Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

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Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

BOSTON As expected, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers battled until the absolute bitter end, with the Celtics coming up short, 88-87, in overtime Thursday night.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were unable to execute in a manner that they have in past years.

And that more than anything else, was at the heart of Thursday's loss, which snapped the Celtics' five-game winning streak.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said coach Doc Rivers.

But there were other contributing factors to the loss. Earlier yesterday, we talked about what to expect in the game; now, we'll take a look at what happened:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Thursday's game should be a low scoring affair. Now normally that's a good thing for Boston, which comes in giving up an NBA-low 86.5 points per game. The Lakers have started to buy into new coach Mike Brown's defensive principles, and the result has been a Lakers squad that's No. 4 in the league in fewest points allowed (91) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: Not surprisingly, both teams slugged it out in a defensive, grind-it-out kind of matchup. In the end, it came down to which team could execute and to some degree, out-effort the other. The numbers don't lie. The Celtics were clobbered in both categories, and yet still had a chance to steal a victory up until literally the final horn sounded.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol. Garnett has been on an incredibly hot streak at both ends of the floor, providing the Celtics with the kind of end-to-end game they desperately need him to deliver. Meanwhile, Gasol continues to be the subject of trade rumors. And while he says he tries not to let it affect him, he's averaging a career-low 16 points per game. It's hard to imagine that the one year where he's a focal point of trade talk just so happens to be the same year in which he struggles offensively.
WHAT WE SAW: This matchup was all Gasol, who scored 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He also managed to grab 14 rebounds. As for Garnett, he'll be the first to tell you that he had an off - really off - night shooting the ball. He had 12 points on 6-for-23 shooting. "I know myself, I probably rushed a couple things," Garnett said. "I was more than hype. I should have calmed down; go to a meditated state, do some yoga on the side. But for the most part, I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you in your building, that's what you want."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has steadily regained the form we saw prior to his right wrist injury. But he hasn't had the breakout-type game he's so overdue to have. This could be that night, especially against Derek Fisher who still a solid defender, but has clearly lost a step or two.
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a solid, but far from spectacular game against the Lakers. He had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also had seven assists. But there was never really moment on Thursday when Rondo took over.

STAT TO TRACK: One of the Celtics' strengths of late has been their ability to score in the paint. During their current five-game winning streak, Boston has outscored opponents by 4.8 points per game in the paint. With the Lakers' Twin Towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, points in the paint will be hard to come by for Boston.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's inability to rebound the ball was a major factor in their loss to the Lakers. The C's were out-rebounded 55-45, and Los Angeles outscored them 24-13 in second-chance points, and 46-38 in points in the paint.

What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

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What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

Across the way from John Farrell in the Rangers dugout this series is a manager who was voted the American League’s best in his first year at the helm, 2015.

Jeff Banister is one of three full-time skippers Rangers president Jon Daniels has had in his time running the Rangers.

Much has been made about how Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski views the manager’s job: that in-game management isn’t the most important, but running the clubhouse is.

How does another top baseball exec look at it? Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast.

“I think manager’s an enormous role,” Daniels said. “Huge importance, I don’t buy into any of the sort of snarky commentary. … What I think sometimes gets a little blown out of proportions, at times whether it’s lineup construction, some of those — the in-game stuff, bullpen management’s very real. 

“Certainly the knowledge of the game is big. I think the ability to teach the game is big. But the No. 1 separator, in my opinion, is managing people. It’s really the word ‘manager.’ Helping to mold the culture in the clubhouse. Getting everybody on the same page. Young players, older players, everybody’s got different self-interests and to be able to get all those unique self-interests enough on the same page for a common goal while representing the club publicly, with the media, with the fans, and doing it under a pretty intense spotlight — I think that’s the biggest piece. Probably the hardest to truly evaluate unless you’re like, in the clubhouse or around the clubhouse on a daily basis and have a sense for who’s good at it, who’s not. That for me is like where guys really separate themselves.”

Asked if he’s ever surprised by player sensitivity, Daniels underscored what stage of life most ballplayers are in.

“Everybody’s different, right?” Daniels said. “So everyone has different insecurities, everyone has different level of ego, grown up in different circumstances. At the end of the day everybody wants a few basic things. You want to be like kind of communicated on a pretty forthright, direct way. You want to be treated with respect. Some guys can handle a little more criticism than others. 

“Some guys can handle a little more criticism from their peers than others can. I think that’s a manager’s job, to understand kind of the different approaches. Players, the guys are in their 20s. Think about where you were when you were first out of college … a few years off that, and your maturity level and really your lack of life experience in a lot of ways. And, kind of like evaluate under those circumstances: you’re going to be somewhat sensitive when you’re in that time period in your life.”

How well a manager handles a clubhouse isn’t something the Rangers, at least, have tried to quantify.

“More anecdotal for me. There may be ways,” Daniels said. “I haven’t really been part of that. If there is [a way] we haven’t figured it out, and we haven’t really tried to do, to be honest with you.”

For the full interview, listen to the podcast below

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are far from being healthy heading into tonight’s must-win Game 5, but they will have all of their players available with the exception of Isaiah Thomas (hip).

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown (right hip) was questionable heading into tonight’s game, but he told CSNNE.com earlier that he was planning to give it a go tonight.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens confirmed later on that the 6-foot-7 rookie would in fact play tonight.

His presence tonight is one of the many keys to Boston’s efforts to keep their season alive.

They trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, with a loss tonight ending their season and with that, sending the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Boston’s Amir Johnson (right shoulder) did not play in Game 4, but will be in uniform and available to play tonight. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 veteran was healthy enough to play in Game 4 but Stevens elected to keep him out of the game because he wanted Johnson to have more than one day to rest his shoulder before potentially playing him again.

In other injury-related news, Stevens confirmed comments made earlier in the day by Danny Ainge regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs after the injury proved to be too much for him to play through at halftime of Boston’s Game 2 loss.

Speaking during 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge said there was “a lot” of inflammation around the affected joint on Thomas’ right hip.

“It had gotten worse from the MRI’s he had before,” said Ainge who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”

Said Stevens: “It sounds to me like the course of action right now … is let the inflammation go down a little bit.”

Ainge said earlier that because of the inflammation, it will likely be at least a couple weeks before Thomas and the Celtics will know if he will require surgery or whether another form of treatment will be needed.

Because of that uncertainty, Ainge stressed that Thomas would not return to play in this series even if it were closer.

“No. No way. He’s done (for the season),” Ainge said.