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In the broken, dysfunctional world of Man United

Failure across the board and new lows in goals conceded, losing streaks and points totals. How did Man United become like this? (Author: Gardener)

Man UnitedWhen Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United last August, 12 years after joining Real Madrid, the team were undefeated in the Premier League and harboring hopes of the title. But nine months later, United have just ended their worst season in Premier League history, finishing sixth on 58 points, 35 behind league winners City. Struggles within the squad are best summed up by a source who tells ESPN that an older player's agent has complained to the club that promotional campaigns have given Ronaldo more prominence than his client. Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable sports stars in the world, his Instagram account has more followers - 443 million - than the rest of the United squad combined (United's official account has 58 million) and his fame stretches to every corner of the world. But as the team headed towards a sixth-place finish in the Premier League and a place in next season's Europa League, one players' representative was more concerned with how often Ronaldo was used to promote the club's sponsors. Ralf Rangnick, who was appointed interim manager after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November, spoke last week about the lack of "team spirit and cohesion" within the squad, but with Erik ten Hag now installed as the club's new manager, ESPN became involved It has been reported from multiple sources that the 2021-22 meltdown at Old Trafford went well beyond the players. It was a season in which the team was run by three managers - Solskjaer, Michael Carrick and Rangnick - and indignity lurked around every corner. 5-0 home loss to Liverpool, elimination from three cup competitions at Old Trafford (Champions League, Atletico Madrid; FA Cup, Middlesbrough; Carabao Cup, West Ham) and new lows in goals conceded (57), losing sequences and points tally (58) leaving Solskjaer and then Rangnick's players puzzled, bewildered and unimpressed. Sources have told ESPN that the rot started under Solskjaer, who was seen as indecisive, weak and lacking in tactical acumen. The Norwegian had told players in pre-season that he would introduce a 4-3-3 system that would allow the team to be more offensive, but as soon as the season started, he reverted to 4-2-3-1 back and was unable to find a way to adequately accommodate Ronaldo after his arrival from Juventus. Sources said there was also disbelief that Solskjaer had allowed Edinson Cavani to spend two weeks on holiday in Uruguay and delay his return to start the season simply because the former Paris Saint-Germain striker had endured a difficult year during lockdown Trafford and wanted time with his family. If that decision was to ensure Cavani's loyalty and commitment, sources said all goodwill was quickly evaporated when the striker was told to ditch the No.7 shirt for Ronaldo. With his shirt number and first-team spot lost to Ronaldo, Cavani was keen to accept an offer from Barcelona at the end of the transfer window but United refused to let him go, urging the 35-year-old to fight for his spot instead of this. "Cavani was pissed about it," a source told ESPN. "He's done really well during a difficult season during COVID-19, despite his difficulties adjusting to life in Manchester - he couldn't believe it was getting dark outside at 3pm in the winter - but he knew he could it would not do played with Ronaldo and wanted to go to Barca. He started at United in eight games all season and scored just two goals, so no one has benefited from his staying, least of all the club." Anthony Martial was another player whose mood changed with the arrival of Ronaldo, with the France international was largely overlooked by Solskjaer and Rangnick before joining Sevilla on loan in January.The England striker, who had postponed surgery on an injured shoulder until August (a month after playing in the Euro 2020 final), returned Only returned to the first team in mid-October and endured his worst season for the club Sources have told ESPN that senior figures at United were trying to persuade Rashford to neglect his off-field commitments in order to focus on regaining his form and to focus on fitness, but the player instead chose to continue to combine into both. The 24-year-old finished the season with five goals in 32 games and has lost his place in England, although he was not solely to blame for United's poor form. With results in a nosedive and Solskjaer unable to stem the slide, the former United player was sacked in November and for many at the club that was when things took a turn