Back to work: Celtics, Heat start getting ready for Game 4 — Boston Herald

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Getting angry worked wonders for the Boston Celtics. Their first win in these Eastern Conference finals just happened to come two nights after Marcus Smart sparked a loud and emotional series of shouting matches inside the Celtics’ locker room, all of that starting only a few seconds after the Miami…

Back to work: Celtics, Heat start getting ready for Game 4 — Boston Herald

Keeler: Anthony Davis just ripped out the Nuggets’ hearts. And it feels like basketball gods have finally turned their backs on Michael Malone. — The Denver Post

It’s one thing to get dragged behind the woodshed. It’s another to ball out, as these Nuggets did Sunday, to leave everything out there, to clean up old mistakes, to get stops, to force turnovers, to get to the line, to surpass the Lakers’ intensity … … and then have Anthony Davis plunge a dagger in between your shoulder blades.

Keeler: Anthony Davis just ripped out the Nuggets’ hearts. And it feels like basketball gods have finally turned their backs on Michael Malone. — The Denver Post

Anthony Davis On His Buzzer Beater: ‘I Want The Big Time Plays’ — UPROXX

Davis said shots like his game winner in Game 2 of the WCF were one of the reasons he wanted to leave New Orleans for the Lakers.

Anthony Davis On His Buzzer Beater: ‘I Want The Big Time Plays’ — UPROXX

he Los Angeles Lakers trailed 103-102 with 2.1 seconds to play in Game 2 of their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Nuggets after having seen Denver erase a 16-point deficit in the second half — as has become a regular occurrence for Denver this postseason.

On their final inbounds play, L.A. put their two superstars into the action and made Denver make a quick and difficult decision. The result was Mason Plumlee going to LeBron James, who was already being faceguarded by Jerami Grant, leaving Davis with an open catch and window to shoot a deep three at the buzzer in front of a hard closeout from the side by Nikola Jokic. Davis, who was 1-for-3 on threes to that point in the game, buried the shot and gave L.A. a 105-103 win (and a 2-0 series lead).

AD WINS IT AT THE BUZZER.

OH MY. pic.twitter.com/Um2uWqjmZR

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2020

After the game, Davis explained that the opportunity to take that shot in that moment was the driving factor in why he wanted to go to the Lakers when he issued his trade request from New Orleans, telling Allie LaForce he “wants the big time plays” and elaborating to reporters later that he knew this was the stage and the championship chase L.A. would afford him.

“I want those shots. I want the big-time plays.”

AD discusses his game-winning shot with @ALaForce after Game 2. pic.twitter.com/ndcX3flI4M

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 21, 2020

Lakers’ Anthony Davis on Game 2 winner over Nuggets: “It’s for sure the biggest shot of my career. When I left (New Orleans) I just wanted to compete for a championship. I know moments like this come with it. Especially being in LA, the biggest market in basketball.” pic.twitter.com/5FMsig4n9u

— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 21, 2020

Given that the biggest remaining question Davis faced as a player was whether he could take and make these kinds of shots on a championship caliber team, taking the lead in a situation when LeBron James didn’t have it down the stretch, he answered that with an exclamation point on Sunday. Davis was the only Laker to score in the final five minutes of the game, including both of his three-pointers on the night.

It was a sensational performance, further cementing his position as not just one of the league’s most elite talents but as a player capable of stepping up on the big stage and knocking down a critical shot. As the Lakers move forward, that ability, when the focus shifts from defenses to slowing down LeBron James, will be critical in L.A.’s ability to take the Larry O’Brien trophy home from Disney to Los Angeles.

Could Anthony Davis’ game-winner knock the wind out the never-say-die Denver Nuggets? — Press Telegram

If anything is going to take the wind out of the sails of the never-quit Nuggets, you’d think this could be it. Anthony Davis’ arcing 3-pointer at the buzzer not only gave the Lakers a 105-103 victory in Game 2 of Sunday’s Western Conference Finals series, but it control-shift-deleted all of Denver’s painstaking work to…

Could Anthony Davis’ game-winner knock the wind out the never-say-die Denver Nuggets? — Press Telegram

Celtics take Game 3 over Miami, 117-106 — Boston Herald

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

How Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. gained Michael Malone’s trust — The Denver Post

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

Butler on loss: Digging out of big holes ‘gets old’ — VOICE OF THE HWY

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.”

What Gordon Hayward Explained About Bubble Departure, Game 3 Production — NESN.com

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

Lakers vow not to let up against resilient Nuggets — Boston Herald

With one comeback after another in the playoffs, the Denver Nuggets showed themselves to be a team that falls down but doesn’t stay down. The Los Angeles Lakers noticed. They watched the Nuggets repeatedly rally from big deficits against Utah and then the Los Angeles Clippers — and, obviously, are aware that the Jazz and…

Lakers vow not to let up against resilient Nuggets — Boston Herald

Dwight Howard sets energetic tone in Lakers’ Game 1 win — Daily News

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — When Dwight Howard went to the Finals in 2009, it seemed to him like it might be the start of a run. His Orlando Magic team was one of the Eastern powers, and at 23, his potential seemed to just be blooming. That was 11 years ago. Howard hasn’t been…

Dwight Howard sets energetic tone in Lakers’ Game 1 win — Daily News

Whicker: Lakers, unlike the Clippers, don’t ask you to wait until next year — Press Telegram

Five days later, his parting words still scrape on the eardrum. Did Paul George really say that the Clippers’ 2019-20 season wasn’t a matter of “championship or bust?” Technically, he is correct. There is no record of either George or Kawhi Leonard promising that the Clippers would be this year’s champions. Practically, it is one…

Whicker: Lakers, unlike the Clippers, don’t ask you to wait until next year — Press Telegram

Denver’s Mike Malone pushed LeBron James to be better in Cleveland — Daily News

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If Denver coach Mike Malone and LeBron James are friends now, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Malone said, it was probably his willingness to be hard on the budding Cleveland star that helped earn him respect. For five years as a Cavaliers assistant under Mike Brown, Malone was…

Denver’s Mike Malone pushed LeBron James to be better in Cleveland — Daily News