Stats & Info: boston celtics

Fixing weaknesses for 7 teams in draft

June, 23, 2014
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Cleveland Cavaliers – Post presence
According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Cavaliers averaged 6.0 post-up points per game last season, 26th in the league. On the defensive end, they ranked second-to-last in blocks per game.

Best fit – Jabari Parker
In his only season at Duke, Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55.4 percent on such shots.

Milwaukee Bucks – Inside presence
The Bucks grabbed just 71.4 percent of available defensive rebounds in the regular season, ranking 29th in the league. The team also allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, which trailed only the Jazz for the worst defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Joel Embiid
By himself, Embiid rebounded 27 percent of opponent's missed shots when on the court, the highest rebound percentage in the Big 12.

Philadelphia 76ers – Overall efficiency
Philadelphia was outscored by 10.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the worst rate by any team since the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.

Best fit – Andrew Wiggins
The 76ers ran 151 more plays in transition than any other team last season, but scored only 49 percent of the time (worst in NBA). Wiggins could thrive in this run-and-gun system and would raise the team's efficiency, as he scored on 69 percent of his transition plays in his only season at Kansas, the best individual rate in the Big 12.

Orlando Magic – Playmaking in transition
The Magic struggled on both ends in transition, ranking 29th in transition offensive efficiency and 27th in transition defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Dante Exum
Although Exum has not played in the United States, he showed off amazing speed and quickness at the NBA draft combine in May. His 10.75 seconds in lane agility and 3.19 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint ranked second and eighth (tie), respectively. The combined rank of his times was the second-fastest, trailing just Zach LaVine among 51 players who participated in both events.

Utah Jazz – Defensive presence
The Jazz ranked last in defensive efficiency and struggled to pressure the ball, ranking second-to-last in opponent turnover percentage.

Best fit – Marcus Smart
Smart was one of the best defenders in the college ranks last season, ranking top-10 nationally in opponent points per game (5.3) and opponent field goal percentage (27.6 percent). Smart also ranked third in the nation with 2.9 steals per game and had a 5 percent steal rate, seventh in the nation.

Boston Celtics – Inside offensive presence
The Celtics struggled with offensive efficiency and were especially poor in the paint, ranking 27th in paint points per game last season.

Best fit – Aaron Gordon
Although Gordon was a poor jump shooter, he did a lot of damage inside the paint when it mattered the most: the NCAA tournament. Of his 57 points during Arizona’s tournament run, he scored 42 points in the paint on 61.8 percent shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers – Rebounding
The Lakers were abysmal on the glass during the regular season, ranking last in offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate.

Best fit – Noah Vonleh
Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounds per game last season and in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 27 percent of opponent's missed shots in his only season at Indiana.

Vonleh also has an added dimension as a smooth jump shooter. He shot 16-of-33 on 3-point attempts, which would have ranked eighth in the nation percentage-wise if he had qualified with enough attempts. He also led the Big Ten with a 50 percent catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (minimum 25 attempts), ahead of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.

Future outlook: Knicks, Lakers, Celtics

April, 17, 2014
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This season marked the first time in NBA history that the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics all failed to make it to the postseason.

So where does each franchise go from here?

New York Knicks
The Knicks’ win percentage dropped from .659 last season to .451 in 2013-14.

They only have $31.8M in guaranteed contracts next season but that does not include Carmelo Anthony ($23.3M), Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4M) or Andrea Bargnani ($11.5M). All 3 players have early-termination options (it’s the player’s option to opt out), but it's a virtual certainty that Stoudemire will remain with the Knicks as no team in the open market would pay anywhere near that number. Bargnani staying in New York seems highly likely as well.

If Carmelo leaves this summer, the Knicks would still likely be over the projected salary cap of $62.9M in 2014-15, but they likely wouldn’t be a taxpaying team.

The result? Their best tool would likely be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. In 2014-15, that exception allows teams to sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $5.305M.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ .329 win percentage was their second worst in franchise history and worst since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ 55 losses were their most in franchise history.