for the worse. Carrick's three-game stint as caretaker brought stability and calm - United secured two wins and a draw during his short tenure - but despite the availability of Antonio Conte as Solskjaer's immediate successor, sources told ESPN that the Old Trafford hierarchy was looking at him former Chelsea and Inter Milan coach as 'too demanding of players to fit into our squad'. He was overlooked and soon signed by Tottenham, who ended the season qualifying for the Champions League, 13 points clear of United in the table. So Rangnick came in while United began a "thorough" process to find a long-term appointment. ESPN revealed earlier this season that a player admitted to teammates he had to "google" the 63-year-old German, who did little to impress a skeptical squad by hiring unknown coaches Chris Armas and Euan Sharp because he was familiar with them from During his time he worked in the Red Bull franchise in Salzburg and Leipzig. Sources have said Rangnick was compromised by both Carrick and Kieran McKenna, who decided to give up their coaching roles and then saw three potential appointments ruled out by unavailability or Brexit bureaucracy, but Armas and Sharp were his appointments nonetheless. Rangnick also set off alarm bells within the club when he was warned that United's leadership would lead to unprecedented scrutiny of his results and decisions by the media and fans. "Ralf just smiled and said: 'Don't worry, I've moved to a big club before when I left Hoffenheim for Schalke, so I know what to expect,' a source told ESPN. In January, sources told ESPN that Ronaldo had made it clear to the club that if Rangnick were given the job permanently, he would not be staying at United and the Portuguese striker wasn't the only player unimpressed by the interim boss or his coaches, as ESPN reported that the Nicknamed Ted Lasso - after the fictional, hapless American coach parachuted onto the hit Apple+ comedy show to manage fictional club AFC Richmond - the former Toronto Armas FC manager had been nicknamed Ted Lasso by some of the players in the squad The squad began to grow, with the disagreements being amplified by Rangnick's comments about a variety of players including Ronaldo, team captain Harry Maguire, Rashford un d Cavani, "The British players tended to stick together, while a lot of the foreign guys took their lead from Ronaldo," a source told ESPN. The bad feeling started to spread to those linked to the players - families and representatives - with sources telling ESPN that two rival groups in Madrid were locked in heated arguments ahead of the Champions League round of 16 first leg against Atletico in February . Squad mood had become so bad at the end of February that sources at United's Carrington training ground told ESPN the atmosphere in the staff and players canteen was "terrible". The 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in April saw further angry clashes at half-time as Rangnick opted to play with three defenders, bringing in Phil Jones for the first time in almost three months and then the former England player Defender substituted at halftime. "Rangnick left Phil Jones completely naked at Anfield," a source told ESPN. Harry Maguire had a bad night at Anfield but Rangnick made the easy decision to substitute Jones at half-time because he didn't have the bottle to knock Maguire out." Ten days later, Rangnick announced he was taking on the role as Austria manager despite agreeing a two-year consultancy deal at United beyond the end of his stint at Old Trafford: "Rangnick has done United a favor by taking the job at Austria," a source told ESPN's Forget This Summer his advice and draw a line under his disastrous six months at the club." Ten Hag has won the race to lead United and the former Ajax manager has already impressed his new bosses with his determination to start work ahead of his July 1 start date. Nemanja Matic has also shared his decision to leave the club this summer. Richard Arnold is now three months in his role as chief executive, having replaced executive vice chairman Ed Woodward in late January. and he has al ready changes behind the scenes of the scouting network and the media department. Arnold also impressed United staff. "We never saw Ed but Richard will eat with the staff in the canteen at Old Trafford and he's approachable." When he took over, he invited club legends like Bryan Robson, Denis Irwin and Gary Neville over to tell them what he wanted to do, but also to hear their ideas. It will take more than dining with staff and wooing former players for United to return to their glory days, but with Ten Hag promising to make a big decision and a sense of change in the air at Old Trafford, the club's worst season in over 30 years, may just be the nudge United needed.

