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Boston's Game 4 wins latest example of resilience

Boston has faced adversity all season, and Monday's comeback win over Milwaukee was the latest example of its resilience. (Author: Gardener)

BostonThe Celtics even have the streak behind an incredible second half by Al Horford, who posts a career-high 30 points in the win. The Celtics even have the streak behind an incredible second half by Al Horford, who posts a career-high 30 points in the win. MILWAUKEE — There was a point this season when the Boston Celtics were 16-19 overall. There was a point last season when Al Horford was shut down by the Oklahoma City Thunder with 28 games remaining because he wasn't sure where the twilight of his pro career was headed. There was a point late Monday night when the Milwaukee Bucks had a 10-point lead, and it felt like every pause and whistle was going in the defending champion's favor. One of Boston's starters, Robert Williams III, was benched injured. Another, star forward Jayson Tatum, couldn't shake what appeared to be a two-game slump. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo put relentless pressure on the rim, bending the Celtics' defense and repeatedly challenging umpires to figure out how to sort out all the contacts that were causing bodies to spread. "The connectivity shows": How Boston discovered the blueprint that changed his season "We felt right at home," said Celtics guard Marcus Smart. The Celtics' actions over the past five months have confirmed those words; They're a team that has shown admirable resilience. They had their best moment in that regard with a dominant 43-point fourth quarter to earn a 116-108 away win in Game 4 on Monday to forge a 2-2 tie in the Eastern Conference series in the semifinals. When all of New England lost their collective sanity to the whistles during a frustrating third quarter, it was Smart to tell teammates on the floor and on the bench to stay the course. When Antetokounmpo grew tired and forced Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer to bench him with five minutes remaining because of the game-changing immense load he carries without star teammate Khris Middleton, Tatum sensed an opportunity. He attacked the middle of the Bucks without their anchor and scored eight points in under a minute, a necessary signature moment for him as he scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. But it was Horford, 35, who was the rock. Without Williams (who had a late scrape from his surgically repaired left knee rupturing) and as a main defender on Antetokounmpo, the strain on Horford was unrelenting. The Bucks superstar knew it and tried to finish off Horford with basket attacks, topped by a first-half power dunk that ended with a growl and trash talk that earned him a technical foul. Heat at the 76ers, Game 6 (7:00 p.m.) Suns at the Mavs, Game 6 (9:30 p.m.) Friday, May 13 Celtics at the Bucks, Game 6* Grizzlies at the Warriors, Game 6* But its gentler Despite that, the murmur of "OK, OK" as he stalked off seemed toothless for how so much defending against Antetokounmpo can feel. But that's a mistake considering this particular Celtics team; They don't mind being down and it's a mentality that has served them remarkably well throughout what could be a memorable season. Horford may have better statistical games on his ledger, but he's never delivered like this. His second half was one of the best stretches he's had in his 15-year career. In the fourth quarter, he made all six of his shots and scored 16 of his playoff career-high 30 points. He is the oldest Celtic to score 30 goals in a playoff game since John Havlicek, then 37, did so 45 years ago in 1977. The memorable moment was Horford Antetokounmpo returning the favor and hammering home a dunk to eliminate the Bucks' lead and followed by an elbow that crushed the two-time MVP onto the court. Horford got a technical foul for that, but it felt good. "Any time Al can turn back the clock and look like his old self, everyone on the bench gets [excited]," Tatum said. Horford was his usual consistent display on defence, in the right place and after the fundamentals. The Bucks shot 7 of 20 when Horford was on them in Game 4; and when it was Antetokounmpo who can embarrass everyone, Horford forced him into a 4-of-12 shooting. As Antetokounmpo tired, Horford grew stronger as he logged almost 43 minutes. I prepared myself to be in moments like this last summer and I did everything I could to stay sane," Horford said. "Those moments I wanted to be a part of." When the Thunder stopped playing Horford last season, there might have been a hunch it was because of his game. The truth was that Horford was playing too well and the Thunder, in the midst of a rebuild, wanted to play against younger players and, frankly, they wanted to lose. Much like a gap year in OKC, Chris Paul rejuvenated before heading to a playoff run for the Phoenix Suns, Horford has shown throughout that campaign he's still a high-level contributor after his season there. What happened in Game 4, what happened that whole second half of the season into it is a validation of his worth and the smart move by Celtics President Brad Stevens to bring him back. "I sat at home last year, got the playoffs looked at and didn't know what my future would hold," Horford said.

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The Celtics' character is shown as they gather to tie the series

Al Horford gave perhaps his best performance in a Celtics uniform and one of the best of his career. The 35-year veteran, playing in his 15th season, had a playoff career-high 30 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, helping Boston level that streak by two points. And after Jason... (Author: Gardener)