Mike D’Antoni's first full season as a NBA head coach came with the Phoenix Suns back in 2004-05. In four full seasons in Phoenix, he guided the team to a .707 win percentage and two Conference Finals appearances. In six combined seasons with the Knicks (four) and Lakers (two), he’s posted a .425 win percentage while failing to win a playoff game.

Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension for $48.5M in November, maintaining his status of the highest-paid player in the league. This summer looms large for the Lakers, who currently have just three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1M.

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9M and the Lakers could gain around an additional $6.5M in space by using the stretch-provision on Steve Nash (he would be released and his $9.7M contract would be spread over three seasons).

Note: the only Lakers player that has a player option for next season is Nick Young ($1.2M).

Boston Celtics

The Celtics’ .305 win percentage was their third worst in a single season in franchise history.

The only other instance in which both the Celtics and Lakers missed the postseason in the same year came in 1993-94. Following that season was the only year in which both teams had lottery picks (the lottery era dates back to 1985; Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers selected Eddie Jones tenth).

Looking ahead to the 2014 draft, the Celtics will have two first-round picks – their own lottery selection and the Nets (17th or 18th overall). it is important to note that Boston also receives a 1st-round pick in 2015 from Philadelphia should that pick fall outside of the lottery (15-30).

The Celtics have $44.7M in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2014-15. The projected salary cap line is $62.9M. While they will have a little wiggle room this offseason, it looks like Danny Ainge has his eyes set on the summer of 2015 as Gerald Wallace’s $10.1M contract is the only guaranteed money Boston has on its books in 2015-16. The only player that could bump that number up significantly is Jeff Green, who has a $9.2M player option in the final year of his contract.

Lakers and Celtics rivalry hits historic low

January, 17, 2014
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The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, teams with a combined 33 NBA titles, are used to playing each other as two of the best teams in the league, but on Friday their rivalry hits a historic low.

The Celtics and Lakers are a combined 28-51 this season (.354). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the lowest combined win percentage entering a game between these teams in their series history (min. five games into season).

No team has a worse record than the Lakers (1-12) and the Celtics (2-11) since December 21. The Lakers win percentage (.359) this season is on pace to be their worst since they moved from Minneaplis and the Celtics (.350) would be their fourth-worst in franchise history.

Despite the bad seasons, there is a flurry of activity surrounding each team.

Rondo Returns
Rajon Rondo will return Friday in his first game since January 25 last season when he tore the ACL in his right knee. That is potentially good news for the Celtics, depending on how you look at it.

Rondo led the NBA in assists per game in each of last two seasons. His 3,943 assists before his age 27 season rank ninth all-time, between Oscar Robertson and John Stockton.

On the other side, Coach Mike D’Antoni said last week he hopes Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant (each played six games this season) will return January 28 against the Pacers after a seven-game road trip.

However, the Lakers have fallen to 8.5 games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference and there may be no need to rush their stars back.

Trade activity and future outlook
The Celtics traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors on Wednesday in a three-team trade, receiving Joel Anthony and two draft picks. They also traded Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless’ expiring contact January 5 to better position themselves for the offseason.

This summer also looms large for the Lakers, who currently have three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1 million (Pau Gasol’s $19.3 million salary comes off the books after this season).

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9 million and the Lakers could gain more space by using the stretch-provision on Nash (he would be released and his $9.7 million contract would be spread over three seasons).

Boston and LA could be prime markets for the promising free agent class.

Both teams are currently in position to have lottery picks next year. The only year that both the Lakers and Celtics had lottery picks was 1994 when the Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers took Eddie Jones tenth. Both teams made the playoffs the following season.

The Celtics could be in better position for the 2014 NBA draft. They potentially have three first-round picks as they will receive one from Brooklyn, and have the 76ers lottery protected pick.

The Lakers are guaranteed to have their first-round pick this year, as it is untradeable due to NBA rule stating a team cannot trade first-round pick in back-to-back seasons.

Age nothing but a number for Brad Stevens

July, 3, 2013
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AP Photo/Steve Helber
Stevens will become the NBA's youngest head coach, ahead of Jacque Vaughn.

