percent of their shots in the first half compared to 48.6 percent shooting by the Celtics.

Much like the third quarter foul against Garnett provided an unexpected spark, the same could be said for the contributions in the first half made by Greg Stiemsma.

Having been replaced by Ryan Hollins as the first big man off the bench for Boston, C's coach Doc Rivers opted to go back with Stiemsma on Monday.

Good call, Doc.

Stiemsma responded with his best game of the series, scoring eight of his career playoff-high 10 points in the first half which included a driving lay-up just seconds after stepping on to the floor.

It was indeed a bizarre first half that at one point, had Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins having more points scored (10), than Garnett and Bass (8).

The game also saw the Celtics establish themselves as the aggressor, and they were rewarded with a slew of free throw attempts.

In the first half, Boston had 13 free throws taken compared to just two for the Sixers.

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

BOSTON – It appears there may be an answer to the mystery surrounding Josh Jackson’s decision to not work out for the Boston Celtics leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft.

While conventional wisdom tells us that such decisions are often made by the agent who in this case is former NBA player B.J. Armstrong.

Boston instead selected Jayson Tatum at No. 3 with the Phoenix Suns scooping up Jackson with the No. 4 pick.

MORE: Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

During Jackson’s introductory press conference, there was a sense that it wasn’t necessarily Armstrong who strong-armed Jackson into not working out for the Celtics. But apparently, he got an assist from Suns General Manager (and ex-Celtics assistant GM) Ryan McDonough.

A reporter asked McDonough if Phoenix may have encouraged Jackson to cancel his workout with the Celtics who were flying into Sacramento, Calif. to watch Jackson workout only for it to be canceled after they had departed which as you can imagine, did not go over well with Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations.

“I’d like to consult my attorney B.J. Armstrong (Jackson’s agent),” McDonough said, smiling.

The more McDonough talked, the clearer it became that he and Armstrong were in cahoots to do all they could to get Boston to pass on Jackson at No. 3 which as McDonough mentioned, doesn’t break any rules.

“You guys all know my history with the Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge and the organization,” McDonough told reporters on Friday. “But I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition. The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. and I and … other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.”

McDonough is right in that no rules were broken if he and Armstrong did decide to work together in an effort to get Jackson to Phoenix.

But to cancel the workout after the Celtics executives and head coach Brad Stevens had left, forcing them to spend a night on the road for a workout that Jackson’s camp probably knew wasn’t going to happen well before the Celtics contingent boarded for Sacramento … not cool.

Here are words I thought I would never say … the Ball clan got it right.

They told Boston from the jump that Lonzo Ball wasn’t going to work out for them, so the Celtics knew he didn’t want to be a Celtic from the very beginning.

Jackson’s actions said the same, but his words kept hope alive that he would work out or at the very least, talk to the Celtics organization – neither of which happened.

He kept referring to the fact that he didn’t think Boston was interested in him when they had the number one pick (that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if they asked him to work out for them; otherwise, what’s the point from the Celtics'  perspective of asking to work out a guy they had no interest in drafting?)

After they traded down to the number 3 pick, a deal that was cemented last weekend, Jackson said there wasn’t time to do a workout for Boston.

The draft was nearly a week away and he didn’t have time to work out for a team that had the third pick overall knowing that the top two picks (Markelle Fultz at No. 1 and Lonzo Ball at No. 2) were essentially accounted for?

“If I could have, I probably would have worked out for them,” Jackson said (with a straight face). “But I think everything worked out for the best.”

Yup.

Boston will once again be among the better teams in the East and will contend for the best record like they achieved this past season before their season ended in the Conference finals to Cleveland. 

Jackson will spend his rookie season playing a lot of minutes with a Suns team that probably won’t win as many games as he did a year ago at Kansas (33).

Enjoy.

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

As rumors swirl in this post-draft, pre-free agency week for the NBA, Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub reported Friday that the Celtics could land long-rumored target Gordon Hayward AND trade for Paul George. And Kaufman says George would be more than just a one-year rental.

Kaufman elaborated on a possible George deal on his "Celtics @ 7" show Saturday. He said the trade with the Indiana Pacers wouldn't cost Boston next year's Brooklyn pick, rather it would be the first-round pick (Lakers 2018 or Kings 2010) acquired this week from the Philadelphia 76ers when Boston traded down the No. 1 for No. 3, along with Jae Crowder and another salary filler. 

MORE CELTICS: 

Before you run out and buy that No. 13 Celtics Paul George jersey, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com explains how financially disadvantageous it would be for George - long thought to want to head to the Lakers - to do this.