Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series

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Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series

WALTHAM You never want to spot any team points, especially in a playoff game.

But if you're the Boston Celtics and you just so happen to find yourself on the short end of a start-of-the-game run by Philadelphia, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Each of the first four games in this series began with the eventual loser on a 5-0 spurt or better.

If anything, it serves as yet another reminder that fast starts may not necessarily prove fruitful in achieving the only thing either team truly wants -- a victory.

"That's just what it is," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "A 9-0 lead in the first quarter, that's nothing; it really isn't. Having a bigger lead in the third quarter the way we had (in Game 4), is better. But the early lead you got a whole game to play still. When I'm watching games, people make so much, too much of a big deal about that stuff."

Such early deficits seem to provide the necessary focus for teams on the short end of it to re-group, recover and from there, surge ahead to eventually take control of the game.

It also speaks to how the Celtics, whether it's the first quarter or fourth, have shown a propensity to ease up when they jump out to a big lead.

"A little bit of it is human nature," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "When you go up like that, you become complacent. It's just human nature. I hate it for us, to be that way."

It's the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily creep up on you, either.

Allen recalled a couple of empty possessions in Game 4.

"We took the easiest shot available as opposed to working our offense," he said. "they went down, got call after call, got to the free throw line, scored without the clock moving. Now the momentum was on their side."

And so went the game. If Game 5 goes along with the pattern in the first four, the Celtics will get down early and rally back for the win.

"You can't depend on that being a pattern," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "We just have to be consistent at what we do; use our home crowd to our advantage. We lost our last game at home. We gotta play better at home this time around."

But if they get behind early, not to worry.

The C's have seen that before in this series.

And the ending -- a Celtics victory -- would make the early struggles more than worth it.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Should Paul George or Gordon Hayward be Celtics' priority?

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0:41 - Should Paul George be the priority over Gordon Hayward? Is trading for one year of George better than signing Gordon Hayward long-term? Curran, Holley, Giles, Smith discuss.

4:45 - Could a Tom Brady extension be in the works? Phil Perry joins BST to discuss Dan Graziano’s article about QB contracts in the NFL. 

9:13 - Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni join from Fenway Park to talk about the message John Farrell sent to Hanley, how the bullpen was used after Chris Sale was taken out, and the rumor that the Red Sox are interested in Sonny Gray. 

15:09 - Tom Giles and Tom Curran discuss how the Suns GM Ryan McDonough might have “tampered” with Josh Jackson to prevent him from going to the Celtics. 

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.