Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game.

“It’s a difficult time for Isaiah and his family, and for us as well,” forward Al Horford said. “We wanted to come out and be able to win this game, because there are bigger things than just basketball. For us, we are not taking it for granted, and we need to really pull through at this time. I feel like this will make us stronger, and we are going to be there to support Isaiah.”

That Thomas played at all was remarkable. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Thomas was “struggling,” but that the decision was left to Thomas. “As he goes through it,” Stevens said before the game, “if he feels the need to not (play), whatever he wants. One of the things I’ve learned having been through situations in the past, there’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever is right for him.”

Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game. He said the team would do whatever Thomas needed, and would free him to return home should he choose to do so. Thomas declined to speak with the media after the game.

This is a big departure for Wall, who has typically struggled in the postseason. In his two previous playoff stints, totaling 18 games, Wall averaged 16.7 points and shot 37.6 percent from the field, 20.4 percent from the 3-point line. He appears to have put those struggles behind him, and has been one of the most productive postseason guards when it comes to running the pick-and-roll (12.3 points per game from the play, fifth in the league).

That is a big challenge for the Celtics, who will throw a combination of Avery Bradley and Smart at Wall, who struggled against Boston in the four regular-season games (17.8 points, 37.3 percent shooting, 15.4 from the 3-point line). Wall will attract plenty of defensive attention, but Boston will have to find ways to recover for help on Beal (22.0 points, 47.8 percent 3-point shooting) and Otto Porter (17.0 points, 67.4 percent shooting), because each was especially strong against the Celtics this season.jets_002

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NBA playoffs 2017: Celtics in historic hole, but series far from over

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The Celtics are the second No. 1 seed to go down two games to none to a No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history. The only other 1 seed to lose the first two games was the 1993 Suns, who came back to win a best-of-five series over the Lakers.

We knew Boston wasn’t a strong top seed, but what we’ve seen has been shocking. The Bulls barely made the playoffs with a 41-41 record, which included a midseason social media fight among Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Fans were coming at the organization from the top down, saying changes needed to be made. Now, their team might win a playoff series.

Victor Hedman Authentic Jersey We stayed calm, DeRozan told reporters afterward. They fought extremely hard. We knew they would make it hard and we just had to sustain. We didn’t expect to be down and fighting back in the last couple of minutes, but we stayed calm and executed. We got buckets when we needed to.

In Memphis, the Spurs rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 5:50 to beat the Grizzlies 103-96 and win their series, 4-2. While Kawhi Leonard was his usual stat beast (29 points and nine rebounds), veteran guard Tony Parker proved the difference down the stretch for the Spurs, finishing with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

My teammates were setting great picks for me and my shot was going in, Parker told TNT afterward.

Talk this week has been about how the other dominant team in these playoffs, the Cavaliers, have flipped the switch from regular season to playoffs. The Warriors have perfected that movement during the postseason, in particular in this series.

That’s a weird thing to say given that Golden State trailed only in Game 3 of this series and clearly flipped a switch then, but in all the games there were bursts followed by lulls, followed by decisive runs:

Thomas said he was not surprised by anything he saw from the Cavaliers.

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We know Isaiah is dangerous, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. When he gets going, the crowd really gets into it, their team gets into it and it opens up a lot of things. When you try to take him out of the series, try to make it tough on him, you’ve got to give up something else. . . . But our main objective (was) to make it physical on Isaiah, try to take him out, and we did a good job of that.

Thomas said he was not surprised by anything he saw from the Cavaliers. They played how they played throughout the season, he said. I just missed shots. Didn’t get a rhythm. Next game, I will definitely be more aggressive to get into the paint, make plays and make stuff happen.
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Tyler Dorsey played well in five-on-five Thursday, and measured out longer than expected (albeit still not great) at 6-foot-4.5 with a 6-5-plus wingspan. You wish he had more positional size, but he might be able to play next to a true point with these measurements as a scoring guard.

Tony Bradley came in at nearly 6-11 with a 7-5 wingspan, a good measurement for a player whose athleticism will likely confine him to the center position in the NBA. Still, he also came in at a 12 percent body fat, and will need to get into better shape to reach his ceiling.

Zach Collins was measured publicly for the first time, coming in at 7-foot with a 7-1 wingspan. Those numbers aren’t great, but if the 9-3 standing reach he came in with ends up being true, then he’ll be fine.

Gordon Hayward signing closes door on Celtics’ past free-agency issues

There was a time, not long ago, when folks in Boston lamented the fact that no NBA free agents ever wanted to play for the Celtics. The team’s major acquisitions over the year, from Bill Russell through Larry Bird and on to Kevin Garnett, came through trades, and until last summer, it could be argued that the most significant free-agent signing in team history had been someone in the range of Jason Terry or end-of-career Dominique Wilkins.