Al HorfordAl Horford gave perhaps his best performance in a Celtics uniform and one of the best of his career. The 35-year veteran, playing in his 15th season, had a playoff career-high 30 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, helping Boston level that streak by two points. And after Jayson Tatum struggled with ten points on a 4/19 shooting in Game 3, the three-time All-Star equaled Horford's 30-point performance in Game 4. Despite Robert Williams' absence, Jaylen Brown was in dire trouble and The Celtics played not too well, they stayed within seven as they entered the final frame. Now, for an in-depth look at Boston's 116-108 Game 4 win. Grayson Allen opened the scoring with an aggressive attack from the left and clinched the trophy for two points on the edge. At the 10:06 mark, Giannis Antetokounmpo accidentally elbowed Jaylen Brown in the face, but because he didn't swing his arm and Brown invaded his space, the check made the decision a defensive foul. Antetokounmpo went to the line and took both free throws to give the home side a 6-0 lead. Al Horford put Boston on the board with a floater from deep in the suit after a pick and roll with him and Smart. A few minutes later, Jayson Tatum bet Brook Lopez on a poster with a thunderous transition jam. A little over halfway through the frame, Jrue Holiday and Brown traded threes to level the score at 16-11 in Milwaukee's favour. A few minutes later, after a poor decision by Grant Williams trying to make a cross-court pass that was picked up by Holiday, there was no resistance on a drive from Allen. His layup increased the Bucks' lead to 21-11 and prompted Ime Udoka to call a time-out. At the 1:57 mark, Smart came off two screens from Horford and Daniel Theis and found Horford for an open three from the right wing that cut Boston's lead to 21-16. With 46.6 seconds left, Tatum tried to create from the middle, stretched his arm and pushed George Hill, resulting in his second foul. Antetokounmpo then caught an offensive foul when Smart flopped after the former league MVP hit him a second time after catching the ball at the free-throw line. Brown and Antetokounmpo then traded buckets, including a dunk from the latter after he drove the baseline, giving Milwaukee a 25-18 lead at the end of one. Celtics react in second quarter but Bucks lead at halftime Derrick White started the second quarter with an open pull-up jumper that put Boston 25-20 to five. Antetokounmpo and Brown scored the next four points of the game and Grant Williams conjured a three from the right wing to make it 29-27. At the 7:58 mark, Tatum entered a three-pointer from above at the break that ended the game at 31. But Tatum followed up with an ill-advised rebound pass as he came off a screen from Horford and tried to get the ball from him as he popped out for a three and fired a shot, a problem that persisted in Game 3. Holiday grabbed the pass and gave the ball to Antetokounmpo for a dunk that gave the Bucks a 33-31 lead. Fortunately for Boston, a few possessions later, Horford conceded a three to regain the 34-33 lead with 6:41 to go. White set a backscreen for Brown and then selected Tatum on the left wing. Tatum swung the ball to Smart as White rolled, and Smart played a bounce pass to White for a layup. With 5:07 left, Antetokounmpo found George Hill for a three from the left corner, giving Milwaukee a 38-36 advantage. At the 3:31 mark, Smart knocked down a three from the right wing that gave Boston a 41-40 lead. Tatum then reached the free-throw line, where he capitalized on both shots at the charity streak to put the Celtics ahead 43-40. With just under 1:30 left, it was Smart's turn to make an ill-advised pass, throw one slowly across the court and telegraph his intent to get the ball to Tatum. Connaughton then leveled the game at 45, burying an open three from the left corner. After Wesley lured Matthews Brown into a foul late in the shot clock that earned him three free throws, all of which he made, an upfake by Grant Williams drew a foul on Antetokounmpo. Williams conceded both shots from the charity strip, taking the score to 48-47 Milwaukee at halftime. Brown and Horford went into the break with a team-high 11 points. As a team, the Celtics shot just 40 percent from the field and 6/21 (28.6 percent) from three. They scored 16 points in the paint, and free throws again played a crucial role in their production, going 9/10 on those occasions. However, they specified seven turnovers, resulting in 11 points for a Bucks team that shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 5/17 (29.4 percent) from long range. Antetokounmpo powered the hosts with 15 points and 11 rebounds, which was a game-high at the break. Bucks live at the line in the third quarter, but the Celtics stay in the single digits At the 10:56 mark in the third frame, a turnover from Smart led to an emphatic transition dunk from Antetokounmpo. He then glared at Horford and had something to say to the Celtics' elder statesman, resulting in a rather soft technical result. Tatum took the free throw and made it a 52-49 game. About 30 seconds later, Antetokounmpo lifted another three, to the dismay of Stan Van Gundy, and the miss resulted in a transition jam for Grant Williams, who kept the Celtics within three 54-51. At the 8:27 mark, Horford drilled another shot from beyond the arc, making it 3/3 on threes. Horford missed his next, but after Tatum failed to convert the tip-in, he retrieved the glass and finished, drawing the visitors within five, 63-58. Tatum followed with a three to make it a two-point game. At the 6:32 mark, after a missed layup by Tatum, White fouled Hill, the Celtics' fifth-placed finisher of the period, and sent Hill to the free-throw line, where he went 2/2 to extend Milwaukee's 65-61 lead . It also meant Boston had to play the rest of the frame with the bucks in the bonus. With 4:48 remaining, a skip pass from Smart to Williams gave the Celtics a three from the left corner that put the visitors to four by 69:65. But Antetokounmpo countered with a bucket on the edge, extending Milwaukee's lead to 71-65. Antetokounmpo then earned another trip to the free-throw line, where he missed both shots, but Daniel Theis failed to box Brook Lopez, whose put-back gave the Bucks a 73-65 lead. Less than a minute later, the former league MVP drove into the paint, halted the jump and sunk a one-handed hookshot from 15 feet, giving the home side a 76-65 lead and forcing coach Udoka to call a time-out. After the break, Brown buried a needed three from the right corner, but Holiday picked up the pace, attacking the mark and scoring a left-hand layup that extended Milwaukee's lead to 78-68. Brown then worked his way to the rim for two points to draw Boston to eight. A blocking foul was initially counted, which coach Budenholzer reprimands. That proved wise as the challenge was successful, flipping her from Holiday's fourth foul to Brown's fifth. With 53 seconds remaining, White drilled a corner three that cut the Celtics' lead to seven, 80-73. The quarter ended with a missed three from Horford that would have given Boston some momentum in the final frame. Credit to the Celtics, however; Despite living at the free-throw line, the Bucks were topped by just six points and went into the fourth quarter a single-digit deficit. With play on the line, the Celtics were at their best. Thirty seconds into the final frame, Smart drove, missing an opportunity on the rim but getting the ball to Horford, who hit a 16-foot jumper and put Boston within five . Smart then buried a three to make it a two-point game. And after a holiday missed the layup, Horford drove past Antetokounmpo and dove on top of him, letting out a primal scream afterwards. Horford also received a technical dead ball for elbowing Antetokounmpo. Holiday made the free throw after the technical and Horford converted at the charity stripe, bringing the game 9-51 to an 81-81 draw. After two free throws from Lopez, Smart and Tatum weren't on the same side as the former tried to get the ball to the latter when he didn't look for the pass, coming off a pindown and curling into the paint. The turnover led to an alley-oop to Lopez, who extended the Milwaukee advantage to 85-81. After a turnover that started with a great defense from Tatum against Antetokounmpo, White got a fast-break bucket on the rim to level the game at 85. Horford then put Boston ahead with a three from the left wing and gave the visitors an 88-85 lead. It also gave Horford 24 points. At the 6:29 mark, Connaughton drilled a three from above the break, giving the Bucks a 92-90 lead. Tatum responded with a hard finish in traffic to level the game. But after that, Antetokounmpo responded with a Euro step to create a split from Horford and then threw a sneaky layup as he fell to the ground. The shot went in, but the former league MVP missed the free throw that followed, holding Boston 94-92 to two. Tatum then found Horford for a three-pointer that gave him a playoff career-high 27 points and put the Celtics 95-94 ahead. After a miss by Lopez, Horford then conceded a 4-foot hook shot and was fouled. He made the following free throw, converting it to a three-point game and giving Boston a 98-94 lead. After Holiday found Lopez on the edge for two points, Tatum countered by attacking the basket, giving the Celtics a 100-96 advantage. The three-time All-Star then grabbed two more points deep in the paint and also drew a foul on Hill. Tatum made the free throw, putting Boston 103-96 ahead by 4:06. Tatum then buried a three over Hill from 27 feet to extend the Celtics' lead to 106-96 with 3:33 left. That prompted coach Budenholzer to call time out and get Allen back in the game. Allen rewarded his coach's decision and made his first three of the game to draw Milwaukee within seven, 106-99, with 3:13 on the clock. But after a time-out from Ime Udoka, Tatum received a bullet shot that went down as he fell to the ground. With 1:44 left, Smart Holiday took the dribble and grabbed two points on the edge, extending Boston's lead to 110-102. Playing at 1:27, Brown, attacking in transition, earned a trip to the free-throw line, where he took both foul shots and put the Celtics 112-102 ahead. After a Milwaukee timeout, Holiday found Lopez on the edge for two more points, but Smart responded with a bucket deep in paint. Antetokounmpo countered for the Bucks to go 114-106, favoring the visitors. Milwaukee then sent White to the free-throw line, where he went with 2/2 and put the Celtics 116-106 ahead with 43.2 seconds on the clock. That prompted coach Budenholzer to take a break and empty his bench. Earning that victory away from the defending champions took team effort and the ability to react when the Bucks went on offense. In the win, Horford and Tatum scored a team-high 30 points. According to NBA.com, they became the first pair of Celtics teammates to score at least that many goals in a playoff game since Paul Pierce (38) and Ray Allen (32) did so against the Knicks in 2011. Tatum also grabbed 13 rebounds. gave out five assists, committed just two turnovers, and knocked out Antetokounmpo multiple times in the fourth quarter. As for Horford, 16 of those 30 points, a playoff career high, came with eight rebounds and three assists. After the win, Smart said of Horford: “It was huge for us. Boston also got 18 points each from Smart and Brown. and making games to that effect, such as a charge against last year's Finals MVP in the fourth quarter. After the game, Horford said of Smart: "He showed tonight why he's Defensive Player of the Year. Brown sometimes gave the Celtics offense the boost they needed, but he also struggled with foul problems, and getting his fifth forced him to sit for a while before helping Boston finish the win. Offensively, White sought out his shot and let it fly without hesitation, similar to Game 3. As a team, the Celtics shot 50 percent from the field and 14/37 (37.8 percent) from beyond the arc. They also went 18/20 at the free throw line, which was a long walk for them in the first half and last frame. Boston assisted on 25/42 field goals and produced 48 points on the paint and 16 on the fast break. While the Bucks were held to 108 points, the Celtics were limited to connecting just 41.5 percent of their shots from the field and 9/27 (33.3 percent) from three. This came despite Antetokounmpo scoring 34 and Milwaukee scoring 52 in the paint because Boston did an excellent job of challenging shots and completing the demands of another physical matchup. Game 5 between the Celtics and Bucks concludes at 7:00 ET on Wednesday night. Inside The Celtics will contain content related to the game before, during and after the game. [Film Room] What led to Jayson Tatum's struggles in Game 3 and how the Celtics make him work in Game 4 in Game 2: Boston returns with $1 in winning formula to tie the series

