Boston Celtics

Heat find out a 'Big Three' doesn't guarantee victory


Heat find out a 'Big Three' doesn't guarantee victory

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON - Ray Allen remembers the first time the Celtics "Big Three" took the court together.

There were so many questions on that night three years ago. Who would be part of each rotation? How many minutes would they play? Who would take the last shot?

Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett didn't have the answers.

"I remember not really knowing at some points what is going to happen," Allen said. "You don't know and I think we as a group, especially between the three of us, it didn't matter. We didn't care. Doc drew up plays and based on how the flow of the game went, the ball found who was open. We learned that and we never had an ego about it. It was just like, just win the game and move forward."

Sounds simple, right? Not only did the Celtics figure it all out, they won the NBA championship in their first season together.

But on Tuesday night, it was apparent that finding the formula for winning with three superstars isn't always that easy.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh (or "Miami's Big Three," as they've been dubbed) didn't have the answers to those questions, as they lost to the Celtics, 88-80, on Opening Night at the TD Garden.

The trio shot a combined 17-for-48 from the field (35 percent) and scored 52 points altogether. James accounted for 31 of those points, with 21 coming in the second half. They weren't exactly a triple threat for 48 minutes.

"I think right now it's a feel-out process for myself, for D-Wade, for Chris, and for the rest of the guys," James said. "I talked to those guys, it almost felt like we were being too unselfish to get each other into the flow of the game. And the reason we're here and the reason we've been successful is because we've put ourselves in a position to be aggressive at all times, no matter who's out on the court . . . We have to understand that we can't be too unselfish because we have so many options. We just have to play our game and it's going to be better for the team."

A performance like this is not a reason to write off the Heat's season. Not only is there a transition period to develop chemistry on the court, they didn't have the opportunity to do so during the preseason. Wade strained his hamstring three minutes into his first exhibition game, and Tuesday night was his first extended period of time playing alongside James and Bosh.

The Heat expect to play better as the season continues. The Celtics expect them to as well.

"You could see the fact that they haven't necessarily polished or got the whole chemistry thing down, but they will," said Garnett. "I know the similarities are there as far as them and us, and obviously we got together, but scenarios are different. In order for them to get better, they're going to have to continue to go through rough days and dog days, and that's part of it. Lord knows we went through ours, and we learned from it, and I'm pretty sure they'll do the same."

The irony is that the trio from South Beach can learn from their heated opponents.

"Everybody looks at them as the blueprint for, 'We can do it fast,' " Wade said of the Celtics. "It's not many teams that have been able to do that before. That was a special ball club that came together. It was the leadership of the Kevin Garnetts, the Paul Pierces and the Ray Allens of the world, that brought those guys together to win that championship. Of course we look at that, but we have to find our own identity. We have to figure out what works for us. We know it's a long season, no matter what people say. The highs, the lows, we'll take them and we move on."

After being in the same position himself, Allen foresees the Heat will play some games where one star will have the hot hand and the other two may struggle, or vice versa. Take Tuesday's game as an example. Allen (20 points) scored twice as many points as Garnett, but when the buzzer sounded they had found a way to share the ball and win as a team.

"We were so willing to just go with it and see who had it going, and when it happens you just kind of ride that wave a little bit," Allen said of the 2007-08 championship season. "They're going to learn a lot about themselves over these next couple of weeks and months. The important thing is, definitely we learned, that you stick together, try to figure it out, and put yourself in a good position toward the end of the season."

James, who essentially took over the game over for the Heat in the second half, has taken notice of the Celtics "we-first" mentality. He said he doesn't have to be the team's leading scorer every night in order for them to win because of their depth. As the Celtics proved, it can take giving up personal accolades to help the entire team win.

"I just think how they just sacrifice everything," James said. "Their first year together, they didn't worry about points or rebounds, anything individually. They just went out and did what's best for the team. It's not like we needed it, but you could look at that as an example and we've taken it."