So maybe it is a good sign for the franchise that the complaint about Boston’s offseason forays is not the fact that the team has not signed big-time free agents, but that the locals want to see bigger transactions paired with those deals.

O.J. Mayo did help Memphis make the 2011 and 2012 playoffs, but he left the organization in 2012 via free agency. After short stints with Dallas and Milwaukee, Mayo was dismissed from the NBA for a drug violation last year. He is eligible for reinstatement in July 2018.

Love went on to be a two-time All-NBA selection with Minnesota. In 2013-14, he became the first player in NBA history to notch 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in a season. He established himself as one of the top 20 players in the NBA, and in August 2014, he was traded to the Cavaliers for No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.
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Love was a key part of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship run, and Wiggins is a cornerstone piece of the Timberwolves’ future. If the Timberwolves did not trade for Love in 2008, then it is unlikely Wiggins or Butler are ever acquired, and one of the brightest young cores currently in the NBA is never formed.
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Already a six-time NBA All-Star, Jermaine O’Neal had two years and $44 million remaining on his contract, and the Pacers did not want to pay that much. So Indiana traded O’Neal and a second-round pick to Toronto for T. J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the No. 17 pick (Hibbert).

Nick Young once tweeted his hate for Golden State fans

What a difference a year makes. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Nick Young tweeted his hate for Golden State fans.

If the Boston Celtics’ assembling of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett introduced the term “Big Three” to everyday NBA conversation, the Miami Heat popularized the term unlike any team before or after. Search the phrase “Big Three NBA” on Google Trends and the results shows the use of the term peaked in July 2010, when Wade, James and Bosh signed with Miami.

Oscar Robertson was the original Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double in his second year in the NBA. The Bucks averaged 62 wins in the regular season in the four years he spent in Milwaukee, where he played alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Dandridge to win the 1971 NBA championship. Abdul-Jabbar, who needs no introduction, averaged 31.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game that season, while Dandridge chipped in 18.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Oscar Robertson averaged a cool 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the regular season.

The 2002 Kings nearly toppled the might Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, before losing Game 7, in a season when Sacramento boasted both the league’s fastest and most-efficient offense. Chris Webber averaged 24.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and more than one steal and one block per game, while Mike Bibby ran the offense and Peja Stojakovic averaged 21.2 points as a lethal three-point threat. With a pair of good outside shooters spacing the floor for Webber, the Kings’ threesome would fit nicely and play a very entertaining brand of basketball.browns_003

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Zach LaVine expects to be All-Star player on ‘center stage’ with Bulls

Zach LaVine was mostly seen as the third option in Minnesota behind top players Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He’s now headed to Chicago after being sent in a deal involving Jimmy Butler, and suddenly he’s one of the faces of the franchise.

While this will be a new role for the 22-year-old, LaVine told the Pioneer Press he’s ready to step up.

Mens Kent Tekulve Jersey The rule — Vincent calls it the May 16th rule or the graduation rule — states in part, Players who attend schools with final examinations that conclude after May 16 may not participate in any activities other than the three-day post-draft rookie minicamp until after the player’s final day of examinations.

Max Scherzer did what Max Scherzer does. He tossed eight innings, struck out 10 Mets batters, and got the win for the Nationals. This was the fifth game in a row he has struck out at least 10 batters.
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While three strikeouts for a closer might not be out of the realm of possibility, to strike out 48 batters and walk none to start a season is simply unheard of. But that is exactly what Kenley Jansen has done for the Dodgers. He struck out the side in Los Angeles’ 3-1 win over Cincinnati Friday to earn his 14th save on the year.

The Pirates led 5-4 entering the top of the ninth but reliever Juan Nicasio gave up four runs without recording an out to allow the Cubs to rally for a 9-5 win.

As bad as Nicasio was Friday we can’t leave Joe Biagani out of the discussion. He pitched one-plus inning in Toronto’s 11-4 loss to the White Sox, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and one walk.

He was accused of punching his pregnant girlfriend and choking her in 2014.

Lakers — Yes, the LaVar Ball show will follow his son to the Staples Center after the Lakers selected the UCLA point guard with the No. 2 pick in the draft. With that being said, Lonzo Ball has all the tools NBA teams look for in a future leader and game changer.
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(Note to management, although Allen, who knows Williams, what he means and who he means it to: You don’t want those problems. At all.)

It’s infuriating, because even as the soap opera in the front office gets soapier by the year, this is still the opportunity Williams had earned and was worthy of getting from another organization. Washington gets lots of credit for being the one to give it to him.

Demarcus Walker Authentic Jersey Like all the other minority front-office hopefuls over the years, he was given a rule book, he played by it, and then he watched the likes of John Lynch jump the line, while they ran in place hoping their turn to be the designated Rooney Rule interviewee would come soon.