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The Celtics' character is shown as they gather to tie the series

Jayson Tatum and Al Horford each had 30 points, and the Celtics outplayed the Bucks 43-28 in the final frame for a 116-108 win to tie the series by two points. (Author: Gardener)

Jayson TatumAl Horford gave perhaps his best performance in a Celtics uniform and one of the best of his career. The 35-year veteran, playing in his 15th season, had a playoff career-high 30 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, helping Boston level that streak by two points. And after Jayson Tatum struggled with ten points on a 4/19 shooting in Game 3, the three-time All-Star equaled Horford's 30-point performance in Game 4. Despite Robert Williams' absence, Jaylen Brown was in dire trouble and The Celtics played not too well, they stayed within seven as they entered the final frame. Now, for an in-depth look at Boston's 116-108 Game 4 win. Grayson Allen opened the scoring with an aggressive attack from the left and clinched the trophy for two points on the edge. At the 10:06 mark, Giannis Antetokounmpo accidentally elbowed Jaylen Brown in the face, but because he didn't swing his arm and Brown invaded his space, the check made the decision a defensive foul. Antetokounmpo went to the line and took both free throws to give the home side a 6-0 lead. Al Horford put Boston on the board with a floater from deep in the suit after a pick and roll with him and Smart. A few minutes later, Jayson Tatum bet Brook Lopez on a poster with a thunderous transition jam. A little over halfway through the frame, Jrue Holiday and Brown traded threes to level the score at 16-11 in Milwaukee's favour. A few minutes later, after a poor decision by Grant Williams trying to make a cross-court pass that was picked up by Holiday, there was no resistance on a drive from Allen. His layup increased the Bucks' lead to 21-11 and prompted Ime Udoka to call a time-out. At the 1:57 mark, Smart came off two screens from Horford and Daniel Theis and found Horford for an open three from the right wing that cut Boston's lead to 21-16. With 46.6 seconds left, Tatum tried to create from the middle, stretched his arm and pushed George Hill, resulting in his second foul. Antetokounmpo then caught an offensive foul when Smart flopped after the former league MVP hit him a second time after catching the ball at the free-throw line. Brown and Antetokounmpo then traded buckets, including a dunk from the latter after he drove the baseline, giving Milwaukee a 25-18 lead at the end of one. Celtics react in second quarter but Bucks lead at halftime Derrick White started the second quarter with an open pull-up jumper that put Boston 25-20 to five. Antetokounmpo and Brown scored the next four points of the game and Grant Williams conjured a three from the right wing to make it 29-27. At the 7:58 mark, Tatum entered a three-pointer from above at the break that ended the game at 31. But Tatum followed up with an ill-advised rebound pass as he came off a screen from Horford and tried to get the ball from him as he popped out for a three and fired a shot, a problem that persisted in Game 3. Holiday grabbed the pass and gave the ball to Antetokounmpo for a dunk that gave the Bucks a 33-31 lead. Fortunately for Boston, a few possessions later, Horford conceded a three to regain the 34-33 lead with 6:41 to go. White set a backscreen for Brown and then selected Tatum on the left wing. Tatum swung the ball to Smart as White rolled, and Smart played a bounce pass to White for a layup. With 5:07 left, Antetokounmpo found George Hill for a three from the left corner, giving Milwaukee a 38-36 advantage. At the 3:31 mark, Smart knocked down a three from the right wing that gave Boston a 41-40 lead. Tatum then reached the free-throw line, where he capitalized on both shots at the charity streak to put the Celtics ahead 43-40. With just under 1:30 left, it was Smart's turn to make an ill-advised pass, throw one slowly across the court and telegraph his intent to get the ball to Tatum. Connaughton then leveled the game at 45, burying an open three from the left corner. After Wesley lured Matthews Brown into a foul late in the shot clock that earned him three free throws, all of which he made, an upfake by Grant Williams drew a foul on Antetokounmpo. Williams conceded both shots from the charity strip, taking the score to 48-47 Milwaukee at halftime. Brown and Horford went into the break with a team-high 11 points. As a team, the Celtics shot just 40 percent from the field and 6/21 (28.6 percent) from three. They scored 16 points in the paint, and free throws again played a crucial role in their production, going 9/10 on those occasions. However, they specified seven turnovers, resulting in 11 points for a Bucks team that shot just 35.3 percent from the field and 5/17 (29.4 percent) from long range. Antetokounmpo powered the hosts with 15 points and 11 rebounds, which was a game-high at the break. Bucks live at the line in the third quarter, but the Celtics stay in the single digits At the 10:56 mark in the third frame, a turnover from Smart led to an emphatic transition dunk from Antetokounmpo. Tatum took the free throw and made it a 52-49 game. About 30 seconds later, Antetokounmpo lifted another three, to the dismay of Stan Van Gundy, and the miss resulted in a transition jam for Grant Williams, who kept the Celtics within three 54-51. At the 8:27 mark, Horford drilled another shot from beyond the arc, making it 3/3 on threes. Horford missed his next, but after Tatum failed to convert the tip-in, he retrieved the glass and finished, drawing the visitors within five, 63-58. Tatum followed with a three to make it a two-point game. At the 6:32 mark, after a missed layup by Tatum, White fouled Hill, the Celtics' fifth-placed finisher of the period, and sent Hill to the free-throw line, where he went 2/2 to extend Milwaukee's 65-61 lead . It also meant Boston had to play the rest of the frame with the bucks in the bonus. With 4:48 remaining, a skip pass from Smart to Williams gave the Celtics a three from the left corner that put the visitors to four by 69:65. But Antetokounmpo countered with a bucket on the edge, extending Milwaukee's lead to 71-65. Antetokounmpo then earned another trip to the free-throw line, where he missed both shots, but Daniel Theis failed to box Brook Lopez, whose put-back gave the Bucks a 73-65 lead. Less than a minute later, the former league