When Brad Stevens shakes hands with opponents on the court this season, he'll be greeting players his own age.

Stevens was born in 1976. He's 36 years old now and will turn 37 on October 22, just a few days before the NBA season will start.

One could fashion an NBA starting lineup out of active players born in 1976: Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in the frontcourt, Antawn Jamison the swingman and Andre Miller and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt.

And there are several active players born before 1976: Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Derek Fisher to name a few.

Stevens will likely have more NBA players near his age than NBA coaches. Stevens will become the NBA's youngest active head coach, ahead of Jacque Vaughn (age 38) and David Joerger (age 39). All other NBA coaches are in their 40s or above.

Pitino's pathway
It's easy to make the Stevens connection to the Boston Celtics' hiring of Rick Pitino in 1997. And there are some similarities: Pitino had a .734 winning percentage as a Division I coach with two appearances in the NCAA championship game. Stevens has a .772 winning percentage and also has a pair of title game appearances.

But Pitino had two full seasons of NBA experience under his belt, coaching the New York Knicks in 1987-88 and 1988-89. And he had 16 seasons as a Division I head coach when he was hired by the Celtics. Stevens has six.

The closer comparison might be Pitino when he was hired by the Knicks. Pitino was 35 years old and had seven years of Division I experience. Stevens is 36 with six years of Division I experience.

Celtics don't mind first-time coaches
A head coach without previous NBA head coaching experience hasn't been a barrier for the Celtics.

Of their last seven head coaching hires not counting interim coaches, five of them have been first-time head coaches.

The only exceptions were Pitino, who previously coached the Knicks, and Doc Rivers, who previously coached the Orlando Magic.

Denver provides the ultimate home court

February, 19, 2013
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Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Nuggets play a different brand of basketball at home
The Denver Nuggets started the season 11-12 but have run off a 22-9 record since then. What changed? 17 of Denver’s first 23 games were on the road, but since then, they’ve played 19 of 31 at home.

Since the New Year, the Nuggets have the second-best record in the NBA (16-6) by reeling off 13 wins in 15 home games, including seven straight. They are currently sitting fifth in the Western conference. Tonight they host the Boston Celtics to tip off post-All-Star break action.

MUST BE THE ALTITUDE
Since 2000-01, the Nuggets have won nearly 68 percent of their home games but only 38 percent of their road games. No team has seen a higher increase in winning percentage from road to home games than the Nuggets.

HOW ARE THEY DOING IT?
At home, the Nuggets are a dynamic team that scores 110 points per 100 possessions (4th in NBA) and allows 99.5 points per 100 possessions (9th in NBA).

The Nuggets have a better offensive efficiency at home than the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers and a better defensive efficiency than the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and New York Knicks.

During the 16-6 stretch, they are forcing 17 turnovers a game, leading to 22 points per game on offense, both of which lead the NBA over this stretch. The Nuggets ability to create turnovers and willingness to get out on the break have led to a league-high 58.7 paint points per game since January 1st.

The Nuggets are having a historic year, averaging 56.8 points per game in the paint. The last team to come close to that type of production was the 1997-98 Los Angeles Lakers with 54.1 points in the paint per game.

LAST TIME THEY MET
The Celtics won at home 118-114 (OT) on February 10, part of an 8-1 stretch for the Celtics since Rajon Rondo’s injury.

Paul Pierce had his eighth career triple double (27-14-14)

The Celtics won despite giving up a season-high 62 points in the paint (outscored by 32 in the paint).

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Paul Pierce is averaging 7.2 assists per game since the Rondo’s injury (3.8 prior).

Since January 1st, Ty Lawson is scoring 19.2 points per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field (13.6 PPG and 40.8 FG pct prior).

Celtics have trouble closing series

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
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Steve Mitchell/US PresswireThe Celtics are just 11-13 since 2007-08 with the chance to clinch a series.
A veteran squad such as the Boston Celtics have plenty of experience in closing out series, and will have the opportunity to do so against the Miami Heat in Game 6 on Thursday (8:30 ET, ESPN). But the Celtics haven't been as successful as fans might think when it comes to eliminating opponents recently.