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Arsenal, Man Utd in battle for £70m-rated Neves

With the Premier League season over, Arsenal and Man United are eyeing the signing of Ruben Neves from Wolves. Transfer Talk is LIVE with the latest. (Author: Gardener)

Arsenal and Man UnitedTransfer Talk brings you the latest in rumours, rumours, comings and goings and of course deals done! Arsenal and Manchester United are interested in Ruben Neves and could compete for his signature in the summer, according to Der Spiegel. The Wolves midfielder has enjoyed another impressive season in the Premier League where he was a standout player for Bruno Lage's side. But the latest show he would be ready to leave Molineux in search of a new challenge and already being linked with Barcelona it now looks like he also has the option of staying in England's top flight. Speaking after Wolves' final game of the season against Liverpool on Sunday, the Portugal international said: "Our careers are really short, we have to take advantage of the opportunities we have. I can't say too much about it. "With Neves' contract not running out until 2024, Wolves could demand a significant fee for his services, with previous reports suggesting they are looking for around £70million to break away from the 25-year-old. Get instant access13.20 BST: Pass Brenden Aaronson good at Leeds?Hamilton: The amazing Aaronsons: Brenden, Paxten and their parents as US football's next big hopes12.50 BST: Barcelona will target midfielders Ruben Neves and Martin Zubimendi should Frenkie de Jong leave the club this summer, sources told ESPN.Barca manager Xavi Hernandez has spoken of his desire to keep De Jong but also acknowledged that the club's precarious financial situation could force them to make some difficult decisions, ESPN reported Earlier this month that both Manchester United and Manchester City would be delighted with the Dutch midfielder if he were d as allowed to leave Camp Nou. If De Jong joins, sources have told ESPN that Barca will try to sign a deep midfielder who could act as a long-term replacement for Sergio Busquets, who is out of contract 2023.12.19 BST: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea , has said many players who are not fully committed to the club should leave this summer.United's worst season of the Premier League era ended in a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Sunday they finished sixth in the table and qualified for the Europa League. Ahead of the unveiling of new manager Erik ten Hag, De Gea told MUTV: "The level we've shown over the last three or four months isn't good enough to win a Premier League game. We were sloppy, we lost some easy balls around our penalty area, it's impossible to win the games." I just want to be positive to forget this season. We all know it's been a bad season for everyone Rest over the summer, prepare mentally and physically and be ready to fight again next season from $29.5 million, a source with knowledge shared of the negotiations with ESPN's Jeff Carlisle. Aaronson has been on Leeds' radar since the winter transfer window, but a combination of Salzburg's continued UEFA Champions League participation and Leeds' potential relegation saw the deal come about, but Leeds' Premier League survival was decided on Sunday when they brought Brentford with them beat 2-1 while Burnley, who came on on goal difference the day before Leeds, lost to Newcastle United at home. Now the deal can go ahead, with Aaronson ready to be reunited with manager Jesse Marsch after the two worked together in Salzburg, the union will receive $5.3 million as a sales fee. 10.57 BST: Lionel Messi has reflected on his first season at Paris Saint-Germain and expressed optimism about the future. The Argentina captain, who scored six goals and assisted 14 more in 26 league games to help PSG win the league title, wrote in a post on Instagram: "The season is over and I wanted to thank my teammates for the way they have treated me since I arrived and my family for always accompanying and supporting me. "It's been a different year because of everything that happened, but in the end we clinched a league title which I was really looking forward to because I was really looking forward to being [my] first trophy here in Paris. "We're left w With the bitter aftertaste of losing in the Champions League in a draw in which we were better and at the same time I want to have the joy of adding another title which was also one of the goals. “Surely good things are coming in 2022, it will be an important year and we will fight to compete with ambition for everything The 22-year-old, who can also play at centre-back, makes a free transfer at the end of June when his contract with Marseille expires. Kamara, who was closely linked with Atletico Madrid, made 170 appearances for Marseille after coming through the club's academy. He has also been called up for the first time by France for next month's Nations League games against Denmark, Austria and Croatia. "I am delighted that we have been able to attract one of the most promising young talents in European football," Gerrard told the club's website. - UEFA Nations League on ESPN+: Stream LIVE matches, replays (US only) The pair will join the Dutchman as assistant coach, who will officially take the reins at Old Trafford on Monday. Ten Hag watched United's defeat by Crystal Palace from the stands alongside Van der Gaag and McClaren on Sunday. Van der Gaag, who coached a player at Motherwell, worked alongside Ten Hag at Ajax. His appointment is subject to FA approval and obtaining a UK visa. McClaren, meanwhile, is back at the club having previously served as Sir Alex Ferguson's No 2 between 1999 and 2001. He left to take over the managerial job at Middlesbrough and was also responsible for England and FC Twente, where Ten Hag was part of his staff. The 61-year-old was an advisor to Wayne Rooney at Derby County this season. The 24-year-old signed a four-year contract with last season's runners-up. Cologne confirmed Dortmund triggered a release clause to sign the Turkey international, although they haven't set the fee. "Cologne is my home club and I owe them a lot," said Özcan. "There are only a few clubs I would have left my city for." Borussia Dortmund's energy, which you can almost feel, and the opportunity to play regularly in the Champions League were what ultimately led to my decision. I am very happy to be able to develop further at BVB in front of more than 81,000 spectators and to help the team in the Bundesliga and the Champions League with my football style. I'm very ambitious and willing to give my all for that goal." - Bundesliga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE matches and replays (USA)10/10 BST: Liverpool have announced the signing of England Under-21 international Fabio Carvalho from Fulham The 19th -year-old Carvalho joined Liverpool for a reported fee of £5million after his contract with Fulham expired in June a transfer court is going.Liverpool almost signed him in the January transfer window but were unable to finalize the deal before the deadline.Carvalho had already agreed personal terms and passed a medical.