James Jones lights up Celtics for 25 points

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James Jones lights up Celtics for 25 points

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI When All-Star weekend rolled around in February, Miami Heat forward James Jones was an under-the-radar talent when it came to shooting 3s.

Before the weekend was over, he was crowned the league's 3-point shooting champion.

Fast forward two months to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Once again Jones was a relatively unknown in the star-studded battle between Boston and Miami, only to shine as bright as anyone in the building before the night was over.

The 6-foot-8 forward had a playoff career-high 25 points was indeed a difference-maker in Miami's 99-90 Game 1 win.

"He single-handedly won the game," said Boston's Rajon Rondo who was plagued by foul trouble most of the first half. "Every time we made a run, he either got fouled and made his free throws or he made his shots."

On Friday, Jones spoke with CSNNE.com about the importance of his role in helping the Heat emerge victorious against a Celtics team that has had Miami's number in recent years.

James, who averaged just 3.8 points against the C's during the regular season, understands that much of the attention when it comes to the Heat will be paid to Miami's Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

But for one night, Jones was their equal -- at least he was in the eyes of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"Their Big Three today was James Jones, LeBron, and Wade," Rivers said.

Boston's Glen Davis echoed similar sentiments about Jones.

"He hit big shots when they counted," Davis said. "We left him wide open. He doesn't hit 25 points, we win."

Because so much of the focus by teams is on the Heat Big Three, their teammates have to accept certain roles in order to be successful.

Jones' role?

Designated shooter, of course.

"Coach Erik Spoelstra told me that my job is to make shots," Jones told CSNNE.com. "That's the best way I can help this team. Other guys on this team do everything else; they slash, drive, we have guys that post up. There's no need for me to try and replicate or compete with those guys. That's their role. That's what it'll take for us to win; for guys to humble themselves and accept what some might call a limited role. I like to phrase it as a more focused role."

Whatever Jones calls it, it certainly was working for him in Game 1, a game that Jones acknowledges was important to win in order to keep the series' momentum from immediately shifting in the Celtics' favor.

"Those guys are the champions and you don't want to give them momentum to start a series," Jones told reporters following Sunday's win. "You have to defend your home court because because they are going to come out with a championship effort. It was a good victory for us, but there is a lot of room for improvement."

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

Celtics blow out the Bulls in Game 6, move on to face the Wizards

Celtics blow out the Bulls in Game 6, move on to face the Wizards

CHICAGO – The Boston Celtics were at a crossroads just two games into their first-round series against Chicago.

Down 2-0, something had to change – and change fast – if they were going to avoid being remembered as one of the worst number one seeds in NBA history.

“We didn’t have a meeting, but it was a reality check for us,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley who talked about how the team was “humbled after losing two games.”

They had a choice.

They could feel sorry for themselves and continue to struggle, or as Bradley put it, “come here (Chicago) and make history.”

The Celtics did just that, becoming the first number one seed in the best-of-seven series era to lose the first two games at home, and respond by winning the next four which includes a 105-83 Game 6 win to eliminate the Bulls.

Boston’s blowout victory was fueled in large part by a furious third quarter in which they dominated the Bulls in every way imaginable, outscoring Chicago 34-16 in the quarter which gave them a decisive 88-59 lead going into the fourth.

The 29-point lead after three quarters was a historical moment. It now stands as the largest lead the Celtics have had in a road playoff game after three quarters of play.

Boston moves on to the Conference semi-finals where they will face the Washington Wizards with Game 1 expected to be at the TD Garden on Sunday.

Fourth-year coach Brad Stevens advances past the first round of the playoffs for the first time, while the Celtics franchise is in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

And in the final game of the series, the Celtics’ depth proved to be just too much for the injury-riddled Bulls to overcome.

Former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who led the Bulls to wins in Games 1 and 2, suffered a fractured right thumb injury in Game 2 and was unable to return in the series.

And while Jimmy Butler had a strong 23-point performance in Game 6, he was hampered to some extent by sore knees which more than anything, seemed to take something away from his explosiveness both as a scorer and to defend at a high level.

