May 25, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) meet after game five of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James and Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas meet after game five of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

In the moments after becoming the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer in a Game 5 rout of the Celtics and heading to the NBA Finals for a seventh straight year, LeBron James began his press conference Thursday night talking about his friend, Isaiah Thomas.

The superstar came up to Thomas after the game on the court and gave him an embrace. After the game, he explained why.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen him since he didn’t return for the second half in Game 2,” James said of Thomas’ season-ending hip injury. “Throughout the series we didn’t get an opportunity to actually have that moment. I know I said a few things in the media about the situation he was going through, but I was happy to see him. Just give him a big hug from myself and my family.

“Just how tough and determined the guy is, and to be able to go through the situation he was going through on a day-to-day basis, still being focused and maintaining his focus for the team — family is everything, and basketball comes second after family, and to see him perform the way he was performing throughout the playoffs under the circumstances was a treat to watch. A lot more words were said, but that’s the gist of it.”

“They were playing basketball at such a high level,” Kyrie Irving added. “And honestly, we didn’t want IT to go down. But the way that guy has played, I mean, the way he was playing, he’s deserving of all the credit that he’s gotten.”

James and Irving were clearly impressed by how Thomas dealt with the death of his sister, Chyna, on the eve of the playoffs on April 15. Then, in Game 1 of the second round against Washington, he broke three front teeth in his mouth before seeing his season end with a hip injury sustained in Game 6 against the Wizards.

James was asked, given how far the Celtics made it this season and that they also own the No. 1 pick, if he thinks it’s likely he’ll see them again next season deep in the playoffs.

“I don’t know. That’s a question that none of us can answer in here. They have a great team right now,” James said. “IT is going to come back healthy. They have the No. 1 pick; we’ll see what they do with that. But I can’t answer that question and know if we’re going to play them in the Eastern Conference finals next year. I have no idea.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

There would be no magical comeback on this night. There would be no slow start from LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. There would be only complete domination from start to finish by the defending NBA champions and an end to the Celtics upstart playoff run. 

May 25, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) dribbles the ball around Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of game five of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Bradley and the Celtics were overwhelmed by LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern finals Thursday at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

There would be no magical comeback on this night. There would be no slow start from LeBron James or Kyrie Irving. There would be only complete domination from start to finish by the defending NBA champions and an end to the Celtics upstart playoff run. 

Kyrie Irving opened the third quarter with three bullseyes from beyond the arc as part of his 24-point performance while James added 35 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead the Cavaliers past the Celtics, 135-102, Thursday night at TD Garden in Game 5 of the Eastern finals. The Cavaliers win the series, 4-1, and advance to meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals starting June 1 in Oakland. It is the first time in NBA history that two teams will meet for three straight seasons. The two rivals have split the previous two encounters. 

The Celtics were outscored by 13, 44 and 33 points in the most lopsided series of home losses in the Celtics playoff history. 

The start of the game was a continuation of the 44-point destruction in the last game played in Boston. For the third time in five games, Kevin Love opened the contest with a three. Marcus Smart responded to tied the game at 3. It would be the only time Boston would be tied the rest of the night. Love’s turnaround hook shot with 93 seconds into the game gave Cleveland the lead for good, 5-3.  

The Celtics looked horrid while the Cavaliers looked like a team that wanted no part of a Game 6 back in Cleveland. 

Kelly Olynyk’s airball on a three led to a J.R. Smith leak out, dunk and timeout from Brad Stevens. Four minutes later, LeBron James put a move on Al Horford and drove to the basket for a dunk, triggering the second timeout of the quarter from Stevens. It was 28-12 and the rout was in full throttle. 

In between the Olynyk airball and the LeBron dunk, the Celtics had three turnovers, a missed Avery Bradley layup and blocks from James and Tristan Thompson.

Down 19-10 after two free throws from Thompson, the crowd that battled through horrific traffic outside began chanting “Let’s Go Celtics”. 

A three-point play from Kyrie Irving with 2:45 left, the Celtics trailed 37-16, bringing the score to 167-102 Cleveland in the last five quarters of basketball in Boston going back to the start of Game 2. 

