Tagged in: Celtics

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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Caleb Martin agrees to 3-year, $20 million deal to return to Miami Heat

Caleb Martin has agreed to return to the Miami Heat on a three-year deal worth $20 million, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

A restricted free agent, Martin broke out last season for Miami, providing a solid rotation option on the wing to an injury-plagued Heat team.

After playing his first two seasons alongside his twin brother Cody in Charlotte, Caleb signed a two-way deal with Miami and went on to average a career high 22.9 minutes per match. He scored 9.2 points per game while shooting 50.7% from the field and 41.3% from 3-point range.

Martin, 26, started 12 games last campaign — mostly as a replacement for the injured Jimmy Butler — and his all-around offensive game and strong defense helped the Heat stay afloat without one of their stars.

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Martin is the latest role player to return this offseason to the Heat, who have also agreed to re-sign guard Victor Oladipo to a one-year deal earlier this month.

It’s not as much money as his twin brother got, but it’s still a good deal.

Martin said he wanted to be back in Miami, and the Heat wanted him back, the only question was the price. That turned out to be the taxpayer mid-level exception. 

This is for the taxpayer mid-level exception, which starts at $6.4 million and has raises from there.

Martin earned this. He was waived by Charlotte less than a year ago, had to sign a two-way contract with the Heat to keep his foot in the NBA door, and played so well they had to convert him to a regular deal.

Miami is not done rounding out its roster, with the biggest question — can the Heat find a way to win the Kevin Durant sweepstakes — still hanging out there.

Miami had the best record in the East last season and brings back Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, but they need something more to win the East over a healthy Bucks or improved Celtics team. It doesn’t have to be a KD-level move, but the Heat need to do something more.

Brining back Martin is a good move, however.

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Warriors answer in Game 2, top Celtics 107-88 to even Finals

Just like in Game 1, the Golden State Warriors took command with a big third quarter. Unlike Game 1, they finished the job.

The NBA Finals are now tied, after the Warriors turned a close match into a rout with a third-quarter masterpiece. Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Jordan Poole connected from just inside of midcourt to cap the pivotal period and the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-88 on Sunday night in Game 2.

“I thought everybody was more engaged,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team improved to 5-0 after a loss in these playoffs.

“It’s pretty obvious. Just our level of force and physicality was ramped up quite a bit, and it had to be.”

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Poole concluded with 17 points for the Warriors, who outscored Boston 35-14 in the third quarter to turn a two-point halftime lead into a 23-point edge. And when the Warriors then scored the first six points of the fourth, the Celtics waved the surrender flag and emptied their bench.

“We said we needed to play with desperation,” Curry said. “That’s what we did.”

Golden State also got 12 from Kevon Looney on 6-for-6 shooting, and 11 apiece from Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson.

Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half for Boston. Jaylen Brown added 17 for the Celtics, but fought through a 5-for-17 shooting night, and Derrick White scored 12.

Just like in Game 1, a huge run decided everything.

The Celtics went on a 48-18 run in the second half to decide the opener.

The Warriors didn’t wait that long in Game 2, going on a 43-14 burst from late in the first half until early in the fourth quarter to turn a tie game into an absolute runaway. Game 3 is Wednesday in Boston.

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Celtics torch Heat early, even series with 102-82 blowout

The Miami Heat left Jayson Tatum lying on the court with a pain in his neck in the closing minutes of Game 3.

The Celtics All-Star did his part to make sure the Heat were hurting after Game 4.

Tatum scored 31 points and Boston took its turn pounding Miami early, jumping out to a 26-4 lead and cruising to a 102-82 victory that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

“Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” Tatum said. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”

Miami missed 15 of its first 16 shots as this bizarre series produced another game that was all but over after 12 minutes. The Heat led 39-18 after the first quarter of Game 3.

Boston improved to 5-0 this postseason following a loss. Coach Ime Udoka stated the challenge is finding more consistency.

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“Just got to muster that same energy when we came off a win as well as a loss,” Udoka said. “This is a three-game series now. Can’t always just flip the mindset when we come off a loss and get a little desperate.”

Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.

Payton Pritchard had 14 points for the Celtics. Derrick White added 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Robert Williams concluded with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“We just wanted to up the effort all-around,” Williams said.

The Celtics led by 27 points in the second quarter and stretched their advantage to 32 in the third. Each game in this series has featured a lead of at least 20 points, and none has been close down the stretch.

Victor Oladipo led the Heat with 23 points. Miami’s starting five of All-Star Jimmy Butler (six points), Kyle Lowry (three points), P.J. Tucker (no points), Max Strus (no points) and Bam Adebayo (nine points) were a combined 7 of 36 shooting. They all sat out the fourth quarter.

“They came out and jumped us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re not making any excuses. They outplayed us tonight for sure. We never could get any kind of grip on the game.”

And the Celtics stymied the Heat without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who sat with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the second half of Game 3.

The Heat were without Tyler Herro, who suffered a groin injury late in Game 3.

Butler was in the starting lineup after missing the second half of Game 3 with swelling in his right knee. Lowry (strained left hamstring), Strus (strained hamstring) and Tucker (left knee irritation) all tested their injuries pregame before being cleared to go.

“It’s a part of playoffs. You learn to adapt,” Adebayo said. “Guys being out, guys playing half, guys playing 20 minutes in the game, just depends. You’ve just got to find a way to win.”

Boston’s Williams returned after missing a game with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.

Even with their banged-up roster, the Celtics enjoyed their fastest start of the series. Starting in place of Smart, White scored the game’s first seven points as Boston took an 8-0 lead.

