Their most emotional night of the season behind them – every team has some scarring, said coach Brad Stevens – the Celtics came out in even-tempered, efficient form Saturday night. Gone were the runs on turnovers, the blown leads, and especially, confusion against Miami’s 3-2 zone. Jaylen Brown attacked the rim in a 26-point, 11-for-16…Celtics take Game 3 over Miami, 117-106 — Boston Herald
Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. didn’t expect the backlash that came from his postgame comments after Denver fell behind the Clippers 3-1 last round.How Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. gained Michael Malone’s trust — The Denver Post
TORONTO FC (2) – D.C. UNITED (2) POST MATCH SUMMARY
DCU – Ola Kamara 5’
TFC – Alejandro Pozuelo 17’
TFC – Ayo Akinola 60’ (Pablo Piatti)
DCU – Griffin Yow 88’
TFC – Nick DeLeon 25’ (caution)
TFC – Pablo Piatti 41’ (caution)
TFC – Richie Laryea 67’ (caution)
DCU – Kevin Paredes 81’ (caution)
TORONTO FC: 6-2-4 22 PTS.
D.C. UNITED: 2-5-5 11 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Richie Laryea, Eriq Zavaleta (Chris Mavinga 75’), Omar Gonzalez, Justin Morrow; Nick DeLeon (Laurent Ciman 82’), Jonathan Osorio (C), Marky Delgado, Pablo Piatti (Patrick Mullins 90’), Alejandro Pozuelo (Tsubasa Endoh 90’); Jozy Altidore (Ayo Akinola, HT’)
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Tony Gallacher, Erickson Gallardo, Jayden Nelson
D.C. UNITED – Bill Hamid; Chris Odoi-Atsem (Erik Sorga 87’), Fredric Brillant (C), Donovan Pines, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno, Yamil Asad (Federico Higuain 78’), Mohammed Abu (Griffin Yow HT’), Julian Gressel (Moses Nyman 78’); Ola Kamara, Gelmin Rivas (Kevin Paredes 68’)
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Axel Sjoberg, Oniel Fisher
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
What went wrong with the team’s defending?
“I think the first half it was very random. Guys were moving all over the place trying to find the ball. We didn’t have much shape. And as we were running all over the place trying to find the ball and trying to create things and leaving spaces open, we become vulnerable in the transition. And in the defensive transition, we don’t control the game. It seems like we normally control the game. It wasn’t anything overly sophisticated or complicated about what they did. It was a pretty straight up 4-4-2, but we have to be more disciplined about the areas of the field that we need to have players in. And we need our players to be in the right positions at the right times and we were very busy. That left us vulnerable in the first half. It cost us a lot of energy in the first half because we end up running at times we don’t have to run, for no purpose. We end up getting exposed in the transition, which means a lot of work in the transition because spaces are open, they get out in those spaces and we need to sprint to recover. And it becomes incredibly inefficient. And we’re on the road and the start of a tough road trip, and we burned a lot of energy for not a lot of gain in the first half. We give away an absolute howler on the first goal, which is never the way you want to start a game. And we come out in the second half a little more structured, we switched some things around to get some structure out of the game, and I thought we had a little bit better, for the first 25-30 minutes, had a little bit better shape in terms of with the ball, moving a little more purposeful, we created a few more chances, got in deeper into their half. But still we started to fatigue. These games a bit of a war of attrition, between travel, between injuries and guys carrying things, and these games come back to back to back, so you try to push guys through. They’re having the same issues as we’re having and we’re thin in the midfield right now and trying to work our way through it. And so, the second goal comes off…our midfield is physically struggling a little bit, so we went with a third centre back, thinking if at least we can force them to put crosses in we will have numbers in front of the goal. We need to protect the middle of the field. And sure, enough they put a cross in and Q (Westberg) comes to get it, calls for it, Omar stays in and heads it. So either Q needs to get it, or Omar needs to clear space for him so he can take it, or Omar’s got to make sure he clears it, so neither of the above happened, so we head it back down and their guy smacks it into what’s a relatively empty net. So, yeah, the other part of it is there’s some defensive things that … we have this sense right now that we have to win every single ball and every single pass, so our defensive shape is at times very impatient, and because of that we expend a lot of energy chasing balls. We just need to be more patient sometimes. We can’t press everything. And tonight, we were … because I think we started off playing from behind … our patience wanes a little bit and we are pushing the game a little bit too much and we’re expending too much energy through the course of it. So, there’s a synopsis of the game, I guess.”
