Tagged in: boston

Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, responding to Kevin Durant trade speculation, says ‘I love our team,’ doesn’t wear GM hat

As speculation surrounding Kevin Durant’s future continues to hover over the NBA, Boston Celtics star swingman Jayson Tatum made it clear that as much as he respects Durant’s game, he is happy with how his team stands now.

“I played with [Durant] during the Olympics,” Tatum stated Tuesday night prior to the premiere of the Showtime documentary “Point Gods.” “Obviously, he’s a great player, but that’s not my decision. I love our team. I love the guys that we got.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported early Monday that the Celtics were among the teams to engage in talks with the Nets regarding Durant’s availability, after the two-time Finals MVP requested a trade from Brooklyn last month.

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Regarding the discussions surrounding Durant and the Celtics, Tatum stated he doesn’t “make anything of it” and emphasized several times during a brief question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters that he is happy with Boston’s roster as currently constructed.

“We got two new pieces [in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari],” Tatum said. “I love our team. I just go out there and play with my teammates. I don’t put that [general manager] hat on to make decisions.”

Durant, who is an executive producer on the documentary, did not stop to speak to reporters.

He took a few photos on the carpet prior to the premiere, but quickly walked into the theater.

Durant’s manager and business partner, Rich Kleiman, also an executive producer on the documentary, declined to discuss the star’s request to be traded.

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Celtics roll past Heat 127-102, tie Eastern finals at 1-1

Jayson Tatum scored 27 points, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown each had 24 and the Boston Celtics dominated the first half to roll past the Miami Heat 127-102 on Thursday night and tie the Eastern Conference finals at a game each.

Smart was a rebound shy of a triple-double, after adding 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Grant Williams scored 19 points for Boston, which used a 17-0 run late in the first quarter — fueled by five 3-pointers in the span of six possessions — to take control. Payton Pritchard and Al Horford each had 10 for the Celtics.

Jimmy Butler had 29 points in 32 minutes for Miami, which fell to 7-1 at home in these playoffs. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladpio each scored 14 points, and Tyler Herro added 11 for the Heat.

The Celtics — now 4-0 in these playoffs in the game immediately following a loss — made 20 shots from 3-point range to Miami’s 10. Game 3 is Saturday in Boston.

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And the margin could have been worse: Boston led by as many as 34 points in the fourth, putting this game on the cusp of really good Celtics history and really bad Heat history.

The Celtics’ record for biggest postseason victory ever is 40, the Heat record for biggest postseason loss ever is 36, and those numbers were within reach before a meaningless Miami run over the final moments.

Boston trailed by 10 in the first quarter, then outscored Miami 60-21 over the next 18 minutes — a 39-point turnaround that wound up leading to a 70-45 halftime lead.

The 25-point halftime lead was the biggest by the Celtics in any road playoff game, topping a 22-point edge at the break at Chicago in 2009.

Brown had 11 points in the first quarter, when the Celtics went 9 for 11 from 3-point range.

Tatum then had 17 points in the second and Boston kept pulling away, on a day where everything went the Celtics’ way.

They learned earlier in the day that two starters — Horford (virus-related issues) and Smart (mid-foot sprain) — were cleared to play in Game 2 after missing the series opener.

“I got to get my rest, got to get my health back, got to watch and see some things and come out and execute in this game,” Smart stated.

And the good news kept coming well into the night.

Butler did all he could to try and manufacture a comeback, scoring 16 points in the third quarter and getting the Heat within 17. But a 12-2 run late in the quarter by the Celtics restored a 27-point edge.

The lead was 96-71 going into the fourth and the outcome was never remotely close to being in question the rest of the way.

Miami didn’t even use its starters in the fourth quarter.