- Ogden: Liverpool have gone to check back on 'What if' in title race09.58 BST: Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has a one-year-old contract extension signed, the Bundesliga champions have announced. Neuer, 36, signed with the club in 2024 after winning them to 10 consecutive league titles in 2021-22. The German no. 1 has won two Champions Leagues among the 25 club trophies he has won over the course of his 472 appearances. "Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world and has set standards around the world for years," said Bayern managing director Oliver Kahn in a club statement. Manuel is a defining figure in the history of FC Bayern Salah and Sadio Mane, Benfica's Darwin Nunez and AC Milan's Rafael Leao are potential targets. According to the outlet, Madrid's performance in Saturday's Champions League final could decide whether the LaLiga club want to sign a 'big name' in the summer window. AS say Salah and Mane's "advantageous contractual situations" could make a move possible, although their ages (30 and 29 respectively) speak against them. Lewandowski has been a target for Madrid in the past, with Nunez likely to leave Benfica this summer. and Leao could be available for a €100m fee after winning Serie A with Milan this weekend. Meanwhile, Madrid are in the running to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, according to France's RM C-Sport. The radio station report that terms have been agreed with both Madrid and Liverpool and the player is now 'giving himself a few days' to choose between the clubs. ESPN reported in January that Madrid were keen for Tchouameni, 22, to refresh his club's midfield.08.47 BST: Kylian Mbappe has thanked Real Madrid for their interest in him after turning down the chance to join the Bernabeu and instead signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain. ESPN reported last year that PSG had rejected a series of offers for Madrid for Mbappe, the latest of which was up to €200m, and the Spanish giants were confident they would finally achieve their long-awaited goal with a free transfer this summer since With his contract due to expire on June 30, a last-ditch effort by PSG to persuade Mbappe to stay proved successful on Saturday, with the striker pledged his future until 2025 to the Ligue 1 club 'By all means to reach the top' , Mbappe said in a statement published on social media on Sunday. "I also want to sincerely thank Real Madrid and its president Florentino Perez. I'm aware of the chance and privilege I had to be coveted by such an institution The club's hierarchy over their summer plans. Spurs secured fourth place on the final day of the Premier League with a 5-0 win at relegated Norwich City which ensured they finished fourth ahead of north London rivals Arsenal. Earlier in the season, Conte had openly questioned his suitability for the job as Tottenham's top-four hopes seemed to be dwindling, but Spurs have won eight of their last 11 games to overtake Arsenal and reach Europe's premier club competition. Sources have told ESPN's James Olley that Conte is targeting up to six summer signings in an ambitious overhaul aimed at making Tottenham contenders for the Premier League title and will meet with chairman Daniel Levy and the club in a matter of days Sitting down CEO Fabio Paratici to discuss Cursing their transfer strategy. "I'm under contract until next summer, you know very well that I've signed for a year and seven months. I really enjoyed my time at Tottenham because it was a big challenge for me to come during the season," he said. It's a big challenge at a club with a fantastic stadium and training ground and I knew the situation I could find - to give me the opportunity to work the way I want." On the other hand, you know very well that I do am a person with ambitions. And then we'll see. "I always told you at the end of the season, we'll talk to the club and find the best solution for me and for the club. Now I think for me, the club, the players, it's good to have three, four, five days of rest, and then the mind will be very clear. You can view the whole season. "You have to be very calm before you speak because now there are a lot of emotions in my head, my heart. For that reason it would be very good to rest and then have a good meeting with the club to find the best possible solution The 30-year-old centre-back will enter the final year of his contract in June and although Napoli are trying to keep him at Diego Armando Maradona's stadium, Massimiliano Allegri seems to have identified him as a possible reinforcement at the heart of Juve's defence.- Aston Villa are prioritizing a summer move for Kalvin Phillips, according to the Telegraph Steven Gerrard has put the 26-year-old Leeds United midfielder at the top of his shortlist as he prepares for his first summer transfer window in charge of the Villains, it has also been rumored that the Premier League side have reached a personal agreement with Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara It is difficult with Le eds to agree a transfer after Jesse Marsch's side avoided relegation on the last day of the Premier League season, reports Sport. Blaugrana and the 25-year-old winger's representatives have already agreed personal terms but the deal is now likely to last longer as new talks over a fee are needed. after foot Mercato. The 23-year-old is expected to enter the final year of his contract in June, which will make it more difficult for the Ligue 1 side to negotiate a higher fee to part ways with him. It is reported that the LaLiga club are keen to sign him so they can pair him with his French teammate Nabil Fekir. Samir Handanovic is expected to extend his contract with Internazionale by a year. The 37-year-old goalkeeper has been linked with a departure from San Siro all season but now it looks like he wants to continue in Serie A. Speaking to DAZN, as quoted by Nicolo Schira, he said: "I will stay here for another year."