MVP drove into the paint, halted the jump and sunk a one-handed hookshot from 15 feet, giving the home side a 76-65 lead and forcing coach Udoka to call a time-out. After the break, Brown buried a needed three from the right corner, but Holiday picked up the pace, attacking the mark and scoring a left-hand layup that extended Milwaukee's lead to 78-68. Brown then worked his way to the rim for two points to draw Boston to eight. A blocking foul was initially counted, which coach Budenholzer reprimands. That proved wise as the challenge was successful, flipping her from Holiday's fourth foul to Brown's fifth. With 53 seconds remaining, White drilled a corner three that cut the Celtics' lead to seven, 80-73. The quarter ended with a missed three from Horford that would have given Boston some momentum in the final frame. Credit to the Celtics, however; Despite living at the free-throw line, the Bucks were topped by just six points and went into the fourth quarter a single-digit deficit. With play on the line, the Celtics were at their best. Thirty seconds into the final frame, Smart drove, missing an opportunity on the rim but getting the ball to Horford, who hit a 16-foot jumper and put Boston within five . Smart then buried a three to make it a two-point game. And after a holiday missed the layup, Horford drove past Antetokounmpo and dove on top of him, letting out a primal scream afterwards. Horford also received a technical dead ball for elbowing Antetokounmpo. Holiday made the free throw after the technical and Horford converted at the charity stripe, bringing the game 9-51 to an 81-81 draw. After two free throws from Lopez, Smart and Tatum weren't on the same side as the former tried to get the ball to the latter when he didn't look for the pass, coming off a pindown and curling into the paint. The turnover led to an alley-oop to Lopez, who extended the Milwaukee advantage to 85-81. After a turnover that started with a great defense from Tatum against Antetokounmpo, White got a fast-break bucket on the rim to level the game at 85. Horford then put Boston ahead with a three from the left wing and gave the visitors an 88-85 lead. It also gave Horford 24 points. At the 6:29 mark, Connaughton drilled a three from above the break, giving the Bucks a 92-90 lead. Tatum responded with a hard finish in traffic to level the game. But after that, Antetokounmpo responded with a Euro step to create a split from Horford and then threw a sneaky layup as he fell to the ground. The shot went in, but the former league MVP missed the free throw that followed, holding Boston 94-92 to two. Tatum then found Horford for a three-pointer that gave him a playoff career-high 27 points and put the Celtics 95-94 ahead. After a miss by Lopez, Horford then conceded a 4-foot hook shot and was fouled. He made the following free throw, converting it to a three-point game and giving Boston a 98-94 lead. After Holiday found Lopez on the edge for two points, Tatum countered by attacking the basket, giving the Celtics a 100-96 advantage. The three-time All-Star then grabbed two more points deep in the paint and also drew a foul on Hill. Tatum made the free throw, putting Boston 103-96 ahead by 4:06. Tatum then buried a three over Hill from 27 feet to extend the Celtics' lead to 106-96 with 3:33 left. That prompted coach Budenholzer to call time out and get Allen back in the game. Allen rewarded his coach's decision and made his first three of the game to draw Milwaukee within seven, 106-99, with 3:13 on the clock. But after a time-out from Ime Udoka, Tatum received a bullet shot that went down as he fell to the ground. With 1:44 left, Smart Holiday took the dribble and grabbed two points on the edge, extending Boston's lead to 110-102. Playing at 1:27, Brown, attacking in transition, earned a trip to the free-throw line, where he took both foul shots and put the Celtics 112-102 ahead. After a Milwaukee timeout, Holiday found Lopez on the edge for two more points, but Smart responded with a bucket deep in paint. Antetokounmpo countered for the Bucks to go 114-106, favoring the visitors. Milwaukee then sent White to the free-throw line, where he went with 2/2 and put the Celtics 116-106 ahead with 43.2 seconds on the clock. Earning that victory away from the defending champions took team effort and the ability to react when the Bucks went on offense. In the win, Horford and Tatum scored a team-high 30 points. According to NBA.com, they became the first pair of Celtics teammates to score at least that many goals in a playoff game since Paul Pierce (38) and Ray Allen (32) did so against the Knicks in 2011. Tatum also grabbed 13 rebounds. gave out five assists, committed just two turnovers, and knocked out Antetokounmpo multiple times in the fourth quarter. As for Horford, 16 of those 30 points, a playoff career high, came with eight rebounds and three assists. After the win, Smart said of Horford: “It was huge for us. Boston also got 18 points each from Smart and Brown. and making games to that effect, such as a charge against last year's Finals MVP in the fourth quarter. After the game, Horford said of Smart: "He showed tonight why he's Defensive Player of the Year. Brown sometimes gave the Celtics offense the boost they needed, but he also struggled with foul problems, and getting his fifth forced him to sit for a while before helping Boston finish the win. Offensively, White sought out his shot and let it fly without hesitation, similar to Game 3. As a team, the Celtics shot 50 percent from the field and 14/37 (37.8 percent) from beyond the arc. They also went 18/20 at the free throw line, which was a long walk for them in the first half and last frame. Boston assisted on 25/42 field goals and produced 48 points on the paint and 16 on the fast break. While the Bucks were held to 108 points, the Celtics were limited to connecting just 41.5 percent of their shots from the field and 9/27 (33.3 percent) from three. This came despite Antetokounmpo scoring 34 and Milwaukee scoring 52 in the paint because Boston did an excellent job of challenging shots and completing the demands of another physical matchup. Game 5 between the Celtics and Bucks concludes at 7:00 ET on Wednesday night. Inside The Celtics will contain content related to the game before, during and after the game. [Film Room] What led to Jayson Tatum's struggles in Game 3 and how the Celtics make him work in Game 4 in Game 2: Boston returns with $1 in winning formula to tie the series