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Spoelstra, Udoka have Heat and Celtics ready for East finals

There is enormous respect between those men, who have known one another for decades and have deep ties. Spoelstra coaches the Miami Heat, Udoka is in his first season coaching the Boston Celtics, and one of them will be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Game 1 of the East title series is Tuesday night, the top-seeded Heat playing host to the second-seeded Celtics.

“We have great respect for what they’ve done during the regular season, to develop the right habits,” stated Spoelstra, now in his 14th season after taking over as Miami coach for Hall of Famer Pat Riley. “And like I said, this is the way it should be — the two teams that played most consistently at the top of the East for most of the year, and we’re meeting in the conference finals to figure it out.”

The Heat needed five games to get past Atlanta in Round 1, then six games to oust Philadelphia in the East semifinals. Boston swept Brooklyn in Round 1, then ended Milwaukee’s reign as NBA champions by finishing off a seven-game series victory in the other East semi that ended Sunday.

It’s a rematch of the 2020 East finals, held in the restart bubble at Walt Disney World, when Miami topped Boston 4-2 to earn a berth in the NBA Finals. That was the third East finals loss in a four-year span for members of the Celtics — and many of the players from some of or all those defeats, like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, are Boston’s core today.

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“This is the group I feel like is poised enough to get it done,” Brown said. “I feel like everything that we’ve overcome — all these battles and challenges and adversity we’ve been through this season, as well as the challenge that we just had overcoming the defending champions — I think that we are prepared. I think we’re ready to take that next step. We’ve just got to go out and take it.”

For its part, Miami — seeking a seventh trip to the NBA Finals and what would be a sixth in the last 12 seasons — isn’t looking back at the bubble win or much of anything else, All-Star forward Jimmy Butler insisted.

“We just want to focus in on today, right now, the group of guys that we get to go to war with every single day,” Butler said.

So, players might not look back.

It’s a little different for the coaches.

Udoka remembers meeting Spoelstra when he was a kid — at 44, Udoka is seven years younger than Spoelstra — and watching him play in pro-am runs alongside other Portland basketball legends like Damon Stoudemire.

Udoka played against Spoelstra-coached Heat teams four times before becoming a coach, spending the bulk of his years as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.

Hence, the Olympic ties they share: Popovich was USA Basketball’s coach in the last Olympic cycle, and asked Udoka and Spoelstra to be part of his circle of confidants for that journey.

“He’s always had success,” Udoka said of Spoelstra. “One of the best coaches in the league, in my opinion. It’ll be a task for us because he has his team well-prepared, hard-fought, Heat Culture mentality. I got to know him on a more personal level in that time spent in Tokyo in preparations for the Olympics, but I’ve known Erik for a while.”

They’ll know each other a little better after the next couple weeks.

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Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year award for first time

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Monday.

It’s the first DPOY award for Smart, who is the first guard to take home the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995-96 season. Payton was on hand at the Celtics practice facility Monday to give Smart the award.

In a social media post later Monday, Smart stated he was “blown away” by the honor.

Smart received 257 points (37 first-place votes) to finish first in voting. Forward Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns (202 points, 22 first-place votes) and center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz (136 points, 12 first-place votes) ended up second and third, respectively, in voting from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

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Smart concluded the season ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) for a Celtics team that led the league in defensive rating (106.2) and points allowed per game (104.5). He also was ranked fifth among all NBA guards with a defensive rating of 105.2, and was first in the league with 1.1 loose balls recovered per game.

Smart, who started each of the 71 regular-season games he played, also finished tied for 10th in deflections (106) and charges drawn (16) and had a career-high 3.2 defensive rebounds per game.

The eighth-year player is the second Celtic ever to win DPOY, joining Kevin Garnett (2007-08).

Big men have dominated the award since its inception in 1982. Smart and Payton are only the two point guards to have won it. Shooting guards have won it another five times, but none since Michael Jordan in 1988. And centers and forwards have won all the rest, including Gobert in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Speaking last month, Smart said guards deserve more respect in the voting. “I’m not taking anything from the bigs,” he told ESPN.

