New’s Roundup: Kyrie/Murray, Rozier’s future & more!

Here are some recent headlines in the world of the Celtics.

1. Kyrie stands by his actions in Denver

During the ending of Monday’s loss in Denver, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray launched a last second 3-pointer in hopes of accumulating 50 points, which did not sit well with Kyrie Irving, who proceeded to recover the ball and toss it into the stands.

Irving was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his actions, and when he was asked by reporters about the fine, he remarked that it was “well-deserved”. Murray’s last second heave did violate an unwritten rule in the NBA, which is to simply dribble out the clock when victory is guaranteed in the final seconds. 

As Kyrie said, the Celtics will see Jamal Murray and the Nuggets again, so it will be interesting to see the dynamic between the two guards. 

2. Rozier and Ainge squash trade rumors

Over the last few days, it had been reported that at least 7 teams were interested in trading for a reportedly disgruntled Terry Rozier. Earlier today, Danny Ainge spoke out to squash any rumors on Rozier’s unhappiness and the possibility of him being traded. 

Rozier also came out to refute the rumors, as he remarked that he was happy in his current situation. With this being a contract year for the young point guard, it will be an interesting situation to watch as the season progresses.

3. Hayward’s homecoming

Tomorrow night, Gordon Hayward will make his long-awaited return to Salt Lake City, as the Celtics take on the Utah Jazz. Hayward left the Jazz during free agency in 2017, but he ended up missing the entire 2017 season due to an injury suffered in the opener at Cleveland. The Jazz did not really miss a beat with Hayward’s departure, as they filled in his absence with sensational rookie, Donovan Mitchell, who has been able to lead Utah to be one of the best teams in the West so far this season. 

Expect an emotional return to Utah for Gordon Hayward, as he will likely have to deal with disgruntled and upset Jazz fans.

hayward jazz.jpg
(Rick Scuteri/AP)

4. Peyton Manning joins the Celtics in the film room

During the Celtics’ visit to Denver, they welcomed former NFL QB Peyton Manning to one of their practices. Brad Stevens and Manning know each other from their respective stints in the state of Indiana, so Stevens brought him in to help with watching film (which was one of Manning’s hallmarks as a competitor during his career in the NFL). Both Stevens and Kyrie Irving credited Manning’s influence during the practice, as they felt that having a proven champion help them break down film improved the efficiency and enthusiasm of the practice. 

Hopefully Manning’s influence will help the Celtics remedy some of their miscues with the use of more efficient film work.

Tatum and the C’s dominate the Cavs to take 3-2 lead in the ECF

Team 1 2 3 4 T
BOS 32 21 23 20 96
CLE 19 23 18 23 83

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics utterly dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and are now one game away from the NBA Finals after taking a 3-2 series lead. Tonight’s victory improved the Celtics to 10-0 at home in the playoffs.

Here are a few takeaways from today’s game.

1. Bouncing back from Games 3 & 4

The Celtics’ woes on the road continued in Games 3 & 4, as they struggled to gain any momentum against LeBron and the Cavs. In both games, the Celtics dug early holes, as they started off ice cold from the field. For instance, they fell behind by 19 in Game 4, which made it extremely hard for them to come back. Aided by the raucous crowd at the TD Garden, the Celtics were able to start off hot, and take a 13 point lead at the end of the first quarter. 

When compared to the last two games of the series, the Celtics were much more composed, and made better decisions with the basketball. The C’s were able to absorb several Cleveland runs, including a decisive one in the fourth quarter which trimmed their lead to 12 points following a 9-0 run. With about five minutes remaining in the game, it appeared as if the Celtics were reeling after several head-scratching possessions, but a lob from Terry Rozier to Al Horford ensured that the game would not slip away.

2. A star in the making

Jayson Tatum has been absolutely remarkable for the Celtics in the playoffs, and his stellar performance continued tonight. Tatum logged 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Tatum was clearly the best player on the court for the Celtics and hit a number of key shots throughout the game which helped extend the Celtics’ lead. 

Tatum was thrust into the spotlight following Kyrie Irving’s injury, and his sustained brilliance has the Celtics one win away from a return to the NBA Finals.  

BG7U0109.JPG
(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

3. Is Lebron tired?

Even though LeBron James had 26 points, it was still an off night for the King, as he had more turnovers than assists (six and five, respectively). LeBron had several careless turnovers which the Celtics benefited from, and it appeared as if carrying the Cavs in the early stages of the game had an impact on his effectiveness. On several occasions throughout the game, it was evident that LeBron was exhausted, which did not help the Cavs at all. 

 This could be attributed to the Celtics’ strategy of throwing several bodies at him, which requires him to exert more energy while driving to the basket. LeBron’s ineffectiveness made it much easier for the Celtics to utterly dominate the Cavs in Game 5. However, the Celtics cannot afford to let their guard down in Game 6, as LeBron will likely come at them with everything he has in an effort to stave off elimination.

LEBRON Game 5
(Photo by Charles Krupa/AP)

Looking ahead: With a victory in Friday’s Game 6, the Celtics would clinch a berth in their first NBA Finals since 2010. However, they must find a way to overcome their struggles on the road in the playoffs, as they are only 1-6 away from the TD Garden.