Since Boston's Big 3 (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen) formed entering the 2007-08 season, the Celtics have in fact struggled closing out postseason series. When having the opportunity to clinch, Boston is just 11-13 in those games over that span. This postseason, the Celtics are 2-2 in such games but just 0-2 in the first opportunity. The one silver lining, however, is that Boston is 9-2 in such chances at home.

LeBron James, however, has trailed 3-2 in a best-of-seven series four times in his postseason career. Each time, his team went on to lose the series, including suffering defeat at the hands of the Celtics twice. Only once out of those four times has a James-led team been able to force a Game 7.

What's more, James is usually at his postseason worst when trailing in a series. When his team is tied or leads the series, James is averaging 28.5 points per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor. Compare that to when his team trails the series; in those situations, James is putting up 27.4 points per game with a field goal percentage of just 42.8. His turnovers per game also increase from 3.2 to 5.3.

Miami now has Chris Bosh back in the lineup, but his addition did not help the Heat in Game 5, as they were outscored by 12 points in the 14 minutes with Bosh on the court. In addition, Miami was 20.8 percent from the floor with Bosh in the game and had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (five).

Heat return to comfort zone vs Celtics

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
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Credit: Steve Mitchell/US PresswireThe Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 83.5 percent of the time when tied 2-2.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat (ESPN, 8:30 ET) will square off in Game 5 tonight with the winner taking a 3-2 lead in the series. The Celtics have put themselves in a good position to take control, because in the Big 3 era (since 2007-08 season), Boston is 8-0 in Game 5s when the series is tied 2-2.

The Heat, however, have been very comfortable at home against the Celtics recently. Miami is 6-1 at home against the Celtics in the postseason all-time, and according to Elias, Miami’s current six-game home postseason win streak against Boston is its longest against a single opponent in franchise history.

The Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 83.5 percent of the time when tied 2-2.

Miami has certainly been more comfortable at home this postseason, averaging 100.4 points compared to 91.0 on the road. That's crucial, considering the Heat are 7-0 this postseason when scoring at least 100 points, and were 25-4 in such games during the regular season.

The focus for Miami will again likely be in the closing seconds. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem each missed game-tying and go-ahead attempts with under 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and OT in Game 4, and the Heat are now 0-for-10 on such shots in the last two postseasons. Overall, Wade is now 2-8 on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or OT in his postseason career, below the league average of 26.9 percent. By comparison, LeBron James is 5-14 (35.7 percent) in those situations.

What's more, Wade has been a slow starter this series. He is averaging just 5.5 points on 25.8 percent shooting in the first half of games against the Celtics, his lowest points average for a first half for any round in his postseason career.

The Heat are also hoping to activate Chris Bosh for Game 5. His status could be pivotal, as Miami is 5-1 this postseason in games Bosh has played, with a +13.2 points differential in that span.

On the other side, the Celtics have relied heavily on Rajon Rondo in this series. Boston has been much better with Rondo on the court, averaging more than 19 points per 48 minutes compared to when he’s been off the floor. According to Elias, Rondo has 13 double-digit assist games this postseason and 38 for his career, and when he takes the court tonight, he'll be looking for his 39th 10-assist game, which would break the all-time Celtics record originally held by Bob Cousy.

Rondo's postseason performance has also placed him in great company this year. He's averaging 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 11.9 assists in 16 games this postseason, and according to Elias only one player in NBA history has averaged at least 17 points, six rebounds and 11 assists in 10+ games played in a single postseason (Magic Johnson did it six times).

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Game 1 crucial for both Celtics and Heat

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
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Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireLeBron James averages 30.2 points in his postseason career in the Conference Finals.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat square off in Game 1 tonight (ESPN, 8:30 ET) in what is the third postseason meeting all-time between these two squads. Boston defeated Miami 4-1 in the 2010 First Round, while the Heat beat the Celtics last season 4-1 in the Conference Semifinals.

