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The Celtics have never feared the Nets, and why expect the unexpected in the NFL Draft?

The Nets -- preseason favorites to win it all -- haven't even won a single playoff game (Author: Gardener)

NFLAll season, the Eastern Conference No. 2 seemed to be the one no one wanted, with the Nets likely waiting as the No. 7 seed. But the Celtics never feared that spot, and now we know why. Boston ended an impressive win over Brooklyn last night with a 116-112 win in Game 4. Boston is really, really good and we should have seen it coming. After the all-star break, the Celtics had the NBA's best record, best offensive rating, and third-best defensive rating. The Celtics are great defensively and have no weak spots on that end of the floor. What I like most about the Celtics is that they don't deviate from who they are and play to their strengths. In the four games, the Celtics won the points in the paint battle with 54 and in the rebounding battle with 22 points. It was only fitting that last night each of Boston's bottom four buckets were layups and two came off offensive rebounds. The Celtics have had many blowout wins in the regular season. So far this postseason, they've shown they can win by a close margin, writes our NBA reporter Sam Quinn. * Quinn: "If anything, sweeping this particular Nets team in four tight games is perhaps more impressive than doing it in four blowouts. The overall benefit of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is that your team should always be able to pull off a good result. It's one of the best goal-scoring duos in NBA history, and with the crunch time that so relies heavily on halffield shot formation, beating her four times in the clutch is insanely impressive. * It looks like the NFL is coming to Black Friday sooner rather than later. The Nets came out as favorites to win the NBA title this season. Since then, very little has gone right. * Kyrie Irving's vaccination status made him a part-time player for much of the season. * James Harden rose from third Superstar to midseason exit. You name it, the networks probably suffered. When it came down to it, yes, the sweep was surprising and embarrassing, but the Nets just weren't a championship-caliber team, and the Celtics exposed that. The silver lining is next year should see the return of a healthy Simmons and Harris, Irving said last night he would return (he has a player option) and Durant is going nowhere. The Mavericks have their star back and they look dangerous. Dallas dominated Utah, 102-77, in a crucial Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. * Luka Doncic had 33 points (in 33 minutes!) and added 13 rebounds and five assists. * Jalen Brunson added 24 points, his fifth straight game with 20+. It's the worst 3-point shooting performance in NBA postseason history (min. If I told you the Mavericks hadn't won a playoff series since winning the 2011 NBA title, you probably wouldn't believe me. You'll Have a Chance Meanwhile, if you thought the Raptors would quietly pull away after losing three games to no one against the 76ers, think again Toronto again fended off elimination and reduced the series deficit with one 103- 88 win in Philadelphia * Pascal Siakam had 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists * Precious Achiuwa had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench * Joel Embiid had 20 points but James Harden struggled again and only managed 15 points to 4 -for-11 shooting.* It was the 76ers' fewest points in a playoff game since 2012. Remember, teams are always 144-0 after leading a 3-0 series. A On the other hand, Doc Rivers is the only coach to fail three 3-1 leads, and Harden hasn't done much to shake his reputation as someone who's stubbornly glittering in the playoffs. I don't think the '76ers are in serious trouble anymore, but they're certainly not taking it easy. This NFL draft is just days away and has a chance to get very interesting very quickly. * There is no clear No. 1 pick, and the odds of who will hear their name first have changed a lot in the past few days. So expect the unexpected Thursday night. To set you up for the madness, NFL draft expert Chris Trapasso has six surprising scenarios that could completely change the first round, including... If the Saints pack their extra first-round picks with others to get into the top-10- Entering group and picking a quarterback, it would throw a wrench in the top half of the first round, although many teams outside of that would celebrate in their respective war room as it shifted an offensive tackle on the board as well as another non-quarterback prospect would .'” Another factor playing into the draft intrigue is Deebo Samuel, who the 49ers say will cost two first-round picks. Do you know who has two first-round picks? The Chiefs and the Packers, two receiver-heavy teams in win-now mode. Could we see Samuel transition between now and Thursday night? Could Kansas City or Green Bay trade to draft a top wide receiver instead? Check out all the surprising scenarios of Trapasso here. The Champions League is back and we have a great game things off with Manchester r City host Real Madrid at 15:00 today. on CBS and streaming on Paramount+. The game will feature player #1 and #3 of our top 50 Champions League players Karim Benzema from Madrid and Kevin de Bruyne from City. But in his bold predictions, our football reporter James Benge says another Madrid attacker will steal the spotlight this afternoon. * Benge: "This could well be a game for Vinicius Junior who will almost certainly attack a player who isn't up to the task. Joao Cancelo's suspension has given Pep Guardiola enough headaches but both Kyle Walker and emergency right-back option John Stones are struggling with injuries. If City don't have their best defender at this level then it could be Vinicius rather than Benzema doing the damage." We look at the NBA playoffs. ⚽ UEFA Champions League semi-finals: Manchester City – Real Madrid, 15: 12 am on CBS and Paramount+ 🏒 Oilers at Penguins, 7 pm on ESPN 🏒 Blues at Avalanche, 9:30 pm on ESPN

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Without Tatum, Boston repels nets to earn sweep

Just as the decision not to avoid playing the Nets in the first round showed the Celtics' character, so too did their season end after Jayson fouled Tatum. (Author: Gardener)