“A vital part of the game is protecting the paint. But, as guards, we do a lot more before [our man] gets to the paint. … Contesting the 3, contesting pull-ups, making sure he doesn’t get to his spots.”

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Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry has sprained left foot, expected to return by playoffs

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is expected to return for the beginning of the Western Conference playoffs with a left foot sprain, but will undergo further evaluation with specialists, sources told ESPN.

Curry and the Warriors are conferring with Dr. Richard Ferkel, a renowned foot specialist, on the injury, sources said.

Curry suffered the injury in a collision with Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart on Wednesday night, and an MRI overnight revealed the foot sprain. There’s no structural damage and Curry is considered to have avoided serious injury, sources said.

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The play occurred in the second quarter when Curry and Smart dove for a loose ball and Smart rolled on top of Curry’s leg.

Curry initially tried to walk off the pain but left the game after being checked out on the bench. After halftime, he was ruled out for the rest of the night.

Neither Warriors coach Steve Kerr or forward Draymond Green called the play on which Curry was injured dirty but deemed it “dangerous” and “unnecessary.”

“I saw the ball, I dove for the ball, trying to make a play,” Smart stated after the game. “Unfortunately, that occurred.”

Curry’s injury comes just two games after Green returned from a back injury that held him out two-and-a-half months. Curry, Green and Klay Thompson, who returned from two-and-a-half-month hiatus in January, have played just 11 minutes together this campaign.

“It seems like every time we get someone back, someone else goes down,” Green said. “So, it’s definitely a worry.”

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Ball’s triple-double carries Hornets past Celtics, 111-102

LaMelo Ball had a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 111-102 triumph over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Terry Rozier led Charlotte with 28 points against his former team. Miles Bridges scored 22 and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 for the Hornets, who won for the ninth time in 12 matches.

“To come in here and get a win — we want to make a statement,” Rozier said. “We want to get to where they’re at as an organization.”

Dennis Schröder paced Boston with 24 points. Jaylen Brown scored 21 and Al Horford had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“I thought we had a lot of good looks and we moved the ball really well,” Brown said. “They made a lot of tough baskets. They came and outplayed us.”

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Boston star Jayson Tatum was hampered by foul trouble and concluded with just 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting in 35 minutes. The Celtics had won five of six.

“I thought part of the foul trouble affected him overall as well as some other guys,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “That was my message to the team: Impact the game when the shot’s not falling.”

The Celtics were just 14 of 46 on 3-point attempts.

Boston sliced a 12-point deficit to 88-84 early in the final quarter but Charlotte scored 10 of the next 14 points, pulling ahead 98-88 on Oubre’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:55 to play. Ball had nailed a 3 from the left corner two minutes earlier.

“The competitiveness and resiliency was there in the fourth quarter,” Hornets coach James Borrego said.

The Celtics cut it to 102-96 on Horford’s 3 with 2:48 left, but Ball nailed a 3 from in front of Boston’s bench and Rozier followed with one on the Hornets’ next possession.

Boston trimmed the margin to six one more time, but Rozier nailed another 3 to seal it in the final minute.

Ball grabbed a rebound with 0.2 seconds left to complete his triple-double. He said Bridges reminded him how close he was.

“He was like: ‘Box out and you’ll get that last rebound,’” Ball said, pointing to Bridges sitting next to him at the postgame news conference. ”I said, ‘Oh, you’re right!”

Rozier hit three from beyond the arc in a 62-second span of the third quarter, pushing the Hornets’ lead to 75-61. They were up 86-74 entering the fourth.

“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Rozier said. “We just want to keep going. We’re not satisfied. We’ve got to stay humble and keep on having fun and playing out there. That’s the main thing.”

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Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo in protocols, ruled out for Wednesday, but Khris Middleton (knee) questionable

The Milwaukee Bucks listed Giannis Antetokounmpo as out for Wednesday’s game versus the Indiana Pacers after he was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols Tuesday night.