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Al Horford and the Celtics stage fourth quarter for the ages to rip Game 4 from Bucks

If the Celtics win Flag 18, in years when big stories are told, it could be the night people talk about the most after Boston made an amazing 16 of 19 shots from the floor in the fourth quarter. (Author: Gardener)

Al HorfordThat night the Celts could have folded their green tent and snuck home at 3:1. That night the Celts could have folded their green tent and snuck home at 3:1. As the fourth quarter began, everyone seemed to be in deep trouble, and superstar Jayson Tatum was still stuck in an impasse. As the fourth quarter began, everyone seemed to be in deep trouble, and superstar Jayson Tatum was still stuck in an impasse. The Celtics beat world champions Milwaukee Bucks, 116-108, Monday night at the Fiserv Forum to end their conference semifinal series 2-2. The Celtics beat world champions Milwaukee Bucks, 116-108, Monday night at the Fiserv Forum to end their conference semifinal series 2-2. MILWAUKEE — If the Celtics win Flag 18, in years when big stories are told, this could be the night people talk about the most. MILWAUKEE — If the Celtics win Flag 18, in years when big stories are told, this could be the night people talk about the most. That could look like Dave Roberts stealing second base or Adam Vinatieri drilling the ice ball through the posts in the last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium The last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium Only six Boston players were able to attend score that critical evening, and at times all of Boston seemed willing to give up and try to make ourselves feel better by complaining about the workings. Al Horford happened - in Joe Hardy, Damn Yankees, Faustian bargain fashion. "Don't-Call-Me-Average" Al dove on Giannis Antetokounmpo, flexed his veteran muscles and broke out for 16 points in the fourth quarter, making all six of his shots and practically stomping on the Bucks logo. Horford finished with 30 points and eight rebounds. "We love Al," Marcus Smart said. He understands what he brings to this game and what he brings to this team.” Remember how some of us giggled when Brad Stevens reclaimed Horford in the offseason? It's the same feeling I had when Chaim Bloom went off and brought JBJ back last winter. Horford looked like he'd been provoked on Monday when Giannis dived and said something to him early in the third, with the Bucks leading by six. The Greek freak conceded a technical for his problems and Horford looked particularly annoyed. "Here's the Bucks [expletive] upstairs," tweeted Anna Horford, Al's sister. "I know that look. Horford's fourth-quarter wingman was the aforementioned Tatum, who went 6-18 into the quarter but finally felt comfortable after three and three quarter games. Tatum woke up and poured beer on the heads of the deer that made Milwaukee famous. Boston scored a staggering 16-of-19 from the ground and 4-of-5 from international waters in the fourth quarter, topping the stunning Bucks 43-28. The Bucks looked old. Giannis (34 points on 14-of-32 shooting) looked tired. Probably not in the Russell Cousy days. Maybe once or twice in the Larry Kevin Chief days. Certainly not in the days of KG-Pierce-Allen. As the Celtics went into the night, they had to think they had to win. None of the energy from Saturday's final quarter carried over and Boston fell 21-11 in the first nine minutes. Tatum, who shot just 35 percent (20 for 57) in games 1-3, was 3 of 8 in the first half. He only fired three shots in the first quarter - Daniel Theis has four! — and was marked with two offensive fouls as Milwaukee led 25-18 after one. If Dennis Eckersley had been in Brewtown, he would have said "yuk." It seemed as if the Celts had prepared themselves for their dark December days by studying motion pictures. Things got better in the second as Horford and Jaylen Brown found clear goals and the Celts dialed up their defense, but the Bucks still led 48-47 at the break. Milwaukee extended the lead to 11 by 3:13 in the third, and the Celtics complained a lot about the Zebras. But the last quarter was all of Boston. Playing for their playoff life, the Celtics eliminated the Bucks. It was a quarter of near-perfect basketball, something we may not have seen since Larry and company played a near-perfect game against the Hawks in the spring of 1986. Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.

