Heat win Game 4 in o.t., take 3-1 lead over Celtics

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Heat win Game 4 in o.t., take 3-1 lead over Celtics

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are a battered bunch.

The last thing they need is to play bonus basketball, and they know it. That's why it will hurt to look back at Monday's 98-90 Game 4 overtime loss -- a game they should have won in regulation.

"We had so many opportunities," said a visibly dejected Doc Rivers afterward.

The ending was disappointing on so many levels for theCeltics, who led after each of the first three quarters and had achance to win the game in regulation. However, Paul Pierce's off-balance, fadeawayjumper with the score tied was off the mark as time expired.

The Heat quickly took control in the extra session. After a Pierce basket cut Miami's lead in overtime to three points with 47.8 seconds to play, Heat forward Chris Bosh tipped in a LeBron James miss that essentially put the game away, with the Heat returning home with a commanding 3-1 series lead with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Miami on Wednesday.

"Our goal was to come out and compete for two games and hopefully get one, and we accomplished our goal," said Bosh who finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

The final play of regulation, like so many for the C's throughout the game, didn't exactly play out the way it was supposed to.

Rivers acknowledged after the game there was an execution breakdown.

"It's a play we've run several times, and we just didn't execute it," Rivers said.

Poor execution was just one of the many problems experienced by the Celtics, who are now on the brink of playoff elimination.

In addition to their end-of-game gaffes, the Celtics committed a staggering 19 turnovers, leading to 28 Miami points, and were thoroughly out-worked on the boards, 45-28, which factored into being outscored 10-0 in second-chance points.

"Tough to win games when that happens," Rivers said.

Even with all the miscues made by the Celtics, they still spent the bulk of Monday's game with the lead.

However, those mistakes didn't allow Boston to put some distance between themselves and the Heat.

And because of that, Miami stayed within striking distance most of the game.

Once the game went into overtime, the Heat were determined to make the most of the opportunity to win in Boston for the first time in 11 trips.

In a game that featured a slew of big shots by Heat stars, few were as big as the long 2-pointer by Dwyane Wade with two minutes to play in overtime that put Miami ahead, 92-86.

Boston managed to cut into the lead, but they could never manage to get the big shot or the big defensive stop they needed in order to get the victory.

Not only did the loss put the C's in an extremely difficult hole in the series, it also wasted a gutsy effort by Rajon Rondo, who had 10 points and 5 assists despite being limited because of dislocated left elbow injury he suffered in Game 3.

It was clear the Heat was intent on finding out just how durable Rondo and that left elbow were.

Mike Bibby, who spends most games on the perimeter camping out, was running off baseline screens early the game, forcing Rondo to fight through them in order to keep up.

And when Rondo had the ball offensively, the Heat were much more aggressive in their man-to-man, doing what they could to force him to dribble with his left hand.

But at some point, you knew they were going to foul him hard enough to where he'd go down. When it happened, the foul put the Heat in the bonus, which meant free-throw attempts for Rondo.

Bum elbow and all, Rondo calmly sank both free throws as part of his six-point first quarter.

The injury certainly wouldn't allow him to do as much as he's accustomed to, but his struggles in many ways mirrored those of some of his teammates who weren't as limited health-wise.

"Anytime you have an injury like that you come out the next game, you're limited a little bit," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "But when he's out there, I've sen him take a shot, he's feeling it as it goes up."

Right now, the only thing the Celtics can feel is the pressure to win.

It's always there.

But down 3-1 in the series heading back to Miami, the Celtics are dealing with yet another tough-to-win scenario.

"These are those moments, when you write papers, books, poems, quotes, whatever it is, these are those moments," Allen said. "I look forward to it; it's a challenge I think everyone on this team, we know what we have to do."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Report: Kings have 'assured' Cousins that he won't be traded

Report: Kings have 'assured' Cousins that he won't be traded

With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching rumors will be swirling in every direction. 

One name that everyone is keeping an eye on is Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. But will he be on the move?

According to Cousins' agent, the Kings have assured the All-Star that he is not being traded.

The statement from Cousins' agent came less than an hour after Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Kings have recently had trade discussions involving the 26-year-old

In January CSN California reported that, barring a late change in direction by either side, DeMarcus Cousins intends to sign a $207 million extension this offseason that will keep the big man in a Kings uniform long-term.

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

NEW ORLEANS – All-star weekend is winding down and the Boston Celtics once again are seemingly at the epicenter of most trade discussions.

That’s in part because they have the pieces to help pull off a blockbuster deal for themselves, or become the third team to help facilitate a trade coming to fruition. 

But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. 

“Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically 'all in' this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”

That’s because the Celtics (37-20) have the second-best record in the East despite their preferred starting five (Isaiah Thomas; Avery Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson) having played a very limited number of games (21) together thus far this season.

Even when everyone’s healthy, Boston understands that they still may not be enough to get past the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So the addition of a likely role player at the cost of one or more of their major assets (this year’s right to swap picks with Brooklyn or next year’s Brooklyn pick outright), is reason enough for Boston to pause and assess whether the benefit outweighs the cost of what they will have to give up. 

Boston can make a push for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari or his teammate Kenneth Faried who are both available and would help Boston’s overall talent base. They could also revisit Jahlil Okafor discussions or Nerlens Noel with Philadelphia, too.

But for what they need to significantly improve upon where they are now, they have to add a game-changing difference-maker to the mix. 

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins are three players who on paper at least, would meet that criteria. 

Multiple league sources this weekend confirmed that each of their respective teams isn’t making a push to trade them. But like every team in the league, they will certainly listen to any and all offers. Only Indiana and Sacramento have come out publicly to say they are not planning to trade their players, with the Pacers indicating they’re willing to give up their first-round pick in order to add a stable, proven talent to the mix in order to help George going forward. 

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. 

That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.

Boston has exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they decide they are going to move on from Butler and rebuild, but how much are the Celtics willing to give up?

That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them. 

Even if the Celtics decide to stand pat with its team as they are now and let the Feb. 23 trade deadline pass without making a move, the Celtics are still working from a vantage point that few teams in the NBA can work from – a team near the top of their conference with relatively young players all with good team-friendly contracts, and draft picks in the next two years that are each likely to be high lottery (top-14) picks.

"They’re well positioned for the future,” said Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the West all-star team. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach (Brad Stevens) and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft which is remarkable.”

Kerr added, “That doesn’t happen often when you’re talking about a team that’s one of the best in the league already. Boston’s in a great place.”