TatumAs the regular season drew to a close, the Celtics reiterated that their focus was on playing their best basketball and doing their best to speed up the players so they stay healthy for the playoffs. That decision forced Boston to lock down and play at their best to beat Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and co. and got the best of them. That was evident throughout this series, including when the Celtics had to fend off the nets after Jayson fouled Tatum 2:49 left and Boston led 109-103. Jaylen Brown got the Celtics to a 4-0 start by knocking down a 12-foot jumper and then burying an 18-foot pullup; Marcus Smart assisted with both buckets. The Nets responded, including Kevin Durant, who tied the game on ten with a three from left wing. Less than a minute later, Jayson Tatum got caught in the teeth of the Nets defense and kicked the ball to Al Horford for a corner that gave Boston the lead back and went 15-12 with a 6:40 lead to play in the quarter. After Daniel Theis hit a layup from Kyrie Irving, on the Celtics' next possession, White attacked a Kevin Durant closeout, then an upfake from Nic Claxton, absorbing the contact and ending the glass soft. The Celtics continued to get into the gaps and then sprayed the ball to the shooters when Smart Grant Williams found a three from the left corner to put them a nine lead at the 3:13 mark. Irving responded with a pull-up triple of his own, a shot aided by a vicious screen from Durant on Grant Williams. And as the period drew to a close, Durant drove past Robert Williams and dropped a bounce pass for Claxton for two points on the edge to make it a 30-26 game in favor of the visitors entering the second quarter. Durant finished the frame with a game-high 11 points, but Boston's offense generated ten points in the suit and went 10/11 at the charity streak. It also helped that Claxton went 0-6 from the free throw line. Also, Curry and Goran Dragic committed three fouls in the opening quarter and Durant committed two. Neither team scores 30 points in a hard-fought second quarter. On the first possession of the third, Horford conceded his third foul of the game on offense and sent it off for Theis. At the 9:25 mark, Tatum used a three from the left corner to give the Celtics a 33:30 lead. Shortly after, he missed another and then conceded with a 20-foot pull-up jumper, earning him 12 points on 3/5 shooting; the other four came at the free-throw line. More than halfway through the quarter, with Boston leading 45-39, Durant drilled a three, Irving potted a 14-foot floater and Durant found Curry for a right corner three in transition to make it a 45-44 game with 3 to do: 29 to play in the first half. Coming off the break, Tatum found Grant Williams for a three from the left corner that extended Boston's lead to 48-44. In the final minute, Brown made a strong two in the basket and Tatum quickly swung the ball from the catch to Grant Williams for a left corner three with 1.4 seconds left, giving the Celtics a 58-50 advantage at halftime. Durant went into the break with a game-high 20-point shooting 7/15, and the Nets put down 51.4 percent of their shots, including a 6/15 (40 percent) from three. They assisted on 15 of 20 field goals and produced 18 points in the paint. Tatum, Brown and Grant Williams each had a team high of 12 points. The team smartly approached this department and handed out seven. Boston also got a boost off the bench from Derrick White, who contributed seven points and six rebounds. Celtics score 32 points in third quarter and go into fourth with a double-digit lead While it was a quiet night for Robert Williams, with 6:26 in the third quarter, Smart attacked the dribbling in a familiar sighting and threw the time lord a lob for a finish over the edge. After missing his first ten free throws, Claxton eventually made one, drawing a loud ovation from the crowd at the Barclays Center. At the 5:23 mark, Tatum used a three to give the Celtics a 78:69 lead. On her ensuing possession, White didn't force a three, instead driving and scooping the ball to Smart for a layup that gave Boston an 80-69 lead. Then came a fadeaway from Tatum over Bruce Brown, giving him 23 points and the Celtics an 82-71 lead with a 3:56 lead. The Nets tried to go small but Smart drove and conceded a foul. Then, emerging from under the basket, Smart found a diving Grant Williams for an easy two points on the edge. Tatum then showed off his footwork and picked up two deft points at the basket to extend Boston's lead to 85-73 with 2:40 by the end of the period. After a time-out, Ime Udoka set up another effective ATO and generated a three for Horford from the right wing that gave the visitors an 88-75 lead. The Celtics took two more points from White on a layup that followed a missed three by Curry and sent Boston 90-78 into the final frame. Tatum fouls out, Celtics still deflect nets to sweep series Curry scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and cut Boston's lead to 90-82. Durant then hit a hard-fought jumper over Grant Williams to make it a 90-84 game at 10-08, prompting coach Udoka to call a time-out. Tatum came on after the break and two possessions from the Celtics later, he threw down a two-handed jam and then buried a three to put Boston 95-86 ahead with 8:54 minutes left. But on Boston's next possession, Blake Griffin stepped up and drew a charge on Tatum, his fifth foul. That put Horford 8-17 ahead of Tatum. The two teams traded blows as a three from Horford was followed by one from Curry, and after Smart made one, Dragic answered from beyond the arc, making it a 101-94 game with a 6:37 to play. After a Horford miss near the edge, Dragic attacked the dribbling, beating Horford and making a reverse layup to put the Nets to five at 6:12 on the clock. Dragic then got a bit lucky as he brought in a three from over the break and reduced Brooklyn's lead to three, 102-99 with 5:24 remaining. Luckily for Boston, Jaylen Brown responded with a 16-foot pull-up jump while being fouled by Irving. He then pinned the extra point to extend the Celtics' lead to 105-99 with 5:07 to go. Smart then produced a critical extra effort play, tapping in a miss from Grant Williams, after Tatum drove, kicked the ball to Williams in the right corner and he attacked a closeout to get a shot at the basket. Durant and Irving generated the next two field goals, putting Brooklyn within four, 107-103 with 3:42 to play. Smart countered with a layup after almost losing the ball to give the Celtics a 109-103 lead with 3:22 left. After an ill-advised three-point miss from Griffin, Tatum fell short on a call this writer disagreed with as he and Dragic went down while the former struggled for position to get the ball onto a sideline. Irving then drilled a deep three from above the break to make it a 109-106 game, with 2:31 remaining. Irving had a chance to cut Boston's lead to one, but Brown stayed ahead of him and put up a great fight without fouling to stop it. Grant Williams had less success as Durant attacked him from the dribble after catching the ball off the post and shot over Williams to make it a 109-108 game at 1:28 on the clock. But Jaylen Brown answered, driving the baseline for a layup that extended the Celtics' advantage to 111-108. With 22.2 seconds left, Durant went for 1/2 at the free throw line, and after Smart missed a layup, Horford cleaned up to put Boston 113-109 ahead with 13.7 seconds left. The Nets picked a play to give Durant a three from above, but he missed, and Smart tracked down the long rebound and Patty Mills fouled him with seven seconds on the clock. Smart made both free throws and extended Boston's lead to 115-109 as loud chants of "Let's go, Celtics!" was heard from the fans who had arrived. Durant then hit a three to make it a 115-112 game by 2.8 seconds. But after being fouled on the subsequent inbounds pass, Smart went 1/2 at the line, made the front end and missed the second shot. The clock ticked off and the Celtics advanced to the second round, sweeping the nets. Despite fouling, Tatum finished the team with 29 points on 9/16 shooting, including 4/6 from beyond the arc. The three-time All-Star also went 7/8 at the free throw line. Brown recorded 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and also performed well defensively; most notably in the game where he denied Irving two points on the margins that held Boston by three by less than 2:30. Brown dealt with hamstring problems in the second half but told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin after the game, "I'm fine. Smart scored 20 points on 7/16 shooting and went for threes at 3/7. Attacking Boston's bottom general was most effective as a moderator, dishing out 11 assists that was a game high. Proof of this is the Celtics held Irving to 20 points, and while he made some big shots, he never led the Nets that way von Lauf that was possible changed the result of tonight. As a team, the Celtics assisted 26 of 42 field goals. Their ball motion and aggressiveness, relentlessly attacking mismatches as they do in all series, saw them shoot 47.2 percent from the field, including 14/35 (40 percent) from beyond the arc. Boston also scored 44 points in the paint, scoring 18 on the free throw line and scoring 17 on second chance opportunities. Durant went off for 39 points that game, often attacking faster and at times running the show from above rather than working towards get the ball from catch around the elbow or wing. But as was shown after Game 1, the Celtics defended him throughout that entire series as well as this author has ever seen a team guard him. Last year, without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics still managed to win a game from a Brooklyn team that had James Harden and looked like they were headed for the Finals before he and Irving got injured. This time around, the Celtics not only swept the nets, but performed as a collective to make up for Tatum's absence from the track. The Celtics are getting a well-deserved break to recover ahead of the second round of the playoffs. As a reward for not dodging the nets and then dispatching them, the Celtics have home play in the next round. the Nets: Tatum and Brown lead the way as the Celtics defense shines as they sideline Brooklyn Ben Simmons awaits his season debut in Game 4, a return the Celtics could benefit more from than the Nets Nets in Game 2 : Boston Recaptures Offensive Identity, Rallies for 2-0 Series Lead [Movie Room] How the Celtics held Kevin Durant to 23 points, an approach that can't change as ROI diminishes

