You know Boston will not go gently against Heat in Game 3


We have written the epitaph for the “big three” era in Boston too many times to be sure that this time is really the end.

If feels like it. The Heat are up 2-0 despite a monster game from Rajon Rondo in Game 2. If the more athletic Heat split the pair of games at the Boston Garden this weekend the series may end in Game 5. Then comes the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett free agency and… maybe this is the end.

But these Celtics will not go gentle into that good night, Kevin Garnett has plenty of rage against the dying of the light.

For Boston to win they need real ball movement and some production out of their bench. And they are going to have to slow the game down and grind it out.

Boston put up good offensive numbers in Game 2 — 115.6 points per 100 possessions — but that was on the back of Rajon Rondo’s 44 points and 10 assists. Rondo is capable of another good game, but those kinds of monster games are the outliers for anyone. Miami is going to focus more on taking the ball out of Rondo’s hands, expect plenty of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on him. Rondo is going to need more help, and not just from Kevin Garnett in the post and a slowed Paul Pierce.

Which is why there needs to be better Celtics ball movement — Miami this series has overloaded the strong side where the ball is, which is kind of like using the Celtics’ own defensive style against them. Doing that exposes the backside of the defense, where the Heat can run actions and get the ball with crisp passing — but it has to be crisp because the athletic Heat rotate fast.

Boston has to get its shots close to the rim (and finish) plus keep knocking down jumpers — they hit 19 of 32 (59.4 percent) from 16 feet out to the arc in Game 2. They need all those points.

Then Boston needs to slow the game down, take away the transition points for the Heat, and get a win their way with defense. Their defensive rotations need to be a lot sharper. Boston’s defense was solid in Game 1 but struggled some in Game 2. Part of that is Miami hit 10 of 26 threes, and it’s fair to wonder if they can maintain that level of play.

Like Oklahoma City the night before Boston needs to come out at home desperate and with a real energy. However, after the overtime last game the Celtics starters are going to need more rest, which means the bench has to step up. Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling need to score, Greg Stiemsma needs to stay out of foul trouble. The Starters will need rest and the drop-off cannot be what it has been.

Still, you know Boston will play desperate, they will be physical, they will have their fans behind them. To them, this basically is a closeout game.

They will not go gently. But they still might go.

Alvin Gentry on refs after controversial James Harden foul: “You can’t guess on plays”

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Alvin Gentry was heated after the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, all thanks to a late foul on James Harden. Oh boy.

Gentry was given a technical foul after speaking with officials with 5:39 to go in the fourth quarter in a tight matchup between the two Western Conference playoff teams. The Pelicans coach was heated about a foul called on Jrue Holiday after Harden swung through the defender’s area to get free throws on a 3-point attempt.

That didn’t sit right with Gentry, who went after referee David Guthrie. After complaining for some time, Gentry got a handle on himself and went back to his seat on the bench. That’s when he was called for a technical foul.

Here’s the play in question, and Gentry’s response after the game:

Gentry does have a general point, and sounds like just about any non-Houston fan you overhear at games or in bars regarding Harden’s wacky inflatable flailing arm tube man style. Nevermind his driving — which consistently gets players to legitimately hack away at his arms — the question on the play in New Orleans is whether the defender has a right to that space, and whether Holiday made a move.

Pelicans broadcaster David Wesley pointed out that if a defender is in his own defensive space and not moving, it shouldn’t be a foul if the offensive player jams his way into the defender’s arms. That’s part of why the idea of verticality works for modern NBA big men defending the rim.

Offensive players are getting more astute at drawing contact, then finding a way to immediately get fouled after the contact. It’s something that will need to be addressed by the NBA in coming seasons, as there are quite a few instances of contact specifically being drawn by an offender by moving into the defender’s space and drawing contact with their arms.

However, on the play in question, if you rewind it enough times you can barely see Holiday’s arm and elbow flex reactively before Harden moves the ball up. Thus, in the purview of instant replay, it was probably a foul.

Here it is in super slo-mo:

Gentry is likely to get a nice big fine as others have this season for criticizing officials. It seems that even after the All-Star Break meeting to sort out some issues between the NBPA and NBRA not everyone is happy.

Expect a bigger overhaul and more announcements regarding NBA refereeing in the offseason.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sits out second half Saturday with illness

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CHICAGO (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remained in the locker room to start the second half of their game against the Chicago Bulls because of an illness.

Lue was on the sideline as the Cavaliers used a strong second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. He did not come out for the start of the third Saturday night, and he did not return to the game.

Lue has missed one other game this season due to illness. He is expected back on Monday when the Cavs host the struggling Bucks.

The Cavaliers went on to get the win over the Bulls Saturday, 114-109.

Grizzlies snap 19-game skid with 101-94 win vs Nuggets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, Tyreke Evans added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Wayne Selden scored 16 points for Memphis by hitting 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol added 14 points as Memphis won for the first time since Jan. 29.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Denver shot just 37 percent overall and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Denver entered the night in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff race. Denver played without leading scorer Gary Harris, who is expected to miss the next few games with a right knee sprain suffered against Detroit on Thursday.

The Nuggets struggled through a miserable first half of shooting, connecting on 22 percent in the first quarter. Memphis stretched its lead to 21 early in the second quarter before Denver cut it to 53-48 at halftime.

Brooks hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and keep Memphis ahead.

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LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.