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Jaylen Brown could see the fourth quarter well enough from the Boston bench to know he wasn’t worried about the Celtics‘ recent stumbles.

”If we would have played our normal rotation Breeland Speaks Color Rush Jersey , we would have won that game,” he said Sunday after coach Brad Stevens rested his starters and watched the subs blow a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Atlanta Hawks. ”No doubt about it.”

Taurean Prince made seven of eight 3-pointers to score 33 points, getting help from Isaiah Taylor and Dewayne Dedmon down the stretch to help the last-place Hawks beat the playoff-bound Celtics 112-106.

With the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference already locked up, Stevens left Brown, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier on the bench for the entire fourth quarter and Boston lost for the third time in four games.

”I think Brad made a good call,” Brown said. ”(The backups) got an opportunity and it was well-deserved.”

Rozier had 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Boston, which had beaten Atlanta in the other three meetings this season. Tatum scored 19, Horford had 16 and Greg Monroe scored 17 for the Celtics, who are without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward for the rest of the season and Marcus Smart for the start of the playoffs.

”Let young guys play in the fourth,” Stevens said. ”Bench play is going to be huge for us going into the playoffs without a full roster.”

Taylor and Dedmon scored nine straight points for the Hawks after they trailed 103-101 with 2 minutes remaining.

Prince added eight rebounds and five assists Thomas Rawls Color Rush Jersey , and Damian Lee scored 14 with eight boards. Taylor had 13 points and Dedmon scored 10 for Atlanta, which has beaten playoff teams in consecutive games but still has the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

”(It’s) especially gratifying, knowing you have a couple impact players out and still be able to do what we do,” Prince said, alluding to the injuries to Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore, two of the team’s top three scorers. ”It’s good to see what we’re able to do, even without a full team.”


The Celtics took a 20-8 lead in the first quarter and nursed it through most of the game before a four-point play on a clear-path foul by Tatum, followed by a Prince 3-pointer, helped turn a 73-63 deficit into a one-point game.

The Celtics opened the fourth with a 9-2 run to take a 91-78 lead. But Atlanta tied it 99-all on a four-point play by Mike Muscala with 5:32 to play. After taking a 101-99 lead, the Celtics made five straight trips down the floor without scoring before Monroe’s tip-in made it 103-101 with just over two minutes left.

That’s when Taylor and Dedmon took over.

Taylor tied it 103-all with a layup and, after Monroe made one of two free throws, Dedmon made a 3-pointer to give Atlanta its first lead since the score was 3-2. Jonathan Gibson made a 20-footer for Boston, then Dedmon’s dunk gave the Hawks the lead for good. Taylor followed with a layup to make it a four-point game with 26 seconds left.

”Of course Manny Pina Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , they didn’t play their starters in the fourth quarter,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. ”I think they got a lot out of today; those (Celtics) played well for three quarters. I’m proud of the way our guys played for all four quarters. It’s a good sign the way they’re developing.”


Stevens said Irving’s surgery was a success and he should be ready to return next season. The point guard had two screws removed Saturday from his left knee, which had developed an infection. The screws were inserted after he broke his kneecap during the 2015 Finals.

Irving has not played since March 11. Rozier started at point guard on Sunday, the 11th time in 12 games he had been in the starting lineup after coming off the bench for all but three of the previous 67 games.


Prince scored 10 in the first quarter and had eight points and four rebounds in the fourth. … Boston’s Semi Ojeleye had a career-high 13 points. … The Hawks’ 13 turnovers led to 15 Boston points, but the Celtics’ 12 turnovers led to 24 Atlanta points.


Hawks: Finish the season at home against Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Celtics: At Washington on Tuesday.

The buildup for this series truly began in February, with some pointed comments from Golden State’s Draymond Green.

Or in October, when Houston won at Golden State on ring night.

Or in June, when the Rockets landed Chris Paul.

Whenever it started, however it started, it’s clear that this is the series that the NBA-watching world wanted. Western Conference finals, Golden State versus Houston, Game 1 on Monday on the Rockets’ home floor. Series winner to the NBA Finals, series loser will undoubtedly feel like they let a championship ring slip away.

”They got us. We got them http://www.giantsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-patrick-omameh-jersey ,” Green said. ”Got to go out there and play. We’ll see who better.”

After more than 10 months of playing, posturing and some pontificating, it really is that simple.

This Rockets team was assembled – the key being the trade for Paul last summer – with hopes of unseating the reigning champion Warriors from their perch atop the NBA. So far, so good. Houston set a franchise record with 65 wins in the regular season, went 2-1 against the Warriors in games that were hyped at the time though seem meaningless now, and has the likely MVP in James Harden.

But how this Houston season will be remembered hinges largely on the outcome of this series.

”Everybody at the beginning of the year thinks they’ve got a chance to be here,” Houston’s P.J. Tucker said. ”Everybody talks about winning. Everybody talks about fighting for a championship. … We really believed it. We’re really fighting to get there. This is not a game. Everybody takes their job serious.”

He’s right on all counts, particularly on the talking.

And the talking will most definitely continue over the next few days. With five full off days between the Warriors’ and Rockets’ respective second-round clinchers on Tuesday and Game 1 of their series, a lot of people will be saying a lot of somethings.

”I think it’s going to be a great series,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, whose Pelicans fell in five games to the Warriors in the West semifinals. ”I think it will be very entertaining. I think the people will have a great time watching that series, because you have great players out there. … I’m looking forward to it.”

He’s hardly alone.

For as great as LeBron James has been, again Uchenna Nwosu Color Rush Jersey , the West matchup is going to overshadow the East finals between Cleveland and either Boston or Philadelphia. That’s no disrespect to the East; that’s just reality given the seasons that the Warriors and Rockets have had, and the collision course that seemed so inevitable for either to avoid.

”The whole world’s been waiting for this matchup,” Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said in his role as an analyst Tuesday night on TNT.

The three Warriors-Rockets games were about as anticipated as any in the regular season: Golden State lost two of the three, and the final combined score of those matchups was Warriors 353, Rockets 352.

”That was so long ago,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. ”I think both teams are different and playing better. So you know, I try not to look at those games but we kind of know, they know what we do and they know what we do.”

It’s the second time in four years that Houston and Golden State have met in the West finals; the Warriors ousted the Rockets in five games in 2015 on their way to the NBA title. Golden State was the No. 1 seed that year, Houston was No. 2. The seeds are flipped this time, after Houston finished the regular season with the league’s best record.

This is the first time since 2014 – a span of 15 series – where Golden State will have to play Game 1 on the road.

”Every series you play, it gets harder and harder and harder,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who is seeking a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals and third ring in four years. ”So following that trend for sure.”

The verbal jousts between the Warriors and Rockets go back to the preseason Domingo Santana Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , with Green questioning Houston’s commitment to defense. And after Houston beat Golden State 122-121 on opening night of the season, that prompted Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to turn that phrase back around on Green.

It picked up in January, when the teams split a pair of games. And in February, Green told Sports Illustrated that he knew the Rockets were focused on knocking the Warriors off.

”Noted. Great. We’ll see y’all soon,” Green said then.

Soon, now, has a definitive date. Soon is Monday.


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Added Aug 10


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