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Clippers lose Patrick Beverley in first quarter vs. Suns to left calf soreness



Patrick Beverley will not return to play against the Phoenix Suns due to a left calf soreness.

Beverley started before leaving the game with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter. He was listed as questionable to return before being ruled out in the third quarter.

Beverley had four points and two rebounds in his third game back since leaving the team briefly to tend to an excused family emergency. The Beverley injury comes as the Clippers were getting closer to being whole. Lou Williams rejoined the team for his restart debut against the Suns after spending 10 days in quarantine following his departure from the bubble to tend to a family emergency.

Forward Montrezl Harrell is still not with the team and coach Doc Rivers said there is no update on a timetable for his return yet. Harrell left the team on July 17 to tend to a family emergency. The grief-stricken forward recently posted on social media that his grandmother passed away.

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Bam Adebayo takes blame for Miami Heat’s Game 5 loss to Boston Celtics



Miami Heat All-Star big man Bam Adebayo took the blame for his team’s 121-108 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals on Friday night.

“I played like s—,” Adebayo said after the game in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “Bottom line. I put that game on me. It’s not my teammates’ fault, it’s not my coaches’ fault, it’s me … I missed too many shots I should have made. Put that one on me.”

Adebayo, playing with a sleeve over his left arm after apparently suffering an injury to it at the end of the Heat’s Game 4 victory, almost registered a triple double with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in 38 minutes, but he did not play with the same activity that he usually does up and down the floor, particularly at the defensive end.

“I wasn’t being the defensive anchor that I should have been,” Adebayo said. “I don’t think I was communicating fast enough. I feel like I was a step behind today.”

Adebayo wasn’t the only player who was a step behind in the second half of Friday’s game as the Heat watched a 58-51 halftime lead get erased by a third quarter in which the Celtics dominated 41-25 and never looked back on their way to cutting Miami’s series lead to 3-2. The loss marked the 18th time this season the Heat have blown a lead of 10 or more points, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. That’s tied for the most by a team over the past two seasons, including the playoffs.

The numbers also back up that Adebayo struggled more than usual on Friday night. Adebayo allowed 1.65 points per direct pick-and-roll as the screener defender, according to Second Spectrum data. That’s the fourth-worst efficiency allowed in a game in his career with a minimum of at least 10 picks in a game. Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler said he was frustrated with his team’s effort, but stood up for Adebayo when he was told the 23-year-old tried to take the blame for the loss.

“It’s not [on Adebayo],” Butler said. “It’s on everybody. He does so much for us that it could feel like that at times, but it’s definitely not on him. It’s on us as a whole. We all understand that because nobody was playing the way we’re supposed to play, the way we have to play in order for us to win. Nobody. And for him to say that, I respect it, I love him for it. But he can’t do it by himself — we got to be there with him.”

When asked what specific injury he was dealing with in his left arm, Adebayo said only, “I’m good.” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also brushed off the notion that Adebayo was favoring the arm at all.

“He wasn’t favoring it,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not making any excuses. Boston outplayed us in the second half. We probably outplayed them in the first half and their outplaying of us in the second half was two or three times what we did in the first half. Forty-eight minutes, that’s a long game and you have to play consistently a lot longer than we did tonight.”

Butler said he would speak to Adebayo prior to Sunday’s Game 6 and offer his younger teammate a little pep talk.

“I will,” Butler said. “But I think he knows you can’t get stuck on this game now. We learn from it, it’s something of the past. But we’re going to need him to be who he is on Sunday. We need everybody to be that way. We’re gonna watch film, we’re gonna learn from it, not saying we already don’t know what went wrong, but we’ll be ready to go. We will fix it.”

Spoelstra also brushed off the notion that the Heat were concerned about dropping a 3-1 series lead much the same way the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers each have done against the Denver Nuggets already in the postseason bubble.

“I don’t think those series have anything to do with this,” Spoelstra said. “Our guys are well aware, we have great respect for Boston. We’re not expecting it to be easy. You have to earn it. And we’ll just learn from this, go to work tomorrow and try to get ready for the next one.”

