Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

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Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

BOSTON -- In baseball, players are often instructed to put the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences.

So in basketball it would only make sense to keep the ball in motion instead of looking for the home run play, right?

Sometimes a simple approach doesnt seem so, well, simple.

The Boston Celtics have struggled this season with execution and turnovers. Flashy passes have landed out of bounds or in the hands of defenders. Basic fundamentals have fallen to the wayside at times, with the Celtics averaging 15.6 turnovers per game this season.

The Cs look to clean up these frustrating errors in the second half of the season.

I think too often were trying to make the home run play, said Ray Allen. We just have to be simple out there, just moving the ball to the guy in front of you and that guy moving and penetrating and moving. For us, you might have one home run play out of ten and we just have to know that we have to take care of the ball and weve got to make the simple play, the simple pass 90 percent of the time.

The Celtics committed 14 turnovers on Wednesday night in their 102-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, two less than Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and four less than last weeks game against the Oklahoma City Thunder before the All-Star Break.

Allen believes the turnovers are related to the Celtics offensive struggles this season, with errors preventing them from getting the ball in the basket. While the Celtics entered Wednesday's game ranked third in the NBA in opponents scoring (88.4 points per game allowed), they also ranked 26th overall in scoring (89.3 points per game).

Our struggles are a source of aggravation for me because I know we have a lot of scorers on this team and a lot of time we just are in our own way, Allen said. You over dribble or you turn the ball over, those are two things that keep us from putting the ball in the hole. We can play defense but we have to score.

Even though it is a team effort, Rajon Rondo looks to himself to set the execution in motion as the point guard. This season he is averaging 3.8 per game, up from 3.4 last season.

It starts with me, he said. I try to keep my turnovers down. When theyre high, my team is high. Tonight I think I only had three, which is ok except for the turnover in the fourth quarter. We want to get better.

Kevin Garnett believes one way to help solve the Celtics problem is by having more practices. Those opportunities have been hard to come by in this shortened season, and players have had less chances to run through plays and fix their errors on the practice court.

Its being smart, Garnett said. One of the things we talk about is cutting our turnovers down. I think we have a lot of times to blow a lot of teams out, but the reason why teams are in some games is because we turn the ball over.

Im going to continue to say this in another outfit, as you rewind the tapes and see it again, you just cant step on the floor without practice. Practice cleans all this up. It gives you a rhythm as a whole and it makes you better. It makes you a lot more confident in your teammate and knowing where his spots are and just a different kind of continuity.

When you know you turn the ball over, some of those fancy passes are not so motivating. Weve just to continue to take care of the ball and win these games and continue to see just how many games we can win through all this.

Now in the second half of the season, how can the Celtics focus on simple basketball and cut back on turnovers without having the luxury of practice time to do so? It has to be a concerted effort each and every game.

If I had that (answer) then I dont think wed be going through what were going through, said Garnett. I know Doc (Rivers), if he had it, he would put it in a jar and give it to everybody to drink.

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.