Hill is proud of his speed, with T-shirts printed last December depicting Hill as half-man/half-cheetah and declaring him as the fastest cat on the planet. The shirts were sold locally, and Hill donated the proceeds to the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. Hill also plans to co-host a free football camp this summer with Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, a longtime friend.

That’s quite a change from when Hill entered the NFL with several questions about his character after a domestic assault charge while in college. He was accused of punching his pregnant girlfriend and choking her in 2014. He was dismissed from Oklahoma State’s team and finished his final college season at West Alabama. He pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation and was sentenced to three years probation with a mandated anger-management course and attendance in a year-long batterer’s program and had to undergo a domestic-abuse evaluation.

NBA Draft picks 2017: Results, grades for every selection

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The 2017 NBA Draft started off with a bang, but it was relatively smooth following a blockbuster trade Thursday at the Barclays Center.

The Timberwolves made the first big move of the night, sending Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen) to the Bulls for three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick (Justin Patton). Butler will reunite with coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota and attempt to lead the young Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Jordan Jenkins Jersey As for the draft itself, the Sixers selected Markelle Fultz at No. 1 overall, and the Lakers quickly followed with Lonzo Ball at No. 2. Despite trade rumors leading up to draft night, the Celtics stayed in their slot and chose Jayson Tatum at No. 3, and the picks fell into place from there.

Here are the NBA Draft picks, complete with grades and analysis for each selection.

With Cousins hitting free agency next season (unless Washington somehow manages to hammer out an extension), it’s entirely possible that Shanahan is just punting the quarterback position this year and will pursue his former QB. The two worked together in 2012 and 2013 when Shanahan was Washington’s offensive coordinator.

If not, then they should at least be drafting high enough to get a potential franchise quarterback. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are among the top prospects in what should be a loaded QB class in 2018.

That’s not a bad plan for next season, but it sure won’t make the 2017 offense any easier to watch. Hoyer hit his ceiling years ago as a mediocre journeyman, and any promise he showed last year was wiped out by a season-ending broken arm. Barkley didn’t show much in relief of Hoyer, throwing a staggering 14 interceptions in just six starts for the Bears.

If the New York Jets have the worst QB situation in the league, then the 49ers aren’t far behind. The silver lining is that Shanahan has a good track record with quarterbacks, so fans can only hope he has a plan here.

NBA free agency 2017: Kyle Lowry wants to stay with Raptors, team prez insists

Raptors president Masai Ujiri has joined Kyle Lowry in shooting down a Toronto Star report that says the All-Star point guard has “zero interest” in remaining with the team.

Key words: “Under contract.”

George, who is set to make $19.5 million next season before a player option in 2018, also denied the rampant rumors he is being courted by other teams, especially by the Lakers.

“They’re all crazy, but they’re all expected,” George said.

Many speculations are that since George is a possible rental, it would cost a new team much more than his is worth. So for now, he is going to stay with the Pacers until he is a free agent next summer. Unless he is swapped out before the trade deadline.

Naturally, George said his goal is to win a championship with the Pacers, and another goal will be to make next year’s All-Star team, which will give him a nice payday. It will also mean other teams wanting him will have to pony up more money.

Will that happen? That remains to be seen. McCloskey became Pistons general manager in 1979 and held the position until 1992. The Pistons made the NBA playoffs nine straight years from 1984-92 with five straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals and three NBA Finals appearances, including the two titles.

Nicknamed “Trader Jack” for his proclivity to make deals, McCloskey is given credit as the architect for Detroit’s famed “Bad Boys” teams led by Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson. Both Laimbeer and Johnson were acquired in separate trades. McCloskey also acquired post player Rick Mahorn in 1985.

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NBA Finals 2017: J.R. Smith says Warriors have ‘one guy who keep kicking people’

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There are positives and negatives to having multiple days off between every NBA Finals game.

One positive is that players get a lot of time with the media and give out a lot of sound bites. One negative is that players get a lot of time with the media and give out a lot of sound bites.

Everything any player says in the media is going to to analyzed, over-analyzed, psycho-analyzed, and just for good measure analyzed again. J.R. Smith is the latest example of that.

When asked about the Cavaliers dirtying up the game with more physical play, Smith flipped the tables and alluded to Warriors forward Draymond Green, even if he didn’t mention Green by name. Apparently he isn’t letting the shot LeBron James took to the twig and berries in last year’s Finals go.

Jerebko is the Celtics’ first sub, replacing Horford.

Questionable call on Horford as Love drives baseline on him. Looks like Love initiated the contact, then lost his footing and may have traveled.
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LeBron James always finds himself on the sending or receiving end of some of the smoothest passes in transition. He finds Kyrie streaking through four Celtics and Kyrie draws a foul.

Boston leads 11-5 with 7:22 to play in the first quarter. Margin could have been even bigger if Olynyk’s early looks went in.