It quickly grew to 18-1, with Miami misfiring on its first 14 shots. The Heat didn’t get their first points until Adebayo’s free throw at the 7:56 mark. Miami made its first field goal at 3:22, a 3-pointer by Oladipo, and ended the quarter 3 for 20.

The Celtics took a 29-11 lead into the second quarter and led 57-33 at the half.

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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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Brown scores 30, Celtics beat Bucks 109-86 to even series

There was a moment during the Celtics’ series-opening loss to the Bucks when it seemed as if Jaylen Brown would never make a shot.

Early in Game 2, it felt like he might not miss.

Brown scored 25 of his 30 points in the first half, and Boston beat Milwaukee 109-86 on Tuesday night to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.

“It’s the playoffs. That’s it,” Brown said. “We can’t let one game kind of dictate how this series goes. We wanted to be aggressive from the gate.”

Brown shook off a dismal shooting night in Game 1, going 9 for 10 in the first half, including 5 for 5 from the 3-point line. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and eight assists. Grant Williams concluded with 21 points. Al Horford had 14 points and 11 rebounds. “We wanted to come and play like our season was on the line and we did,” Brown said.

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The series doesn’t resume until Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Boston finished 20 of 43 from beyond the arc and scored 24 points off 16 Milwaukee turnovers.

“We wanted to match their physicality and punch back tonight,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “A big message was show them who we are.”

They did that.

The Celtics played without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart after he was ruled out before the game with a bruised right thigh he sustained in Game 1. 

Derrick White took his place in the starting lineup, making his first start in a playoff game since 2019 when he was with San Antonio.

“The ship’s got to keep going. Everybody got to do a little bit more,” Tatum said.

Even without Smart, the Celtics clamped down on Giannis Antetokounmpo after his triple-double in the series opener, limiting him to 28 points — mostly in the third quarter — nine rebounds and seven assists. Jrue Holiday added 19 points and seven assists. Bobby Portis chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.

Antetokounmpo said the Celtics are doing a lot to make it tough for him inside.

“Strong bodies, being active, being physical —- that’s pretty much it,” he said. “It’s gotten tougher to find your teammates.”

With Smart watching in street clothes from the bench, the Celtics scored the game’s first seven points on their way to taking an 18-3 lead and forcing a quick timeout by the Bucks.

Boston scored from a variety of different spots on the court during the run – attacking both at the rim and inside the paint. It also included 12 points from the 3-point line, where the Celtics struggled for most of Game 1.

“It’s not Wilt Chamberlain down there (in the paint),” Udoka said. “We can get downhill and attack.”

Antetokounmpo missed his first six shots before ultimately getting on the scoreboard via a dunk with less than a minute left in the opening period.

It didn’t stop Boston from banking a 32-21 lead heading into the second quarter, boosted by 17 points from Brown –a career playoff-high for a quarter.

The Celtics continued to share and kept Milwaukee’s defense in chase mode, eventually taking a 65-40 edge into the half.

The Bucks cut into what had been a 26-point Celtics lead in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo keyed the charge with 18 points in the period. A 10-0 Milwaukee run, aided by a more than five-minute Celtics scoring drought, trimmed Boston’s lead to 72-56 late in the third quarter.

Milwaukee kept nibbling away and got it down it to 94-82 on a pair of free throws by Antetokounmpo. But Tatum made a 3-pointer and Boston pulled away again.

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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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Tatum scores 33 to help Celtics push past Hawks 107-98

Jayson Tatum had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help the Boston Celtics rally in the second half and beat the Atlanta Hawks 107-98 on Tuesday night.

Derrick White and Grant Williams each added 18 points off the bench. Marcus Smart concluded with 16 points and four assists.

Boston has won 10 of its last 12 and three of four since the All-Star break.

The Celtics played the final three quarters without starter Jaylen Brown, who left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury. Being able to recover from Brown’s injury taught the team a lot, Smart stated.

“It just shows, that if we continue to come out like this, this is the team that we are. This is the identity that we have. It’s going to be hard for teams,” he said.

Trae Young had 31 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 25 for the Hawks, who have lost two of three.

“They came out aggressive, ready to attack and I thought we got back on our heels,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We just settled for the long ball. We didn’t attack.”

Atlanta led by as many as 17 points in the first half before that cushion evaporated in a 14-0 run by Boston to open the third quarter.

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The Hawks shot selection didn’t help, going 7 of 31 from 3-point range in the game.

“I think we kind of bailed them out and let them off the hook taking some shots and obviously not attacking like we did in the first half,” Young said.

The Celtics seized on it and kept their momentum going, outscoring the Hawks 31-13 in the period to take a 82-78 edge in the fourth.

The surge was keyed by Boston’s defense, which held Young to just nine points after halftime. The increased intensity was a response to a plea by coach Ime Udoka at halftime for his team to be more physical.

“It’s part of us. It’s part of me. It’s something that when we’re being physical, it helps us on the defensive end. But also on the offensive end,” Smart said.

Boston’s lead grew to 102-88 with 3:11 left in the game following back-to-back 3-pointers by Williams. Both baskets were set up by defensive plays by Smart. First, he chased down De’Andre Hunter on a fast break and came up with a block from behind. Then, he stepped in front of an errant pass by Bogdanovic to start another Celtics’ sprint out.

The plays were examples of how they want to play, Smart said.

The Celtics entered the game at full strength for the first time in weeks, but that changed in the first quarter when Brown left with a right ankle sprain after taking an awkward fall during a drive into the lane.

He grabbed at his right leg as he toppled to the ground, but was able to walk to the locker room on his own power. Udoka stated he was able to move around on the ankle in the locker room, but he is day to day.

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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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