Tonight will be crucial, as the winner of Game 1 in the Conference Finals has gone on to win the series 80.0 percent (88-22) of the time in NBA history. The Celtics won the 2011-12 regular season series 3-1, but Mario Chalmers is the only one of the projected Game 1 starters to have started in all four meetings this season.

The Heat have performed well in these situations under coach Erik Spoelstra. According to Elias, Miami is 5-0 in playoff-series opening games at home under Spoelstra, and only four other head coaches in NBA history were 5-0 or better in series-opening home games: Doug Moe (8-0), Mike Dunleavy (6-0), Fred Schaus (5-0) and Bill Russell (5-0).

More good news for Heat fans: LeBron James averages 30.2 points in his postseason career in the Conference Finals, his highest scoring output of any postseason round. James has also averaged 27.1 points per game in 18 career postseason games against the Celtics.

Teammate Dwyane Wade has been even better against Boston, however. In 10 career postseason games, Wade averages 31.7 points against the Celtics, his highest against any team.

One aspect to watch for will be when the duo is in transition. James (72) and Wade (57) are ranked first and second in individual transition points this postseason, and the Heat are 7-0 this postseason when they score at least 14 transition points.

Boston, meanwhile, has had to combat history to even reach this stage in the playoffs. According to Elias, the Celtics are just the fourth team since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77 to make the Conference Finals after entering the All-Star break under .500. The last team to accomplish the feat was the Phoenix Suns in 1983-84 (lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in the Conference Finals).

Much of the Celtics' postseason success has been thanks to Kevin Garnett, who has increased his offensive production this postseason. He is averaging a double-double, and has already recorded six games this postseason with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Teammate Rajon Rondo has also been key, having recorded at least 11 assists in nine of his 12 games this postseason. Rondo also has nine career postseason triple-doubles, second-most among active players and tied for the fourth-most all-time. Rondo's nine triple-doubles have all come in the last four postseasons, and are more than all other NBA players combined over that span (seven).

Celtics, 76ers no strangers to Game 7

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images The Celtics and 76ers meet in a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston on Saturday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics continue their storied playoff rivalry as they meet Saturday night (ABC, 8 ET) in Boston for the seventh all-time Game 7 between these franchises.

The Celtics own a 4-2 advantage in the previous six matchups, but the 76ers won the most recent game three decades ago in the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals.

Game 7 Stats To Know
History appears to be on the Celtics’ side as they are 17-4 all-time at home in Game 7s. They did lose their last such game in 2009 against the Orlando Magic, but they have never lost consecutive Game 7s at home. The Celtics are also 20-7 overall in Game 7s, the most such wins and second-best record in NBA history (min. five games).

The 76ers, on the other hand, are just 1-7 all-time on the road in Game 7s and haven’t played one since 1986. The franchise is 6-8 overall in Game 7s; the eight losses are tied for the most in NBA history.

Celtics Keys to the Game
The Celtics have yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason, having won all four contests following a loss. However, the Celts have not fared well trying to close out a series since the "Big 3" was formed entering the 2007-08 season. They are 10-13 in potential series clinchers (1-2 this postseason).

Kevin Garnett’s jump-shooting has kept the Celtics in this series. Garnett has made 26-of-55 (47 percent) jump shots from 15 feet and beyond. The rest of the Celtics have combined to shoot 30 percent from that distance this series.

The absence of Avery Bradley, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, is significant for the Celtics, as it takes away their best five-man lineup this postseason.

When Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Garnett have been on the court together, the Celtics have outscored opponents by 53 points. Their next-best lineup has outscored opponents by only 18 points.

76ers Keys to the Game
Philadelphia is looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001 and is trying to become the first No. 8 seed to reach the conference finals since the Knicks in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

However, they will need to overcome history in order to make it to the next round.

The 76ers have lost each of the last 13 best-of-seven series in which they have trailed 3-2. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest such streak in NBA history.