Adebayo is confident he will be better in Game 6 as well.

“I got to be better,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s it. There’s no excuses to this … this game is on me. I played terrible and that can’t happen.”

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NBA playoffs – How the Boston Celtics extended the Eastern Conference finals



For the Boston Celtics, the first half of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals was a tractor pull. They shot 25% percent from the field in the first quarter. Coming off a simple pick-and-pop with Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker sent a pass into the hands of assistant coach Scott Morrison on the bench. On offense, the ball didn’t move, drivers were stuck in neutral, and the Celtics were slow to loose balls. But it wasn’t just a lack of rhythm or execution; Boston looked like a team broken by frustration.

Over the next three quarters, the Celtics rebuilt their spirit piece by piece. They got a healthy serving of instant offense from reserve big man Enes Kanter. Jaylen Brown set an aggressive tone. Boston started protecting the basketball. After halftime, Boston ratcheted up the defensive pressure. Tatum started to attack the paint and drew fouls on demand. The offense exploited the middle of the Miami Heat’s zone defense.

When Game 5 was finally over, the Celtics had woken from their slumber, outlasting Miami 121-108 to narrow the Heat’s series lead to 3-2.

“We just knew in the first half that we were playing with a lot of energy, but it was kind of all over the place,” Brown said. “And we just had to dial it in. We had the right mindset from the beginning of the game, but it was a little bit all over the place. Once we settled in a little bit and kept that same intensity, it worked out for us.”

After the early hiccup, every member of the Celtics rotation performed their role to specification. Tatum and Brown led the way, opportunistic on the drive and quick on the release from distance. Marcus Smart showed off his first-team All-NBA Defensive bonafides at the top of the floor, and threaded the needle in the half court with crafty passes. Gordon Hayward wasn’t exceptionally sharp but glimmers of the playmaking point forward with the full toolbox revealed themselves in the second half. Kanter did his Moses Malone impression. And after being a liability early, center Daniel Theis helped bust the zone and lorded over the offensive glass.

Both Theis and Kanter were also crucial in helping unlock point guard Walker who, despite an unremarkable stat line (15 points on 4-for-11 shooting and seven assists) and foul trouble, played the brand of basketball he prefers. Walker is a pick-and-roll virtuoso who can carve up defenses when he’s operating with confidence out of the action. But in the bubble, Walker has never quite found his game. He came into the restart nursing knee soreness. In the conference semifinals, he was the target of the Toronto Raptors’ box-and-one zone. And he encountered similar trouble against the Heat’s 2-3 zone scheme, never finding a way to show off his dance steps.

On Friday night, he finally got his chance to burst off a high screen and hide behind his big man to find space to launch from beyond the arc. His third-quarter performance was second only to Tatum’s in vaulting the Celtics from potential elimination to survival.

“We were just aggressive, really feeding off each other’s energy,” Walker said. “That’s who we are. We were out there encouraging each other … just really enjoying the game.”

Like Walker, Tatum came into Game 5 with an eye toward redemption. His scoreless first half in Game 4 was a source of embarrassment, and after another forgettable first half Friday, he found offense all over the floor in the third quarter. He connected on a couple from long distance but did most of his damage off the dribble, drawing fouls at will against Miami. The Heat simply couldn’t contain Tatum in the half court without hacking him. He controlled the pace of the game, frustrating a Heat defense that had cordoned off the lane for much of the series and allowing the Celtics’ defense to set on ensuing possessions.

Brown exacted his usual damage in both the half court and in transition. As is often the case, Brown discovered his offense in the flow, taking opportunities where he found him. He was also the first Celtics starter to shake off the doldrums in the first half and challenge the Heat’s defense.

During a huddle in the second half, coach Brad Stevens told his team that, for the first time in several games, they were playing Celtics basketball. Though this was probably obvious to anyone who has watched this conference finals series, it was a powerful statement that spoke to both how much of a departure the Celtics’ recent efforts have been from their ideal selves, and to Boston’s potential to be a two-way monster when the players are confident and aggressive.