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How Jayson Tatum upped his game

The 24-year-old Celtics All-Star makes his case for being the best player of the postseason. (Author: Gardener)

24-year-oldLess than 10 days ago, the Boston Celtics played their biggest game of the season and were eliminated away from the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. It was a pivotal moment for the Eastern Conference's best young team, and Jayson Tatum played one of the best games of his life to extend the streak and salvage Boston's season. Tatum had 46 points, shooting and scoring more than twice as many as any of his teammates. He faced Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and led his team to their biggest win of the season. The Celtics picked up a breezy Game 7 victory and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in five years, but this journey feels different. Tatum & company have already eliminated Kevin Durant and Antetokounmpo on back-to-back runs as Tatum has become the face of one of the toughest young teams in recent NBA history. At 24, Tatum is exactly what the Celtics need from him: an elite two-way star who fits perfectly into coach Ime Udoka's no-nonsense team-first concept. It didn't happen overnight, but Tatum has played some of the best baskets of his life since January, and his mid-season awakening is a big reason Boston is a real threat to go after the revamped Larry O'Brien Trophy next month to take home. Prior to January 1, Tatum was playing inefficient basketball and the Celtics were playing as a play-in team. And while New York's playoff hopes faded as the calendar swung to 2022, Boston went in exactly the opposite direction. As of January 1st, Tatum has been playing like a legitimate superstar, and the Celtics are arguably the best team in the NBA. Between January 1 and the end of the regular season, the Celtics possessed the league's best defensive rating and second-best offense, leading all teams with a massive net rating of plus 12.7. But make no mistake, in a league powered by superstars, Tatum's jump is the biggest reason the Celtics are built to last. Tatum was built to be a great goalscorer. As a prospect at Duke, Tatum's scoring was his forte. Get a quick look at Mike Schmitz' scouting report on him from June 2017, just before the Celtics drafted him No. 3 overall: The St. Louis native is the most polished goalscorer in the group, with superb footwork and excellent Touch 18 feet in and a mid-post/back-to-basket game that rivals some NBA veterans. Hard jab step pull-ups, rocker steps, side steps, turnarounds, dirk fallaways, fast spins, you name it, Tatum probably has it in his arsenal. Tatum should become a prolific goalscorer and five years into his career he is right on schedule. He finished seventh in the standings that season, and looking at his shooting chart, some key trends stand out. Just two years ago, Tatum was only making 51% of his paintshots, which is well below the league average. He made more than 57% of it that year, a mark above the league average. Yes, he ranked seventh in the NBA, but in the league he was ranked 25th in paint; In his prime he should be higher in this category. He may never be Durant, but only three players in the league have picked up more jumpers than Tatum this year. Looking at his numbers on these shots, it's clear he can improve his conversion rate both through the arc and in the midrange. Of 83 players who started at least 500 jumpers that year, Tatum ranked 61st in efficiency and scored just 0.99 points per shot, a mark that's actually below the league average of 1.01. If there's one difference between superstar scorers and legitimate MVP contenders in the NBA, it's that ability to make teammates perform better -- the ability to convert oversized defensive attention into shooting opportunities. Scoring has always been easy for Tatum, but making play hasn't been. Both after Kyrie Irving's departure and Kemba Walker's brief tenure, Boston's offense is more egalitarian than it has been in years. With Marcus Smart now the team's primary ball carrier, there are more opportunities for Tatum to get involved as a passer. In turn, Tatum's burgeoning playmaking has helped Smart's migration to the point guard position. In 2017-18, when Irving was in charge of Boston's ship, Tatum averaged just 3.1 potential assists per game. He averaged fewer than 30 passes per game during those Irving seasons, and the Celtics offense ran through Irving—when the ball got to Tatum, he tended to finish the game. Now Tatum is passing the ball nearly 50 times per contest, and he's also playing more pick-and-roll than ever in these playoffs. Still, Tatum ranks 15th for efficiency out of 18 players who played the ball in at least 200 picks this postseason, scoring just .90 points per chance on those games. Part of Tatum's improving playmaking has to do with Boston moving away from Irving and Walker, but part of it has to do with Tatum learning to drive an NBA offense and his ability to drive pick-and- Making roll the right game will be another cornerstone of its development. Between Brad Stevens' roster adjustments, Udoka's updated strategies at both ends, and Tatum's midseason awakening, this is Boston's best team in at least a decade. Here's the scariest part: The current formula looks sustainable for years to come. Tatum and the Celtics have a real shot at battling for multiple championships in the 2020s. The 2021-22 Celtics are the most trusted group Tatum has ever played with. After the Celtics swept Brooklyn out of the first round, Nets GM Sean Marks met reporters for a postmortem press conference. It was newsworthy in part because Marks said of Irving, “We're looking for guys who want to be bigger than themselves, play team basketball and be available. That's exactly the mantra - wanting people who want to be something bigger than themselves - has been a common saying for years and an important team-building concept in San Antonio, where both Marks and Udoka have spent time. It's clear that Marks felt Brooklyn was missing in that department - Udoka's group in Boston does The core group of the Celtics represents arguably the most cohesive group in the league. Their starting five consist of Tatum, Smart, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Robert Williams III was by far the league's best five-man group that year. In the 443 minutes the Celtics starters have been on the ground this season, they outperformed their opponents at 24.6 points per 100 possession. Among the 34 five-a-side lineups that played at least 200 minutes together this season, Boston's starting group ranked first in net ratio, first in defensive scoring, and eighth in offensive scoring. Not all superstar scorers are willing or able to play great defense, but again, Tatum shines in that regard. He's naturally endowed with the kind of size and physical ability that makes NBA scouts swoon, but it's his will to really excel on the lackluster end of the court that sets him apart from some of his superstar peers. And while this season got off to a rocky start, his ability to break out of his early-season funk and rediscover his ascending arc to superstar status is the main reason the Celtics are seven wins away from their 18th championship.