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Celtics End 4-Game Sweep of Nets 116-112 Victory

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jayson Tatum was stunned but still reassured. He disagreed with his sixth foul... (Author: Gardener)

NEW YORKBoston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts as his team score in the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets Monday, April 25, 2022 in New York is in the lead. Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams, right, celebrates with guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Monday, April 25, 2022, in New York. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives against Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin (2) during the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, May 25. April 2022, New York. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts as his team lags in the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series against the Boston Celtics Monday, April 25, 2022 in New York. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, center, drives in the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, May 25. Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) drives against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, left, during the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2022, in New York. Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) goes in the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, May 25. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives in of the second half of Game 4 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series on Monday, April 25, 2022 in New York against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11). NEW YORK (AP) -- Jayson Tatum was stunned but still reassured. He was not happy with his sixth foul, but had no doubts that the Boston Celtics, with their rock-solid defense, would endure without their top scorer. "Couldn't believe it at all, but I think that's what we were built for," Tatum said. Tatum had 29 points, Jaylen Brown had 22 and the Celtics wrapped up a four-game win over the Brooklyn Nets to become the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 win Monday night. Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No. 2-seeded Celtics that made what was perceived as a difficult streak easy to pull off. Boston awaits the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago, where defending champion Bucks leads 3-1. The Celtics showed no fear of the Nets, who lacked the typical low seed profile in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Boston won rather than lose on the final day of the regular season to fall in the standings and avoid the matchup. Durant had 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and was able to break free after the Celtics defended him well in the first three games. The Nets, expected to be an NBA Finals contender, needed a strong finish to grab the No. 7 pick. Seth Curry scored 23 points for the Nets. Irving, whose unavailability for home games for much of the season because he is not vaccinated against the coronavirus has helped the Nets perform below expectations so far, had 20 points. "A lot of things that can contribute to why we lose, but they were just a better team," Durant said. The Celtics were under .500 at the halfway point in their season but went 31-10 from there, with Tatum emerging as a potent scorer on one of the NBA's top defensive teams. That defense limited Durant to just 19-for-52 shots with 17 turnovers in the first three games and gave him a hard time even when he finally got more shots on Monday. He lost in the first round for the first time since 2010 with Oklahoma City, the first playoff series of his career. Tatum had 12 points in the third quarter and the Celtics took a 90-75 lead in the final seconds of the quarter. But he benched with a fifth foul at 8:17 and the Nets made a push that put them on three points about three minutes later. Tatum fouled the Celtics, who led 2:48 at six, to play. Irving made a 3-pointer and Durant scored to cut it to 109-108, leaving 1:28. But after a Brown basket, Durant was only able to grab a free throw and the Celtics charged down the floor, with Al Horford resetting Smart's miss to make it 113-109 by 13 seconds. With Durant, Irving and James Harden, the Nets started the season as a team looking strong enough to win their first NBA title. But Irving didn't play at all early in the season, and soon after he came back to only play road games, Harden became unhappy and the Nets brought him to Philadelphia in a trade for Ben Simmons. The Nets were hoping Simmons could make his debut for them in Game 4, but he was ruled out Sunday with more back pain worrying him not long after arriving in a midseason trade with Philadelphia. Irving said his feelings were "disappointment, a little sadness because we didn't play as well as we wanted as a team". The Nets were only 45-44 down with 3:29 to play in the second quarter. But Grant Williams made three 3-pointers from there until the end of the half, the last giving Boston a 58-50 lead. Celtics: Boston has swept its first-round streak for the third time in four years. They lost 4-1 in the first round to the Nets last season. ... Williams scored 14 points and Horford had 13. He was 6 for 6 from the field but 1 for 11 at the free throw line and missed his first 10 before scoring the last when the Celtics fouled him on purpose. Coach Steve Nash said he does not want to speak for Simmons but acknowledged there is a mental side to the physical issues he is facing. Simmons cited mental health issues as the reason he wanted to leave Philadelphia and not line up for the 76ers this season. "I think Ben addressed that there's a mental component to what he's going through, but how much and where he is with that I can't speak to," Nash said.

