Bigger, more athletic Celtics impose their will on Warriors to win Game 3


The Boston Celtics are the bigger team. The more athletic team. The physically stronger team.

“We want to impose our will and our size in this series,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

In Game 3 at home, the Celtics did exactly that.

The Celtics doubled up the Warriors in points in the paint, 52-26. Boston dominated the glass, grabbing the offensive rebound and getting a second chance on almost a third of their missed shots (15 offensive rebounds). And on defense, the Celtics had Robert Williams doing this four times.

Stephen Curry remains the best player in this series and scored 31. Klay Thompson finally got going in the Finals and scored 25. It was not near enough to overcome the athleticism and size difference between the teams.

Boston pulled away in the fourth quarter to win Game 3 116-100, giving the Celtics a 2-1 series lead in the Finals. Game 4 is Thursday night.

The biggest question postgame was the health of Stephen Curry. Late in the fourth quarter, he and Al Horford went to the floor going after a loose ball, and Horford fell on Curry’s legs. It wasn’t intentional, but Curry was clearly in pain.

After the game, Steve Kerr said they would know more tomorrow.

“I’ll be all right,” Curry said. “I got caught — obviously in some pain, but I’ll be all right. See how it feels tomorrow and get ready for Friday.”

While the Celtics made a few adjustments, the biggest one was finally using their size to push back after the Warriors were the more physical team in Game 2.

“We matched their physicality and intensity better than last game,” Udoka said. “We didn’t like the way we wilted last game, so that was a big focus the last couple of days.”

Jaylen Brown embodied that early in the game, scoring 17 points in the first quarter, with five rebounds 3 assists.

Brown finished with 27 points, while Jayson Tatum added 26 and nine assits. Marcus Smart had 24 points for the Celtics, who as a whole did a much better job of driving into the lane to score, and if the defense collapsed kicking out to the open man.

Boston led by double digits most of the time from the middle of the first quarter into the third, but that’s when Curry got hot, scoring 15 in the frame. The Warriors, down 12 at the half, battled back to take the lead for a minute in the third behind Curry being Curry. It helped that Al Horford and Williams continued to play a drop coverage for stretches that let Curry come off picks into open shots.

The biggest moment of the third quarter was when Curry hit a three, was fouled in the act of shooting, plus drew a flagrant on Al Horford for taking away his landing space (the Zaza Pachulia rule). After Curry’s four-point play, the Warriors got the ball out of bounds thanks to the flagrant, and a wild Otto Porter three made it a seven-point possession

However, the Celtics did not wilt in this game.

While the Warriors were hot, the Celtics still scored 25 in the third and had a four-point lead after three quarters.

This time in the fourth, it was the Warriors losing their poise, with five turnovers (three by Curry) and rough shooting which let the Celtics pull away. Draymond Green had a particularly rough game, with two points on 1-of-4 shooting, just four rebounds, and he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Draymond, how do you feel you played?

“Like s***…” Green said. “I was soft. That’s what was most disappointing to me, for us.”

Green did play poorly. His pressure in Game 2 inspired the Warriors to a better defensive effort, but that did not happen in Game 3 and he was more a distraction than a guy impacting the game positively for his team.

This has to be the biggest concern for Golden State (outside of Curry’s health): The only times the Warriors have thrived this series is when the Celtics have shot themselves in the foot (turnovers, drop defensive coverages against Curry, etc). Credit Golden State for making Boston pay for every mistake.

But when the Celtics don’t make many mistakes, like in Game 3, they win. That’s a bad omen for Golden State.

Watch Curry score 39, spark Warriors rally from 20 down to beat Pelicans


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green yelled at the other bench, his own team and even his coach, and this time those intense emotions absolutely made the difference.

Steve Kerr loved it.

“We need his fire,” Golden State’s coach said.

“It was perfect, right, perfectly executed,” Green said with a grin.

Stephen Curry had 39 points with eight 3-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jordan Poole added 21 points with consecutive layups that gave Golden State the lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors rallied past the New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday night in a testy, playoff-like matchup in late March.

Klay Thompson scored 17 and hit five 3s to set a new single-season career high of 278, which leads the NBA.

The Warriors moved up a spot into sixth place in the crowded Western Conference standings, a half-game up on Minnesota and 1 1/2 games ahead of New Orleans. Golden State lost 99-96 at home to the Timberwolves on Sunday, so coming back from 20 down to win this one was key as the defending champions try to avoid the play-in round. The top six teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

“We lost a heartbreaker the other night. We knew we had to bounce back,” Kerr said.

Brandon Ingram had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Trey Murphy III scored 21 points and CJ McCollum added 15 for the Pelicans, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.

Green chirped and pushed the emotions and physicality all game, then threw an alley-oop to Jonathan Kuminga for a dunk with 7:09 left for one of his 13 assists and a 101-98 advantage.

“Draymond willed us to victory tonight,” Kerr said. “His frustration early with the way we were playing. Mad at the world. Yelling at everybody, their bench, our bench, me, and frankly we all deserved it.”