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Heat vs. Celtics odds, tips, predictions, betting on game 4 by experts on 34-16 roll

SportsLine's Zack Cimini has announced his 2022 NBA playoff picks for Game 4 of the Celtics vs. Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals (Author: Gardener)

SportsLineThe Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Boston stole home field advantage with a Game 2 win in Miami, only for the Heat to regain that advantage with a Game 3 win on Saturday. Jayson Tatum (throat nerve) is listed as likely with the Celtics. J. Tucker (knee) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) are listed as questionable for the heat. Caesars Sportsbook lists Boston as a 6.5-point home favorite while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas believes will be scored, is 208.5 in the latest heat vs. heat-picks, or NBA playoff predictions is. You need to see what SportsLine pundit Zack Cimini has to say. In the last 32 NBA picks, Cimini is 21-11 and has returned players nearly $900 to $100. He's also on an amazing 34-16-1 run with his last 51 against-the-spread picks involving the Celtics, returning players $1,548 to $100. Now Cimini has his sights set on Heat vs. Celtics and just got his tips and predictions for the NBA playoffs. You can now go to SportsLine to see his selection. Well, here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Celtics vs. * MIA: The Heat are 9-5 against the spread in playoff games * BOS: The Celtics are 9-5 against the spread in playoff games Miami leads the series and The Heat are playing exceptionally well in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The Heat outperform their opponents in the postseason by nearly seven points per 100 possessions, including a 114.3 offensive rating. Miami secures 31 percent of misses on the offensive glass, resulting in 15.0 second chance points per game. While Butler has injury concerns going into Game 4, standout big man Bam Adebayo put on an explosive performance in Game 3, recording 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals against Boston. On the other hand, Miami was a top-five defensive team in the regular season, and the Heat are pretty stingy. Erik Spoelstra's team is yielding just 107.4 points per 100 possessions in the postseason, and the Heat are securing nearly 75 percent of available defensive rebounds on the defensive glass. Miami is averaging 15.9 turnovers per game, including 24 in Game 3, and the Heat are averaging 19.9 points per game without turnovers. The Heat led the NBA in points allowed in the color in the regular season, and they allow even fewer (38.0 per game) in the playoffs. Boston's offense is performing at an impressive level in the 2022 postseason. The Celtics are averaging 113.6 points per 100 possessions in three rounds, and that's more than 117 points per 100 possessions in the series against the Heat. Boston passes the ball well, assisting on 64.9 percent of field goals and averaging 24.8 assists per contest. The Celtics are also driving a 58.7 percent true-shoot mark in the playoffs, led by a 62.3 percent true-shoot mark in the series and a 40.6 percent 3-point shoot clip against Miami. Boston also secures nearly 30 percent of its misses in the series, and the Celtics remain elite on defense. Boston led the NBA in a myriad of defensive categories in 2021-22, including allowable field goal percentage, allowable 3-point percentage, allowable assists, and allowable points per possession. In the playoffs, Boston is averaging just 1.07 points per possession, with opponents averaging just 20.2 assists per game and just 32.7 percent of 3-point attempts against the Celtics. For Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Cimini leans toward total points, but also says a critical X-Factor makes one side of the spread a must. Celtics spread backwards at SportsLine. Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Heat vs. Celtics spread to jump to, all from the expert who wrecked his NBA picks and find out.

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Celtics and Bruins games are not the same without The Fours

Many sports bars, including the best in America, have never recovered from COVID (Author: Gardener)

BruinsBOSTON - As I walked down Canal Street on Saturday night, I thought of Bobby Orr. Well, a Bobby Orr. Not the legendary Bruins hockey player immortalized before me in a statue in front of Boston Garden. They should all be grilling on a grill about 20 meters from me. But The Fours is gone. The Bar and Grill at 166 Canal Street was once named America's Best Sports Bar by Sports Illustrated back when SI was America's #1 Sports Magazine. A combination of really good but unpretentious food and lots of TVs, barely 200 meters from the home of the Bruins and Celtics. While many sports bars feel like they're being yelled at from every direction, The Fours felt like a neighborhood Irish pub had become a sports bar over 44 years, one picture and one jersey at a time. The walls were a gallery of photos of every big moment from a Boston event in your life and jerseys and pennants from both legends and every local alma mater. It was obvious that college hockey's biggest events were happening across the street. If the New England Sports Museum weren't housed in the TD Garden, the Fours would have been entitled to that title. But for longtime patrons of the Gardens, new and old, it feels like something is missing. For those who have a ticket, Canal Street used to be a series of great places to visit before or after. The Boston Sports Grille is long gone. The Boston Beer Works permanently vacated spaces outside of the Garden and Fenway Park. The Fours closed their doors forever in August 2020. Only Hurricanes (who briefly became "Beat the Hurricanes") in the first round of the NHL playoffs) still carry the torch of what Canal Street once was. Every time I walk from Kenmore Square to the Fenway, I'm relieved that the Cask 'n Flagon didn't suffer a similar fate. Sporty bars and restaurants are part of what gives great sporting cities their character. Most people were still only interacting with restaurants through their food windows when Canal Street began to die and that time and sport had yet to resume. People came to Canal Street for the game day experience. With limited parking and one-way streets, few people ventured there for takeout. The annual huge infusion of playoff crowdfunding from both the Bruins and Celtics never happened in spring 2020 as both the NHL and NBA were first paused and then delayed. People didn't get a chance to say goodbye to old favourites. When COVID restrictions were lifted and fans were allowed back to attend sporting events, they returned to find windows blacked out, signs removed and nothing in their place. The main shield is gone. "Fours Boston" still stands around the image of a bean pot in the window of the still-vacant 166 Canal Street. The shirts, photos and memorabilia were all auctioned off. The bar stools, tables and kitchen appliances are elsewhere - including some in The Fours' Quincy and Norwell locations, both of which are beautiful but not the same - and the memories live on in all those people who move a little slower when they do pass by, what once was is missing.