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Which players have shone in ACL 2022 so far?

With the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage ending at the end of the week, let's take a look at some of the best players so far. (Author: Gardener)

2022With five rounds already played, the west zone ends on Wednesday with four teams already through: reigning champions Al Hilal, fellow Saudi Arabian Al Shabab, Qatari giants Al Duhail and Iran's Foolad. From the illustrious stars to the unknown names, we've selected ten of the best in the ACL 2022 so far. Johor Darul Ta'zim's seven-point win in Group I is already the biggest since her group-stage debut in 2019, and it was largely thanks to goals from Brazilian striker Bergson da Silva. In the absence of regular captain Aidil Zafuan in the starting XI, Insa beat the Southern Tigers admirably with his selfless approach and it should come as no surprise that he sat out JDT's final game while also coinciding with their first loss of the season. With just two goals so far, Salem Al-Dawsari doesn't seem to have lighted the stage so far, but the Saudi Arabia international has certainly done his job to lead Al Hilal to the last 16 with two games left. Al-Dawsari, who was named the tournament's most valuable player in last year's Al Hilal title triumph, has been a key cog in a well-oiled attacking team that likes to spread the workload - with 11 goals to date from nine different scorers. As he nears veteran status with his 30th birthday in a few months, it should come as no surprise that Kim Jin-su has a key role to play in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' 2022 ACL - even from the often overlooked position of left-back. The former Hoffenheim man is the only Jeonbuk player to have started all four games so far and has been part of a stingy defense that has only been broken through in one game out of four. Unfortunately for Jeonbuk, their offensive performance hasn't quite matched their defensive stability, although Moon Seon-min has emerged as a powerful player with two goals in as many games against Hoang Anh Gia Lai. Not long ago, Nawaf Al-Abed played for both Al Hilal and Saudi Arabia only to be hampered by a number of injuries in recent years. The 32-year-old already has five assists to his credit and, along with Ever Banega and Hattan Bahebri, offers a real creative spark that promises to make Al Shabab a real contender this season. In their first appearance in Asia's elite, Lion City Sailors have gone above and beyond to be one of three teams tied by seven points at the Group F Summit. Although the Sailors have a few star names in Kim Shin-wook, Diego Lopes and Maxime Lestienne, it's South Korean-born Singapore international Song Ui-young who has shined the brightest yet. At times used as a central attacking point, Song has scored two crucial goals to keep the Sailors in contention for a place in the knockout rounds - including a historic opener in a 3-0 win over Daegu That was it his team's first-ever in tournament history. In recent times, Saudi Arabian football has been home to some famous names such as Banega and Odion Ighalo. One player who may not be as well known but has an equally impressive career to his name is ex-Valencia winger Fede Cartabia, who is currently keeping Shabab Al Ahli's quest to reach the last 16 alive. Cartabia is the second-best scorer in the competition so far with five goals as the opposition defense failed to contain him with his perfect blend of pace, cunning and finishing skills. With all of BG Pathum United's attacking wealth, which includes Brazilian star Diogo, Thai legend Teerasil Dangda and Singapore international Ikhsan Fandi, Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom was perhaps their brightest light yet at ACL 2022. Pathompol is now 28 years old a late bloomer, but is now one of the most consistent players in Thai football - and was part of the Thai side that won the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, despite having little international experience before. Alongside Diogo and Ikhsan, Pathompol currently lead the BGPU in the top scorer chart with two goals and should remain important to appear in the round of 16 for a second straight season. The rise of Kento Tachibanada has been nothing short of meteoric, with the tiny playmaker going from relatively unknown to an integral player for Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale in just a year. Tachibanada was barely heard when he came on as a backup for Frontale in the ACL last season but was the go-to choice in the heart of midfield, even keeping the equally dynamic duo of Yasuto Wakizaka and Chanathip Songkrasin off the side on opportunity. The 23-year-old's versatility is also an asset to coach Toru Oniki as he has excelled both as an advanced midfielder and as a shield in front of the back line. For all the big-name imports Al Duhail has brought in over the years, few have had a bigger impact than Edmilson Junior – currently the top scorer in ACL 2022 with six goals. The Belgian, who has featured at times as a full-back in the past , was nothing short of sensational as he developed into an unstoppable force for Al Duhail on the flank for Al Duhail. Following Al Sadd's shock elimination, it's likely up to Al Duhail to fly the flag for Qatar in the ACL this season - and they have every chance of being part of an attack with Edmilson that also boasts the likes of Almoez Ali and Michael olunga Despite the absence of talismanic playmaker Andres Iniesta and a miserable start to the J1 League season, Vissel Kobe has done well in the ACL so far this season - leading Group J with seven points after going unbeaten in the first three games stayed. Goke's industrious and inventive path down the right flank has provided Vissel with a constant offensive outlet in the absence of Iniesta and he's also shown he can find the back of the net with two goals already.