How is Pablo Piatti? He looked like he was injured?
“Yeah, he was cramping. It wasn’t anything more than that, so he should be okay. We’ll hydrate and all that kind of stuff and he should be okay.”
What’s your sense on why you guys are giving up late goals so frequently?
“Yeah, the first 2-2 draw against them was a diabolical collapse of nonsense which is, you know, us giving away essentially goals very similar to the way we did tonight. You know, we lose a ball in a bad place they go on a breakaway. It was reminiscent of the Higuain’s goal against us and that first game. When you collapse like that and you put yourself in a tough situation. The second goal is reminiscent of how they how they scored at the very end. They just a lump of ball into the box we don’t clear it and you know … the last one they nodded it down and they were first to it, and tonight, we nod it down for them and they bury it. So, it’s you know, we’ve got to be a little to be a little bit more structured and cleaner about how we defend when we’re under a little bit of pressure. We’ve been the aggressors in many of these games, which has helped us a lot of times to get on top of the games. But you know, when we are seeing out leads, we need to recognize that, and be a bit more patient about our defensive structure and what we can deal with. And so, it’s something we definitely need to continue to grow at, as a group. Obviously, with guys slightly out of position, doing different roles, especially in the midfield, some of that structure gets a little bit lost in the midfield. But guys are putting in a heavy shift and they’re doing everything they can. It’s just sometimes they’re not used to the specific roles they have, so we’re trying to work through some of that as well. So, it’s the nature of the beast right now. Again, a lot of teams are dealing with it. We can’t give up silly goals like we did at the beginning and we have to do better to clear balls when we’re under a little bit of pressure at the end of games. That’s been a big chunk of it.”
AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Does tonight’s tie feel more like a loss?
“Yeah in a way. We had the lead for a good amount of time, a little bit of fatigue that caused the second goal. But yeah definitely this tie feels like a loss. One thing that’s good about us, after a result like this we usually bounce back. Going into the next game we’re definitely going to prepare ourselves a lot better.”
What’s it like playing in these games? Away to DC and New York then a home game in Connecticut. How do you prepare yourself? Do the games feel different?
“Prepare like we’re at home. Obviously, every game now is going to feel like we’re away. Some may think just because we’re away we’re going to be the underdogs, but we have the mindset that every game we play like it’s our last. We feel like sometimes we’re the home team with how we move the ball and possess it. It definitely feels weird, but nothing surprising to us, especially being down in Orlando. We were away from home for a long time. It’s like Orlando part two for us, definitely weird but nothing surprising to us. We should be ok with it.”
Can you break down your goal?
“I didn’t see who played the ball to Richie. Richie went down the line and crossed it. On his cross, I thought he missed everyone, I didn’t know who he was trying to play it to, but Pablo was there. At first, I thought Pablo was going to take a touch, but he put it back first time right onto my head. As I headed it, I thought for a split second that Hamid was going to save it, but it passed by him.”
-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-
1:21 AM ET The Miami Heat‘s habit of falling into big second-half holes finally caught up to them during Saturday night’s 117-106 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night. After overcoming a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 1 and a 15-point third-quarter deficit in Game 2, […]Butler on loss: Digging out of big holes ‘gets old’ — VOICE OF THE HWY
The Miami Heat‘s habit of falling into big second-half holes finally caught up to them during Saturday night’s 117-106 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night.
After overcoming a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 1 and a 15-point third-quarter deficit in Game 2, the Heat fell down by as many as 20 in Game 3 and could never get back on track.
It’s a pattern that Heat players and coaches have discussed openly about fixing over the past few days, but it was the Celtics who set the tone early yet again Saturday night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“We’ve got to start the game how we start the fourth,” Heat All-Star big man Bam Adebayo said. “I feel like we’re not the type of team where we can go through the motions and try and figure out everything in the first half, and then in the third or fourth, we just try to turn it on. It’s not like that. We are not that type of team.”
The Celtics used a 31-22 first quarter to set an early tone that they were able to build upon throughout the night. The Heat did not have an answer for the Celtics’ aggression and did a much better job defensively on Heat guard Goran Dragic, holding the sharpshooter to just 2-for-10 from the field.
“I think it gets old, playing from behind, consistently,” Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler said. “Especially against a great team like Boston and what they bring to the table.”
The Heat now have to wait until Game 4 on Wednesday night to fix the same issue that has hampered them throughout the series. Despite still holding a 2-1 series lead, players expressed frustration afterward, as they lost for just the second time in the postseason bubble.