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The Celtics know they can flick the switch, but they can't afford to switch off at this stage of the playoffs

While the Celtics haven't lost consecutive playoff games, they've lost focus when they think they've established their dominance. (Author: Gardener)

Ime Udoka (left) has to get his team into overdrive from the jump for every game at this point in the postseason. They need something to prove, or someone to prove them wrong, or an all-or-nothing scenario in order to play their best basketball. It's a dangerous game when you're about to play in the NBA Finals. That psychological tendency reared its ugly head in a painful, nagging, and profitable 109-103 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night at the TD Garden. In a fierce competition with more storylines, twists and dramatic returns than a prestige television series, the Celtics squandered their momentum with a no-show start after a dominant win in Miami. They were unable to capitalize on the absence of Heat star Jimmy Butler, who sat out the second half with a right knee irritation, and goosebumps-inducing injuries to Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. They surrendered the upper hand of the series to a Heat team, who hobbled to the finish line after a 26 lead in the first half. Whichever team lost that tangled cord of a contest would kick itself and feel like a kick in the groin. It was the Celtics who scraped 2:40 to a point with a 12-0 run topped by a 3-point run by Jaylen Brown that set a playoff career-high 40 points that somewhat was marred by seven turnovers. But Boston couldn't get over the hump in a game they didn't lead for a single second. They lacked intensity and urgency in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I don't know," said Jayson Tatum, who was among those missing and shot 3 of 14 for 10 points with zero baskets after halftime. We can not see them in the first quarter with 39 points. So we definitely need to start the game better.” Tatum's running mate Brown, who tried to pull the team onto their backs by becoming the first Celtic with a 40-point playoff performance on 70 percent or more shooting (14 of 20) agreed. "Just one of those games," Brown said. The Celtics can heal their wounds and trace their 2-1 deficit in the series to two one-sided quarters - the disastrous third quarter in Miami, in which they were outplayed 39-14, and Saturday night's dirty dozen minutes. Fueled by Kyle Lowry's return from injury and Bam Adebayo's arrival as a factor in the series (31 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists), Miami leaped all over Boston in the first, surpassing them 39-18. You can point out that center Robert Williams is absent and Smart and Al Horford will miss Game 1. But it's too late in the season to give games away or tempt the basketball gods with indolence. Like the hardwood floor they play on, the Celtics show an obvious pattern. While they haven't lost consecutive playoff games, they've lost focus when they think they've established their dominance. After their first-round win over the no-show Nets, they lost Game 1 of Round Two to the Milwaukee Bucks at their home court by double digits and trailed 17 in the fourth quarter. The Green followed up a characteristic comeback win in Game 4 by handing over a 14-point lead at home in Game 5 of that series in the fourth quarter. After emphatically beating Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in Game 7, they led the first half of Game 1 of that series by as much as 13 points before dissolving faster than paper straws in a disastrous third quarter. Worst of all, the Celtics are messing with themselves with carefree and carefree basketball. Miami accumulated 24 Boston turnovers and turned them into 33 points, a lifeline for a team searching under every rock for offense with its best player sidelined and sixth man of the year Tyler Herro incapacitated by injury and the Celtics' defense have been done. Boston turned it over seven times in the third, holding back its comeback -- five of which belonged to Brown. I have to do better," Brown said. Hopefully Tatum and Smart, whose most notable contributions to the game were Willis Reed-esque runs out of the TD Garden tunnel after reportedly suffering serious injuries, feel the same way. Tatum turned the ball over six times, three times in the fourth, including a pass that saw the Celtics leap across the pond 98-92 with 1:09 left. Smart excelled in Game 2 with a near triple-double with 12 assists and a turnover. The somber point guard recorded seven assists and four turnovers on this occasion; He had four turnovers against just three assists as the Celtics trailed 87-72 after three quarters. Although Smart finished on 16 points, he was outplayed by Lowry, who made his mark on the game after returning from a hamstring injury to step on the pitch for the first time in the series. Smart fouled, took a technical loser with 39.6 seconds to go and was the worst team at minus 15. He's emblematic of a team that likes to hit their chests when it's best, but sometimes overestimates their abilities. Coach Ime Udoka said the Celtics have been warned to guard against complacency and brace for an early basketball barrage in Miami. "It's disappointing to come out so flat in a Conference Finals game," Udoka said. Now the Celtics have created more work for themselves to win a series they should, because while they've proven they can conquer adversity at will, they still haven't proven they can handle prosperity.