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Epic Champions League comebacks have happened more frequently since Barca vs PSG

The knockout stages of the Champions League have become a machine for making stunning comebacks as Barca's historic result redefined what's possible. (Author: Gardener)

BarcaWith the Champions League semi-finals starting this week, Manchester City hosting Real Madrid on Tuesday and Villarreal heading to Liverpool the following night, none of those clubs are likely to be inspired by Barcelona. After all, this is a team eliminated from the Europa League last week. But it was Barca, who made a historic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain five years ago, that redefined what's possible in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, no matter how bleak the prospects appear after the first leg like. Given what has happened in the competition since then, you wouldn't bet against one of this season's semi-finalists staging a miraculous comeback of their own if need be. Barca entered the second leg of the round of 16 against PSG on March 8, 2017, at the Camp Nou with a 4-0 loss after the first leg and few gave them hope of achieving more than restoring pride. After all, no team in Champions League history has recovered from a four-goal deficit in the first leg and made it through. Jump to: Champions League comebacks, season after season Get instant accessBut somehow Luis Enrique's side summoned previously unseen depths in the will to clinch an odd 6-1 win and reach the quarters. Barca striker Neymar was the driving force, scoring goals in the 88th and 91st minutes before setting up Sergi Roberto for his team's sixth and final goal in the fifth minute of added time, causing chaos at the stadium. The Spanish press dubbed the game "La Remontada" - the comeback to end all comebacks. The game also helped convince Neymar that he had to leave Barca to step out of Lionel Messi's shadow and win the Ballon d'Or. PSG were only too happy to comply, signing him in the summer for a world record transfer fee of 222 million euros and changing the transfer market and the game at the highest level forever. But it also proved that anything can happen in the Champions League. Only once in the competition's almost 25-year history did a team come from within three goals of a deficit in the second leg, in 2003/04, when Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna denied after a 4-1 defeat at the San Siro defeated reigning European champions AC Milan 4-0. In the last five years this has happened three times, with Barca twice finding themselves on the receiving end after their amazing comeback. The very next season they lost 3-0 at Roma and were eliminated on away goals (this upset was dubbed 'Romantada'), while in the 2018/19 semi-finals they lost 4-0 on aggregate after losing 4-0 Liverpool at Anfield in another of the most impressive turns the competition has seen. And while there were a total of eight comebacks from a two-goal deficit in the first leg before Barca stunned PSG in the Champions League, there have been six of those in the last five years alone. In fact, there was one the week after Barca's four-goal away game against PSG when a Monaco side featuring Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho and Thomas Lemar beat Manchester City 3-1 after going 3-1 at the Etihad.In: 5 In the nearly 25 full seasons leading up to the Remontada era, there were a total of 36 occasions when a club had recovered from a goal or more behind after the first leg of a Champions League knockout game to qualify for the knockout rounds to collect, an average of 1.44 per year. In the little over five years since that game, there have been 14 at an average of 2.8 per year. Even if you subtract from that Barca's comeback against PSG itself and Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 win over Benfica after the 1-0 defeat in the first leg, which took place at the same time that history was being made in Catalonia, it always is 12 comebacks left at 2.4 per year The remainder of the tournament, consisting of one-legged duels, was consolidated into a mini-tournament in Portugal once the season resumed in the summer. But even then, habitual comeback victims PSG managed to get their own taste of a European turnaround, beating Dortmund 2-0 in Paris to tie their tie in one of the last games before football on the continent 3: 2 to win stop. The 2018/19 season was particularly fertile ground for wild comebacks as - Barca's crash at Anfield aside - Manchester United beat PSG (they again) in Paris and Ajax beat Real Madrid 4-1 in the quarter-final second leg, just to succumb to Lucas Moura's exceptional second-half hat-trick in the semi-final second leg against Tottenham Hotspur. And just last month, almost five years to the day since Barca's exploits, Real Madrid staged their own remontada against PSG as Karim Benzema with a second-half hat-trick saw the 13-time champions progress against all odds. Benzema scored another hat-trick in his next European game to give Madrid a comfortable 3-1 lead over Chelsea, but the holders almost staged their own rally for the ages by forcing extra time at the Bernabeu, only for Benzema to tie 4 could settle -3 overall. Results already tended towards more comebacks in the years immediately leading up to Barca's remontada, with five two-goal deficits being closed in the previous four seasons alone. As the rigors of away games have become much less of a factor in modern football - so much so that the away goals rule has been abolished this season - and top-flight players are more concentrated in the biggest clubs, the chances of recovering from them are diminishing, as are the setbacks in at half-time have continued to turn in their favor. But that amazing result at the Camp Nou in 2017 accelerated the trend, so now we're not as surprised by such events as we used to be. The Champions League knockout stage has truly become a machine for making stunning comebacks, so much so that we're almost half expecting something extraordinary to happen in the next two weeks. And that's already over for PSG.2001-02 QF: Deportivo La Coruna 1:4 vs. SF: AC Milan 2:3 vs. SF: AC Milan 2:3 vs. Chelsea (a) / 1:0 (penalty) (h)2011-12 R16: Chelsea 1:3 vs. Lyon (a) / 1:0 (penalties) (h) R16: Borussia Dortmund 0:1 vs. Benfica (a) / 4:0 (h) Benfica ( a ) / 4-0 (h) R16: Monaco 3-5 vs R16: Monaco 3-5 vs R16: Monaco 3-5 vs Manchester City (a) / 3-1 (h) R16: Leicester City 1 - 2 v R16: Manchester United 0:2 v R16: Manchester United 0:2 v R16: Manchester United 0:2 v Paris Saint-Germain (h) / 3:1 (a) Paris Saint-Germain (h) / 3 :1 (a) Atletico Madrid (a) / 3:0 (h) R16: Ajax 1:2 vs. Real Madrid (h) / 4:1 (a) Real Madrid (h) / 4:1 (a) Real Madrid (h) / 4:1 (a) Real Madrid (h) / 4:1 (a) SF: Liverpool 0:3 vs. SF: Liverpool 0:3 vs. SF: Liverpool 0:3 vs. Barcelona (a ) / 4:0 (h) Barcelona (a) / 4:0 (h) Barcelona (a) / 4:0 (h) SF: Tottenham Hotspur 0:1 vs. Ajax (h) / 3:2 (a) Total comebacks: 50 total before Remontada: 36 total in 25 years since Remontada (incl.): 14 in 5 years