Antetokounmpo went into the protocols a day after scoring 20 points in 34 minutes in a 117-103 loss to the Celtics in Boston. Bucks guard Wesley Matthews has also been in the protocols the past two matches.

Later Tuesday, the Bucks added guard Donte DiVincenzo to the protocols list, giving Milwaukee six players out of play for Wednesday’s game: Antetokounmpo, DiVincenzo, Matthews, DeMarcus Cousins (personal reasons), Brook Lopez (back surgery) and Semi Ojeleye (calf strain).

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To clear the protocols, a player must either be out for a minimum of 10 days or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.

Tuesday’s news now leaves Antetokounmpo’s status for Milwaukee’s rematch with Boston on Christmas Day in doubt.

In one positive piece of news for the Bucks, All-Star Khris Middleton was only listed as questionable for Wednesday’s match after positive results from imaging done on his hyperextended left knee suffered during Monday’s loss.

The injury occurred when Middleton collided with teammate Rodney Hood as they went after a defensive rebound late in the third quarter, and his leg buckled awkwardly. After he winced and stayed on the ground for a moment, Middleton got up and limped to the other end of the court for Milwaukee’s ensuing offensive possession.

As soon as it was over, however, the Bucks committed a foul, and Middleton walked straight off the court and into the locker room.

It turned out, however, that Milwaukee’s positive thoughts after the game about Middleton’s status — including comments from coach Mike Budenholzer, Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, as well as Middleton being seen leaving the locker room under his own power — proved true, and he should miss little time, if any.

Milwaukee has six games over an 11-day span starting Wednesday, followed by a road game in New Orleans, home games versus Cleveland and Houston, a road game in Dallas and then the Christmas Day showdown with Boston at home.

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Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez (sprained left ankle) included on AL Division Series roster

Slugger J.D. Martinez is on the Boston Red Sox roster but didn’t play during a 5-0 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

Manager Alex Cora said after Thursday’s loss that there’s “a strong possibility” Martinez will be in the starting lineup for Friday’s Game 2, but he made no guarantees.

Martinez also missed Tuesday night’s victory over the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game because of a sprained left ankle.

Martinez stumbled over second base while heading to the outfield in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Washington.

Because the National League does not use a DH in games played in its stadiums, Martinez was playing right field versus the Nationals. He stepped on the bag and twisted the ankle heading out to play defense in the fifth inning.

It was only the seventh game in 2021 that Martinez started in right field. He was in the starting lineup as a DH for 113 games and as the left fielder for 28.

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Martinez hit .286 with an AL-leading 42 doubles and 28 homers and 99 RBIs during the regular season.

Tampa Bay has 13 pitchers on its roster that does not include speedy outfielder Brett Phillips. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who went 9-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 30 games, including 21 starts, was also left off.

Rays manager Kevin Cash stated he planned to be aggressive in using his bullpen during the series. He said right-hander Drew Rasmussen will start Game 3 or 4, with the other contest being a bullpen day.

Boston also added Game 2 starter Chris Sale, left-hander Martin Perez and infielder Danny Santana to the ALDS roster.

Sale made nine starts this year after having Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020.

“It’s been two years trying to get to this point,” Cora said. “All the hard work, all the tears and sweat throughout the process. So we have to take care of him, but it was his turn and we feel comfortable with him.”

Sale said he would be available to work as a reliever later in the series as well.

“There’s no reason to save an arm to go sit on the couch, you know what I mean?” Sale said. “This is all the baseball we have left, and we’re going to get certain points in these series where tomorrow might not come. So if that’s the case and it’s what’s called upon, you know, it’s my job.”

With Boston having several left-handed starting pitchers on its roster, Tampa Bay added right-handed-hitting outfielder Jordan Luplow. The AL East champion Rays lost the World Series in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.