One of the deciding factors in this series has been the 76ers' ability to establish the pick and roll. In their three wins, they’re averaging 11 points running the pick and roll. In their three losses, they’re averaging eight points on 29 percent shooting.

Offense has been an issue in the playoffs for the 76ers, who are scoring 86.6 points per game, the fewest among remaining teams. The 76ers haven’t scored more than 92 points in their last 10 games, the longest single postseason streak of its kind since the Pistons in 2006 (11 games).

An unprecedented boost from Bass

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
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For a player who had never before scored 20 points in a playoff game, Brandon Bass announced his presence loudly in Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bass finished with 27 points - 18 of them in the third quarter - in a performance that few could have predicted.
Brandon Bass
Bass


In fact, if his teammates say they've seen this before, they're lying. Entering the night, Bass had not been the Celtics' outright leading scorer in any of their 76 team games this season.

The Celtics had seven different leading scorers in a game this season, including Sasha Pavlovic and Jermaine O'Neal, but Bass wasn't one of them until this game.

He hardly needed any help in the third quarter, when he outscored the 76ers by himself, 18-16. Bass went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the quarter and a near-perfect 6-for-7 from the field.

His 18 points in the quarter were the most he's ever scored in a quarter - regular season or postseason. His previous high was 16 points in the 2nd quarter against the Kings on Feb. 21, 2009.

The performance took some of the scoring load off the Celtics usual cast, and it came at a fortunate time as Ray Allen shot just 2-for-7 and Paul Pierce shot 3-for-7. The last time a Celtics player outside of their core four scored 25 points in a playoff game was when Eddie House went for 31 against the Magic in 2009.

Aside from Bass, the game shifted in the second half when the Celtics defense closed off the lane.

In the first half, the 76ers scored 24 points in the area within five feet of the hoop. It marked their most points within five feet in any half this postseason.

But in the second half the 76ers managed just 10 such points. They stopped going inside as much too - 31.4 percent of their field goal attempts came within five feet of the hoop. In the first half, it was 43 percent.

The win continued a trend of resiliency this postseason for the Boston Celtics - they're a perfect 4-0 this season in games following a loss. That trend might be a lot more comforting were it not matched by the 76ers, who are also 4-0 following a loss.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

Josh Hamilton
Hamilton
1. HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY: Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game on Tuesday night in Baltimore. He is the sixth player in American League history to do it, and the first since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

2. VERY RARE OCCASION: This is the first time in major league history that a pitcher has thrown a perfect game and a hitter has hit four home runs in a game in the same season. Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game earlier this season.

3. ANOTHER RECORD FOR HAMILTON: Hamilton's 18 total bases are an AL record, one shy of Shawn Green's MLB record of 19 in his four-homer game on May 23, 2002. The previous AL record was 16, done eight times.

4. COLLISON HELPS PACERS ADVANCE: The Indiana Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win over the Orlando Magic. It is Indiana's first series win since the First Round in 2005 versus the Boston Celtics. FROM ELIAS: Darren Collison (23 assists, one turnover in series) is the first player in 22 years to have at least 20 assists and one or fewer turnovers in a playoff series. John Paxson did it for the Chicago Bulls in 1990.

5. THREE NBA TEAMS STILL FIGHTING: The Pacers were able to advance, but the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were unable to close out their respective series, as each team lost its Game Five and must play on in the First Round. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time three teams avoided elimination on the same day since April 30, 2003. The Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers all won Game Fives on that date - only the Pistons used the momentum to come back to win the series (beat Magic in seven games).

6. DEVILS ADVANCE DESPITE ODD TREND: FROM ELIAS: The New Jersey Devils lost the opener of their conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers, then won the next four games. Even though Philadelphia scored the first goal in each game, New Jersey is the fourth team in NHL history to win four games in which their opponent scored the first goal in one series. Also, the Devils are the first team to do that in four consecutive games in one series. The other clubs with four such wins one series were the 1956 Detroit Red Wings (vs Toronto Maple Leafs), 1991 Edmonton Oilers (vs Calgary Flames) and 1995 Red Wings (vs Chicago Blackhawks).
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

Paul Pierce
Pierce
1. RARE CELTICS PERFORMANCE: Paul Pierce posted a statistical performance that hadn’t been done by a Boston Celtics player in the playoffs since 1977. Pierce finished with 36 points and 14 rebounds, the first Celtic to reach those levels in a playoff game since Dave Cowens in 1977. Tommy Heinsohn in 1957 is the only other Celtic to accomplish the feat.

