WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — Home-court advantage has proven to be a valuable commodity for the Celtics so far this postseason.
Boston is 9-0 at TD Garden during these playoffs and has blistered opponents early in games, shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line. It’s often led to cushions that have helped the Celtics sustain opponents’ runs in the second half.
But after boasting the third-best road record in the NBA during the regular season, the Celtics have looked like a totally different team since the postseason began. They are just 1-4 away from their building and seen their shooting numbers dip to 41 percent overall and 31 percent from beyond the arc.
That can’t persist if Boston is going to have success as the series shifts to Cleveland on Saturday.
Marcus Smart, who was all over the court in the Celtics’ Game 2 win , didn’t take any offense to Cavs coach Tyronn Lue’s comment that the Celtics have ”shown they haven’t played that well on the road.”
”We haven’t played well. We know that and understand that,” Smart said. ”We understand that other teams see that and try to exploit it. But that’s the beauty about this game. It just takes one game. You never know. Things change. Our confidence is high. Who knows?”
Coach Brad Stevens said he thought the entire team seemed a little ”shell-shocked” at Milwaukee in the first round, when after taking a 2-0 series lead, was promptly blown out 116-92 in Game 3. It lost all three road games in that series.
”We took a punch in the mouth right when guys came out and they surprised us a little bit,” Smart said. ”We can’t afford to be surprised this time around. … We’re just trying to make it as hard as we can on those guys for them to win a game and for us to execute whatever plan Brad has for us.”
That will be easier said than done against a Cavaliers team that got 42 points and near triple-double by LeBron James in Tuesday’s loss.
Pressure will certainly be on the Cavs, but they have history on their side. James has won at least one playoff road game in 31 of his last 32 playoff series. To have a chance to make it 32 out of 33, Cleveland would need to win one of the next two games at home to force a Game 5.
That’s not out of their reach by any means.
Stevens isn’t sure Cleveland has yet to play up to its full potential.
”I don’t know if that was their best,” he said. ”We’ve all seen them play at an elite level for a long time. … At the end of the day they’ve got a lot of guys that have been there, done that. And we’re expecting that every game we’re going to have to play better to have a chance to win.”
One of the reasons that the Celtics have had success against the Cavs so far is their willingness to challenge James defensively.
Jaylen Brown has been one of several players tasked with guarding James. He also drew that duty at times in last year’s conference finals. He said he is no longer intimidated by the matchup .
”And why should I? Brown said. ”The stage is set for all of us to do something spectacular. LeBron has been to the finals (seven) straight times. He’s a great player. But we want to win and we want to beat a team that does win and get to the finals.
”We got a bunch of young guys trying to make names for themselves in this league. Why not come out and play hard? Everybody says we’re playing with house money anyway. So why not come out with the energy level that we need and try to do something special?”
Houston Rockets to wear patches to honor Santa Fe shooting victims
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets will wear patches on their jerseys to honor the victims of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
The patches will read: “Santa Fe HS.” It’s one of several tributes the team plans following Friday’s shooting. Eight students and two teachers died at the school, located 30 miles from downtown Houston.
The school’s high school choir will perform the national anthem. There will be a moment of silence and a video tribute before tipoff.
Santa Fe’s senior class and administrators have been invited to attend the game as guests of owner Tilman Fertitta. The Rockets also will honor first responders on the court.
Proceeds from Thursday night’s charity raffle will go to the Santa Fe Strong Memorial Fund.
Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis headline 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive first team
NEW YORK – Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year finalists Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans lead the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Gobert was voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the second year in a row, as selected by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. The 7-1 center from France earned 192 points, including 94 First Team votes. Davis, a two-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection, makes his debut on the First Team. The 6-11 forward/center received the second-most points (163) and First Team votes (73), behind Gobert.
The two big men are joined on the NBA All-Defensive First Team by Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (136 points), Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (105) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (90). All three players are All-Defensive selections for the first time.
The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of 76ers center Joel Embiid (90 points), Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (86), Boston Celtics forward/center Al Horford (85), San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (80) and Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler (79). Like the First Team, the Second Team has three first-time All-Defensive selections: Embiid, Horford and Murray.
Embiid is the third finalist for the 2017-18 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, joining Gobert and Davis. The winner will be announced at the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 25 on TNT (9 p.m. ET). The second annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.
Players were awarded two points for each NBA All-Defensive First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote. Voters selected two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.
Complete voting results by media member will be posted at pr.nba.com the night of the NBA Awards presented by Kia. Click here for the list of 100 media voters for the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Teams.
2017-18 NBA All-Defensive First Team
Robert Covington, 76ers: The former NBA G League Rookie of the Year and All-Star Game MVP led the NBA in deflections and was tops in defensive win shares among players who appeared in at least 70 percent of their teams’ games. The 76ers’ defensive rating, which ranked third in the NBA, was 99.0 when Covington was on the court and 107.4 when he was off the court – a difference of 8.4 points per 100 possessions.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans: A 2017-18 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award finalist, Davis led the NBA in blocked shots for the third time (2.57 bpg). He also finished fifth in the NBA in defending the rim (minimum 250 field goals defended), allowing opponents to shoot only 52.4 percent at the basket.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz: Opponents shot 10.0 percentage points worse than expected on shots fewer than 6 feet from the basket against Gobert. Utah ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating by allowing 101.6 points per 100 possessions – a number that improved to 97.7 points per 100 possessions when Gobert was on the court.
