One Big Three stands in way of the other

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One Big Three stands in way of the other

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI For years, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were hell-bent on breaking through the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

That meant getting past the Detroit Pistons, a perennial NBA power in the early-to-mid 2000s that frequently ended the Cavaliers' season.

Dwyane Wade had similar struggles with the Pistons during that time period as well.

Now teammates with the Heat, both see the Boston Celtics in a similar light on the eve of today's Game 1 second-round matchup.

"They ended all our seasons," James said. "We decided to join forces, Like Captain Planet."

Indeed, Wade and James, along with Chris Bosh from Toronto, have been the most talked-about trio of players since, well, Boston's Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined forces in 2007.

The Celtics' Big Three had their ups and downs in that first year, but those trials and tribulations paid off with Banner 17.

Celtics players from that team understand exactly what the Heat is looking to do right now.

"Even with the players we had, it wasn't easy breaking through," Boston forward Glen Davis told CSNNE.com recently. "But when you break through, you know it. Everybody knows. Then it becomes about staying on top."

And that brings us to today's game, one that features a team that has already achieved great success - Boston - against a Miami Heat team that is expected to win it all this year - just months after coming together.

From a championship-like celebration before the season started, to all the talk about winning multiple championships, the pressure to bring home the Heat's second NBA title has been on from the very beginning.

As much as Miami players embrace that role, they understand that it's not going to be easy.

And if they are to in fact do it, it'll have to include dethroning an aging - but still very dangerous - Celtics team.

"At some point, if they're healthy and they play well, for you to get to the top, you will have to go through them," Miami's Zydrunas Ilgauskas told CSNNE.com. "At some point, you're going to run into them. That's OK. You want to beat the best to be the best. We wouldn't have it any other way."

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

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.