2. KOBE KEEPS SCORING: Pierce wasn’t the only NBA veteran with a big scoring performance on Tuesday. Kobe Bryant, at 33 years old, scored 38 points in a win against the Denver Nuggets. FROM ELIAS: It’s the first time that two players age 33 or older have scored 35 points on the same day in the NBA playoffs.

3. WALK-OFF WIN: Let’s go to the other end of the age spectrum for this note. FROM ELIAS: Brett Lawrie, who turned 22 in January, hit his second career walk-off home run in the Toronto Blue Jays’ win over the Texas Rangers. Lawrie is the only player born in the 1990s to hit a walk-off home run. He is one of three active players to hit multiple walk-off homers before turning 23 years old. The others: Carl Crawford and Ryan Zimmerman.

4. FAMILIAR HONOR FOR POPOVICH: He’s won four NBA titles, and Tuesday Gregg Popovich was awarded his second NBA Coach of the Year award. He becomes the seventh coach in NBA history to receive that honor multiple times. Pat Riley and Don Nelson are the only coaches to win three of them. But this year’s San Antonio Spurs aren’t the same as those of the past. The Spurs averaged 103.7 points (second in NBA) this season, tying their highest average under Popovich.

Evan Longoria
Longoria
5. LOSING LONGORIA: The Tampa Bay Rays will be without Evan Longoria (hamstring injury) for 4-8 weeks. Over the previous three seasons (2009 to 2011), Longoria is second among all position players in wins above replacement. Only Albert Pujols contributed more during that span. On the bright side, the Rays were 18-11 in the 29 games Longoria did not play last season. That’s a better winning percentage than their 73-60 record in games he did play.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. CLIPPERS MAKE HISTORIC COMEBACK: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 99-98, in Game One of their First-Round series. The Clippers trailed by 21 points at the end of the third quarter. The win tied the shot-clock era playoff record for the largest deficit overcome at the end of the third quarter. (2002 Boston Celtics vs New Jersey Nets)

2. BYNUM RECORDS TRIPLE-DOUBLE IN WIN: Andrew Bynum recorded a triple-double (10 Pts, 13 Reb, 10 Blk) in the Los Angeles Lakers 103-88 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game One on Sunday. According to Elias, was the first triple-double by a center in an NBA playoff game since May 7, 1993, when David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs (20 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists) did it against the Portland Trail Blazers.

3. RONDO EJECTED, CELTICS DEJECTED: Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping a referee during the fourth quarter of the Celtics 83-74 Game One loss to the Atlanta Hawks. NEXT LEVEL: If Rondo is suspended, the Celtics offense will likely take a hit. The Celtics averaged over seven points more per 100 possessions with Rondo on the floor this season compared to when he was off the floor or out.

4. RAYS ROMP RANGERS IN SERIES: The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers, 5-2, taking two of three games in their weekend series against the defending AL champions. According to Elias, the Rangers had won each of their seven previous series this season, tying them for the second-longest streak of consecutive series wins to begin a season for a team that had gone to the World Series the previous year. The 1907 Chicago Cubs won their first 11 series and the 2003 San Francisco Giants won their first seven.

5. METS WIN A CLOSE ONE: The New York Mets defeated the Colorado Rockies, 6-5 in 11 innings. According to Elias, it was the second victory in franchise history in which the Mets allowed a pair of game-tying home runs in the 8th inning or later. The other was New York's classic 19-inning, 16-13 win at the Atlanta Braves on July 4, 1985.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. MEMORABLE CAREER: Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is stepping down as head coach and will take the title of “head coach emeritus.” Long-time assistant coach Holly Warlick will be promoted to head coach to take Summitt’s position. Summitt won more games than any other coach – men’s or women’s – in Division I basketball history. She led Tennessee to eight national titles and she was a seven-time NCAA Coach of the Year.