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Arjun Kapoor gives fans Monday motivation as he recounts a 'tough' 15-month fitness journey

Bollywood star Arjun Kapoor often uses his social media account to share insights into his fitness journey and to inspire and motivate his fans. (Author: Gardener)

Arjun KapoorBollywood star Arjun Kapoor often uses his social media account to share insights into his fitness journey and to inspire and motivate his fans. The actor took to Instagram on Monday to share a progress picture of himself as he detailed how the past 15 months have been for him. He mentioned that it's still a work in progress and has received praise from several stars including Ranveer Singh. Arjun Kapoor took to his Instagram account on Monday and shared a picture of himself from February 2021, comparing it to a picture from May 2022. The actor revealed it's been a "very tough" journey, but he loved the "state of mind." “. “ his lifestyle gave him. He also spoke about self-love in his most recent post, mentioning that it's been "a while" since he's felt this way. He motivated his fans and followers online while writing - Felt cute and definitely won't delete it later because I'm very proud of this journey. February 2021 to May 2022 - it's been a tough time and I'm just glad I was able to stay the course. I have to admit it was very difficult to stay on track, it still is, but I love the state of mind I've been in for the last 15 months. It's been a while since I've felt this way!! Several fans took to the comments section and praised the actor for the dedication and hard work he has put into his fitness journey. Ranveer Singh wrote a comment while writing "Haye garmiii" and added a fire emoticon to it. Netizens also mentioned that he was making good progress and flooded the comments section with heart and fire emoticons. The duo, billed as a romantic thriller, recently began filming and shared insights from location in Himachal Pradesh.

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Suns' Chris Paul struggles with fans touching family during NBA playoff loss; Fans banned until 2023

The fans involved in Sunday's incident involving Chris Paul's family will be banned from the Dallas games "until 2023," the Mavericks announced. (Author: Gardener)

2023DALLAS — Chris Paul's day was bad enough as it was. The Phoenix Suns All-Star point guard fouled with 8:58 left in Game 4 that ended in a 111-101 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday before a sold-out crowd of 20,610 at the American Airlines Center leveled the Western Conference Semifinals series became. Get all the news you need in your inbox every morning. A young male fan "laid his hands" on Paul's mother in the fourth quarter and Paul almost walked into the stands after his father told him about it, a witness in the seating area told The Republic. "I want to punish players for saying things to fans, but fans can trust our families," Paul tweeted. SPORTS NEWSLETTER: Sign up now to receive daily updates in your inbox A Lifeline The Mavericks responded with a statement after being contacted by The Republic about Paul's tweet: "The Dallas Mavericks is dealing with an incident between a fan and the Family of Chris Paul known. The Mavericks, along with the American Airlines Center, quickly removed the fan from today's game." The witness said Sun's security alerted arena security to the situation. A second witness believes it happened shortly after Paul's foul. Noticing what was happening, Paul was about to head into the stands before Sun's assistant Mark Bryant and Jarrett Jack held him back.As the fan left with a grown woman, Paul had words for him.Hey hey see you later , see you later," Paul yelled at the fan. Someone was escorted out of AAC after allegedly laying hands on a family member of Chris Paul's bench. After the game, Paul was the first Suns player in the guest media room and answered Questions before teammate Devin Booker joined him Paul left a bit rushed early this time while Booker was still answering questions The Mavericks announced on Monday nt that two fans involved in the incident would be banned "until 2023". The team's investigation revealed that "two reluctant fans attempted to give unwanted hugs and converse with members of the Paul family in the American Airlines Center public hall." The fan incident was the worst part of this Mother's Day where Paul caught four fouls in the first half with the last coming in the second quarter with 1.1 seconds left. Paul scored just five points for the game on 2-of-4 shooting, walked after his miss and was called for a foul. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul plays against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of Game 4 of the second round playoff matchup. "I should have kept Chris out of the game, especially just before halftime," said Suns coach Monty Williams. Williams challenged Paul's fifth foul at 9:32 in the third quarter when he was called for an offensive foul for being slowed with dribbling in front of a tucking Jalen Brunson. "I can't put myself in situations like that to give them the ability to do that," Paul said. "I'm just trying to save our guy," Williams said. "Hopefully they flip it, but that's just one where you use it to save one of your starters from a high foul number." Paul missed the rest of the third quarter and checked into the game at 10:28 in the fourth, only to have his sixth foul canceled to foul less than two minutes later. "It was crazy, man," Paul said. We have to fight back Game 5 (Tuesday in Phoenix) the Suns? Reach Suns insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns' Chris Paul takes on issues with fans touching family during NBA playoff loss; Fans have been banned. until 2023'

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2022 NBA Playoff Picks, Game 4 Betting by Model on 86-58 Run

SportsLine's model simulated the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors game in the Western Conference Semifinals (Author: Gardener)

NBA Playoff PicksThe Golden State Warriors will look to build on their overwhelming Game 3 win when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at home Monday night in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The Warriors can take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series if they serve as big favorites. Memphis could be without star guard Ja Morant, who is a questionable with a knee injury. Golden State is listed as a 10-point favorite in Caesars Sportsbook's latest Warriors vs. Grizzlies odds, with the over-under sitting at 223. Before you snag a Grizzlies vs. Warriors pick, be sure to check out NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine's proven computer model. The SportsLine projection model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has generated well over $10,000 in profits for $100 players with its top-tier NBA picks for the last 3+ seasons. The model enters the third full week of the 2022 NBA Playoffs with a stunning 86-58 throw on all top NBA picks and nets over $2,100. Now the model has set its sights on Warriors vs. Grizzlies and just laid out its picks and NBA playoff predictions. You can now go to SportsLine to see the model selection. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Grizzlies vs. * GS: Warriors are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games * MEM: Grizzlies are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 Monday games Morant has averaged almost 40 points per game Game to date in the series and set the NBA record for most points in the first three games of a Western Conference semifinal series. If Morant can't play on Monday, Memphis will struggle to keep up. Golden State got hot in Game 3 and posted its second-highest playoff score in franchise history. The Warriors shot 53 percent from 3-point range and 63 percent overall, which is a great sign of forward movement. They have covered the span in six of their last seven home games and their experienced line-up will not falter in Game 4 either. Memphis went 20-5 without Morant this season, so the Grizzlies know they can still thrive without their star. Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. can dominate defensively as a rim guard with fantastic depth, footwork and anticipation. He has 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and shoots 42 percent from deep. Clarke does all the dirty work for Memphis, including diving for loose balls or constantly battling on the boards to create extra opportunities for his team. Clarke averages 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game off the bench. The SportsLine model leans overall. The model also says that one side of the spread hits 60 percent of the time. You can only see the model's Warriors vs. Grizzlies picks at SportsLine. And which side of the spread hits 60 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you need to jump to, all from the model that wrecked his NBA picks, and find out.

