Celtics-Heat Game 4: It was more about the Celtics defense than anything

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“OH, LEBRON PASSED! HE SHRINKS FROM THE MOMENT!”

“WADE COULDN’T HIT THE BIGGEST SHOT WHEN HE NEEDED TO!”

OK, moving back to the real world, where fairytales aren’t spun on the dreams of angels and people are taking it one game at a time giving 110 percent, there’s something that’s going to be lost in the incessant nonsense you will be hearing all day tomorrow.

Boston won that game. Miami didn’t lose it. Boston won it. It was Boston that came out and smacked the Heat in the mouth out of the gate, taking the life out of them in the first half, and pounding the shovel on their head. It was the Celtics who responded to a second-half collapse and rallied to force overtime, then made the plays to win.

And most importantly? It was Boston who triple-teamed the best player on the planet and made him pass, and the Celtics who got a hand up in Dwyane Wade’s face to keep him out of the lane . Boston committed three defenders to James and attacked his angles. James had Pietrus going to his left. But the Celtics have always played James so well to that side of the floor, he opted to go middle. And that’s when two more defenders jumped him. The result was a bad pass to Udonis Haslem and a contested fadeaway from UD resulting in overtime.

There, the Celtics ran the right coverage at Wade. Wade was going to shoot. That was always clear. But instead of allowing him inside, where he’s a dangerous scorer, they did enough to work him into a 3-pointer. Wade is 2-of-7 from three in this series, and 28.7 percent from three in the playoffs. That’s defense. Forcing your opponent to take an uncomfortable shot from a place they can’t hit.

Rajon Rondo attacked. The officials were involved. Kevin Garnett was big. But the reason Boston is headed back to Miami with a whole new series and all the momentum?

Boston’s defense stepped up. It wasn’t the Heat failing. It was Boston playing better. Miami wasn’t worse.

Boston was better.

Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball

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When Derrick Rose went AWOL from the Knicks last season for what he called a family issue, rumors swirled that he was contemplating retirement. Rose denied it, but those whispers are reemerging.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.

Before the season, Rose was talking about getting a raise on his next contract. He seemed happy to join a contender and have LeBron James in his corner.

But something is amiss. Hopefully, Rose can find contentment – whether that’s continuing his NBA career or walking away.

Ryan McDonough: Suns want to sign two-way Mike James to standard contract

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Brandon Knight got hurt. Eric Bledsoe got traded.

The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.

Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.

The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, via Scott Bordow of azcentral:

We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.

The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.

The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.

Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.

So, a trade is possible. Greg Monroe never seemed long for Phoenix. Or anyone else could be moved.

If it comes to it, the Suns could send James to the minors to bide time. But they want to play competitive basketball, and he helps. So, expect something else to give within the next couple weeks.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.