2. A LOT OF SCORING: By scoring 10 goals against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Pittsburgh Penguins tied a franchise record for goals in a playoff game and the two teams helped make NHL history. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have combined for 45 goals, the most in the first four games of a series in Stanley Cup Playoff history. And they’ve done their scoring early – 20 of the 45 goals have come in the first period. That’s also an NHL record.

3. RECORDS TIED: FROM ELIAS: The Penguins tied two NHL playoff records in the process. Their 10 goals equaled the record for most goals in a Stanley Cup playoff game by a road team, a mark set by the Kings in a 10-8 win at Edmonton in 1982 and matched by the Oilers with a 10-2 victory at Calgary in 1983. Pittsburgh also equaled the record for goals by one team in a playoff game in which it faced elimination. That standard was established by the Canadiens with a 10-3 win on home ice in Game 5 of their series against the Maple Leafs in 1945.

4. LEADING THE WAY: The Boston Celtics clinched their fifth straight Atlantic Division title by beating the Orlando Magic. They did it without Rajon Rondo, who sat with a sore lower back injury. Paul Pierce picked up the assists load by dishing out a career-high 14. The Celtics’ five straight titles are their most consecutive division titles since they won five straight from the 1983-84 to 1987-88 seasons during the Larry Bird era.

Ivan Rodriguez
Rodriguez
5. PUDGE TO RETIRE: Reports indicate that Ivan Rodríguez will announce his retirement on Monday and will do so at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He will retire as a 14-time All-Star who caught the most games of any player all time. Known as the best defensive catcher ever, Rodríguez won 13 Gold Glove awards, most among catchers.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. WORKING OVERTIME: The Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in OT to take a 2-1 series lead. FROM ELIAS: All three games in the Chicago-Phoenix series have been decided in overtime. It’s the fifth series in NHL history in which each of the first three games were decided in overtime. The other four were Boston-Toronto in 1933, the Montreal-Toronto Stanley Cup Final in 1951 in which all five games went to OT, Edmonton-Los Angeles in 1991 and Colorado-Minnesota in 2008.

Jamie Moyer
Moyer
2. HISTORIC WIN: Jamie Moyer gave up two runs (both unearned) in seven innings to get the win as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3. Moyer is the oldest pitcher to win a MLB game at 49 years, 151 days old. Jack Quinn was the oldest pitcher to win a MLB game at 49 years, 70 days old on September 13, 1932.

3. PANTHERS COME BACK: FROM ELIAS: The Panthers trailed 3–0 after only 6:16 had been played in Game 3 of their series against the New Jersey Devils but Florida made a goaltending change at that point and Scott Clemmensen blanked his former team the rest of the way while the Panthers rallied for a stunning 4–3 victory. It was only the second time in the last 25 playoff years that an NHL team won a playoff game in which it trailed by three goals in the first seven minutes. The Flames did that in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Sharks in 2008. San Jose scored three goals in the first 3:33 but Calgary came back to win 4-3.

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony
4. 'MELO GETS HELP: Carmelo Anthony recorded his second career triple-double as the New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics. Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak each had 20-point games with Smith and Novak doing so off the bench. FROM ELIAS: The last time an NBA team had a player score 30 points in a triple-double while three of his teammates scored at least 20 points in a non-overtime game was on January 15, 1991 when the Trail Blazers did it in a 132-117 win at Minnesota. Clyde Drexler had the 30-point triple-double while Mark Bryant, Jerome Kersey and Terry Porter all scored at least 20 points.

5. RED SOX HAMMERED: The Texas Rangers hit six home runs on their way to an 18-3 rout of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. FROM ELIAS: It was the 10th time in Red Sox history that they lost a game by 15 or more runs in a game played at Fenway Park, with the last such embarrassment coming on June 19, 2000, when they lost 22-1 to the Yankees.

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