The Celtics made a mini-run to cut the lead to 37-22. But James hit a 19-foot fallaway as the shot clock was expiring and Irving drained a three for a 43-23 Cleveland advantage. The Celtics closed it to 43-27 at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland’s 43 points fell just two shy of the all-time NBA playoff record for most points in an opening period, set in 1985 by the Lakers and matched by three others since.

(For a full box score, click here).

The second quarter started off on a promising note as the Celtics cut the lead to 13 on a Jae Crowder three-point play. But the Cavaliers responded with a 16-6 run to build a 23-point lead at 59-36. The half again appeared to end on a positive note for the Celtics as Avery Bradley scored six straight points to cut the lead to 73-57.

But the Cavaliers scored a basket on a goaltending call on Al Horford that caused Brad Stevens to flail angrily on the sidelines. The Cavs took a 75-57 lead to the locker room at the half. The 75 points marked a franchise playoff record for the Cavs while the 75 points were the most in a playoff game since May 9, 2003 when the Mavericks scored 83 against Sacramento in Game 2 of the Western semifinals.

Irving nailed a three in the face of Crowder to open the third quarter and another two minutes later to extend Cleveland’s lead to 83-61. Irving hit his third triple of the opening four minutes of the half to extend the Cavaliers to an 86-63 lead. James drove to the basket uncontested with 6:38 left in the third to put the Cavaliers up, 90-65, sending fans to the exits. 

One sequence said it all in the third quarter. Irving flew in for an offensive rebound, dished to LeBron for a one-handed slam. That was followed by a muscle flex to the VIPs under the Celtics basket. One possession later, J.R. Smith canned a three from the right wing and it was 95-65. The Cavaliers closed the third quarter ahead, 109-74 as fans began taking photos with Brian Scalabrine in the media section before heading for the exits. 

Most of the starters came out of the game with eight minutes left and the Cavaliers up 39 points, 115-76. 

As the game ended, the crowd gave the Celtics a standing ovation amidst “Let’s Go Celtics” chants. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Here are five things that you need to know before tip-off of the Celtics’ Game 5 against the Cavaliers Thursday night at TD Garden: 

  1. Kyrie Irving is feeling it. LeBron James was sent to the bench in the second quarter of Game 4, but Irving never missed a step. Despite an ankle tweak, he went on to score 42 points and dish out four assists. Avery Bradley did as well as he could on Irving, but Game 5 is going to be about the Celtics rotation on the backend of the defense to help alleviate the pressure of the one-on-one defense. 
  2. Celtics ball movement is there, and the scoring will come. There is no doubt about it that the Celtics ball movement makes them one of the most difficult teams to guard, but there needs to be an intent to score the ball. In the 111-108 Game 3 win, the Celtics had 28 assists and in the Game 5 loss they tallied 26. It’s not about making the extra passes as it is now about finishing and converting on each possession in Game 6. 
  3. Marcus Smart and Al Horford are the game changers. Despite going 1-for-9 in Game 4, Smart was coming off a 27-point performance in Game 3. Recall games 5 and 7 of the Wizards serie
    The Celtics will host the Cavs beginning Wednesday night. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

    The Celtics will host the Cavs beginning Wednesday night. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

    s. The Celtics were successful because of Smarts all-around solid performances and padding of the stat sheets. In Game 5 he scored nine points, grabbed 11 rebounds and gave out six assists while in Game 7 he went for 13 points, six rebounds and four assists. Horford’s 16-point performance in Game 5 was a quiet one, but if he can to the paint and use his stepback fadeaway shot, he will be difficult to stop. 
  4. Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder are probable while Jaylen Brown is questionable. Johnson, who didn’t play in Game 4, is listed as probable for Thursday evening, but Crowder, who hit the ground after an uncomfortable fall in Game 4, joins him on that list. Crowder had a solid outing in Game 4 with 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Brown also looked uncomfortable at the end of the third quarter after a strong take to the basket and taking a moment on the baseline before getting up. He remains questionable for Game 5 with a hip pointer.
  5. The Celtics are HOME. In the last home appearance of the series, the crowd was vocal with its disappointment in the Celtics performance. Bradley’s game-winning three-pointer with 1/10 of a second left on the clock in Game 3 kept the series alive for another game in Boston. The crowd will be vocal and on edge to push the Celtics one game closer to even the series. 
Blog Author: 
Olivia Healy

LeBron James struggles were noticeable in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals and following the game Richard Jefferson said James was sick, leaving speculation James’ illness also plagued him in Game 4.

