Free throw disadvantage hurting Celtics

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Free throw disadvantage hurting Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have broken down all the different reasons that have contributed to their 2-0 series hole against the Miami Heat.

While there's no disputing the C's must step their game up in several areas, none appears more obvious than free throws.

Although Boston has committed just five more fouls (48-43) in the two games than the Heat, Miami has taken 14 more free throw attempts in each game.

A big reason for that is the Heat's 1-2 punch of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have been in attack mode both games, driving into the paint, looking to finish while drawing contact.

Limiting the Celtics' ability to get to the line has been part of the defensive game plan for the Heat.

"We're trying to be active and keep the ball in front of us," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "It's a whole lot easier said than done against that team."

But having James and Wade certainly helps.

"Our game is we're attackers," Wade said. "Myself, LeBron, we're two of the (best) attackers, getting points in the paint, putting pressure on defense. Whatever the game calls for, we have the team that can do it."

James and Wade both rank among the top 10 players in the postseason in free throw attempts, coming in at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

The highest ranked Celtics player in the postseason in free throw attempts is Rajon Rondo, who is ranked 21st with a total of 36 free throws taken.

"We're not trying to be anybody different than we have been during the regular season," Spoelstra said. "We're a team that does attack. We're a team that does try to get opportunities in the paint, that does try to get to the free throw line. That's not something new we're trying to do now."

The Celtics, meanwhile, haven't attacked the paint with the same kind of force or focus.

Part of that has to do with Paul Pierce, the C's best at attacking the basket, being limited in both games.

In Game 1, he was ejected after picking up a second technical foul with seven minutes to play.

And in Game 2, Pierce spent most of the first half on the bench or in the trainer's room after suffering what he later said was a left Achilles strain.

Pierce was able to return, but missed his first five shots after stepping back on the floor.

The injury is not considered serious enough to keep the Captain out of tonight's pivotal Game 3 matchup.

"It was a minor strain," Pierce said. "But it's doing good."

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

Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

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Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

There’s a high likelihood the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel in connection with the June 23 draft, in which the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, ESPN’s Chad Ford reported.

The Celtics, who have the No. 3 pick, have been rumored to be willing to part with it in a deal that includes Okafor.

Ford said in an interview with Philadelphia-area radio station ESPN 97.3:

You will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season. I think that they'll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn't necessarily work.

The Sixers are expected to choose LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the top pick.  Ford and Marc Stein also reported Philly’s willingness to deal Okafor or Noel in this ESPN article. 

As a deal with the Celtics for the No. 3 pick, Ford told 97.3:

Absolutely…If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow. I don't know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that's Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you've got a very, very bright future. I think that's an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.

 

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

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Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas earns All-NBA team votes

BOSTON – Isaiah Thomas was among the breakout performers in the NBA this past season, earning the Celtics guard his first All-Star appearance in the process. 

And when the league announced its three All-NBA teams on Thursday, Thomas was among the contingent of players receiving votes.
 
Thomas, who averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game this past season, received a total of 20 points which was more than perennial standouts Pau Gasol (16 points) of Chicago, Dirk Nowitzki (8 points) of Dallas and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (2 points).
 
Golden State’s Stephen Curry was a unanimous first-team selection as he was named to the first team on all 129 ballots submitted for a total of 645 points. Points for first, second and third team nominations were awarded on a 5-3-1 basis.
 
Joining Curry on the first team was LeBron James who was named to the first Team for the 10th time in his 13 NBA seasons; San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
The second team includes Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland’s Damian Lillard.

On the third team, there’s Paul George of Indiana, LaMarcus Aldridge of San Antonio, Andre Drummond of Detroit, Klay Thompson of Golden State and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.