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Rebounds, free throws and third-quarter haunting Phoenix Suns in 2-2 series with Pelicans

The Suns find themselves in a best-of-7 series 2-2 after Sunday's loss in New Orleans. (Author: Gardener)

third-quarterRebounds, physicality and the third quarter have been an issue for all of the Phoenix Suns' series. Devin Booker being out since the end of the third quarter of Game 2 with a right hamstring strain only made it more difficult. They've hit a horrendous 11-of-53-of-3 in their last two games. And the disparity in free-throw attempts in Sunday night's Game 4 loss in New Orleans left Sun coach Monty Williams infuriated. The Pelicans attempted 42 free throws (made 32) while the Suns attempted 15 (made 10). "You can cut it any way you want," Williams said. "In a playoff game that's so physical, that's amazing, OK. Coaches shouldn't have to come to the mic and feel like their heads are being chopped off for telling the truth.” Game 4 recap: Suns fall on pelicans in Game 4 in New Orleans That wasn't what the Suns were in made sense as they headed into the postseason as the No. 1 overall seed. They're tied 2-2, but they're sticking to the mindset that fueled their run to the finals last year and made them the best team in the NBA this season. "We're staying the course," Sun's great Deandre Ayton said after Sunday's loss. Play hard and may the best team win. Pat them on the back for playing hard but this is a series and this is the playoffs. We just need to get home and get back on our feet and just do our business at home." For subscribers: 5 insights from suns falling in Game 4, now even featuring pelicans. For subscribers: 5 insights from Paul and Ayton at the Top Suns win without booker in Game 3 vs Pelicans So even though the Pelicans won Game 4, the Suns just need to win their possible two remaining home games, starting with Game 5 on Tuesday at the Footprint Center, and they'll go through, Suns forward Cam Johnson said : "For us, I have the greatest confidence in our group. So if it's going to be a momentum shift, they have to go back to Phoenix and we're going back to Phoenix and we know how important it is to play in our city and how important it is for us." Game 6 is taking place at Thursday in New Orleans If there is a Game 7 it will be in Phoenix on Saturday The Suns will attend Game 5 without Booker working his way back from his Achilles tendon injury Williams didn't even want to entertain him he was thinking of Booker who only had one Week away from injury."We can't worry about that," Williams said after Sunday's fourth game, scoring first-half points in that Game 2 loss, but Ayton is in no hurry to see Booker return. "I just want my mate to be healthy and ready to go," Ayton said. We know he takes care of business. We see he goes about his business every day, but I'd like him to be in top form when he comes out.” Reactions: “Are the Suns in trouble vs Johnson, the NBA's sixth man award, scored in the series averaging 11.3 points but shooting just 11 of 29 in the last three games after a 5-of-6 blitz in Game 1. "There's some consideration of tinkering a little bit," Williams said Monday afternoon in Phoenix. “However, there are different ways to do this. I think one possibility is to better align with their effective lineups. This does not necessarily mean that you change the staff, so to speak. I think one thing that happens is when you lose someone like Book, everyone moves up the pecking order, and that's a different rotation in itself. "We went above and beyond to make it essentially a best-of-3 series. Brandon Ingram scored his third 30-point game on Sunday while Jonas Valanciunas hit another monstrous double-double with 26 points and 15 Rebounds with five being offensive boards." We played together," said Valanciunas. It's fun to play that way. It feels so good to play that way, on top of winning the game." Valanciunas has spearheaded New Orleans' rising supremacy over the Suns: Loyal: Fans stick with the Suns all the way at the Footprint Center rally. The Suns are shooting 29.3-of-3 this series after finishing the regular season ninth in 3-point shooting with 36.9%. "We just didn't shoot the ball the way we all used to see our team shoot," Williams said. Additionally, New Orleans crushes the Suns in the third quarter and surpasses Phoenix 137-93 over that period. Numbers aside, New Orleans wins the physical fight, which has Chris Paul wondering if he entered Marvel's quantum realm and went back in time. "It's like the old #NBA, isn't it?" said Paul, who scored just four points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 4 after churning out 28 in Game 3. We just have to find out which one it will be. Williams said Monday that there had been some "gray areas" in relation to the physical nature of the series, referring to Pelican rookie Herbert Jones' shoulder punch to Ayton's face in Game 1. "We showed the ability to hit first and get rebounds," he said. "We made it in Game 3. We weren't first to the floor like we were in Game 3." Any thoughts on the Current State of the Suns This article originally appeared in Arizona Republic: Rebounding, Suns stuck in series with Pelicans in the third quarter

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Inspirational young man dies after courageous battle with cancer

Inspiring young man dies after courageous battle with cancer: CT News - Across Connecticut, CT - Woman, teenager shot, injured: report / Psychiatric staff ready to strike: report / Top 100 public high schools in CT.... (Author: Gardener)

CT - WomanWednesday night looks cold with temperatures falling back into the mid 30's. PLAINFIELD -- Road works at exit 32 of I-395 northbound are in effect until 3:30 p.m. today. PUTNAM -- Road works on northbound I-395 between exits 47 and 53 (6.3 miles) are in effect until 3:31 p.m. today. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 7:48 am. MIDDLEBURY -- Road works on eastbound I-84 between exits 17 and 19 (2.0 miles) are in effect until 3:00 p.m. today. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 8:48 am. HARTFORD - Accident (motor vehicle) on I-91 Southbound between exits 27 and 28. Right lane is closed. The right lane is blocked. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 7:01 am. ROCKY HILL - The ferry is closed until further notice due to high water. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 6:00 am. NORWALK - Delays. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 7:16 am. FAIRFIELD - Delays. RT15 Southbound is congested between exits 44 and 41 (6.6 miles). RT15 Southbound is congested between exits 44 and 41 (6.6 miles). RT15 Southbound is congested between exits 44 and 41 (6.6 miles). RT15 Southbound is congested between exits 44 and 41 (6.6 miles). Reported on Monday, April 25 at 8:25 am. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 8:25 am. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 8:25 am. Reported on Monday, April 25 at 8:25 am.