LeBron James struggles were noticeable in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals and following the game Richard Jefferson said James was sick, leaving speculation James’ illness also plagued him in Game 4. Despite noticeable sniffles while talking to the media during the Cavaliers shoot around prior to Game 5, James said, “I’ll be alright.”

When asked if James considered sitting out Game 3 because he was sick James simply responded, “Never.”

http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/video/2017/05/25/1495724023046-170525-shootaround-coach-1444309/

Kyrie Irving rolled his ankle late in the third quarter of Game 4 when he went up for a layup and stepped on Terry Rozier’s foot. The injury wasn’t expected to force Irving to the bench for Game 5 and after today’s shoot around it doesn’t appear Irving’s ankle is bothering him at all.

“He’s good,” said Tyronn Lue. “He’s playing. He is shooting right now. He’s good.”

 

 

The Cavaliers are nine for their last nine in closeout games, but the Cavs aren’t overlooking the C’s.

“It’s going to be tough. They made it tough on us in Cleveland and now coming into this house this environment is going to be tough,” said Lue. “I just think we have to come out with a defensive mindset and physicality.”

“We understand the closeout game is always the toughest, especially on the road,” James added. “We have been in this situation before. We look forward to the challenge.” 

Blog Author: 
John Hand

The Celtics may have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next month, but it looks like one of the top prospects in this year’s class isn’t interested in playing for them.

It doesn't appear as if Lonzo Ball is interested in playing for the Celtics. (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

It doesn’t appear as if Lonzo Ball is interested in playing for the Celtics. (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics may have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next month, but it looks like one of the top prospects in this year’s class isn’t interested in playing for them.

In a radio interview Thursday, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said prized point guard Lonzo Ball informed the team he won’t workout for them prior to the Draft. With that in mind, it appears increasingly likely the Celtics will select guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington with the top selection. 

There have been questions about whether Ball would want to play in Boston, considering his Los Angeles roots. His father, LaVar Ball, hasn’t been shy about his desire to see his boy play for the hometown squad. 

“I want him to be a Laker. But that’s just my opinion,” he said on Dale & Holley with Keefe in March. “It’s not about me liking [the Celtics] or disliking them. It’s just that we’re west coast guys,” he said. “I’d love for him to stay on the west coast where his brothers can see him all of the time. We’re a real big family. That’s just the only difference.”

While LaVar Ball’s brashness is unusual, it’s not unprecedented for a father to seemingly exert influence over his son’s professional sports career. Archie Manning advised the Chargers to not pick his son, Eli Manning, in the 2004 NFL Draft. San Diego selected Manning anyway, but wound up trading him to the Giants. 

That’s not to say Ball wouldn’t sign with the Celtics if they draft him. But he’s making his preferences clear. 

Blog Author: 
Alex Reimer

On the brink of elimination at the hands of the defending NBA champs, the Celtics may have to try and survive Game 5 without one of their bright spots of this series in first-year pro Jaylen Brown. 

Jaylen Brown is questionable for Game 5. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown is questionable for Game 5. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

On the brink of elimination at the hands of the defending NBA champs, the Celtics may have to try and survive Game 5 without one of their bright spots of this series in first-year pro Jaylen Brown. 

One night after recording nine points in 20 minutes of Game 4’s 112-99 loss at Quicken Loans Arena, the Celtics have announced Brown as questionable for Thursday’s game with a right hip pointer. 

An attempted answer to Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who still torched the C’s for 34 points in 38 minutes despite his first half foul trouble behind a ridiculous 15-for-27 from the field, Brown joins Amir Johnson (shoulder) and Jae Crowder (groin).

But both Johnson and Crowder have been given the ‘probable’ tag by the Celtics versus the aforementioned ‘questionable’ designation on Brown.

The 20-year-old Brown has averaged 4.9 points per game and 12.9 minutes per night in 16 playoff games this spring. 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson