NBA

Udoka: Celtics responded to being 'punked' against Heat with Game 2 win

By Sports Desk May 20, 2022

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka believes his side responded well to being "punked" by the Miami Heat, claiming a 127-102 win in Game 2 of their playoff series on Thursday.

A 39-14 third quarter in the Heat's favour effectively decided Game 1 as the Celtics collapsed on the road, but bounced back, cutting down turnovers and putting four quarters together to split the first two games in Miami.

Marcus Smart and Al Horford's returns to the line-up were critical for the Celtics as they claimed home-court advantage against the Eastern Conference's first seed, but it was a collective effort with 28 assists off 43 made field goals.

Udoka praised his side's mental toughness in responding against a side that came at them in the opening game of the series.

"I think we were upset with how that third quarter went, specifically how we got out-toughed," Udoka said post-match. "Wasn't a lot of schemes or defensive or offensive changes, they just came at us and kind of punked us in that third quarter.

"We looked the other three quarters and how well we had done in winning those quarters, and knew if we just matched their physicality, we could be better. It kind of reminded us of Milwaukee a little bit – the first game – and didn't want to get caught off-guard again.

"I think our guys have bounced back really well all year, especially the second half of the year. Haven't lost two games in a row in a while, and obviously having Marcus and Al back gave us a little boost as well."

Smart was an important figure in his return from a foot injury, filling the stats sheet and finishing with 24 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and three steals.

Horford provided a little bit of everything meanwhile, ending the game with 10 points, three assists and rebounds as well as a steal and a block.

Udoka commended the returning duo, allowing the team to capitalise on positive aspects from the first game.

"It was great to have the vets back, obviously," he said. "A calming presence there. We didn't get off to our best start, we were a little slow to start but we fought right back into it.

"After, I guess, the first five or six minutes we held them down scoring-wise, but it was a good overall effort. I felt we didn't play as poorly as the last game showed.

"Like I said, we won three quarters and had a very bad third quarter, it was hard to overcome but we saw a lot of positives and areas we could attack."

Related items

  • Kyrie Irving opts in for $37m with Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving opts in for $37m with Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving has exercised his $37 million player option with the Brooklyn Nets for next season, confirming his decision on Monday.

    The move ends any chance of a sign-and-trade deal and takes Irving off the market when the free agency negotiating period begins on Thursday.

    Locking in the enigmatic Irving ends speculation of him fleeing—for now, at least.

    Earlier this off-season, Irving had given the Nets a list of approved destinations if a sign-and-trade deal were to happen. The only team on the list that explored acquiring Irving was the Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN reported earlier Monday.

    “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow,” Irving told The Athletic. “I've made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.”

    Irving has played just 103 of a possible 226 games since signing with Brooklyn in the 2019 off-season.

    Irving chose not to receive any COVID-19 vaccinations, leaving him unable to play for much of last season due to municipal regulations in New York. He played 29 games in 2021-22, averaging 27.4 points and 5.8 assists.

  • 'Nothing has changed' – Bulls reiterate desire to re-sign LaVine 'Nothing has changed' – Bulls reiterate desire to re-sign LaVine

    The future of two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine remains the biggest question mark this offseason for the Chicago Bulls.  

    The franchise's desires, however, have been made crystal clear.  

    "We hope Zach is here for a long time, and nothing has changed," executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said Monday.  

    Karnisovas and the Bulls have repeatedly made their desire to re-sign LaVine public, with the NBA's free agent negotiating period set to start on Thursday.  

    Karnisovas spoke at a news conference intended to introduce first-round draft pick Dalen Terry, but LaVine's unrestricted free agency again took centre stage.  

    LaVine previously said that he plans on exploring his options in free agency but has not ruled out returning to Chicago.  

    The Bulls could offer LaVine a contract up to five years and about $212million, while the largest offer he could receive from another team would be near $157m over four years.  

    Expectedly, Karnisovas remained quiet on the offer the team plans to make to LaVine.  

    "I'm confident. I'm confident in approaching this free agency in the next couple of days, sitting down with our group, looking at a lot of things," he said. 

    After scoring a career-high 27.4 points per game in 2020-21, LaVine's production and efficiency dipped a bit last season as he battled thumb and knee injuries, averaging 24.4 points a night.  

    LaVine had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May.  

    "I think he's gonna be healthy," Karnisovas said. "I think he's now progressing great."

    The Bulls got off to a strong start last season, leading the Eastern Conference into February but losing 15 of 22 games to close the regular season.

    Despite ending a four-year playoff drought, they were dispatched in the first round in five games by the Milwaukee Bucks.  

    Even with the disappointing end to the season, Karnisovas would like to keep together the core of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball.  

    "This group has been here only since October," Karnisovas said. "We're still trying to get used to how to play with each other."

    While free agent deals will not be officially recognised by the league until July 6, teams and players can agree to terms starting from this Thursday.

  • LeBron James trading card sells for $2.4million LeBron James trading card sells for $2.4million

    A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

    The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

    Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

    The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.