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Heat and Celtics shock Game 4 injury reports

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have released their Game 4 Eastern Conference Finals injury reports. The series is currently 2-1 for the Heat after beating the Celtics in Game 3. (Author: Gardener)

The Miami Heat and Boston CelticsThe Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will face off in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night in Florida, and the two teams have released their injury reports for the game. The Heat currently lead 2-1 in the series after winning Game 3 away against the Celtics. Games 1 and 2 were played in Florida and the Heat won the first game while the Celtics blew out the Heat in the second game. The two teams faced each other in the Disney World bubble in the Eastern Conference (2020), and the Heat won the series to advance to the NBA Finals. However, they lost to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship. * SHOULD THE BUCKS MAKE A TRADE? On Sunday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost Game 7 to the Boston Celtics, who officially end their 2021-22 NBA season in the second round. They won the NBA championship last season and will now enter an off-season where they can try to improve the roster to return to the NBA Finals. * FULL 2022 NBA PLAYOFF RESULTS AND SCHEDULE: Fastbreak on FanNation will update the results and schedule for every 2022 NBA Playoff game.

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Jimmy Butler 'intends' to play Game 4 vs Celtics, Heat has 6 players on injury report (report)

The Heat listed six players on their injury report ahead of Game 4 against the Celtics on Sunday, but it appears they will have their best player available. Jimmy Butler "intends" to play at 8:30 p.m. Monday for Game 4 at TD Garden, according to Yahoo! Butler only played 20 minutes in Game 3 and sat out the second half due to an infection in his right knee. (Author: Gardener)

Jimmy Butler 'The Heat listed six players on their injury report ahead of Game 4 against the Celtics on Sunday, but it appears they will have their best player available. Jimmy Butler "intends" to play at 8:30 p.m. Monday for Game 4 at TD Garden, according to Yahoo! Butler only played 20 minutes in Game 3 and sat out the second half due to an infection in his right knee. He finished with eight points as the Heat defeated the Celtics 109-103 despite missing their best player in the last two quarters. Butler has been dealing with the inflammation this postseason, even missing Game 5 against the Hawks in the first round. But it seems Butler will be ready next Monday. The other five players listed on the injury report for the heat are Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring), Gabe Vincent (hamstring), P. Each player played against the Celtics in Game 3. The two notable Heat players are Lowry, who made his series debut on Saturday, and Tucker, who injured his knee in Game 2 against the Celtics. But the Heat seems to be leaning towards full health - especially with Butler available to play as expected.

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How can the Boston Celtics adjust their game to win Game 4 against the Miami Heat?

The Boston Celtics must treat their Game 4 match with the Miami Heat in their 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series as a must-win, even though it technically isn't one. With the need to avoid returning to Florida in an elimination scenario (Author: Gardener)

Game 4The Boston Celtics must treat their Game 4 match with the Miami Heat in their 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series as a must-win, even though it technically isn't one. With no need to return to Florida in a 2-1 elimination scenario for the remainder of the series, it is imperative that the Celtics play better than they did in Game 3 on Saturday. Part of this puts the opponent ahead of them, rather than chasing those defeated in previous rounds - or chasing them from previous losses. But no matter what elements Boston focuses on, their margin of error is too small for flatter performances, as we saw in the two teams' previous meeting. On the latest episode of CLNS Media's Celtics Lab podcast, host Justin Quinn spoke to USA TODAY's Jeff Zilgitt about how Boston could be a better version of himself in Game 4. Celtics Injury Update: Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III Tag -Today for Game 4 vs. Heat; Miami's Jimmy Butler was expected to play Miami 3 games while Jeff Zillgitt Celtic's big man Robert Williams III is out for Game 3 against Heat with a knee injury

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The Red Sox are all-in in the Celtics' playoff run

The Red Sox won their fifth straight Sunday at Fenway and left for Chicago to show their full support for the Celtics. Marcus Smart returned the favor. (Author: Gardener)

The Red SoxThe Red Sox showed some Celtics pride before heading out on a quick three-game trip to Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Sox players were dressed in green in honor of the club's Eastern Conference Finals series - some in full Celtics uniforms for wearing his jersey. Cordero played the hero in an 8-4 win over the Mariners on Sunday and started a walkoff grand slam on the 10th. "Take a day, Franchy Cordero!" Smart tweeted. “Watched this Walkoff Grand Slam live today. Red Sox SWEEP! Thanks for the love.” Cordero replied, “Let's get them tomorrow!” before Game 4 on Monday at the Garden, where the Celtics are 2-1 behind the series. Meanwhile, Smart also highlighted Story, who wore his No. 36 Celtics jersey, noting their shared heritage. Story hails from Irving, Texas, while Smart hails from nearby Flower Mound. The second baseman just wrapped up a massive weekend in which he started five homes, including a grand slam, while driving in 13 runs. "Treasure This Texas Fam Love!" Smart wrote. Grand Slams. The Red Sox released video of players walking to the bus in Celtics attire, with Smart's and Jayson Tatum's jerseys dominating the scene.

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