The Boston Celtics looked anything but exceptional in the first half of Friday night’s Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks, but Rajon Rondo was able to find his rhythm in the second half as the hosting Celtics needed overtime to pick up a win in their first game at home in the Garden this postseason. It wasn’t pretty, for the most part, but Boston took the lead in Game 3 of the seven-game series with a 90-84 overtime victory in Rondo’s first game back from suspension.
Rondo finished the game with 17 points, 12 assists and 14 rebounds in his return after sitting Game 2 due to contact with an official in the waning minutes of the series’ opening game. The point guard’s players around him often looked overly-average for a game in the NBA Playoffs — and his six turnovers were a bit troubling — but Boston was able to win the battle thanks to the play of their heady point guard. It was a good for Boston considering they nearly gave it away after having an 11-point cushion late in the fourth quarter.
Rondo’s triple-double nicely complemented the rest of the “Big Four” as Ray Allen returned from injury off the bench to score 13 points and hit a dagger free-throw in overtime while Paul Pierce added 21 points (14-of-14 from the charity stripe). Kevin Garnett was excellent on the defensive end, almost overshadowing the 20 points and 15 rebounds he was able to contribute to the box score. The rest of Boston’s roster didn’t add a lot — Avery Bradley missed time in the second half with a shoulder injury — but it was enough to allow them to take the series lead at home.
The Hawks played very well in the first half, but the second half and overtime were a whole ‘nother story. Josh Smith was forced to the bench with a leg injury he suffered in Game 2 and, while it looked like Josh Smith and Tracy McGrady were going to pick up the slack following their first half performances, it apparently wasn’t meant to be. Johnson forced overtime with five points of his own late in the fourth quarter, but made just 11 of his 28 attempts from the field on his way to 29 points. McGrady was much more effective off the bench as he apparently entered a time machine for the first half, but an ankle injury seemed to take its toll on him as he finished with just two points in the second half.
While the turning point was probably Rondo picking up his play in the second half, it could also be due to the Hawks lack of any sort of presence from the forward positions. Jason Collins was ineffective after scoring his only four points in the first two minutes of the game and Erick Dampier — who got surprising playing time due to Collins’ foul trouble — certainly looked his age on both ends of the floor despite a solid six points and six rebounds.
This series is getting uglier by the game (only seven players scored in double figures on Friday night, despite the extra five minutes of overtime), but it seems that Boston has settled into being perfectly happy with picking up ugly wins and hopefully advancing. It seems that plan may work in this series, especially if injuries continue to be a problem, but that might not be the case as the NBA Playoffs roll on.
Andre Iguodala missed the Warriors’ Game 4 loss to the Rockets with a leg injury.
It’s not certain he – or Klay Thompson, who played through a knee injury suffered in Game 4 – will be available for Game 5 tomorrow.
NBC Sports Bay Area:
Klay Thompson, who suffered a left knee strain during the first half of Game 4, is listed as questionable, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.
Iguodala missed Game 4 with a left lateral leg contusion and is questionable for Game 5.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Iguodala:
He’s feeling a little better today, and he’s out on the floor. Not doing a whole lot, but making progress.
Kerr on Thompson:
Klay is moving around really well. I think Klay is going to be fine.
That sounds better than “questionable” for Thompson.
The Warriors need one, maybe both, of those two on the court. Golden State’s depth, especially on the wing, is looking shaky.
In Game 4, Golden State outscored Houston by 20 in the 31 minutes Stephen Curry, Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green played together. In the in the 17 minutes they played without even one of those stars, the Warriors got outscored by 23. Nick Young, who received more playing time when Thompson left the court area due to his injury, looked particularly overwhelmed.
James Harden‘s defense is a huge bellwether in this series. The Warriors spend a lot of focus trying to exploit him, and if that fails, the shot clock gets low before they move into another action. If Thompson is even just slowed, that’d make it easier for Harden to keep up.
Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrested – but not charged – over a parking violation in January.
As promised, Milwaukee released video of the incident.
Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee Police was shameful and inexcusable. Sterling has our full support as he shares his story and takes action to provide accountability.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. It shouldn’t require an incident involving a professional athlete to draw attention to the fact that vulnerable people in our communities have experienced similar, and even worse, treatment.
We are grateful for the service of many good police officers that courageously protect us, our fans and our city, but racial biases and abuses of power must not be ignored.
There needs to be more accountability.
The Milwaukee Police Department and local officials have acknowledged the challenges they are working to address, and we urge them to enact higher standards and more direct accountability. We all want to be able to trust each and every officer serving to protect us.
Incidents like this remind us of the injustices that persist. As an organization, we will support Sterling and build on our work with local leaders and organizations to foster safe neighborhoods and better our community.
The video isn’t jarring due to its unfortunate familiarity – particularly compared to the many videos we’ve seen of police brutality around the nation. The scene is far too familiar. Police escalate a situation and enact violence upon someone they encounter, disproportionately minorities.
The most shocking element of this incident is the response – how the police chief acknowledges his offers acted inappropriately and how STRONGLY the Bucks stand behind Brown. That is one sharply worded statement from the team.
Hopefully, this sparks change.
During the second round of the NBA playoffs, Heat guard Goran Dragic slighted 76ers rookie Ben Simmons. That came after Philadelphia eliminated Miami in the first round.
The procession of disses continues with 76ers center Joel Embiid mocking Celtics center Aron Baynes during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday. Boston, of course, eliminated Philadelphia in the previous round.
Baynes has gotten dunked on a lot this year – including by Embiid in the playoffs. The two also got into it during their second-round series.
But Baynes has the big edge: He’s still playing.
Though Embiid would like to be in the playoffs, that’s not his only goal. He also wants attention. So, mission accomplished, I guess.
It got buried by a – finally – close finish, but James Harden‘s dunk over Draymond Green in the Rockets’ Game 4 win over the Warriors last night was spectacular.
Because the foul was called early in the play, Green essentially had free reign to do anything sub-flagrant to Harden during continuation. There wouldn’t have been a second personal foul called.
Harden dunked anyway, an amazing display of athleticism and will.