Feeling Flip? On Buchholz's balkReturn of two-sport athlete

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Feeling Flip? On Buchholz's balkReturn of two-sport athlete

Flip Saunders expects the Miami Heat to win the NBA Finals.

This was the headline from a story in this morning's Star Tribune, in which writer Sid Hartman (of the Minneapolis Hartmans) interviewed Saunders on a series of NBA matters.

Hartman and Saunders who spent 10 years as the Timberwolves head coach and the last two months as an adviser with the Celtics spoke about LeBron James and Kevin Durant. They spoke about Saunders time in Boston. They spoke about his relationship with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, and his future in coaching.

Wedged in between all this conversation was an interesting little tidbit that felt so obvious and unimportant within the flow of the story that Hartman didn't even bother using quotes. It was just a little throw away line that transitioned into the next stage of his column.

Saunders is positive Garnett, who is a free agent, will sign for another year with the Celtics, who have some rebuilding to do.
Wow. That easy, huh?

So, I guess the question is: How much faith do you have in Flip Saunders a guy who spent a decade coaching Garnett in Minnesota and was closer to him over this last playoff run than all but a hand full of people? How much faith do you have in Sid Hartman? Did Saunders actually say that he was "positive" or was Hartman perhaps just somewhat casually summing up Saunders general opinion, without realizing what an absolutely enormous deal this is in Boston?

Ehhh, I don't know. I guess it's better we don't jump to any conclusions. That we don't get too high or low on what other people are saying, because for all we know someone else close to KG will come out tomorrow saying that he's hanging them up, and then what do we do? WHAT DO WE DO?!

We do nothing. We sit and wait for Garnett to make a decision, and hope to have a few finger (andor toe) nails left by the time he does.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

CLEVELAND – They had them right where they wanted them.

LeBron James was in foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Those missed shots, combined with a Kyrie Irving takeover in the third quarter, would prove to be part of the narrative for Game 4 – missed opportunities - as the Cavs rallied for a 112-99 Game 4 win.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Boston on Thursday and advance to the NBA Finals where a well-rested Golden State team will be awaiting them.

Irving led all scorers with a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Boston’s Avery Bradley had 19 points while Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16), and Kelly Olynyk (15) also finished with double figures scoring.

"He put the team on his back," said Tristan Thompson, regarding Irving's play. "He still has another gear."

Boston spent all of the fourth quarter playing from behind, failing to get that necessary made shot or defensive turnover or stop that they needed to slow down Cleveland’s growing momentum.

And with Irving making a slew of clutch baskets that put Cleveland in control, it was James’ turn to put the game away.

He did just that, finishing with 34 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter.

But for a good chunk of Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup, it looked as though the Celtics were coming back to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied up.

It was an odd game for sure, with nothing being any stranger than LeBron James being whistled for not one, not two, not three, but four personal fouls … in the first half.

The fourth came when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Terry Rozier with 6:46 to play and Boston ahead by 10 points.

With James on the bench, Cleveland managed to play Boston to a standstill as the half ended with the Celtics still leading by 10 points (57-47).

Cleveland slowly crept back in the game in the third, and eventually went ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by James with 3:15 to play in the quarter.

The Cavs were able to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter which ended with Cleveland ahead 87-80 as Irving scored the last 14 points for Cleveland which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that would be the final points scored in the quarter.

Cleveland’s strong finish to the third was a striking contrast to how the game began.

Boston got off to its best start in this series after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 18-11.

The Celtics went ahead 22-13 after a pair of free throws by Jonas Jerebko and would eventually lead by as many as 16 points.

Meanwhile, James – the man Crowder was defending most of the time early on – had six points in the first quarter on 3-for-7 shooting.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: LeBron in foul trouble

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 4 between Boston and Cleveland in which the Celtics have a 57-47 halftime lead.

 

STARS

Avery Bradley

His aggressiveness at both ends of the floor has been key to Boston’s strong first half showing. He has 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

Kyrie Irving

With LeBron James in major foul trouble – he had four personal fouls in the first half – Irving was charged with picking up the slack, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He had the hot hand at the start of the game, and has been solid at both ends of the floor. He had 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting with four rebounds and three assists.

Kevin Love

He continues to get great looks from 3-point range, but the Celtics did a better job of limiting his long-range scoring opportunities. He had 10 points along with seven rebounds and three assists.

Kelly Olynyk

Making his first-ever playoff start, Olynyk had a solid half with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

LeBron James

He was 5-for-9 from the field with 10 points in the first half, but spent a large chunk on the bench after being whistled for his fourth personal foul with 6:46 to play in the half.