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Player-by-player ratings for Emma Hayes' team

From Millie Bright in defense to Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder in attack, Suzanne Wrack ranks the people who have secured Chelsea their third straight Women's Super League title (Author: Gardener)

Emma Hayes'Ann-Katrin Berger: The German was unable to continue her spectacular 2020/21 season, but still had a solid season. Zecira Musovic: The Sweden international coped well, handing over gloves in a couple of cup games and being sent off when Berger in the Hive against Tottenham. Maren Mjelde: Emma Hayes said Chelsea have been preparing for Mjelde to be an important part of the season after missing the second half of the 2020-21 season with an ACL injury. But the full-back was a minor part-time player with injuries that once again sidelined her for stretches of the season. Aniek Nouwen: The Dutch centre-back performed well when used in an experimental back three but struggled for starts in her debut season with the Blues. Millie Bright: Bright has consistently stood out for Chelsea in recent years. With centre-back Magda Eriksson sidelined at various times, Bright has stepped up, adapting to whoever plays alongside her and commanding the back line. Magda Eriksson: The captain's season has been marked by injury breaks, but every time she stepped onto the pitch Chelsea seemed instantly stronger. Jess Carter: A phenomenal campaign for the England international who has firmly cemented her place in Sarina Wiegman's squad for England Euros. Jonna Andersson: Andersson seemed more comfortable in a back four than in a back three, which limited her starts. However, in her last season at Chelsea, she proved her worth and experience with two key assists in two games in the run-up. Sophie Ingle: During Melanie Leupolz's pregnancy, Ingle played more than one would have given her credit for. Ji So-yun: In their last league game for Chelsea, Ji came off the bench to create a momentum switch and at that point it was thought that Hayes might try to persuade the South Korean to stay. Drew Spence: Chelsea's longest-serving player has been a reliable off-bench option when the team needed to watch a game. A solid defensive back-up who arguably deserves a more regular start. Niamh Charles: Has loads of potential and has shown she is extremely versatile, playing on both flanks in midfield and in defence. Did a decent job when called up to cover the injured and is one to follow next season. Erin Cuthbert: The team's workhorse, getting the dirty work done whenever it was needed, playing all over the field, man-marking players, and doing it with a will and drive that made her successful in whatever task she was faced with. Guro Reit: By his own admission, Reit had struggled during the pandemic-hit season. This season, however, she shone, bringing creativity and flair from the wings. Jessie Fleming: The 24-year-old has scored six league goals in a season that has seen her playing time increase and fit seamlessly. She's not an equivalent cover for the outgoing Ji, but she will no doubt play an important role after the South Korean's departure. Fran Kirby: Last year's Player of the Season struggled with a fatigue problem that Chelsea are only now finding answers to. Their sparkling start to the campaign was cruelly cut short by the problem, which has also kept them out of competition in England. Despite this, Kirby provided six league assists, the most of any Chelsea player. Beth England: It's been a tumultuous season for the England striker, who has often had to sit out as Kerr, Harder and others were favored in attack. Still, the forward was Chelsea's second-highest goalscorer with eight league goals and proved a deadly back-up. Sam Kerr: The Australian secured her second consecutive golden boot with 20 goals, just one short of the 21 she scored last year, despite being away for a month at the Asian Cup in January. She was extraordinarily consistent, hitting whenever the Blues needed a breakthrough to stay in the title race. Pernille Harder: After Kirby and Kerr were away at the Asia Cup, Harder shouldered the load up front. The Danish striker seemed more established in her second season in the Chelsea squad and has been the creative hub. It would be unfair to rate Melanie Leupolz given that her season ended with the announcement of her pregnancy. Leupolz completed seven league games and was an important part of midfield. Lauren James has struggled for minutes since returning to Chelsea but is likely to play a more notable role next season. It's been a tough season for the 21-year-old, who struggled with the language barrier in her first year in England and coped with the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Barcelona identify 3 potential Busquets substitutes

The 33-year-old captain enters the final year of his contract at the Camp Nou. (Author: Gardener)

BarcelonaBarcelona captain Sergio Busquets is nearing the end of an illustrious career at the Camp Nou, which has seen the 33-year-old midfielder lift 30 trophies with the Catalan giants. The Spain international's contract expires in 2023 and Barca are busy making plans for the future. The Catalans want to bring in a player who can fill in for Busquets while he stays at the Camp Nou and potentially take over if he retires at the Camp Nou. Barcelona have identified Real Sociedad's Martín Zubimendi, Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Portugal international Rubén Neves as possible options, Ferran Correas reported to Diario Sport. Zubimendi is the "player the coaching staff likes the most" and is said to be the midfielder most like Busquets. Tchouaméni is likely to have a similar price tag and also have plenty of suitors after proving to be one of the most talented young midfielders in Europe. The third option is Neves, who has made it clear that he wants to leave Wolves at the end of the season. The midfielder is also unlikely to come cheaply, but Barcelona and Wolves have a good relationship after deals with Francisco Trincao and Adama Traore could help any possible move. Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez was asked about Busquets ahead of his side's La Liga clash on Tuesday, May 10. The midfielder will miss the Camp Nou game through suspension after receiving his 10th booking of the season. Xavi told a pre-match press conference that Busquets is missing and that the club must look ahead to find a replacement for their captain, who turns 34 in July. "It's hard to find a replacement for Busquets, someone with his characteristics. Tomorrow we will miss him but we have different options," he said. "Busquets won't be forever, he's a human like the rest of us so we have to plan ahead. We have to think about the future.” Barcelona already have a lot of midfield options in their squad. Xavi has Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Gavi, Riqui Puig and Nico Gonzalez at his disposal, while AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie is expected to join on a free transfer in the summer. Meanwhile, Busquets has been advised to move to the MLS once his contract expires. Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has reported that the midfielder has been "requested" by clubs and "could be an option for June 2023". The Barca skipper has spoken about the future in an interview on RAC1, admitting he might be tempted to end his career in another country, according to the club's official website. “I can still help and I still have a year on contract. "I would find it very difficult to go anywhere else in Europe and play for a team that is pursuing the same things as Barça. Replacing a player like Busquets certainly won't be easy for Barcelona, ​​especially given the club's heavy debt and current financial constraints imposed by LaLiga. READ MORE: Barcelona react to Luis Suarez' shock offer to return: report

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How Boston discovered the blueprint that changed its season

The Celtics have a lot of work to do against the defending champion, but Boston wouldn't have gotten this far without an identity overhaul. (Author: Gardener)