Jrue Holiday, Pelicans: New Orleans allowed 9.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with Holiday on the court than when he was off the court, the biggest difference for any Pelicans player.
Victor Oladipo, Pacers: A 2017-18 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award finalist, Oladipo averaged a league-leading 2.36 steals per game.
2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Second Team
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves: Butler averaged a career-high 1.97 steals per game, fourth best in the NBA.
Joel Embiid, 76ers: Opponents shot 7.8 percentage points worse than expected on all field goal attempts when Embiid was the closest defender, the NBA’s best such mark (minimum 200 shots defended).
Draymond Green, Warriors: The 2016-17 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year was one of four qualifying players to average at least 1.30 steals and 1.30 blocked shots per game.
Al Horford, Celtics: An NBA All-Star for the fifth time, Horford helped Boston lead the NBA in defensive rating with 101.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Dejounte Murray, Spurs: In his second season, Murray ranked second among point guards in defensive rebounding percentage (22.0), behind the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (25.4).
Below are the voting results for the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Teams. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.
2017-18 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM
Position | Player | Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points| All-Defensive Selections
Center | Rudy Gobert | Utah | 94 | 4 | 192 | 2 (two 1st)
Forward/Center | Anthony Davis | New Orleans | 73 | 17 | 163 | 3 (one 1st, two 2nd)
Guard | Victor Oladipo | Indiana | 58 | 20 | 136 | 1
Guard | Jrue Holiday | New Orleans | 39 | 27 | 105 | 1
Forward | Robert Covington | Philadelphia 27 | 36 | 90 | 1
2017-18 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM
Position | Player | Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points | All-Defensive Selections
Center | Joel Embiid | Philadelphia | 4 | 82 | 90 |1
Forward | Draymond Green | Golden State | 26 | 34 | 86 | 4 (three 1st; one 2nd)
Forward/Center | Al Horford | Boston | 24 | 37 | 85 | 1
Guard | Dejounte Murray | San Antonio | 32 | 16 | 80 | 1
Guard/Forward | Jimmy Butler | Minnesota | 20 | 39 | 79 | 4 (four 2nd)
Other players receiving votes, with point totals (All-Defensive First Team votes in parentheses): Chris Paul, Houston, 74 (20); Paul George, Oklahoma City, 69 (22); Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee, 43 (15); Kevin Durant, Golden State, 31 (7); Klay Thompson, Golden State, 24 (8); Josh Richardson, Miami, 22 (3); Marcus Smart, Boston, 18 (5); Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City, 17 (3); Jaylen Brown, Boston, 16 (5); Ben Simmons, Philadelphia, 16 (5); P.J. Tucker, Houston, 13 (2); Kyle Lowry, Toronto, 7 (1); Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City, 7 (1); Danny Green, San Antonio, 6 (2); Luc Mbah a Moute, Houston, 5 (1); Ricky Rubio, Utah, 4 (2); Andre Drummond, Detroit, 3; Gary Harris, Denver, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 2; Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland, 2; Avery Bradley, LA Clippers, 2 (1); Steven Adams, Oklahoma City, 1; Will Barton, Denver, 1; Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee, 1; Ed Davis, Portland, 1; Derrick Favors, Utah, 1; LeBron James, Cleveland, 1; DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers, 1; Damian Lillard, Portland, 1; Donovan Mitchell, Utah, 1; Fred VanVleet, Toronto, 1.
L.A. Clippers, Doc Rivers agree to contract extension
The L.A. Clippers today announced that the team has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Doc Rivers. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Doc is one of the top coaches in the NBA, coming off one of his finest seasons since joining the Clippers,” said L.A. Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “We trust Doc to lead a competitive, tough, hard-working team while upholding a culture of accountability expected to resonate throughout the organization.”
Under Rivers’ direction, the Clippers have earned the NBA’s fifth-best record (259-151, .632) across his five-year tenure. Upon joining the team in 2013, he led L.A. to its best record in franchise history (57-25, .695) and a second straight Pacific Division title. L.A. has reached the postseason in four of Rivers’ five seasons with the team. Rivers is the winningest coach in Clippers franchise history by both total victories (259) and winning percentage (.632). Despite coaching an NBA-high 37 unique starting lineups throughout the 2017-18 season, Rivers’ squad was in playoff contention until the final homestand of the season, finishing with a 42-40 record.
“I am proud of the success we have had here over the last five seasons, but there is more work to be done,” said Rivers. “We are coming off a year where our team battled through many challenges and much adversity, proving deep talent and even greater potential. I am looking forward to getting back to work on the court to develop our players and compete with the NBA’s elite.”
Entering his 20th season as an NBA head coach, Rivers is one of just two active coaches (Gregg Popovich) to win at least 800 games and his 846 career regular season wins are 14th-most in NBA history and second-most among active coaches. The 1999-2000 NBA Coach of the Year, Rivers led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship, and has earned two Eastern Conference Championships and seven divisions titles. A 13-year NBA veteran and former Clippers point guard (1991-92), he coached in Boston from 2004-2013 and prior to that, led the Orlando Magic from 1999-2003.
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