The player benefiting most from Butler’s less-than-ideal status health-wise, was Avery Bradley.

After scoring a playoff career-high 24 points in Boston’s Game 5 win, he got off to a fast start in Game 6 with nine of his 23 points scored in the first quarter.

Bradley’s scoring, primarily from 3-point range, was indicative of how the game began for the Celtics.

They opened with a 9-4 run, with all nine points coming from 3-point range.

Chicago got a couple shots to go down, but Boston went on an 8-2 spurt that gave them their first double-digit lead 21-11, after back-to-back dunks by Gerald Green and Al Horford, respectively.

Boston’s control remained strong as the first quarter ended with the Celtics ahead 30-23.

And the Celtics’ second unit picked up where the starters left off by scoring eight of the first 10 points of the second quarter to lead 38-25.

Boston’s second unit helped push the Celtics’ lead to as many as 17 points in the second before the Bulls began to chip away at it.

A lay-up by Chicago’s Paul Zipser capped off an 8-0 run by the Bulls that cut Boston’s lead to 42-33 with 5:50 to play in the first half.

Boston continued to play with in the double-digit neighborhood before closing the quarter by scoring nine of the last 13 points to lead by 13 at the half.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: C's showing heightened sense of urgency

Halftime stars, studs and duds: C's showing heightened sense of urgency

CHICAGO – Only 24 minutes of actual basketball time stand between the Boston Celtics moving on to the Conference semi-finals after a strong start which set the tone for the Celtics’ 54-41 halftime lead over the Chicago Bulls in their Game 6 elimination matchup.
 
A victory tonight will move Boston on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens and the franchise’s first trip since 2012.
 
And while it wasn’t an absolute must-win game for the Celtics, they certainly played with a heightened sense of urgency.
 
Indeed, Boston showed no signs of taking the Bulls for granted as they opened the game with a 9-4 spurt.
 
Minutes later, the Celtics went on an 8-2 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game, 21-11, following back-to-back dunks by Gerald Green and Al Horford, respectively.
 
Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, who is dealing with some knee soreness that impacted his play in Game 5, didn’t have the usual bounce to his game but was still an effective scorer nonetheless with 10 points in the first quarter.
 
Despite Butler’s strong start, the Celtics countered with a balanced scoring attack led by the hero of Game 5, Avery Bradley, who was key to Boston leading 30-23 after the first quarter.
 
The Celtics’ second unit picked up where the starters left off by scoring eight of the first 10 points of quarter to lead 38-25.
 
Boston’s second unit helped push the Celtics’ lead to as many as 17 points before the Bulls began to chip away at it.
 
A lay-up by Chicago’s Paul Zipser capped off an 8-0 run by the Bulls that cut Boston’s lead to 42-33 with 5:50 to play in the first half.
 
Boston continued to play with in the double-digit neighborhood before closing the quarter by scoring nine of the last 13 points to lead by 13 at the half.
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 6 between Boston and Chicago.
 

STARS
 
Jimmy Butler

Major props to Butler who was extremely productive despite being a little more dinged up than most players this time of year because of sore knees. He led all scorers at the half with 17 points.
 
Isaiah Thomas

He continues to show that he’s more than just a guard who can get buckets; but one who can get his teammates good shots as well. He only scored seven points in the first half, but dished out an impressive five assists.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

The 6-foot-2 Bradley continued his strong play at both ends of the floor. In addition to playing good defense against Jimmy Butler, Bradley also had 10 points.
 
Robin Lopez

It was a solid but far from spectacular first half for Lopez who tallied eight points to go with four rebounds.
 
Gerald Green

The Bulls continue to have no answer for Green who tallied 10 first-half points on 4-for-6 shooting.

 

DUDS
 
Dwyane Wade

A near triple-double in Game 5 must have taken more out of Wade than we thought. He was absolutely abysmal in the first half, struggling defensively in addition to missing six of his seven shot attempts with just two points at the half and a plus/minus of -18. Ouch!