“He was absolutely right, we didn’t play the way we wanted the whole series,” Theis said. “We didn’t play our defense, we did adjustments and we just went back to our system the way we played all year. Everybody felt comfortable in our system. You could tell in the third quarter everybody was just enjoying being out there.”

If the Celtics can sustain what they found in Game 5 for two more games, that statement can be a prophecy.

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Boston Celtics ‘relax,’ take control in 2nd half to keep season alive



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After the Boston Celtics walked into the locker room at halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, having produced a second straight lackluster first half in a series they trailed 3-1, they knew something had to change.

So, before they returned to the court for the second half, point guard Kemba Walker had a simple message for his team.

“What I remember from halftime is Kemba saying, ‘We just need to settle down a little bit,'” Jaylen Brown said. “We just had to dial in a little bit and once we did, I felt like we were fine.”

It was a directive Boston took to heart. And, as a result, the Celtics still have basketball left to play.

A 41-point explosion in the third quarter, including 17 points from Jayson Tatum, turned what had been a game Miami firmly controlled on its head and allowed Boston to surge to a 121-108 victory. The series resumes Sunday night for Game 6.

Anyone who watched Boston slog through the first half couldn’t have been sure such a turnaround was possible. Like in Game 4, the Celtics seemed to be sleepwalking much of the time, allowing the Heat to gobble up several loose balls and settling for far too many jumpers instead of aggressively attacking the paint.

That changed, however, in the second half. Boston came out swinging in that third quarter and looked like a completely different team, at one point going on a 20-3 run to turn a 60-51 deficit into a 71-63 lead. The Celtics wouldn’t relinquish the advantage the rest of the way.

“I just thought we played with great tenacity defensively, and our offense followed suit,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “But [the Heat are] very hard. … Like, it’s easy for me to sit up here to say to be at our very best and get stops on every possession.

“This is a heck of an offensive team, a heck of a well-coached team, and hard to guard.”

The Celtics made them look easy to guard in this one. Miami shot 7-for-36 from 3-point range, including 4-for-28 by its starters. Boston swarmed Miami repeatedly in that second half, and then converted that aggressiveness into action at the other end, relentlessly attacking the rim and either scoring or getting to the foul line.

It was a combination that prompted Stevens to say during a “Wired” segment on ESPN’s broadcast of the game that this was “in all sincerity, the first time I’ve seen Celtics basketball in the last few games.”

So what changed?

“Everybody was so anxious, eager to make a play, make something happen,” Tatum said. “We know what’s at stake: We lose and go home.

“But, at the same time, we’ve got to relax a little bit. Take a deep breath. We know how important every possession is, but we’ve still got to just relax a little bit and play the game, and that was kind of the message at halftime.”

It was one Tatum embodied, as he came out firing in that third quarter, with those 17 points nearly matching Miami’s 25 in the quarter by himself, and setting the tone for Boston’s turnaround. Tatum admitted to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the game that he’d had trouble sleeping the past couple nights ahead of taking the court for Game 5.

Tatum, who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 43 minutes, said that restlessness came from a place of him wanting to get back onto the court after his own uneven Game 4, in which he went scoreless in the first half before exploding for 28 in a second-half comeback that, unlike in Game 5, wound up falling short.

“I mean, we were down 3-1,” Tatum said. “Frustrated. Give them credit, they’ve been playing well, they deserved to be up 3-1. It was frustrating. Not supposed to be feeling good about being down 3-1. I was just really anxious to play, get back out there, just give [ourselves] a chance.”

Boston was able to give itself a chance, and keep its season alive, because of a group effort in that second half. Brown had 28 points and eight rebounds. Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter combined for 23 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes, and outproduced Heat star Bam Adebayo in the process.

But, more than anything, it was because of a renewed commitment to energy and effort — as well as that friendly reminder from Walker to relax and let the game come to them — that breathed fresh life into Boston’s season.

“We were playing a little bit fast, a little bit antsy,” Brown said. “We were trying to win the game in the first half. And we just needed to stay with it, keep making the right play and just settle down a little bit. When we did, the shots started going in, our defensive intensity was good, we gave up less baskets in the third quarter. And we looked like the team we all know and love.”

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