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Celtics End 4-Game Sweep of Nets 116-112 Victory

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jayson Tatum was stunned but still reassured. He was not happy with his sixth foul, but had no doubts that the Boston Celtics, with their rock-solid defense, would endure without their top scorer. (Author: Gardener)

NEW YORKHe was not happy with his sixth foul, but had no doubts that the Boston Celtics, with their rock-solid defense, would endure without their top scorer. "Couldn't believe it at all, but I think that's what we were built for," Tatum said. Tatum had 29 points, Jaylen Brown had 22 and the Celtics wrapped up a four-game win over the Brooklyn Nets to become the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a 116-112 win Monday night. Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No. 2-seeded Celtics that made what was perceived as a difficult streak easy to pull off. Boston awaits the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago, where defending champion Bucks leads 3-1. The Celtics didn't shy away from the Nets, who didn't have the typical low seed profile in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Boston won rather than lose on the final day of the regular season to fall in the standings and avoid the matchup. Durant had 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and was able to break free after the Celtics defended him well in the first three games. But he failed to give the Nets the win they needed to extend what is instead considered a massive failure of a season. The Nets, expected to be an NBA Finals contender, needed a strong finish to grab the No. 7 pick. Seth Curry scored 23 points for the Nets. Irving, whose unavailability for home games for much of the season because he is not vaccinated against the coronavirus has helped the Nets perform below expectations so far, had 20 points. "A lot of things that can contribute to why we lose, but they were just a better team," Durant said. The Celtics were under .500 halfway through their season but went 31-10 from there, with Tatum proving to be a potent scorer on one of the NBA's top defensive teams. That defense limited Durant to just 19-for-52 shots with 17 turnovers in the first three games and gave him a hard time even when he finally got more shots on Monday. He lost in the first round for the first time since 2010 with Oklahoma City, the first playoff series of his career. Tatum had 12 points in the third quarter and the Celtics took a 90-75 lead in the final seconds of the quarter. But he benched with a fifth foul at 8:17 and the Nets made a push that put them on three points about three minutes later. Tatum fouled the Celtics, who led 2:48 at six, to play. Irving made a 3-pointer and Durant scored to cut it to 109-108, leaving 1:28. But after a Brown basket, Durant was only able to grab a free throw and the Celtics charged down the floor, with Al Horford resetting Smart's miss to make it 113-109 by 13 seconds. With Durant, Irving and James Harden, the Nets started the season as a team looking strong enough to win their first NBA title. But Irving didn't play at all early in the season, and not long after he came back to only play road games, Harden became unhappy and the Nets brought him to Philadelphia in a trade for Ben Simmons. The Nets were hoping Simmons could make his debut for them in Game 4, but he was ruled out Sunday with more back pain worrying him not long after arriving in a midseason trade with Philadelphia. Irving said his feelings were "disappointment, a little sadness because we didn't play as well as we wanted as a team". The Nets were only 45-44 down with 3:29 to play in the second quarter. Celtics: Boston has swept its first-round streak for the third time in four years. The Celtics defeated Indiana in four games in 2019 and Philadelphia in 2020 at Walt Disney World. They lost 4-1 in the first round to the Nets last season. ... Williams scored 14 points and Horford had 13. Nets: Bruce Brown scored just two points after scoring 26 and 23 in the previous two games, the first time in his career that he had consecutive 20-point games. He was 6-6 off the field but 1-11 at the free-throw line, missing his first 10 before scoring the last when the Celtics deliberately fouled him. Coach Steve Nash said he does not want to speak for Simmons but acknowledged there is a mental side to the physical issues he is facing. Simmons cited mental health issues as the reason he wanted to leave Philadelphia and not line up for the 76ers this season. "I think Ben addressed that there's a mental component to what he's going through, but how much and where he is with that I can't speak to," Nash said.

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Kyrie, Nets admits out-of-court troubles took their toll

Seeing their end of the season in the first round Monday night, the Nets recognized the impact of injuries, issues they were dealing with off the floor and distractions as they failed to reach the high ceiling that many thought was possible held. (Author: Gardener)