Green was whistled for a double technical for tussling with Ingram late in the second quarter – and Green’s foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1. He already served a one-game suspension March 17 at Atlanta for his 16th technical.

Green committed an offensive foul moments later and players for both sides tangled, Green’s feet getting caught up with Herbert Jones’ head. A replay showed no additional infractions but Kerr briefly took Green out with tensions running high because of his “extreme energy” in that moment.

“We looked dead those first 18 minutes of the game,” Kerr said. “We had to find some energy somewhere. I knew it wasn’t just going to come.”

Three straight 3-pointers by Curry late in the third got Golden State within 89-83. Poole then stole the ball from Ingram and dunked on the other end as the Warriors trailed 89-85 going into the final 12 minutes.

Golden State started the third on an 8-0 burst fueled by Donte DiVincezo. He made a putback dunk over Ingram early in the second half then a three-point play before Thompson’s 3 at 10:44 made it 63-54.

McCollum’s 3 with 1:40 left before halftime put the Pelicans up 60-43, then Ingram made it a 20-point game with a 3 New Orleans’ next time down.

The Pelicans, coached by former Warriors assistant Willie Green and longtime Golden State assistant Jarron Collins on his staff, had won five straight after a 124-90 romp at Portland on Monday night.

The Warriors’ victory prevented the Sacramento Kings, coached by former top assistant Mike Brown, their first playoff berth since 2006 that would end the worst drought in NBA history at 16 years.

Nowitzki, Wade, Gasol, Popovich reportedly headline Hall of Fame class


It will not become official until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be a legendary Hall of Fame class.

Dwyane Wade. Dirk Nowitzki. Gregg Popovich. Pau Gasol. Tony Parker. Becky Hammon. They are all in, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a deep class, and there was no question about any of those players’ Hall of Fame credentials.

Wade is one of the (arguably THE) greatest shooting guard in the history of the game, winning three rings as a member of the Miami Heat, plus making eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game. Nowitzki is the greatest Maverick ever and the greatest European player in NBA history, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007.

Popovich, the legendary coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs — a team that won 50+ games 18-straight seasons with him at the helm, plus he coached Team USA to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Parker was the point guard for much of that Spurs run, is a four-time NBA champion and was Finals MVP in 2007. Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA,and led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals.

The Hall of Fame class will officially be announced on Saturday.


Draymond Green is good with facing Kings in first round — because of the travel


If the NBA playoffs started today, the Golden State Warriors would be in the play-in and host the Pelicans in the 7/8 game. Win that and they would hop on a more than three-hour flight to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

Draymond Green said on his podcast he is hoping the Warriors finish as the No.6 seed and dodge the play-in, then face the Kings to open the playoffs (which is how the standings stood 24 hours ago). Why? It’s a 90-mile drive to Sacramento.

“The reason why I said Sac is simply just because of the travel. That’s a lot on your body. If we can bus ride an hour and 10 minutes up the way, I just think that’s much better for us. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who we play in the playoffs, I think we can win.”

Green is not wrong about the travel.

While some teams may have looked at the top four in the West (Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings, and Suns) and seen Sacramento as the obvious target, that plan could backfire. The Kings’ offense is diverse and elite, and they have the Clutch Player of the Year in De'Aaron Fox, and their building will be rocking like no other after the franchise has not been in the playoffs since 2006. In a West filled with flawed teams, the Kings winning a couple of rounds is well within the realm of possibility.

This could be the first year since the Kings moved to Sacramento that all four California teams make the playoffs (it is likely that all four at least make the play-in). The Kings are all but locked in to be the No.3 seed, while the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers are in the crowded field at the bottom of the playoff bracket where three games separate the No.5 and 11 seeds.

Bradley Beal reportedly under investigation after confrontation with fan who lost gambling

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 21, Bradley Beal had an off game — 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting — as the Wizards fell to the Magic in Orlando.

Walking off the court, Beal got into a confrontation with a couple of fans, one of whom blamed him for a gambling loss. The next day that incident became a complaint filed with the Orlando Police Department by the fan. David Purdum of ESPN summarized the police report this way:

Beal and the Wizards were exiting the court and in the visitors’ tunnel, headed to the locker room, when, according to the police report, an unidentified man remarked to Beal, “You made me lose $1,300, you f***.”

Beal, according to the report, turned around and walked toward a friend of the man who made the comment and swatted his right hand toward him, knocking the man’s hat off and contacting the left side of his head.

Police reviewed video footage of the altercation and heard Beal say this is his job and he takes it seriously, and the man is heard apologizing, implying he did not intend to offend him, according to the report.

At this point, no charges have been filed against Beal. According to TMZ, Beal told the heckler, “Keep it a buck. I don’t give a f*** about none of your bets or your parlays, bro. That ain’t why I play the game.” The entire incident lasted less than a minute.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “We are aware of the report and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of Florida.

While there is nothing official from the team, speculation abounds that the Wizards have shut down Beal and Kyle Kuzma for the season.