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Gardner’s 2-run single in 9th lifts Yankees over Orioles 4-3

Brett Gardner blooped a two-run single in the ninth inning that was set up by a double steal, and the New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Wednesday night for their third consecutive win.

The Yankees kept pace with Toronto and Boston atop the AL wild-card standings as all three teams won.Austin Hays homered twice for the Orioles, including a two-out, two-run drive in the eighth off Chad Green for a 3-2 lead.

The homer came soon after second baseman Gleyber Torres knocked down a hard liner and instead of throwing to second to get the lead runner, tossed to first to put out Cedric Mullins.

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Orioles reliever Tyler Wells (2-3) walked Luke Voit to start the ninth and Torres followed with a single. Pinch-runner Tyler Wade and Torres pulled off a double steal with one out as it began to rain.

Gardner followed with a single to center that scored both runs, much to the delight of their fans that flocked to Camden Yards.

Wandy Peralta (5-3) earned the win and Aroldis Chapman got his 27th save.

Gio Urshela launched a two-run homrer into the left-center bleachers in the third. Urshela took over as the full-time shortstop this week for the error-prone Torres and had a diving catch off a hard liner by Austin Wynns for the final out in the fifth.

Mullins took a two-run homer away from Gary Sanchez in the second with a leaping grab over the center-field fence. Orioles starter John Means pointed to Mullins in celebration and Sanchez walked back to the dugout in disbelief.

Means had another effective outing and permitted two runs and four hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

It was the fifth time this season the Orioles failed to score a run when Means was on the mound. Hays homered in the sixth and added his 20th of the season in the eighth.

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Boston Celtics, Dennis Schroder agree on 1-year, $5.9 million deal

Free-agent point guard Dennis Schroder is headed to the Boston Celtics, he announced Tuesday on his Instagram account.

The deal is for one year and will be for the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Schroder, who turns 28 in September, was the last remaining significant unrestricted free agent on the market. He turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season, worth north of $80 million, to pursue a bigger contract this summer.

In Boston, Schroder joins a Celtics team with a hole at point guard in the wake of Kemba Walker being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving him an opportunity to boost his value when he will hit the market again as a free agent next summer.

“I’m proud to announce that for the 2021-22 season I’ll be playing for the Boston Celtics!” Schroder wrote on Instagram. “This is one of the best franchises in NBA history and it will be a honour to put on the green and white and do what I love! I’m going out there every night and leaving it all on the floor for the city!! Who’s ready?”

The Lakers had acquired Schroder in a trade with the Thunder at last year’s NBA draft in exchange for Danny Green and last year’s first-round pick.

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Schroder averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists in 61 games — all starts — for the Lakers, but he was mired in controversy after he missed 11 days late in the regular season after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

He told a German publication that he and LeBron James were the only Lakers players to not get vaccinated, before then telling local reporters upon his return that, “I’m the only guy that didn’t get vaccinated. I’ll just leave it at that.”

He then averaged 14.3 points but shot just 40% from the field and 30.3% from the 3-point line in the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns in six matches in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

“You got to go through the bulls— to get to the good s—,” Schroder told reporters in his end-of-season news conference after the Suns series.

By signing Schroder for the taxpayer midlevel exception, along with signing center Enes Kanter for a one-year minimum deal, Boston now is sitting a little over $4 million over the luxury tax line with 15 guaranteed contracts on its roster.

The Celtics are coming off a disappointing season that saw them conclude seventh in the East and lose in five games to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After the season ended, longtime president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stepped aside, longtime coach Brad Stevens took his place and the Celtics hired Nets assistant Ime Udoka to replace him.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, is facing a massive payroll and luxury tax bill of close to $200 million even without Schroder, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, after trading for Russell Westbrook, signing Kendrick Nunn to a two-year deal worth $10 million, re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $32 million deal and filling out the rest of the roster with one-year minimum deals, including contracts for future Hall of Famers Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

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