Boston Celtics

Celtics turn down Heat with Game 3 win, 101-91

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Celtics turn down Heat with Game 3 win, 101-91

BOSTON It wasn't an elimination game, but a loss on Friday would have put the Boston Celtics in the kind of playoff purgatory no team has ever emerged from.

No worries, folks.

The Celtics' offense was free-flowing once again, and the sometimes-stingy defense was unleashed for most of the night on a Miami Heat team that for a change, looked out of synch for most of the game.

Boston's strong play and Miami's struggles ended with the C's emerging with a much-needed 101-91 win.

The Celtics now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with the Heat, with Game 4 in Boston on Sunday and Game 5 back in Miami on Tuesday.

Boston led by as many as 23 points in the fourth, before a flurry of 3's by Mike Miller cut the Celtics lead to 11 points, and a driving dunk by Dwyane Wade made it a single digit game with less than six minutes to play.

A dunk by Kevin Garnett put the Celtics back on top by double figures, but with more than five minutes to play, what seemed like a C's blowout was now all of a sudden a game once again.

But down the stretch, there was too much Kevin Garnett (24 points, 11 rebounds) and too much Rondo (21 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) for the Heat to handle as the C's improved their home record to 7-1 in the playoffs.

Boston's Game 3 win came on the heels of a Game 2 overtime loss that on many levels, the Celtics felt they should have won.

Regardless, this is now officially a series with the C's looking to do what only one Celtics team (the 1969 squad) in franchise history has ever done - come back and win a series after losing the first two games.

The C's have a ways to go before such talk can become realistic chatter.

For now, they are focused on looking to replicate the many good things they did in Friday's Game Three win.

Boston got an unexpected spark off the bench late in the first quarter when Doc Rivers called upon the seldom-used Marquis Daniels.

He only scored two points, but his activity on defense and all-around hustle seemed to be just the spark the Celtics were desperately needing.

And defensively, he was actually able to do something none of his teammates have done up to this point in the series - slow down LeBron James.

After making seven of his first nine shots, Daniels' defense was instrumental in James missing three of his next four shots.

That enabled the Celtics to go on a 15-0 run with their lead peaking at nine on multiple occasions in the first half.

Maybe the most telling sign of Daniels' impact was when he wasn't on the floor. Daniels was replaced by Paul Pierce at the 6:08 mark.

Eleven seconds later, James scored on a driving lay-up.

It would be one of the few easy baskets for James, who had a respectable 20 points in the first half and yet, clearly he wasn't the biggest difference-maker in the game. He led all players with 34 points.

Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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