Celtics look to home court to stop the bleeding

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Celtics look to home court to stop the bleeding

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Nobody said this march toward Banner 18 was going to be easy for the Boston Celtics.

But as it stands now, the path could not be much tougher.

The Celtics are down 2-0 to the Miami Heat, a team that's younger, more athletic and, right now, playing with the kind of swagger the Celtics aren't used to having to deal with this early in the playoffs.

Just when it seemed the Celtics were turning the corner on what has been a season filled with injuries, Paul Pierce (left Achilles strain), Ray Allen (chest) and Rajon Rondo (back) all left the floor at some point in Game 2 with injuries.

And we're not even going to get into the Shaq-who-cried-wolf tale that seems to have no ending in sight.

It all adds up to the Celtics returning to the TD Garden for Game 3 on Saturday in as dire a hole as we've seen this core group.

"We need to go protect our home court, period," said Kevin Garnett. "There isn't much to talk about. It's do-or-die."

Indeed, the Celtics are banking on a change of scenery being just what they need in order to gain some footing in a series in which they are sinking fast.

"They held their serve at home," said Pierce. "Now it's our job to go home and get two wins."

Boston was among the NBA's best teams at home during the regular season, compiling a 33-8 record. Only Chicago and San Antonio, which each finished 36-5, were better.

The Celtics' home-court advantage was on display in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks, a team the C's defeated in both Game 1 and 2 of that series in Boston.

Home or away, it really doesn't matter at this point for the Celtics.

"We just have to win," said Rajon Rondo. "I thought we had a decent sense of urgency (in Game 2 against the Heat), but we didn't play smart down the stretch. We have to find a way to get stops those last three minutes of the game."

Limiting Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the closing minutes of quarters, is among the issues that the C's have to work through between now and Game 3.

After spending most of Game 2 playing from behind, the Celtics rallied to tie the score at 80-80 in the fourth.

The Heat responded with a 14-0 run to put the C's away with James scoring seven of his game-high 35 points during the spurt.

And while the C's clearly have to make some adjustments in how they defend Wade and James, the biggest change needs to come about in their attitude.

Points. Defensive stops. Turnovers.

The Celtics are allowing all these things to happen too easily, a trend they have to reverse.

Boston prides itself in being a defensive-minded team first. But far too often, their struggles offensively have dictated their play defensively and for a team that's serious about winning a championship, that can't happen.

"They've played well and we can't allow them to play like this or it's going to be tough at our place," Rivers said. "Bottom line is we have to go back and take a look at what we're doing, fix it and be ready for Game 3."

Part of that process of preparation involved giving the players Wednesday off to, according to Rivers, "do whatever they want to do, just stay away from each other, stay away from film and stay away from basketball. Just relax. We'll get right back at it (practicing) the next day."

Then comes more specific adjustments that the Celtics hope will get them a much-needed win to get back into this series.

"We'll be ready (for Game 3), I can guarantee you that," Rivers said.

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

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

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Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

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Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

By Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk

This is a sad and stunning development.

Bryce Dejean-Jones, the rookie guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, has died, the Dallas, Texas, County Coroner has confirmed to NBC Sports. Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune broke the news.

Dejean-Jones was just 23.

The coroner’s office would not give a cause of death, but Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had the tragic detail.