BostonWill the Celtics or Bucks come out on top in Game 4? Will the Celtics or Bucks come out on top in Game 4? When the Boston Celtics arrived at Washington's Capital One Arena on January 23 to take on the Wizards for a matinee, there was no indication it would be the turning point in Boston's tumultuous season. Coming off one of their most disheartening losses of the season, the Celtics extended a double-digit lead over the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without star point guard Damian Lillard, at home in the fourth quarter. Jayson Tatum had missed 18 consecutive 3-point shots over a four-game span. The team's offense had hovered around the NBA bottom 10. And the Celtics were down to 23-24 and 10th in the Eastern Conference - a half game ahead of the New York Knicks for last place in the play-in tournament. More than halfway through this season, Boston seemed headed for a brief stint in the playoffs — if it ever got there. Then came the Wizards' 116-87 demolition, which saw Tatum score 51 and return Boston to .500 in the season. Afterwards, in the dressing room, Marcus Smart sensed that changes were afoot. "After that game, we just had this mentality and mindset and sense of urgency that we can sense a change is starting," says Smart. Since that moment, the Celtics have become arguably the best team in the NBA, ending the regular season with the highest totals in the league (28-7) on offense (120.2 points per 100 possessions) and defense (104.8). And after Boston defeated Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, Boston has a chance Monday (7:30 a.m.) to kick off its semifinal showdown in the East with defending champions Milwaukee Bucks with an away win in play 4 to balance ET, TNT). "I don't think," said Brad Stevens, Celtics president of basketball operations, "that anyone thought it would take off like that." The Celtics hit rock bottom on November 1, just seven games into the season. After losing a 14-point lead over the Chicago Bulls, who beat the Celtics 39-11 in the final frame, Smart called out Boston's superstar wing tandem. "Every team knows we're trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen," Smart told reporters after the game. “Each team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everyone's scouting report is to get these guys to pass the ball. The moment marked a milestone in a campaign — spearheaded by a trio of talented perimeter players who made it part of well over 50 playoff games for Boston — that seemed destined to disappoint for the second straight season. Instead, it became a distant reminder of the turning point — and what eventually clicked for Boston. "We have a lot of great guys on the team, so it was just figuring out how to play together," says Grant Williams. “Same with Ime [Udoka, who is a] first-year head coach, so everyone is just learning how to establish yourself not just in the league, but in laying down the blueprint that the Celtics want. Brown and Al Horford missed portions of training camp, and Horford missed time in December after entering the league's health and safety protocols. For his part, Smart entered minutes in January and missed six games. Boston also reversed his poor shooting luck. While Boston was 16th in the league in Second Spectrum's quantified shooting probability through Jan. 22, it showed in some particularly ugly losses, such as when the Celtics had their worst catch-and-shoot performance in Second Spectrum history ( since 2013) were in a loss to the LA Clippers in December. Boston jumped to second in the league in terms of quantified shot probability, starting with that win in Washington during the regular season. The Celtics also found better fits for Udoka's preferred system. The franchise had used part of its trading exception to land Josh Richardson in the offseason, convincing Dennis Schroder to take a massive pay cut to play a role off the bench. However, both are used to holding the ball, which fitted right in with Tatum and Brown's natural tendencies that Udoka was hoping to change. The moves paid off immediately, particularly in helping Udoka implement the free-flowing offense he's been trumpeting since arriving last summer. Prior to the trade deadline, Boston ranked 19th in the NBA for assists per game and 49.4% of their field goals came from passes, ranking 18th. "If I could have picked the man who would have been the perfect man for our group, it would be [White]," says Udoka. "He's a better offensive player than J-Rich and a much better defender than Dennis, so you kind of bring those guys together as one." Boston's starting lineup of Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Robert Williams III had been elite. By bringing in White and taking more off-bench time for Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, the Celtics had an airtight eight-man rotation that suited Udoka's game plan. "Earlier this year we had people trying to think of new roles," says Smart. “We experimented with new roles, new guys, new faces. It's easy to talk about ephemeral things like connectivity, teamwork, and togetherness. But none of those are going to win games unless they're paired with talent." The biggest thing that can happen in the NBA in the last two months," an Eastern Conference executive said recently, "was Jayson Tatum the player the world was for already holding him.” Even after some particularly tough shooting in the first half, Tatum finished the season averaging 26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists. More importantly, however, was his growth as a passer and playmaker in the second half of the season. His assist numbers skyrocketed by nearly one per game after the All-Star break, and earlier in the season, when Smart and Brown left the court, Udoka tended to switch to Tatum as the primary handler on the ball. Boston surpassed his Opponents with 12.2 points per 100 possession when on the court and Smart and Brown deviated from it. Udoka's help. The final piece of Boston's transformation was Smart taking over as the team's starting point guard. It's a role Smart has asked to play for years. "I'm just glad that I'm finally being put in a position where I'm great," says Smart. I was like a swiss army knife and it was like I had no real role on the team. But when Walker was traded for Horford last summer, Smart was left with no choice but to hand the keys. However, Udoka believed that Smart could be just the player he needed for his offense. He said that unlike other guards who have played with Tatum and Brown over the years, Smart is a first floor general. "Marcus is going to make one of his crazy passes, and he's like, 'I got you,'" says Udoka, raising his hand to mimic Smart apologizing for a bad game. Even as the Celtics lashed out in the early months of the season, they were fifth in defensive standings. And after trading for White and moving from Schroder, Boston's top seven players - Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford, Robert Williams III, White and Grant Williams - are all plus defenders. And since they're all at least 6-foot-4 tall and two of them (Horford and Williams) are centers, the Celtics can expect to have a size advantage at virtually any position if any combination of those seven are on the court together . That meant Boston was 4.6 points per 100 possessions defensively better than the second-ranked Miami Heat from Jan. 23 through the end of the season — the same gap between the Heat and the 18th-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves. "Stifling," Grant Williams said when asked to describe Boston's defenses. “If you ask other teams' players, that's how they would describe it, especially when everyone's locked up and everyone's doing their own job. Getting teams to play us in half court. The Celtics spent the first round making life miserable for Durant, who kept him below 40% for a series for the third time in his career. They forced Giannis Antetokounmpo to an 18-for-52 shooting in the first two games of the East semifinals. Every time Boston talks about its defense, physicality is a constant reference to a core tenet - and the Celtics have applied that enthusiastically in these playoffs. It's a far cry from what Boston looked like when it was bowled over by the Nets in five games last year in the first round. "This is probably the best defensive team I've ever been on," White said. “Just having people out there who are connected can defend multiple positions. "I hope everyone really enjoys competing because I think we have a group that's moving in one direction — no drama," says Stevens, "and we have to keep it that way.

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