KyrieNEW YORK -- Following their season-ending defeat against the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets officially acknowledged Monday night what has been evident throughout their season: Any issues they dealt with off the court had a major impact on how they played it. "I think it's been really tough emotionally this season," said Nets guard Kyrie Irving after their 116-112 loss in Game 4. I felt like I let the team down at one point where I couldn't play anymore. We tried to exhaust every game option for me, but I never wanted it to be just me. And I think it became a distraction at times. Irving's admission was notable as his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 hung above everything the Nets did all season. They began the season under a cloud of uncertainty as a New York City immunization order mandated that all workers be vaccinated in order to return to the workplace. The Nets declined to let Irving participate as a part-time player before reversing course in December following a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak. Irving returned to the floor on January 5, but was only able to attend street games before New York City Mayor Eric Adams withdrew the athletes' and performers' mandate in late March. Aside from Irving's in-and-out status, the Nets have struggled with an ankle injury guarding Joe Harris that has forced him to miss all but 14 games this season. an MCL injury to star forward Kevin Durant that forced him to miss six weeks; and a February deadline trade that sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks. The trade was a move Harden later admitted was made in part because of Irving's part-time status -- and a deal that brought Simmons, who requested a trade from Philadelphia last summer, to a Nets team he joined after a Herniated disc derailed the final two months of his season. "I think a big reason why we were in this position is a lack of continuity," said coach Steve Nash of the distractions from the ground. All of these things off the ground also play a role in what happens on the ground. As the season progressed, there were just too many, too many things that held us back for moments and bags. Just when it looked like they were poised to turn a corner, one more event would change the course of their season. The Nets , voted by many to win the NBA championship before the season, they finished with a 44-38 record, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference -- and a playoff spot that goes through April 12 a win in the play-in game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite everything, the Nets could never find the rhythm that every great team needs to succeed in the playoffs. "No regrets," Durant said after being swept for the first time in his career. Everyone in the organization knows what we've been through. So no time to feel sorry or be too pissed. "Even the great teams do it not." They don't think about what they're doing, they're just trying to get ahead g better. So we know what our mistakes were, just try to turn them into strengths. While the Nets were frustrated by the season and the way the series was going against the Celtics, there was almost a sense of relief that things finally came to an end on Monday night. All the pressure the nets were subjected to on and off the ground proved too much for a group that never reached the high ceiling many thought was possible. "We lost a franchise player [in Harden] and got a franchise player back [in Simmons]," Irving said. There was also no pressure for [Simmons] to hit the floor with us. Ben is fine. For next year he will be good. But for now we're just turning the page and looking forward to what we're building as a franchise and getting really tough. "That's why I said it's an extra motivation when you get carried away like that. I haven't necessarily played as well as I would have liked, but now we're just looking to the future as a team and what we can achieve in the years to come and I'm excited about that." So much of that future is spinning now to Simmons, who was not at the Barclays Center on Monday night as he continues to deal with old issues, according to the Nets.For his part, Irving said "I don't really plan on going anywhere" when asked if he would have one this summer possible long-term extension. He has a player option worth over $36.5 million this summer. "There's no question about where I'm going and how that's going to happen," Irving said. "I'm here with [Durant], but I'm also here to build a great team. I've averaged so many points, done so many things. Individually, I've been recognized for my greatness, but at this point in my career, I really just want to be part ei be a great team. And just dominating and not really concentrating on individual awards and successes. Just really building something special - that's my focus going into the summer, just building with my teammates. Durant also made it clear that he'd like to see Nash coach the Nets next season. "Steve's been dealt a crazy hand over the last two years," Durant said , injuries, COVID dealing with so many things, it's just a lot of things that he's had to deal with. We're all evolving over the summer and we'll see what happens." As the Nets head into what could be an interesting summer, both Irving and Durant made it clear that they think better days lie ahead for the organization. "When I say I'm here with Kev, it really means we manage this franchise together," Irving said. “Aside from [owner] Joe [Tsai] and [General Manager] Sean [Marks], just our group of family members in our dressing room, in our organization. I think we just need to take a few steps this off-season, really talk about it, and be really aware of what we're building and have some fun with it, make it enjoyable. Sometimes I feel like the noise of the outside world, the noise from outside, can intrude. I'm not that type of guy. I think we need to be mentally tougher and be more honest about what we want to achieve.

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Heat goes "crunchy" to crash the Hawks' party in Game 4

The Heat's defense dominated the Hawks on Sunday, propelling Miami to a 110-86 win and a comfortable 3-1 straight lead. (Author: Gardener)

HawksJimmy Butler shows himself again as he loses 36 points to lead the Heat to a Game 4 win over ATLANTA. Jimmy Butler shows himself again as he loses 36 points to lead the Heat to a Game 4 win over ATLANTA - There were plenty of signs pointing to a potential disappointment for the Eastern Conference's top-seeded Miami Heat in Game 4 on Sunday . Atlanta Hawks defensive anchor Clint Capela returned from a hyperextended right knee to make his series debut. The crowd at State Farm Arena, still hyped by Trae Young's game winner on Friday, looked to cap a beautiful spring weekend at The A with a straight win for their underdogs Hawks, where the home side had won 21 of their last 24 games. Instead, Miami dominated with their defense in a 110-86 win in their best postseason performance to date — all things considered — and built a 3-1 lead over the No. 8-seeded Hawks. "We have some gnarly competitors in our dressing room who love big challenges," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Miami's game plan was simple: try to control the ball and contain Young. With 14 turnovers in Game 3 and without their point guard in Lowry, the Heat showed great balance on offense and ended up with just seven turnovers compared to 15 for Atlanta. Most of those came in garbage time, as Miami had just two penalties as a team by the end of the third quarter when they had already built a 19-point lead. "Everyone in that dressing room knew we couldn't have a 15-20 turnover game," Spoelstra said. And Young, the breakout star of last year's playoffs, continued to fight mightily against Miami. As heroic as his final appearance in Game 3 was, the rest of the series was a nightmare for the fourth year. The Heat kept him to nine points in 3-for-11 shooting with five turnovers on Sunday, reflecting his overwhelming effort in Game 1 (eight points in 1-for-12 shooting) and Game 2 (10 rallies and 2-for-1 -10) Mirrored Shooting 3). Consistently since high school," Young said afterwards. Sunday was the first game of Young's four-year career — regular season and postseason combined — where all of his points came down to 3 points. For the series, Young now has 24 turnovers and just 20 Field Goals. Jimmy Butler, who led Miami with 36 points in 12-for-21 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals, said it was Heat's team approach that made the difference against Atlanta's star, rattling eight names -- P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Lowry -- who have shadowed Young 1-on-1 so far, and Tucker, who had 14 points on 5-for-7 -Shooting, eight rebounds and three assists, said part of Miami's plan was to target Young when he had the ball on offense. "He's too good a scorer to not work on defense let it go," said Tucker, who posted Young up Son multiple times ntag.Vincent (11 points, four assists) made a stable start in Lowry's p Lace and Oladipo also benefited from the game time opened by the absence of the point guard. The former All-Star guard had just six points in 3-on-10 shooting but had four assists and more rebounds than Capela (eight-to-seven) when he made his postseason debut for Miami. Miami beat Atlanta by 28 points in the 23 minutes that Oladipo was on the floor. "He worked really hard, he made himself available," Spoelstra said of Oladipo, who has missed most of the last three seasons with knee and quadriceps injuries. "You don't love that it's like that in these circumstances, but we knew something was going to happen - as it always does with any team in the playoffs - because of the energy he puts into it, he was prepared for it. The Heat can end the series in Game 5 on Tuesday and would face the Philadelphia-Toronto series winner in the second round. "Tonight was a good night, but we've got one more to get," Butler said .

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