After struggling to find their stride together on Opening Night, it wouldn't hurt the Heat to take a second look.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday


Marcus and Markieff Morris assault trial began on Monday

PHOENIX - NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris go on trial Monday on felony assault charges stemming from a beating outside a Phoenix recreation center more than two years ago.

The twin brothers could face a maximum of nearly four years in prison if they are found guilty. A conviction would also result in discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10 games of suspension.

Opening arguments begin Monday following the selection of an eight-member jury panel last week in what is expected to be a 10-day trial.

The trial threatens to disrupt the start of their 2017 NBA season with training camp set to begin for both players on Sept. 26. The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from Detroit in the offseason as part of an overhaul of their roster, while Markieff was a solid contributor for the Washington Wizards last year.

The Morris brothers are accused of helping three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015. They were indicted by an Arizona grand jury that year on felony aggravated assault charges. Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.

Police say Hood was leaving a high school basketball game when he was approached by a friend of the Morris brothers. Hood told Phoenix police the man was speaking to him when he was punched in the back of the head.

Hood ran to his car but fell down, before five men, including the Morris twins, punched and kicked him repeatedly, authorities say. All five left in a Rolls Royce Phantom as bystanders began to appear. Police say Hood was assaulted for sending an inappropriate text message to the Morris brothers' mother.

Hood told police he suffered a fractured nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head because of the incident.

Hood is an acquaintance of the Morris brothers and reportedly had a falling out with them in 2010.

At the time of the attack, the 6-foot-9 Morris twins were teammates on the Phoenix Suns. They starred at the University of Kansas.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points last season in Detroit, where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. He joins Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as a group of new acquisitions for Boston this year. Markieff also averaged 14 points per game for the Wizards.


30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West


30 teams in 30 days: Spurs remain in title conversation out West

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The San Antonio Spurs

There is no finer organization in the NBA than the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise that seems to always be in the title-contending conversation regardless of who is – and who isn’t – on the roster.

For years, conventional wisdom was that the San Antonio dynasty would take a major step back once Tim Duncan FINALLY retired.

Instead of taking a step back, the Spurs continued to do what they did with Duncan – win a lot of games and scare the bejesus out of any and every team they saw in the playoffs.

To read A. Sherrod Blakely's 2017-18 team-by-team NBA previews, click here

One of the forgotten subplots in Golden State’s run towards a title last spring, was the ankle injury Kawhi Leonard suffered when he landed on the foot of Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia.

For those who don’t remember, the Spurs were beating the crap out of Golden State in Game 1 of their second-round series with Leonard getting anything and everything he wanted at both ends of the floor.

Prior to him landing on Pachulia’s foot (something that was debated for weeks as a dirty play), the Spurs were ahead 78-55.

After Leonard’s departure, Golden State went on an 18-0 run and eventually wound up edging the Spurs 113-111 before going on to sweep the series to become the first team in NBA history to open up the playoffs with 12 straight wins.

Well, Leonard’s back and will once again be on the short list of league MVP candidates due to his ability to dominate games at both ends of the floor.

For years his defense has been at an unmatched level. But it is the growth of his game offensively that has made him such a difficult and at times, dominant performer.

Leonard has finished in the top-3 of the league’s MVP voting the past two seasons.

Last season, he averaged a career-high 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game which was also a career high.

But the Spurs have proven through time to be more than just a one-man operation even when the face of the franchise (Tim Duncan) received a lot of credit for the franchise’s success.

San Antonio brings most of its core guys back, but recognized the need to add at least one more legitimate scorer to the mix.

In comes Rudy Gay, an 11-year veteran who has averaged 18.4 points per game throughout his career.

Golden State remains the team that everyone, including the Spurs, is chasing this season.

But the depth of San Antonio’s roster coupled with the addition of Gay, means the Spurs will once again be in the title-contending conversation.

Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Rudy Gay (Sacramento); Joffrey Lauvergne (Chicago).

Key losses: Jonathan Simmons (Orlando); Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta); David Lee (free agent); Joel Anthony (free agent).

Rookies of note: Derrick White.

Expectations: 56-36 (2nd in the Southwest Division, 3rd in the West).