“We’ve got to play with detail,” Adebayo said. “I feel like we’ve got to work on our offense a little bit. They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping it up and having fun. I feel like that was the big difference in the game. They jumped out on us, and I guess they got tired of us being down 13 and coming back and winning. We’ve just got to do a better job of not letting ourselves get in a big deficit.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gave the Celtics credit for keeping their foot on the gas pedal after losing focus over the first two games of the series.
“Look, this is the playoffs,” Spoelstra said. “So you deal with whatever is in front of you. They came out, Boston did, with great force in this game and you do have to credit them for that. They sustained it for the better majority of the game. We were on our heels most of the game.”
The Heat remain confident in themselves, but it’s a trend they know they must fix to continue their dream run in the bubble. Aside from the fact they fell into yet another early hole, what frustrated Butler is that he knows his team can play harder. He acknowledged after Game 2 that the Celtics had more talent on paper than the Heat do, and he knows that to get to the NBA Finals, they have to make up for that talent disparity in other areas.
“We didn’t play hard enough,” Butler said. “I think we didn’t do anything that we said that we were going to do. We knew how they were going to attack us. We weren’t helping each other. We weren’t making an extra pass a lot of the times. We have to play basketball the way we have been playing the games that we have been winning. We understand that. There’s nothing that Coach can say. There’s nothing that OG [Udonis Haslem] can say. We get it. We have to be the ones to fix that.”
Gordon Hayward was the topic of conversation in more ways than one Saturday. First and foremost started with Hayward’s return. The Celtics forward played his first game since Aug. 17, helping Boston defeat the Miami Heat 117-106 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. And then were the details that Hayward did not plan […]What Gordon Hayward Explained About Bubble Departure, Game 3 Production — NESN.com
First and foremost started with Hayward’s return. The Celtics forward played his first game since Aug. 17, helping Boston defeat the Miami Heat 117-106 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
And then were the details that Hayward did not plan to leave the NBA’s bubble, like originally expressed. Hayward said in June he would leave Orlando as his wife, Robyn, is pregnant with their fourth child. Hayward, though, since departing the bubble already to rehab an injured ankle, has changed his mind.
The Celtics wing explained that he will stay with the team instead.
“Yeah, I mean, that obviously wasn’t in the plan, getting injured, going back to Indiana for treatment,” Hayward told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage.
Of note, Hayward’s wife was also in Indiana when the 30-year-old was going through rehab for a Grade III ankle sprain.
“… And Robyn could be having the baby at any point in time, and so I think it’s probably something I’ll be here and by the time I get back I might miss the birth. We discussed it, we prayed about it, and I think it’s probably best I stay here and help our team.”More: NBA Rumors: Gordon Hayward Will ‘Stay With Celtics’ If Wife Goes Into Labor
If Saturday’s any indication, Hayward certainly will help. He was a driving factor in the Celtics getting back on the right side of things, despite the fact they trail the Heat 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“Yeah, I mean it was, I definitely felt weird out there. It’s been four or five weeks or whatever since I’ve played basketball. So, I think it was really fun to be back out there with the team, with the guys,” Hayward said. “I just tried to impact our team in winning ways, whatever I could do. First five minutes, I was gassed. I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore. But just proud of the way we fought, proud of us getting the win.”
Hayward admitted that with it being the first time he’s played five-on-five basketball since Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers, it didn’t take long for him to get winded. And he also is well-aware he’s not quite 100%, but is thinking he’ll get there.
“The first five minutes hit differently for sure. That’s the first time I’ve played five on five basketball. Just the way rehab had to be down here, it was so much different,” he said. “I think definitely not at 100%, but it’s kind of just what it is. It’s the Eastern Conference finals, so I’m going to give us whatever I can. As we keep going I’ll find my rhythm and be better and better, that’s the plan at least.”
Head coach Brad Stevens, though, praised Hayward for his ability to “stabilize” the offense. It’s something Boston had missed without him in the lineup, helping facilitate on that side of the floor while making impactful plays.
“I think me personally just trying to help us offensively, being someone who can get in the paint, create, help us rebound, bring the ball up thinking if we can run they cant set up their defense,” Hayward said. “We have so many athletes, so many guys that can score it makes it more difficult for them.”
Boston will continue to try and make it difficult on Miami as the Celtics face the Heat on Wednesday for Game 4.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images