Boston Celtics

Rondo, Celtics cool down after strong start

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Rondo, Celtics cool down after strong start

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI When the Boston Celtics are rolling over teams, chances are good that Rajon Rondo will get much of the praise.

And when the C's get smashed, well, you can bet there will be more than a few eyeballs staring at Rondo.

There's no question Rondo didn't have one of his better games against Miami, as the Celtics lost, 100-77.

Against the Heat, Rondo had seven points with five assists and three turnovers.

But just like Boston's wins are always bigger than Rondo, the same holds true for the losses.

Rondo's ability to attack the Miami Heat defense at the start of Sunday's game, propelled the C's to an 8-0 lead.

And then . . . it all stopped.

He wasn't driving to the basket as much, the Celtics defense was breaking down, and before you knew it, Boston was on its heels and never recovered.

After the game, Rondo explained how Boston's struggles defensively after that fast start, coupled with a slew of turnovers, made it much more difficult for him to break down the Miami defense, which is among the better ones in the NBA. Boston was also hurt by the Heat shooting better than 50 percent from the field and getting most of the "5050" balls which led to a sizable advantage in second-chance points (18-3, Miami) and fast-break points (12-3, Miami).

"It's hard to push the tempo when you turn the ball over, walking the ball up the court every time," he said. "Taking the ball out of the net. You can't get a rhythm or easy baskets because of Miami's set defense."

Coach Doc Rivers thought the Celtics, more than anything else, got away from what was working to start the game.

"We came out, and I loved what we were doing," Rivers said. "We kept the game simple. Then all of a sudden, we went in that stretch where every play had to be brilliant. Throwing lobs to J.O. Jermaine O'Neal, and cross-court passes where they are intercepted. That just gave Miami life."

And for Boston, it was pretty close to a death sentence in their hopes of securing the No. 2 seed in the East.

With the loss, the Celtics (55-25) are a game behind Miami (56-24), which finishes on the road at Atlanta and Toronto, respectively.

If the two were to finish in a tie, Boston would then get the No. 2 seed by virtue of winning the head-to-head with Miami this season.

Tie-breakers are far from on the mind of the Celtics these days.

Instead, they're more concerned about breaking out of this funk they're in, which comes on the eve of the playoffs beginning this weekend.

Boston has two games to figure out how to get on track before the games that really count, are here.

Rondo isn't so sure these two games will be enough.

But come playoff time, he has no worries.

"We'll be right when the time comes," Rondo said. "First game of the playoffs, we'll be ready."

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

Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

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Gordon Hayward opens up about disappointment of losing Isaiah Thomas

Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Boston to play with Isaiah Thomas.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The Celtics traded Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a package for Kyrie Irving. Hayward explained what it was like for him to learn he and Thomas would not get the chance to hit the court together in Celtics' green.

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"My first reaction was to text I.T., and wish him the best," Hayward wrote in a blog post which he published Thursday. "That was a really strange moment because I’d really been looking forward to playing with him. He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

"All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

"But that is just how the business works. I have spent enough years in the NBA to realize that things can change like that, in an instant. Still, even though we didn’t necessarily get to be teammates, I’m definitely going to be watching him as a fan. In this league, I think we are all rooting for each other in some way or another—just to try to stay healthy, to try to be the best we can be."

Hayward may be genuine about rooting for Thomas -- except perhaps when he faces off against the Cavaliers in the season-opener on Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Thomas is uncertain to play due to a hip injury. But the two teams are expected to see each other in the Eastern Conference Finals again after the 2017-18 season. This preview will be an opportunity for Thomas and Irving to get their first shot at revenge against their previous team.

The trade wasn't all bad for Hayward, he explained. He was pleased at the prospect of playing with Irving. Hayward cited Irving's abilities in 1-on-1 situations and clutch moments. He appreciated Irving's scoring ability, because Hayward knows the point guard will open up space for Hayward to knock down open shots. Above all, Hayward seemed to value Irving's unique experience.

"And then getting a chance to play with LeBron James, and going to the Finals three straight years—those are experiences that are invaluable and that you really can’t teach," Hayward wrote. "Having that experience of playing in those big moments, dealing with the circus of the media, dealing with expectations, those are all things that I think he can help us with. Because most of us, myself especially, have never been through that."

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